Life of Delta Ponds In the middle of bustling Eugene, Oregon a vibrant ecosystem perseveres.

video by Rylee Marron

Photos by Peter Lucas, Rylee Marron, Adrienne George, Jimmy Tang, William Tierney, Cam Shultz, Cody Warren, Bryce Dole, Josh Grant, Keven Salazar and Ben Lonergan.

The story of urban resilience is often marked by decline.

Birds of Delta Ponds


Two mallards, a male (front) and female (back), walk along the trail system of Delta Ponds.
A duck stares across the path at Delta Ponds and shows its nostrils and bill. The nostrils, known as nares, lead directly to the respiratory system where they allow the duck to breath.
A duck walks away across the boardwalks at Delta Ponds. The ducks frequently sleep along the edges of the walkways and boardwalks throughout the park.
A female wood duck and two ducklings rest on a floating log at Delta Ponds in Eugene, Oregon. Wood ducks can be found nesting in tree cavities in wooded swamps, rivers and ponds. They feed on mostly seeds, however, aquatic plants, insects and crustaceans are commonly included in their diets.
A female mallard swims on Delta Pond in Eugene, Oregon. Mallards are the most common breeding and wintering duck in Oregon, and are widespread throughout the state. Females are mottled-brown, with a dark brown stripe through each eye, an orange bill with black splotching and have orange legs.
A breeding male mallard sits on a log. Male mallards are very common and easily found at the Delta Ponds. Mallards thrive in ponds where they can feed on underwater plants. The ponds serve as a place for the mallards to mate, lay eggs, feed, and live day to day on the ponds.
The Pekin Duck is a domesticated breed that is most commonly linked to egg and meat production. However, many have also chosen Pekin Ducks as pets thanks to their friendly demeanor. This breed is not native to Delta Ponds, meaning that this duck was likely abandoned, escaped, or somehow managed to otherwise become a resident of the area.
Canada Geese have a natural attraction to lawns and other similarly open spaces. The primary reason for this is derived from the unobstructed view of potential predators the open space provides.
An additional factor comes from their tendency to feed on grass, which is easily processed. Canada Geese are very commonly found in parks, golf courses, and other similarly maintained areas.
Two Canada Goose gosling swim in Delta Ponds in Eugene, Oregon. Hatchlings are born covered with yellowish down and their eyes open. Typically, these goslings tend to spend their entire first year of life under the protection and surveillance of their parents. Most of this time is simply spent sleeping and feeding.
Two Canada Geese landing in the water of Delta Ponds.
A Canada Goose and three gosling rest on the bank of Delta Ponds. An adult Canada Goose can be identified by its long black neck and white chin patch, a brown body with a slightly paler chest and white undertail. These geese nest on the ground, usually near water, and prefer an area with an unobstructed view in many directions.
Perched high above the pathways, a red-winged blackbird rests on a branch at Delta Ponds.
Mostly green and gray, Anna’s Hummingbirds have a collection of iridescent pink feathers on their throat which are only visible in direct sunlight. When shaded, the throat of this Pacific Coast native will appear a dull brown or gray.
An Anna’s Hummingbird sits atop a tree branch at Delta Ponds in Eugene, Oregon. The Anna’s Hummingbird feeds on nectar while hovering and can pluck insects out of midair or from vegetation. They are the only hummingbirds found in Oregon through the winter, which exposes them to short day lengths, finite food supplies, and severe weather.
The Cedar Waxwing is an especially social bird, making the chances of seeing more than one together very high. They often forage for berries and insects together and even will pass food items back and forth until one swallows it. These birds are also known to nest within close proximity to one another, creating small colonies.
The California Scrub-Jay is one of the most commonly seen songbirds in Delta Ponds thanks to its bright plumage, large size and distinct call.
Often found at shorelines, the Killdeer’s diet mostly consists of insects such as fly larvae, crayfish, and grasshoppers. Although it is considered a shorebird, the Killdeer is also very commonly found wherever there are open pastures, lawns, and is one of the shorebirds that is most disassociated with water features.
A crow sits on one of the fences lining the permitter of the ponds. Crows are commonly seen throughout Oregon and Delta Ponds is no exception.
A red-breasted sapsucker rests on a tree behind Russet Dr. on the far side of Delta Highway. According to the Audubon Society, this woodpecker is found exclusively on the west coast and prefers coniferous trees.
A song sparrow sings from its perch in a tree at Delta Ponds, in Eugene. The song sparrow is a common and widespread resident of Western Oregon. Both male and female song sparrows have a variety of songs that may be heard at any time of year, and juvenile birds begin to sing full songs within two months of hatching.
A western osprey hunts above the shallow ponds. This bird of prey can be found across many habitats, preferring to nest near bodies of water where plenty of fish are available.
Due to the scavenging nature of turkey vultures, they tend to be commonly located near highways, suburbs, and construction sights as a result of higher rates of roadkill. Given the location of Delta Ponds being sandwiched between residential streets and Delta Highway, it’s no wonder that they are commonly seen in the area.

