Ducks Dying in Popular Redwood Shores Bird-Watching Pond

The pond will be drained following the death of 150 ducks, presumably from an outbreak of avian cholera. The public is asked to report any dead birds to U.S. Fish & Wildlife.

SBSA’s Popular Bird-Watching Pond to Be Drained after Apparent Attack of Avian Cholera Kills 150 Ducks Photo: South Bayside System Authority
SBSA’s Popular Bird-Watching Pond to Be Drained after Apparent Attack of Avian Cholera Kills 150 Ducks Photo: South Bayside System Authority

[Editor's Note: The following information was received by Patch from the South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) and is reprinted here.]

Citing a serious threat to wildlife, the South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) wastewater facility in Redwood City will drain its popular bird-watching pond beginning Friday because an apparent outbreak of avian cholera has killed nearly 150 ducks since Friday, January 3.

A U.S. Fish & Wildlife official is reporting news of avian cholera in Hayward and now, possibly in Redwood City. At this time the cause of the ducks death at the Radio Road site has not been confirmed but is suspected to be the spread of avian cholera from the East Bay.

“Please note that this does not pose a threat to humans, but can cause death to waterfowl, gulls, and other species,” said Melisa Amato, Wildlife Refuge Specialist & Hunt Program Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

She is asking the public to “please report any large numbers of dead birds (more than 10) to cheryl_strong@fws.gov or rachel_tertes@fws.gov, especially if these birds appear to be fresh and have no obvious signs of death or there are more on a regular basis.”   

The popular SBSA “pond” that greets visitors to the plant at 1400 Radio Road, Redwood City – at the southeast end of Redwood Shores – is technically called a landscape impoundment. It was created in 1998 on the west side of the treatment plant to eliminate dust from the dry barren dirt in the area.

“Over the years this body of water has met the goal of eliminating dust from the dry, bare land next to the treatment plant and has become a popular spot for bird watchers, The dust proved detrimental to the lifespan of the plant’s equipment, especially the electrical system and instrumentation devices ”  noted SBSA Manager Dan Child.

On its website, the Sequoia Audubon Society says that SBSA’s landscape impoundment “is a perpetual favorite among local birders, for its fabulous numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds, and the constant hope, often fulfilled, of rarities. It is not uncommon to see over 10,000 birds from the security of your car, all close enough to be identified with binoculars (although a scope is a spectacular asset at this location).

Radio Road has it all: easy access, constant numbers of birds, rarities, opportunities for study of breeding and of vagrancy, a variety of habitats in a small space, no barriers for those with disabilities, and, for birders who have canine companions, there is a dog park right here!”

The pond is kept fresh by a flow of fresh recycled water from the treatment facility to replace water lost by evaporation and by allowing a certain amount to overflow back to the treatment plant. Peak water flow to the pond in the hot season can reach over 100,000 gallons per day of water from the recycled water system.

keisha January 10, 2014 at 04:24 PM
It it could be a number of excuses we will be told. Could it be the construction that it interferring with theit habitat ? Could it be the pollution we cause on a daily with these new buildings, strcutures and hazards we constantly put into our air ? Could it be some one could be poisining them so they can build more something somewhere for someone !! Who knows!! Its just sad that no one has looked into fast enough to get an answer. Isn't Redwood City filled with BioTechs and Medical facilities that they could find an answer rather than writing a story. I am just saying. #whathappenedtolovingnature
LocalRez January 11, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Has the water in that pond been tested? When they say they are going to drain it, exactly where are they draining it to? Is there a possibility that they will just be spreading the contaminant to other locations? Seems logical that treating a smaller amount might be easier and less dangerous than spreading the contaminants to the rest of the bay which is probably where it's going. Sure they want to dilute it but at some level isn't it an issue that they are dumping contaminated water into the bay? Seems like a bad idea, just like dumping oil in the bay wouldn't be allowed, should this be? What if it spreads to the marshlands. Seems to me there is more to this story that the public isn't getting. Where are Save the Bay and Baykeeper on this issue?


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