Disappointing Year in Southern California

Date: 
May 21, 2013

The southern California tricolor population, already reduced to less than 6,000 birds (2011 statewide survey), has fared poorly in 2013 due to a series of events at locations that recently supported the region’s largest colonies. In northern Los Angeles County, two sites, Holiday Lake and Fairmont Reservoir, are not supporting tricolor colonies in 2013. Holiday Lake was drained in March, 2013 to allow the Los Angeles County Fire Department to burn the senescent cattails. As of the third week of May, 2013 the basin has not been refilled and remains nearly empty; thus, there is no nesting habitat for tricolors at Holiday Lake this year. Fairmont Reservoir, approximately 10 miles to the southeast of Holiday Lake, is dry and does not provide nesting habitat. Thus, tricolor breeding at both L.A. County locations is prevented by an absence of nesting habitat this year. In Riverside County, a 2,000 bird colony, by far the largest known colony in 2013 in southern California, was lost when the grain field adjacent to a dairy in which the colony was located was harvested while eggs were being incubated. The loss of breeding at these 3 sites means that 2013 will be a year of exceptionally poor reproductive output in southern California.