Beavers & Nutria of Delta Ponds

The beavers at Delta Ponds can be spotted at almost every time of the day, but are especially active very early in the morning. They are also active near sunset swimming in small groups near the culvert dams in the deeper waters of the ponds.
When threatened, beavers will lift their paddled-tail out of the water and slap it against the surface of the water. Easily mistaken for a branch falling into the water, this loud slap is meant to scare off any predators as well as alert other beavers that danger is close. Although beavers will sometimes do this when playing with each other, it is not nearly as common.
A nutria shakes itself dry after emerging from an evening swim. Nutria are a common sight in Delta Ponds but are considered an invasive species. Native to South America, the rodents were brought to the U.S. for fur farming in the late 1800s.
Nutria are classified as an invasive species that is non-native to Oregon. Nutria’s fur ranges in the colors of dark brown to yellow-brown. One of the main features that distinguish the Nutria is its round, rat-like tail.
According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Nutria are able to consume around 25 percent of their weight daily by eating a diet of plant stems and roots, and other greens.

Insects of Delta Ponds

Lady bugs live in a variety of habitats but thrive in grasslands and fields making Delta Ponds the perfect place to call home.
The Zygoptera or Damselfly, is in the order Odonata. They are similar to dragonflies. The largest recorded size of a Damselfly reached over 150mm in length, about the length of a dollar bill.
The Damselfly is carnivorous and preys on other small insects. They feature teeth on the bottom of their mandible unlike most insects.
Anthrenu Verbasci, also known as the Carpet Beetle, is a small insect that feeds on skin, wool, silk, and other materials that contain Keratin. Not all insects can digest this material.
Chrysomelidae or, Leaf Beetles, are one of the most commonly found beetles. There are over 37,000 known species of Chrysomelidae.
The Cerambycidae is in the family of beetles that feature the Longhorn Beetle. Beetles have hard hind wings called Elytra which make them different from other flying insects.
The Zebra Jumping Spider is a non-native insect to North America and is believed to have originated from Europe. It is not considered to be an invasive species. Its diet consists of other insects like mosquitoes, flies, and even insects bigger in size.
The Boxelder Bug got its name from the fact that they are commonly found on Boxelder Trees. This Native Bug can grow to an average of half an inch, and feeds on plants as well as seeds or maple from the boxelder and silver maple tree.

Plants of Delta Ponds

Trollius-Leaved Larkspur, commonly known as the Globe Flower, is a member of the Ranunculaceae family. This family houses over 2000 known flowering plant species.
The Delta Ponds is home to a variety of grasses, rushes, and sedges. Sedges like this can be identified by their triangular stem compared to the flat stems of grasses.
Prunus virginiana, known as the Common Chokecherry is a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) Family.
They grow a dark red berry that can be seen here in it’s premature version.
The Leucanthemum Vulgare or, Ox Eye Daisy, is an invasive species that was brought to the united states from overseas. More than 40 countries around the world are home to this invasive flower.

Turtles & Frogs of Delta Ponds

Red-eared sliders like this one (identifiable by the small red stripe behind the eye) can be found in every section of Delta Ponds, competing for sunbathing real estate with other turtles. They are popular as pets, but considered invasive as they are not native to Oregon.
A western pond turtle and a male mallard sit together on a log secured to float on Delta Ponds. They can be found individually or in groups, basking in the sun on logs or taking a swim. The western pond turtle is Eugene’s only native turtle and is threatened due to invasive species and destruction of habitat from wetland draining reduced flooding. Their habitats have been separated into small patches by human activities, which leads to inbreeding and reduced genetic diversity.
The Western painted turtle is a subspecies of painted turtle found in the northern part of Oregon, western Ontario to British Columbia and south into the central United States. They prefer slow-moving shallow water with dense aquatic vegetation, a muddy bottom, and lots of basking sites. Western painted turtles are marked with bright colors of red, yellow and olive on their neck, head, tail, legs and lower shell.
A bullfrog relaxes on a shallow bank of the northern ponds. Before major habitat restoration began, most pond edges were too steep for animals to easily transition between water and land. By flattening this terrain, it allowed for much greater interaction with the ponds for plants and wildlife.
An Oregon spotted frog floats in a patch of algae at Delta Ponds in Eugene, Oregon. They are found in or near a perennial body of water that includes zones of shallow water and abundant emergent or floating aquatic plants. In Oregon, this frog species is only known to occur in Wasco, Deschutes, Klamath, Jackson and Lane counties. The Oregon spotted frog is named for the black spots that cover the head, back, sides, and legs. The juveniles frogs body color is usually brown or, occasionally, olive green on the back and white or cream with reddish pigments on the under legs and abdomen. Adults range from brown to reddish brown in color, but tend to become more red with age. They are currently listed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species due to loss of habitat, non-native plant invasions and introduction of exotic predators, such as bullfrogs and non-native fishes.
A juvenile fish swims through a murky patch of algae at the edge of Delta Ponds in Eugene, Oregon. The collection of ponds are home to multiple fish species like bluegill, largemouth bass, white crappie, and brown bullhead.

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