There are native birds in Aliso Beach, one of which is the California Sea Gull. Aliso Beach has a strange relationship with this particular bird. The California Sea Gull is ever present at this South Laguna Beach. I almost say that sarcastically because this bird is like an insect….because it can be an absolute pest. The California Sea Gull is federally protected and it seems to know it by the way members of its species beg for food on the beach! The problem is that these things love people food and with the best of intentions, many people think they are doing these birds a favor. My question to you is…where in the natural habitat will a sea gull find the types of scraps we throw them? Answer: Nowhere! People may be silly enough to eat some of the things they do but they are not appropriate for sea gulls!
Thinking for a minute about why this bird finds Aliso Beach so attractive, I can think of several reasons. The reason that is consistent with nature is that they are indigenous to the California Coast. The coastal cliffs in the Aliso Beach area are great for sea gulls that are able to build nests and nurture their young protected from the human element as best they can be. In the summer, this is a beach where families come with ice chests and bags full of food. Trust us when we tell you that sea gulls are pretty indiscriminate when they eat and they always seem hungry. I am not sure how this particular gull did it, but I watched one land on the top of a trash can at Aliso Beach. He was bigger than the typical sea gull and had a long neck. It reached over the top and into the the open part of the trash can to pull out half of a burrito wrapped in foil. How on earth did it know? The point is this. Sea gulls love Aliso Beach because there seems to be an opportunity to get a human being to help with a few snacks both willingly and unwillingly. I have seen a man drive around the parking lot slowly with sea gulls on the top of his SUV as he reaches out and feeds bread crumbs to them by hand.
There is a penalty for this type of behavior and those that suffer are not limited to the guy who thinks he needs to cruise the parking lot while feeding the gulls on his car. When there are lots of sea gulls in the air, the likelihood of getting pooped on from above increases. We know because it has happened to us, and we would prefer not to have it happen to us at all. The same day I saw the guy feeding the gulls from his moving SUV, I saw another gull land on the trunk area of a brand new, $100k plus Mercedes and with a skidding landing, scratched the paint. If I were the owner of that car wh0 had his car damaged by a gull that had learned to land on cars to be fed, I would be upset. The gulls will also poop on the park benches and all over any area that they circle around from above with the expectation of being fed. That puts all visitors to Aliso Beach at risk. Good thing we love the water…it’s safer there! The picture you see to the right is a large wave breaking at Aliso Beach (Photo Credit: Scotty Carter) that shows a wave chasing sea gulls that were resting on the shore. Given that sea gulls sometimes pester us for food while we are hanging out and sometimes cover the park benches in you know what, we think a large wave at Aliso Beach chasing the sea gulls is funny! The truth is that sea gulls are a part of the Aliso Beach experience. We just don’t recommend that you feed them. They know what to do to get a meal with their natural programming on their own, so let’s not give these things bread, chips, and fries.
You may also see California Brown Pelicans. They will fly above in V-Formations like squadrons of fighters headed for battle. When they get hungry, you may see them dive bomb the water in close proximity to you and come back up with a fish in its bill. They seem very clumsy but their physical gifts make sure they eat! You may also see them lounging in the surf and even drafting the backs of waves. Pelicans are amazing creatures. While the sea gulls at Aliso Beach will beg you for food, the pelicans are content getting a meal the way their DNA has programmed them too! I would call this the “Old Fashioned Way. They eaaaaaaaaarn it”!
Another local bird that you will see on the Aliso Beach grounds is the humming bird. When the aloe plants on the hill are in bloom, you will see this nectar loving bird swoop in for a drink. They are fast and they spook easy. They arrive one minute and they are gone if startled in the blink of an eye. Wings moving a million miles an hour, they have made hovering to drink from sweet flowers an art form. If you are lucky enough, the humming bird will do its thing long enough for you to snap a picture of it. Scotty Carter, a photographer that has made Aliso Beach a large part of the focus of his photography and art, caught this little guy coming in for a drink. The amazing part of this image is that the little bird seems to know Scotty is there and acknowledge his presence. While these things are super fast, here one second and gone the next, the way this one kind of fluttered and revealed itself to the camera is pretty amazing.
These are three of the many birds that you will see at Aliso Beach. We will be adding more as we go after we are able to identify the species from some of Scotty Carter’s photographs. Check back often!