These Rare Owls Are Taking Over A Ghost Town Near The LAX Airport

These owls seem to have the best deal on coastal real-estate in LA!

What once was a beachfront community called Surfridge, adjacent from the Los Angeles International Airport, is now two miles of dunes covered in sand, native brush, and invasive weeds. [Featured photo: U.S. Geological Survey/LA Times]

The neighborhoods disappeared decades ago as the jet age became a booming industry, leaving the area to reclaim its natural state. Now, 302-acres serve as a ghost town of vanished homes and natural preserve which host a growing list of protected and endangered species. SO you can imagine how excited scientists were to discover that 10 burrowing owls are now calling this preserve their home, being the most of their species seen in LA in over 40 years! Among the raptor crew are a breeding pair that occasionally hiss at those who pass by, in an attempt to protect their growing family.

If you’re not familiar with the LAX Dunes Preserve, picture a little wild island surrounded by asphalt, subdivisions, and freeways that is off-limits to the public. Why did the wintering owls select this unique place to nest up? Well, it happens to be the only place left for the species to go in the city. The reappearance of these scarce owls, after such a long absence, follows the completion of a 1990 restoration program which is now being recognized as one the most successful in Southern California!

The preserve is also home to 900 species of plants and animals, including the endangered El Segundo butterflies, native evening primrose and the federally protected bird, California gnatcatchers. Federal scientists are currently working on proposals to reintroduce animals that roamed the dunes centuries ago, like the Pacific pocket mouse – a critically endangered, thumb-sized mammal previously found only on a gun range at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, about 115 miles south.


Also published on Medium.

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