I’m reading Blues City: A Walk in Oakland, by Ishmael Reed, and in it, he does an interview with Malcolm Margolin, author of The Ohlone Way. Here’s part of what Malcolm has to say about why birds keep coming back to Lake Merritt:
Along the northern Pacific coast the watersheds that supported migrating geese have been taken over by city populations… It’s hard to tell geese that after millions of years, that’s not your land anymore… the geese population at Lake Merritt is not a result of the offspring… It’s actually a result of the geese trying to find a safe place before they lose all their flight feathers for six weeks and become land-bound.
Reading this reminded me of a night earlier this year, when I was driving a friend of mine to his apartment east of the lake. As I slowly pulled up to a red stoplight, a family of stark white geese waddled in a single-file line from the lake to the other side of the street, using the cross walk. They didn’t make it across the street before the light changed, but I’ve seen pedestrians do worse.
It was a beautiful sight and one of those Oakland memories that I’ll never forget. It’s sad to know that birds have few safe places to land, but I’m glad to know that Lake Merritt is one of those safe spaces.