To Love Larks

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

I love Meadowlarks because they’re very pretty. They’re also social, keeping company in flocks of a dozen or more. They’re hard workers, covering a lot of territory looking for their breakfast. They’re ingenious, sticking their long beak into the ground and then forcibly opening it to create a hole, the better to access buried edibles. They build their nests on the ground. I was charmed by several individuals who foraged in the grass on the east side meadow below the flare station. Then suddenly the one I was filming flew away, and the air rattled with the sound of two dozen or more other meadowlarks hidden in the grass, all taking off in a panic. A big white dog had come ripping through the grass and chased the flying flock until it flew out of his range. Then the dog circled back, discovered a bird he had missed, and chased that one into the air as well.

I was standing on the paved trail on the east side of the park watching this, when a young man standing near me said, to no one in particular, “He loves birds!” This was the dog’s owner. He knew that the dog loved to chase birds and had let the dog off leash so that he could do it. A sign declaring this an On-Leash Area stood a few paces away.

Needless to say, his idea of love for birds and mine were different.

Berkeley Animal Control is not doing its job of enforcing the leash law in the park. But we park visitors, especially responsible dog owners, can also help. We need to talk with every dog owner who has a dog off leash outside the dog park and ask them please to leash up. Leash is love.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

P.S. For the past couple of days, subscribers to this blog have received their items under the wrong names. The authors of the WordPress plugin that sends these emails have apologized and sent a fix that, they promise, restores proper functioning.

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