The STaTe of The BirdS
San franciSco Bay
PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture
Purpose Produced by PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.
This report summarizes the current state PRBO Conservation The San Francisco Bay
of knowledge on the bird populations of San Science (PRBO) is Joint Venture is one of
Francisco Bay, while also recommending dedicated to conserving eighteen Joint Ventures
science-based actions needed to conserve them birds, other wildlife, established under The
and the habitats they depend upon. and ecosystems through Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Within this report are population trends, innovative scientific and funded under the annual
threats, and recommended actions for land and research and outreach. Our Interior Appropriations Act.
water managers, policy-makers, non-profit 120 staff and seasonal biologists use the studies It brings together public and private agencies,
conservation groups, and researchers. of birds and their habitats to guide biodiversity conservation groups, development interests, and
conservation from Alaska to Antarctica. PRBO is others to restore wetlands and wildlife habitat
The messages delivered through the report
especially active in San Francisco Bay wetlands, in San Francisco Bay watersheds and along the
aim to enhance bird conservation in San
where we currently play a lead role guiding the Pacific coasts of San Mateo, Marin and Sonoma
Francisco Bay by (1) guiding habitat restoration,
restoration and management of thousands of counties. The goal of the San Francisco Bay
management, and acquisition; (2) increasing
acres of tidal habitats. PRBO also studies the Joint Venture is to protect, restore, increase, and
knowledge of the population status of San
ecosystem effects of climate change and uses enhance all types of wetlands, riparian habitat,
Francisco Bay’s birds and the threats to their
scientific analyses to inform land managers and associated uplands throughout the San
habitats; and (3) influencing public policy
and decision-makers about priority actions for Francisco Bay region to benefit birds, fish, and
and public awareness of bird and ecosystem
conserving ecosystems and wildlife. other wildlife.
Please cite as: Pitkin, M. and Wood, J. (Editors). 2011. The State of the Birds, San Francisco Bay.
PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.
Foreword ......................................2 Human-created Habitats ................18
Overview .....................................4 Upland Habitats ...........................20
Tidal Flats .....................................6 Endangered Species .....................22
Managed Ponds ............................8 Policy .........................................30
Tidal Marsh .................................12 Success Stories ............................34
Tidal Marsh Herons and Egrets .......14 Contributors.................................38
Subtidal Habitat ...........................16 Photographers .............................40
South San Francisco Bay salt pond restoration area
Foreword about bird populations and their recent
trends in the Bay Area.
San Francisco Bay and its surroundings have San Francisco Bay is an area of
always been in a state of change, but the rate hemispheric importance to migratory
and magnitude of changes have accelerated waterbirds. It harbors populations of
dramatically ever since gold mining in the species that have undergone evolution-
mid-1800s deluged the Bay with sediments and ary diversification in different parts of
contaminants. More recently, burgeoning urban the Bay. Several of these populations
development and the alteration of freshwater are officially recognized as Threatened
flows into the Bay – resulting from massive or Endangered, and others are of
re-engineering of water distribution in the special conservation concern. In a
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – have increased broader sense, birds are indicators of
pressures on natural ecosystems. And while the overall condition of habitats and
Shorebirds in San Francisco Bay
the future is always uncertain, there is little ecosystems in the Bay – the proverbial
question that sea level rise and storm surges will “canaries in the coal mine.” Tidal- The State of the Birds report details the many
fundamentally alter both urban and natural areas marsh species can tell us not only about the con- factors that threaten bird populations in the Bay
around the periphery of the Bay. dition of the marshes, but about the capacity of Area. Some of these – predators ranging from
In order to manage and conserve ecological those marshes to provide huge benefits to people house cats to Peregrine Falcons; competition
systems in the context of past changes, and – ecosystem services – through flood protection with invasive species such as Barred Owls;
adaptively respond to ongoing and future and enhancement of water quality. And, at the or continuing loss of habitat in the face of
changes, it is essential to understand where we end of the day, birds are an essential part of what development – are clear and present dangers.
are now. The State of the Birds: San Francisco makes San Francisco Bay a truly special place. Others, such as the drowning of marsh habitats
Bay 2011 summarizes what we currently know due to sea level rise, are lurking in the future.
