Lake Merritt Winter Bird Walk

George and I often spend Christmas afternoon strolling through the wonderful gardens at the Lake Merritt Garden Center in Oakland. We were very disappointed this year to find the fences locked, but consoled ourselves by walking over to the Lake Merritt Bird Sanctuary instead.

Great Egret at Lake Merritt

In 1870 the Sanctuary was designated as the country’s first official wildlife refuge, and in 1963 it became a National Historic Landmark. It’s really exciting to see so many different kinds of birds in one location. The birds that hang out at a fenced-in man-made pond near the walkway are used to people, so you can get much closer than in the wild. An adult Black-crowned Night Heron let me get a closeup of his beautiful profile:

Black-crowned night heron

Other herons perched in the trees.

Black-crowned night heron

Excitement was seeing White Pelicans at the Lake for the first time!


This pair swam and fished together in the small pond.

Pelicans in Lake Merritt

Western Gulls feasted on clams.

Western Gull

Man-made Duck Islands provide shelter and plenty of tree branches for birds’ nests.

Lake Merritt

A string of Canada geese skidded into the Lake.

Lake Merritt Canada Geese

How about you – any exciting winter bird sightings to report?

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