The dry lakebed of Owens Lake, in Eastern California, was once a major source of pollution. Today, it’s a magnet for birds like these Eared Grebes. How was Owens Lake transformed? Pete Pumphrey of Eastern Sierra Audubon, explains: “The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was ordered to control the dust emissions, and one of the ways they chose to do that was by spreading sheets of water on the lake bed. These freshwater sheets form mudflats and shallow ponds, which have proven to be attractive to birds.”
Revitalized Bird Habitat at Owens Lake
Featuring Pete Pumphrey, President Eastern Sierra Audubon
Interview by Todd Peterson
This is BirdNote.
[Dry, gusty wind]
A little more than a decade ago, the dry lakebed of Owens Lake, in Eastern California, was the largest single [-point] source of a kind of particulate air pollution in the United States. Today it’s a magnet for hundreds of thousands of migrating and resident birds.
[Shorebirds and waterfowl, especially Eared Grebes]
How was Owens Lake transformed?
Pete Pumphrey, president of Eastern Sierra Audubon, explains:
“The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was ordered to control the dust emissions and one of the ways they chose to do that was by spreading sheets of water on the lake bed. And so these freshwater sheets form mudflats; they form shallow ponds…which have proven to be extremely attractive to birds.”
[Bring in Wilson’s Phalaropes]
“Many, many American Avocets, Western and Least Sandpipers, Long-billed Curlews, Wilson’s Phalaropes, Eared Grebes, Northern Shovelers… And then it’s also home to the largest inland breeding population of Western Snowy Plovers.”
“Our spring single-day count – we had 114,999 birds counted, which is the all-time high.”
115,000 birds on one day! Imagine! Eastern Sierra Audubon is now working to ensure permanent protection of the revitalized bird habitat of Owens Lake. Learn more at birdnote.org.
[Sounds of a variety of shorebirds and waterfowl]
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Flock of Eared Grebes  recorded by G. Budney; Wilson’s Phalarope  by R.C. Faucett; Long-billed Curlew  by G.A. Keller; huge flock of Dunlin  W.W. H. Gunn.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org August 2013 Narrator: Michael SteinMarantz V Track 205
ID# owenslake-01-2013-08-12 owenslake-01