2 John A. Wiens (PRBO Conservation Science)
Yet others may be consequences of our own Dealing with the conservation
conservation work. A major effort is now challenges is not simple. But
underway to restore a network of artificial neither is it impossible. At a
ponds once used for salt production to tidal time when news reports seem
marshes. This restoration will create new habitat to contain only discouraging
for marsh-dwelling species such as Common messages about the state of
Yellowthroats and Clapper Rails. At the same nature, The State of the Birds
time, it will reduce the amount of shallow open- indicates that populations of
water ponds that some nesting birds, ducks, and many species in the Bay Area
wintering shorebirds currently use. are stable or increasing, and it
How these ripple effects play out may depend highlights several examples of
on whether other processes (such as sea level conservation success. These,
rise) create suitable habitat elsewhere and together with the many specific
if habitat created specifically for ducks and recommendations for actions
shorebirds within the restoration project proves by managers, scientists, or the
successful. This largest restoration project on public that may help to counter
the West Coast is something to be proud of, downward trends for other Arrowhead Marsh, Oakland shoreline
especially as it moves forward with ongoing species, give hope.
monitoring helping to quantify the impact to Above all, the report emphasizes the for more than a decade. Continued monitoring
birds, making course corrections as needed importance of monitoring. We know what will enable us to spot troubling trends and take
to ensure the most benefit for birds in the San we know now because populations of several actions to address the root causes before they
Francisco Bay Estuary. species in the Bay Area have been monitored become emergency-room cases.
Overview low levels, and the Least Tern may be starting to
stabilize after years of population growth.
In this first ever State of the Birds report for
San Francisco Bay, we learn that most bird Grassland and coastal scrub-chaparral
populations are stable. Some species are clearly birds are losing habitat.
benefiting from conservation action while others Species in these habitat types continue to be
are struggling. In the following pages, the report impacted by loss and degradation of habitat
highlights these trends, challenges, and the from development, invasive species, and lack of
actions people can take to make a difference. natural disturbances such as fire. These trends
are consistent with the declining trend found in
Most bird populations are stable. the National State of the Birds Report, 2009.
When we evaluated groups of birds for each
habitat, we found that most are now stabilizing. California Clapper Rail still struggles. Over one million shorebirds use the tidal flats and
shallow ponds of the San Francisco Bay each year.
This includes birds dependent upon subtidal Perhaps one of the Bay’s most iconic birds,
(submerged) habitats, tidal flats, marshes, and this rail still struggles because of habitat loss, All habitat types harbor species at risk.
oak woodlands and the endangered Spotted Owl. predator pressure, and invasive species. Sea
Declines can be early warnings of a decline
level rise will make it even harder for rails to
Riparian birds and two endangered persist as they are pushed into marginal habitat
in ecosystem function. Causes of declines need
species have increased. with rising seas and strong storms. Tidal marsh
to be investigated and actions should be taken
Riparian birds – species that require stream- to stabilize bird populations. Species to watch
restoration efforts and scientific monitoring must
side habitat – and two of our threatened and include: California Clapper Rail, Western
continue to ensure that this endangered bird can
endangered species, the Snowy Plover and Least Sandpiper, Forster’s Tern, Caspian Tern,
persist into the future, especially as the location
Tern, have shown some increases. Recently, the Black-crowned Night Heron, Snowy Egret,
and extent of marsh habitat change.
Snowy Plover has been increasing from very Canvasback, Northern Pintail, scaup and scoters.
4 Melissa Pitkin (PRBO Conservation Science)
Sea level rise is a critical threat. Predator and invasive species control
Habitat restoration needs to take advantage of must continue.
the best scientific modeling to predict the best Both animal and plant, and native and non-
places to restore marshes and guide restoration native predators and invasive species, remain an
design to ensure that marshes, and the benefits ongoing threat. Funding is needed for predator
they provide wildlife and people, are maintained. control, invasive removal, and outreach to the
public on their role in reducing predators (such
Extreme weather events are predicted.
as feral cats) and invasive species.
Climate models predict more frequent extreme
weather events, such as strong storms and heat Human activities can be designed to
waves, as the climate changes. These unusually reduce impacts to birds.
strong events can cause nest failure, facilitate Disturbance from human recreation, mainte- Critical long-term monitoring research for
predation, and cause individual bird death. nance, and transportation activities is something Clapper Rails and Black Rails.
we can control and reduce to lessen pressures to
The amount of tidal flat habitat needed
birds during their sensitive nesting period. Science must continue.
requires more study.
