For Birds, Echo Park Lake was never closed

By Judy Raskin

In the 13 years that I have been keeping records of the birds of Echo Park Lake, I’ve recorded 75 species. Not all are at the lake at any one time, of course. Some birds are here year ‘round (think Mallards, finches, sparrows, pigeons), but others show up only on their migrations.

The condition of the lake for the past two years during construction has not been inviting to certain species. No water, no fish, no cormorants or other fish loving birds have stopped in. On the other hand, the puddles of water that remained in the midst of a muddy lake bottom attracted shore birds like killdeer and willets for the first time.

The official reopening of Echo Park Lake is June 15, 2013, but some birds are already back. With the creation of new wetland-like plantings and different depths throughout the lake, from a deep 8’ feet to relatively shallow 18 inches, we should see the return of most of species that had found homes elsewhere. Start looking for Mallards, Canada geese, American coots and gulls in the water; red-tailed hawks overhead; and grackles, blackbirds, sparrows, finches and pigeons in the trees, along with some less often seen visitors.

Drained lake: No deterrent to birds or birders

Muddy lake attracts shorebirds as lake regulars take flight

by Judy Raskin

With no water in the lake – or very little of it – regular migrants like Mallards, Canada geese and American wigeons, were seen sparingly at Echo Park Lake on Monday, January 2, the day of Echo Park Lake’s Christmas Bird Count. But the torn-up park currently includes a muddy lake bottom and up-ended lawns and walkways. This new environment attracted a whole new set of birds.

Fourteen birders worked their way around the fenced park, taking peeks through the cut-out windows in the see-through cloth or scanning the trees and lake bottom. The pay-off was big. Thirty one species were logged in about 90 minutes. While many old familiar birds were absent, the mud and rocky shore brought birds rarely seen at Echo Park Lake. They include killdeer, willets, sandpipers and long-billed dowitchers. During count week, an eared grebe and white throated swifts also made appearances.

Meanwhile, over at Vista Hermosa Park, the fourth CBC brought a new high count of 14 species. Doesn’t seen high? Remember, just a few years ago, Vista Hermosa’s plantings were new. As they have matured, more species are visiting. This count was heavy on hummingbirds and mockingbirds, with a sharp-shinned hawk also present.

This year’s bird team included Jim DeBiase, Jocelyn McFaul, Walt Klappert, Carol Siu, Marion Siu, Susan Borden, Terry Hair, Jane Bowers, Mary Brooks, Thea Wang, Alex Candelaria and family, and Judy Raskin.

Echo Park Lake Rehab Project and DEIR

A  meeting on the Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation Project has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 4 at 6:30 pm at Barlow Hospital.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report is available to download here. Please keep in mind these are very large PDFs, so we’ve broken up the pages for easier downloading:

You can also review hard copies of the draft EIR at the following locations:

  • Echo Park Branch Library, 410 West Temple Street (available in the reference section)
  • Edendale Branch Library, 2011 West Sunset Boulevard
  • Office of Council President Eric Garcetti, Hollywood District Office, 5500 Hollywood Boulevard
  • Office of Council President Eric Garcetti, Glassell Park District Office, 3750 Verdugo Road

Send comments by August 30 at 5:00 pm to:

Via mail:
City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering, Environmental Management Group
Attn: Maria Martin
1149 S. Broadway, Suite 600, Mail Stop 939, Los Angeles, CA 90015-2213

Via fax to (213) 847-0656, Attn. Maria Martin

Via email to

For more information about the upcoming event, feel free to contact Olga Morales at 213-485-5933, or email at