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Hundreds Of Aquatic Birds Roost Under New Span Of Bay Bridge

EMERYVILLE (KPIX 5) – The cormorants have moved into their new homes on the new span.

When Caltrans was demolishing the old bridge, they used decoys and bird-call recordings to attract the birds to the cormorants condos built especially for them.

Crossing the Bay Bridge, you don't see them. They're under you.

Suddenly, in the last few weeks, cormorants by the hundreds have finally decided to move into specially constructed roosting areas beneath the new span.

Sea bird biologist Mark Rauzon said, "I thought it would be like 40 this year, 100 next year and then maybe 500 in three years, but to have 700 in the same season that the bridge was available, or that the old bridge was not available, that's the beautiful thing about it."

Cormorants are sea birds, they swim underwater for food.

For years, Caltrans and biologist tried to lure the birds off the old bridge as it was being torn down.

At first, the birds didn't want anything to do with the new bridge.

"We did all the usual attractions, sound, decoys, nest," Rauzon said.

Time was the key. It took time. But in the end it also took getting completely rid of the old Bay Bridge.

"There's been a lot of criticism about the money that has been spent," Rauzon said.

Caltrans spokeswoman Rocquel Johnson said, "Almost half a million. Yes, but again, they're iconic to the structure of the Bay Bridge and we definitely wanted to make sure we accommodated them."

Some say that figure is much higher, closer to $1 million for the cormorant condo.

Now that money is spent, the birds indeed did move in. You just can't see them unless you're in a boat.

Rauzon said, "Yeah in the end it took a little while, In the end it was successful…and that is gratifying."

Biologists say the next step for the Cormorants is to get the City of Berkeley to declare the old Berkeley Pier as the next Cormorant nesting area.

They expect that process to take quite some time too.

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