Continued monitoring of the Bay’s bird
Keeping one million shorebirds in San Francisco
populations is necessary, to evaluate our success
Bay requires better understanding of how many
at maintaining healthy ecosystems. Birds are the
acres of tidal flats are needed to maintain the
proverbial “canary in the coal mine.” Tracking
Bay’s high shorebird numbers. Understanding
their populations will help us solve problems
how sea level rise will change the amount and
before they become “emergency-room cases.”
location of tidal flats is a high research priority.
A mix of public and private funding is
Restorationists can learn from one
To ensure our ability to protect existing habitats,
The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
respond to new threats, and maintain and
will provide valuable lessons for future marsh
enhance the quality of Bay waters upon which
restorations within the Bay.
birds and people depend, a mix of funding
Restored wetlands in Sonoma Baylands. sources is necessary.
Status — Overall stable, with a geographic
South Central North
shift from south to north.
300,000 Trends — Overall, the shorebird population
Total Number of Shorebirds
in San Francisco Bay has remained stable
since the 1990s, but an increase in the
North Bay and apparent decrease in the
Central and South Bays indicate a shift of
100,000 shorebirds from south to north.
50,000 One of the more common species, the
0 Western Sandpiper, appears to have
Exposed twice a day by the Bay’s low tides,
November high tide roost counts of shorebirds Two other common species — Least
tidal flats are teeming with life. Small clams,
throughout San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. Sandpiper and Willet — have increased
marine worms, and crustaceans feed more greatly.
than one million shorebirds each year. Today, Keeping one million shorebirds in San
42% of the Bay’s tidal flats have been lost Francisco Bay will require maintaining
compared to historic levels. sufficient tidal flat habitat as well as other
shallow water habitats, especially as sea
In addition, shorebirds in San Francisco Bay
level rises. The amount of tidal flat and other
are also dependent on salt ponds, many of habitats needed by shorebirds should be
which are now managed to maximize their determined.
value as shorebird breeding and foraging
habitat. (See Managed Ponds, pages 8–11,
for more information.)
San Francisco Bay is so critical to the health
of shorebird populations that it has been
designated a Site of Hemispheric Importance Willet
for Shorebirds (www.whsrn.org).
6 Julian Wood and Gary Page (PRBO Conservation Science)
Primary threat: Loss of Planning, Management, and Restoration
tidal flat feeding habitat Plan for mudflat creation and Minimize pollution
due to sea level rise, erosion sustainability by conducting from runoff on paved
from storm surges, and physical modeling exercises and surfaces, allowing
invasive plants (e.g., hybrid assessing those results over time rainfall to soak into the
Spartina). to ensure that current and future ground; convey and
Loss of shallow water coastal defense (e.g., levees, treat storm water runoff
feeding habitat, as former rip-rap, and seawalls), salt pond using landscape features Western Sandpipers
salt ponds transition to restoration, and development such as rain gardens and
tidal marsh through active does not reduce mudflats. Future other water conservation
restoration or through levee restoration should focus on systems.
failure due to impacts of sea increasing both tidal flat and tidal Determine the amount of ponds,
Manage for a mix of pond
level rise. marsh habitats. other shallow water habitat,
conditions with depths ranging
and tidal flats needed to support
Reduction of food Maintain shallow pond feeding from 2 to 5 cm and salinities
the Bay’s breeding and migratory
(invertebrates) caused by and roosting habitat, especially from 120 to 200 ppt for optimum
invasions of non-native when tidal flats are inaccessible shorebird use.
invertebrates, pollution, and during high tides. Conduct early winter Bay-wide
Provide and protect roosting
climate change impacts. shorebird surveys annually to spot
Control non-native plants that habitat away from areas of
potential declines quickly. Participate
Human-caused colonize mudflats (e.g., hybrid frequent human use.
as a citizen scientist in the Pacific
disturbance to feeding and Spartina).
Reduce human-caused Flyway Shorebird Survey (www.
resting shorebirds, resulting Remove non-essential barriers disturbance (e.g., hiking, dog prbo.org/pfss).
in birds having less energy such as dams, culverts, levees, and walking, boating) in areas where
for migration and survival. Monitor site-specific shorebird
other structures that inhibit natural shorebirds feed in high densities
response to restoration, and study
Loss of high tide flow and settling of sediment. (e.g., Napa River tidal flats,
how mudflat characteristics influence
roosting habitat such as San Leandro Bay, and Hayward
Restore watersheds to facilitate habitat quality for shorebirds.
levees, islands, structures, southward to southern San
movement of tidal flats to higher
and high ground as sea level Francisco Bay). Collaborative Conduct research to better
areas as sea level rises and to
rises, levees are removed planning between the San understand and predict changes
promote movement of sediment
or deteriorate, and islands Francisco Bay Water Trail and the in tidal flat habitat in the context
downstream to feed tidal flats.
within restored ponds are Bay Trail can consider actions to of sea level rise and potentially
submerged. minimize disturbance. decreasing sediment supply.
