Santa Cruz dump, a wildlife haven, is a treat for birdwatchers

Bird Population at The City of Santa Cruz Resource Recovery Facility
SANTA CRUZ, CA – DECEMBER 13: Superintendent Craig Pearson looks over the City of Santa Cruz Resource Recovery Facility on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Santa Cruz, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Also published in The Mercury News and East Bay Times

December 2018

The sun had just risen, but its warm rays hadn’t yet crept into the bottom of the canyon. The air was crisp and clean. Birds rustled in the trees and brush around the pond in the canyon’s depths.

Red-winged blackbirds, flickers and oak titmice called from the treetops in a chatter of pert chirps and low whistles. Birdwatcher Lisa Larson pointed her binoculars at a stir in the trees — a white-throated sparrow, her first of the season.

It’s an unexpectedly pastoral scene for a city dump — one that exemplifies how landfills can be transformed into fertile homes for wildlife.