Friday, July 13, 2012

Echo Park Lake goose and feathered friends are doing fine after flocking to MacArthur Park

 Ross, in the foreground, with buddies at MacArthur Park. Photo by Judy Raskin

Maria, the famed Echo Park Lake goose, has been living the L.A. Zoo for more than a year now after officials grew worried about the bird’s safety and as the city prepared to drain the lake for a two-year-long clean up. But there were plenty of other not-so-famous birds and geese that called Echo Park Lake home, one of them being a relatively small, three- pound goose named Ross. While Ross lived in quietly in Maria’s shadow, the small goose  with black wing tips was well known to local birders, including Judy Raskin, who first noticed Ross in 2006. Where is Ross today now that Echo Park Lake has been drained for one year? Raskin reports that Ross – who, not coincidentally, is known as a Ross’s Goose – and a flock of other Echo Park Lake avian refugees are doing fine in nearby MacArthur Park.

Ross is certainly not living a protected and “luxe life” as is Maria at the zoo, said Raskin, who been observing the birds at Echo Park Lake for more than a dozen years and helped organize numerous annual bird counts.  Ross and the other birds hang out in the open at MacArthur Park Lake, where he frequents the lawn facing West Seventh Street near Park View Street area and a little island on the Alvarado Street side of the park south of the boathouse.
Like other Ross’s geese, the Echo Park Lake Ross now living in MacArthur Park has a small head, tiny yellow bill. It’s mostly white but adults have black wing tips that you can see when the bird is in flight. When on land,  and the bird just resting  with its wings folded,  Ross would appear to have black tail feathers but they are actually the wing tip feathers that have been folded back, Raskin said.
Weighing in at about 3 pounds, Ross is about half the size of domesticated white geese like Maria, said Raskin. Maria also seems more comfortable around humans, probably because of her close and much publicized relationship with Dominic Ehrler.
The domesticated geese “will also snap at you if they feel threatened,” said Raskin of the territorial birds. “As for Ross, my experience is only with our one lone Echo Park Lake resident. But I do not see it as aggressive in the way the domesticated white geese are. Whenever I’ve tried to get real close up for a photo, Ross moves away and gives a little squeaky call.”
Raskin said that Southern California is at tail end of the migratory route that Ross’ and some other goose species follow in winter and summer between here and the Canadian Arctic.  Why did Ross decide to make Echo Park Lake his year-around home? No one knows for sure. Raskin speculates that Ross got separates from its original flock as a young bird and was too inexperienced about making its way up north. “Inasmuch as it was inexperienced and didn’t know the route home, it remained at Echo Park Lake.”
At first,  Ross seemed to be a loner among the geese at Echo Park Lake, Raskin said. Or perhaps the other birds were keeping their distance from the newcomer.
“With a passage of time, however, Ross became part of the flock of the white domesticated geese that populate the lake.  In particular, it has 3 close buddies and I frequently saw the four of them waddling around. ”
When it came to relocate the birds from Echo Park Lake birds, Raskin, who advocated for the safety of the birds as officials prepared to drain and close lake for a $65 million clean up, recommended that Ross and its buddies be sent to MacArthur Park, which is close enough so Raskin can keep a close eye on him.
So, do Ross and other Echo Park Lake birds seem to be enjoying their new surroundings?
“As far as I can tell, they are doing fine,” Raskin, who was interviewed about the bird relocation by Hear In The City. ” Go down there and see for your self.”
July 13, 2012 from theEastsiderLA TheEastsiderLA.com

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