Northern Shoveler Status: Mixed.
female As restoration progresses, the bird community
may change: tidal marsh species (pages
12–13) will colonize newly created salt
marsh habitat; some waterbirds, such as
shorebird and duck species that use open
water or tidal flats, may move out. Ongoing
monitoring will track how bird species and
Commercial salt ponds were constructed numbers change over time.
around the edge of San Francisco Bay begin-
ning in the mid 1800s. Many former salt
production ponds in San Francisco Bay have Caspian Terns Forster’s Terns
Number of Breeding Terns in San Francisco Bay
recently transitioned to public ownership and 4,000
are being restored and managed for wildlife. 3,500
These shallow ponds now provide habitat for
hundreds of nesting terns, gulls, and shorebirds, 2,000
and roosting and feeding habitat for hundreds 1,500
of thousands of migrating and wintering shore- 500
birds and ducks. 0
1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010
The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
Forster’s and Caspian Tern use of salt ponds –
(15,100 acres) plans to restore 50–90% of the Declining; the Forster’s Tern breeding population varies
South Bay ponds to a mix of tidal marsh and annually but is declining Bay-wide. Caspian Terns show a
shallow managed ponds. The Napa-Sonoma decrease, especially in recent years.
Forster’s Terns at nest site
Marshes Wildlife Area in the North Bay is
restoring 4,200 acres of salt ponds to tidal
marsh. Cargill Salt still manages about 11,000
acres for salt production, all in the South Bay.
8 Josh Ackerman and Arriana Brand (U.S. Geological Survey);
Jill Demers and Catilin Robinson-Nilsen (San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory)
Nesting Shorebirds (South Bay
ponds) – Population trends unknown,
Number of Breeding California Gulls
underscoring the need for ongoing
35,000 50,000 monitoring of breeding shorebirds.
40,000 American Avocets and Black-necked
20,000 30,000 Stilts are the most abundant nesting
shorebirds; breeding American Avocets
10,000 are estimated at 1,380 pairs, and
Black-necked Stilts are estimated at
1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 590 pairs, as of 2003.
California Gulls (South Bay ponds) – Increasing rapidly; the Wintering Dabbling Ducks (South Bay ponds) –
population is now at 46,000 gulls. Have increased in the last seven years: see the Success
Stories section, page 34.
100,000 Note: The Western Snowy Plover
also nests in the salt ponds; see the
50,000 Endangered Species section, page 24.
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Spring-Migrating Small Shorebirds (North and Spring-Migrating Medium-sized Shorebirds (North
South Bay ponds) – Have remained relatively stable. and South Bay ponds) – Have increased slightly, according
to eight years of monitoring by USGS.*
*Data for medium-sized and small shorebirds and dabbling ducks come from peak counts for shorebirds (spring) and
Please turn to page 10.
ducks (winter) in North and South Bay ponds.
(continued from page 9)
Primary threat: Loss of shallow pond Contaminants impairing bird reproduction.
habitat for roosting, foraging, and nesting Mercury, a legacy of years of mercury mining
waterbirds. Wintering and migratory shorebirds and use of mercury in gold mining, is a prevalent
roost and feed in salt ponds at high tide. Ducks contaminant throughout San Francisco Bay.
utilize shallow, low salinity ponds to forage and Mercury is especially high in the South Bay,
roost. Terns and shorebirds nest on islands and where runoff from a large mercury mine in the
levees in pond habitat. upper watershed has released, and continues
to release, mercury-laden sediments. Mercury
Rising sea levels from global climate change
impacts waterbird reproduction, specifically for
may increase water depths or erode levees and
the Forster’s Tern, in which 48% of breeding
nesting islands, impacting habitat for wintering,
adults are at or above high risk of impaired
migrating, and nesting birds.
reproduction due to their present methylmercury
Nest predation and competition from a concentrations.
growing population of California Gulls,
which prey upon eggs and chicks or displace
nesting waterbirds. Forster’s and Caspian Terns
have already been displaced from some of their
historic nesting colonies by gulls.
