Bird islands

Lake Merritt is formally a wildlife sanctuary, declared in 1870, but the land itself is artificial and needs maintenance.

artificial land

The Parks and Recreation Department website says that the first bird island was built in 1925 and the other four were added in 1956. As long as I can recall (since 1989) they have been a tangle of thick foliage and tall snags, but right now the islands are undergoing a makeover. Anyone have more information?

8 Responses to “Bird islands”

  1. Joshua M. Moore Says:

    All good information above. It’s amazing what a day out on Merritt can do for you, especially if you’re aware of the unique birdlife present. Last Saturday, I was able to spot everything except the Pelican, whose moderate populations appear to be elsewhere for a few months.

    I couldn’t find an e-mail, but I have a blog that I would like to swap links with you if you’d like. It’s called All Things Oakland: Exploring the Sunny Side of the Bay. ( Last week, I had a post on Lake Merritt and thought you might be interested. You can find my e-mail on the site if you’d like to discuss advertising the other’s link – I really appreciate your blog and would like more people to read it and become on with the land beneath our feet.

    Thanks for blogging!

  2. Naomi Schiff Says:

    Maybe they need to add non-nitrogenous material to the dirt? Sand or gravel maybe?

  3. Andrew Says:

    Thanks for the note, Rebecca. I had no idea there were freshwater ponds on those islands, but that makes sense. However you must be joking about “amending the soils” when they’ve been fertilized with bird droppings for fifty years! I was watching the guys shoveling and that soil looked pretty good from where I sat.

    I look forward to the new signage and the new generation of birds.

  4. Rebecca Tuden Says:

    Thank you for commenting on the City of Oakland’s Bird Island project in Lake Merritt.

    In November 2010, the Watershed and Stormwater Management office launched a restoration project for the five Lake Merritt Bird Islands. The goal of this project is to provide valuable habitat for nesting, roosting, and foraging migrating birds. The construction will include replacing invasive and dead vegetation with new plants and trees, improving and amending the soil on the islands, improving fresh water ponds, installing improved irrigation systems, and providing interpretive signage and viewing scopes for bird observation. All construction on the islands will be completed by February 1 to avoid impacts during the nesting season.

    This project was funded through a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy and should be completed by Spring 2011. These islands were constructed in 1925 and 1956, and are part of the Lake Merritt National Wildlife Refuge. For information on other projects in Lake Merritt, such as the 12th Street project please visit our website:

  5. Andrew Says:

    I would think that cormorants have chicks! Thanks for the update.

  6. Naomi Schiff Says:

    We asked about the bird islands at Monday’s Measure DD meeting at the garden center. Contractor is working overtime, weekends and holidays now to finish as much as they can. They must suspend work as soon as the birds decide it’s nesting time. Somebody said “the birds are already starting to get into pairs and stand in line for accommodations!” There will be a hiatus until the ducklings and and cormorant pups (cormorantlings?) are beyond the nest stage, I guess. I think they said they’d get back to work in August or September.

  7. Dennis Evanosky Says:

    Here’s another tidbit:

    And this (don’t know if anything came of it); looks like there’s project plans somewhere

    Project: G323110 – Lake Merritt Bird Islands Restoration

    Engineer’s Estimate: $599,958 Required License: A
    Working Days: 90 Liquidated Damages: $1,200/calendar day

    Description: The proposed work consists of, in general, the construction of new landscaping, stabilization and shoreline improvements at the Lake Merritt Bird Islands and other work specifically shown on the project plans or included in the Special Provisions.

    Pre-Bid Meeting: 2:00 pm on Tuesday, 6/15/2010 at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza #4304, Oakland, CA.

    Failure to attend this pre-meeting may result in a determination by the City that Bidder is non-responsive, in which case the bid will be rejected.

    Bid Opening: Bids will be received until the bid opening at 2:00 pm on Thursday, 6/24/2010 at Office
    of the City Clerk, One Frank Ogawa Plaza #101, Oakland. A bid security in an amount not less than ten percent (10%) of the base bid

    I always enjoy your postings

  8. Neil Says:

    (A little) info here:

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: