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A Morning Call

Every morning as commuters squint through sleepy eyes from behind sunglasses and visors and shift into high gear to start their day, another kind of awakening takes place not more than a stone’s throw from two of Southern California’s most traveled freeways.

With the dawn’s early light comes the sound of a frog’s throaty call. Ducks chatter as they make their way from the shoreline onto the lake as the morning mist slowly rises above them. A great blue heron and a great egret glide majestically over the lake as they seek a spot to land to begin the day’s search for food.

The steady hum of insects starts to fill the cool morning air, drowning out any hint of the industrialized world that surrounds this little corner of the San Fernando Valley.

The 10-acre lake at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Refuge is borne of treated water from the nearby Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. The basin, also known as the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased to the city of Los Angeles. The refuge encompasses 108 acres of the area and serves as home throughout the year to approximately 200 species of birds, according to Arthur Langton, a member of the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society. At different times of the year Canadian geese, osprey, red-tailed hawks or yellow-breasted chat may call this place home.

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Just as the San Diego and Ventura freeways meet less than a mile away, the refuge is a crossroads for resident and migratory birds. It’s an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle.


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