Shorebirds in managed pond habitat
American Avocets in breeding plumage
Planning, Management, and Restoration Scientists
Convert a large proportion of salt ponds to Monitor changes in abundance of breeding,
managed ponds. Maintain ponds with appropriate migrating, and wintering waterbirds over time to
depths – and habitat of varying salinities – to benefit evaluate the overall effects of restoration.
nesting, migrating, and wintering shorebirds and Northern Shoveler male
Determine current breeding population size of
nesting American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts.
Practice adaptive management by monitoring Monitor their use, density, and reproductive success at
waterbird responses to restoration and modifying created islands.
restoration as needed (as in the South Bay Salt Pond
Assess habitat characteristics that enhance
waterbird densities, (e.g. water quality, water depth,
Continue to create islands within managed ponds salinity, invertebrate biomass, island characteristics),
for breeding and roosting birds. Experiment with and provide restoration project managers with habitat
adding vegetation to some islands to create cover for characteristics that could maximize densities of
chicks. waterbirds in the remaining ponded habitat as tidal
marsh restoration proceeds.
Improve dissolved oxygen within managed ponds
by optimizing water flow between pond and Bay Suggest ways to reduce the population growth of
waters and reducing nutrient inputs from adjacent California Gulls and their impact on other breeding
uplands. waterbirds by identifying the causes of population
growth and evaluating methods to control it.
Conduct an education campaign to highlight the
connection between urban waters and the Bay. Assess and track the changes in methylmercury
concentration in nesting Forster’s Terns, American
Slow the growth of the California Gull population
Avocets, and Black-necked Stilts as tidal restoration
by reducing gull access to trash at local landfills
proceeds. Determine reproductive threshold
and other areas. Evaluate whether removal of target
concentrations of methylmercury in waterbirds to
gulls helps reduce predation pressures on nesting
assess changes in risk of contaminant exposure as a
result of tidal restoration efforts.
Identify, protect, or manage key existing
waterbird nesting areas Bay-wide, given that
waterbird populations may be affected by a reduction
of pond habitat.
Success Story • South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project – See page 34
Tidal Marsh 4
Status: Stable to increasing
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 The three species chosen to indicate the
state of the tidal marsh are Song Sparrow,
Song Sparrow – The most common tidal marsh bird is Common Yellowthroat, and Black Rail. Data
overall stable, but the last 10 years show declines. were collected from over 200 locations
throughout San Francisco Bay Estuary using
0.5 5-minute point count surveys during April–
May to assess breeding season density (birds
Tidal marshes are the vegetated, tidally Density
Song Sparrow – Stable overall (decreasing
influenced wetlands found along the edges of 0.2 North Bay and Suisun Bay; increasing South
San Francisco Bay and associated channels. Bay)
Pacific cordgrass, pickleweed, and other Salt Marsh Common Yellowthroat – Slightly
specialized plants adapted to salty water 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 increasing.
provide important habitat for many animal California Black Rail – Recently increasing.
Saltmarsh Common Yellowthroat – Prefers channels
species, such as young salmon and other
and brackish marshes and has increased since the 1990s. Note: For California Clapper Rail, see
fishes, rails, songbirds, shorebirds, egrets, Endangered Species section, page 22.
ducks, and the endangered salt marsh harvest 0.25
mouse. Some animals, like the indicator 0.20
species here and the salt marsh harvest
mouse, are endemic to the tidal marshes of 0.15
San Francisco Bay – meaning they do not 0.10
occur anywhere else in the world. While 0.05
80% of historic tidal marsh habitat has been
lost since the mid-1800s, growing marsh 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
restoration efforts are reversing this trend and California Black Rail
California Black Rail – Recent increases give hope for
causing the acreage to increase again. this State-listed species.
