By Christina Tarr

On February 18, 2018, Indivisible East Bay and Golden Gate Audubon Society held a birding-and-postcard-activism event near the Rotary Nature Center at Lake Merritt in Oakland. We told people about our local avian wildlife and about the 100 year old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which proposed legislation and an interpretation of the Act by the Department of Interior are now threatening; and we told them how they can protect the birds by speaking up to protect the MBTA. Lake Merritt, the first National Wildlife Refuge in the country, was an ideal place for our event.

Kingfisher. PhotographyByRex
Kingfisher in tree at Lake Merritt. Copyright PhotographyByRex

We had two scopes zoomed in on the birds hanging out on or near the islands. A kingfisher posed for a long time on a snag, and a red-shouldered hawk sat watchfully above our table, hidden unless you happened to look in the scope. As usual, there were crowds of herons and egrets, coots, a canvasback duck, several scaup and even an American white pelican named Hank. One of our Golden Gate Audubon docents led a group on a bird walk, pointing out white-crowned sparrows, a yellow-rumped warbler, and a western bluebird on the lawn.

Bird walk Lake Merritt. Photo by Heidi Rand
Bird walk Lake Merritt. Photo by Heidi Rand

In all, people wrote 120 postcards! Most (40) wanted to send Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke a piece of their mind, but many also realized that it’s important to write to our Members of Congress even when they’re on the right side of an issue. The grand totals: Senators Feinstein (29) and Harris (23); and Representatives Lee (14), DeSaulnier (8), Swalwell (4), Pelosi (1) and even one to Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) by some tourists from Los Angeles. The front of the postcards showed off original artwork of Lake Merritt birds by local wildlife artist Maddy Donahue.

Bird walk Lake Merritt.
Bird walk & postcards at Lake Merritt. Photo by Heidi Rand

For more information and actions you can take, read Christina Tarr’s article about threats to the MBTA and check out the National Audubon Society’s Action Center’s talking points.

Christina Tarr is a local librarian with an interest in birds and wild places.

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