Belted Kingfisher over Legg Lake at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area
- Greetings Birders:
A Belted Kingfisher was seen and heard while in flight over "north" Legg Lake at Whittier Narrows Recreaton Area at 5:30pm (July 31) . Mickey Long's book, Birds of Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, states that most kingfishers appear in migration during August and later in fall, but there are two July sightings of July 17 and July 7, in 1992 and 1981 respectively, so the sighting today (July 31), carries the historical records for July forward nearly 20 and 30 years to the present.
Long (1993) states that the kingfisher nested in the 1950s and in the 1890s near Whittier Narrows. These two records actually come from Julius Comby, who lived on the San Gabriel River eastern shore in Pico Rivera at San Jose Creek confluence. And near here are the river embankments where the kingfisher nested according to his records and notes. Erna Comby, his wife, was founder of the Whittier Audubon Society and the president of Los Angeles Audubon Society from 1942-1946, as well as the first paid salaried woman representative from California for the National Audubon Society.
And the 1890s sighting comes from Joseph Grinnell (1898) classic monograph, Birds of the Pacific Slope of Los Angeles County from the Pasadena Academy of Sciences (Throop Institute), now known as Cal Tech. Joe Grinnell knew the birds unlike any other ornithologist in our state.
Maybe someday in the near future, with some genuine restoration and recovery, the Belted Kingfisher can be year-round again and not just a migrant at Whittier Narrows?
Robert van de Hoek, President
Whittier Area Audubon Society
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