12 Julian Wood and Nadav Nur (PRBO Conservation Science)
Primary threat: Rising Invasive plants, Planning, Management, and Halt development on
sea level resulting in some particularly invasive Restoration existing or potential
marshes “drowning” or Spartina hybrids (crosses Support and use sea level rise modeling future baylands
disappearing and other between native cordgrass tools to better understand impacts on tidal including salt ponds,
marshes transitioning from and introduced cordgrasses), marsh habitat due to climate change, and diked baylands, and uplands with future
fresh water to brackish cover mudflat areas and to prioritize areas for preservation and marsh potential.
marsh or from high marsh channels, eliminating restoration of marsh habitat. For an example Control introduced predators such as
to low marsh. Limited space important feeding sites of a model focused on predicting Bay-wide red foxes and feral house cats, especially
remains along the Bay’s for shorebirds and marsh changes to the tidal marsh ecosystem, visit in areas with high concentrations of marsh
shoreline for marshes to birds. Pepperweed invades www.prbo.org/sfbayslr. birds. Educate the public about the impact
expand or regenerate. marshes and channel edges, of cats on bird populations, and remove
Identify and protect upland areas for
Loss and conversion of outcompeting gumplant and feral cat feeding stations.
marshes to move to as sea level rises.
restorable marsh due to other native marsh plants
Promote restoration in high-priority Reduce native predator populations
urbanization (especially required by Song Sparrows
areas like the Petaluma and Napa River (raccoon, skunk, crow, and raven) by
in south and central Bay) and Common Yellowthroats
systems and South San Francisco Bay that eliminating or securing food waste in parks,
threaten potential future for nesting and cover.
are better able to cope with rising sea levels. residential areas, businesses, and other
marsh locations. Introduced and sources near the Bay.
increased predators such Promote re-use of clean sediment from
Extreme storm events Monitor and control introduced invasive
as non-native red foxes, dredged navigation channels to jump-start
push water beyond typical plants early, when costs are lower, or when
Norway rats,and house marsh restoration in subsided areas or to
high tide levels, eroding a direct threat to marsh birds is likely.
cats, and native raccoons, help marshes keep pace with sea level rise
marsh habitat and flooding
corvids, and gulls prey in the future.
high marsh – critical as Scientists
refugia for marsh birds. upon birds nesting in Restore high-ground refugia, such as
Monitor marsh bird population sizes
High water can flood marshes surrounding the broad levee slopes and gradual upland
and reproduction annually to determine
nests and push rails and Bay. Predator numbers are transitions, with native vegetation to offer
Bay-wide trends and to evaluate the success
other marsh animals to usually inflated near urban birds and small mammals refuge from high
of conservation efforts. Make results known
higher ground and adjacent areas. tide events.
to conservation practitioners and the public.
urbanized areas, where they Pollution, contaminants, Support the South Bay Salt Pond
Advance predictive modeling of future
are vulnerable to predators. and toxic events such Restoration Project, and promote it as
habitat conditions and bird response, to
High water events are as oil spills directly kill a model for future restoration efforts.
guide habitat acquisition and restoration.
predicted to become more birds as well as vegetation, This large restoration project can serve
severe and more frequent fish, and invertebrates. as a demonstration project, as it is being Assess contaminant thresholds in birds,
with climate change. Mercury, PCBs, and adaptively managed to ensure the most to evaluate impacts of mercury and other
other contaminants affect benefit to the San Francisco Bay ecosystem. toxins to marsh birds.
Success Stories South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project – See page 34 Carl’s Marsh restoration – See page 34
Habitat Type Status: Overall stable with large
variation between years
Herons and Egrets
Status: Stable to decreasing.
Great Blue Heron Great Egret
The number of nests of herons and egrets
throughout San Francisco Bay shows
800 dramatic variation from year to year with an
700 apparent decrease in the last 5–10 years.
Number of Nests
Large between-year declines are related to
heavy rainfall, which can reduce the survival
300 of young birds before they are old enough to
1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009
Great Blue Herons (blue) and Great Egrets (red) reveal
dynamic but generally stable populations.
Nest colony on Sherman Island in the
North Bay Black-crowned Night Heron Snowy Egret
San Francisco Bay’s herons and egrets 700
depend on large trees, dense types of
Number of Nests
vegetation, and man-made structures 400
surrounded by tidal marsh, tidal mudflats, and 300
non-tidal wetlands for nesting in spring and 200
summer and for feeding year-round. Important 100 Great Egret feeding half-grown chicks
feeding sites also include creeks and ponds. 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009
View a map of the locations of all known egret
Black-crowned Night-Herons (blue) and Snowy Egrets
and heron colonies in the San Francisco Bay (red) show dramatic variation in nesting abundances; however,
Area: www.egret.org/googleearthheronries. recent trends (since 2005) suggest regional declines.
