By Ina and Mike Levin
Walking is for the birds! It truly is, as we have discovered tromping through Belmont Heights. One only has to take an early morning stroll to be in the company of several kinds of birds.
Many mornings as we wander through the streets we hear all sorts of bird song. Most prevalent are the parrots. Now, we know only a little about birds, but we do recognize the unique squawk of this colorful beauty. A flock of wild parrots will often settle in a large tree. Being so green, these birds are often camouflaged by the leaves. But if you stand still and scan the tree you can see them. After their conversation with their friends (to which it is
impossible to turn a deaf ear), these chatterboxes will take off as a group, creating a dark green swath against the blue sky. There are many legends about how the wild parrots of Long Beach came to be. No one may know the truth but, however they got here, we certainly enjoy seeing AND hearing them as we walk the Heights.
The Greenbelt is another place to observe birds while walking. We have run into a peacock on occasion. We still have no idea how these majestic, but very loud, birds have made their way to Belmont Heights. On that same path, looking up at the lamp posts we have seen birds of prey although we are not sure which type. The birds have a magnificent wing span. We witnessed a chevron pattern as they spread their wings and flew away.
One just needs to take a leisurely A.M. walk around the lagoon to see water fowl. The mating pairs of mallard ducks, the males with their showy green feathered heads and the females with their dull browns and grays are fun to watch. The mud hens or coots who are all black with a touch of white on their bills swim all over. Watching the brown pelicans swoop down into the water to catch fish is fascinating as you don’t know where they’ll reemerge. According to a signpost, no fewer than 16 species can be sighted at the lagoon. One not posted is geese. In the winter, we have been delighted to have seen a few pairs. We don’t know if these beautiful birds have lost their way in flying south for the winter, or like us, know a great place to live.
So why not take a bird walk? All you need to do is walk, listen and look. We hope the birds of Belmont Heights bring you as much joy as they do us.
Ed note: Long Beach is home to a chapter of the Audubon Society: eldoradoaudubon.org/ which offers bird watching walks (check on their COVID schedule). Also, the Long Beach Public Library has several books on the birds of Southern California available to borrow for free.