14 John Kelly (Audubon Canyon Ranch);
Contributors: John Kelly (Audubon Canyon Ranch) and
Caitlin Nilson-Robinson (San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory)
Primary threat: Loss or Planning, Management, and Restoration
disturbance of colony nesting
sites from damage to nest trees or Protect and restore tidal marsh and tidal flat habitat within
construction activities (noise) that 1-6 miles of nesting sites. This is the most urgent action needed
scare birds away from nesting sites. to protect or sustain heron and egret nesting populations in San
Loss of wetland feeding areas
Great Egret close to the nesting colony (within Provide year-round protection to colony nesting sites. They
1–6 miles). Greater distance are frequently destroyed when trees or other habitat features are
between nest and feeding areas removed or damaged during the non-breeding season (fall and
reduces the chance of survival for winter). Such protection depends on local action, recognizing that
their young. heron and egret use of surrounding areas depends on the year-round
protection of colony sites.
Degradation of wetland feeding
areas and associated declines Create 200-meter buffer zones of no human activity around
in prey (fish, small mammals, nesting areas during the nesting season (January–August).
invertebrates). Protect and restore wetland areas surrounding colony sites.
Nest predation by native or non- Create and protect clumps of native trees at distances of 5
native animals, such as raccoons, miles or greater from existing colonies, preferably near open water.
feral cats, raptors, or ravens.
More intense winter storms, as
predicted with climate change, lower Improve models of heron and egret habitat sensitivity as
the survival of young egrets and potential biological indicators of wetland condition, and identify
herons. factors that can determine the linkage between colonies and
Success Story West Marin Island National Wildlife Refuge – See page 35
Sea Ducks Diving Ducks
Status: Most diving and sea duck species
are stable, but four species are declining.
280,000 The species of sea and diving ducks
wintering in San Francisco Bay show stable
Number of birds counted
200,000 populations, with the following exceptions:
160,000 Canvasback (a diving duck): Nationally,
120,000 Canvasback numbers are highly variable
80,000 around a long-term average of about
40,000 600,000. Locally, their wintering numbers
0 in the Bay have shown long-term decline,
1955 1959 1963 1967 1971 1975 1979 1983 1987 1991 1995 1999 2003 2007 2011
perhaps due to habitat loss in the Bay or the
creation of habitat in areas like the Central
Sea Ducks (blue) – Overall stable but may be declining in the Valley.
Subtidal habitat is the habitat below the surface past two decades. Diving Ducks (red) – Populations are variable Scaup (a diving duck) and scoters (sea
with no clear trend. ducks) are declining throughout North
of San Francisco Bay, typically submerged.
Birds using the subtidal habitat in the Bay America as well as in the Bay. The San
Francisco Bay populations of these two
feed on fish, shellfish (including mussels),
groups of ducks represent, on average,
invertebrates, underwater plants, and algae. between 40% and 50% of all scaup and
scoters counted in the Pacific Flyway. If
conditions change in San Francisco Bay, a
large percentage of the population may be
Greater Scaup Surf Scoter
16 Mark Herzog, Josh Ackerman, Susan W. De La Cruz (U.S. Geological Survey);
Jill Demers (San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory); Cheryl Strong (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Primary threat: Reduced quality Planning, Management, and Restoration Scientists
and quantity of wintering habitat
Ensure that wintering habitat remains available Continue the USFWS mid-winter
from increasing contaminants (selenium,
for sea ducks and diving ducks, by restoring and waterfowl survey, which has provided
cadmium, and mercury); loss of deep
preserving deeper and less saline water ponds within a consistent record of winter waterfowl
pond habitat; and changes in prey
restoration areas such as South San Francisco Bay populations since 1955.
and Napa-Sonoma Marsh.
Study prey density and waterfowl feeding
Climate change and sea level rise,
Minimize pollution from runoff by working behavior to determine high-quality habitat that
resulting in changed salinities and water
with local governments and communities to should be protected or enhanced (e.g. eelgrass,
depth. This could alter prey composition
create programs that reduce runoff (e.g. reducing creek mouths, ponds, shoals).
and herring spawning.
impervious surfaces) and upgrade storm water and
Model carrying capacity of intertidal and
Loss of herring stock in San sewage treatment plant facilities.
subtidal habitats to help set wintering population
Francisco Bay and along the Pacific
Reduce contaminant release when conducting goals. Current efforts have shown the value
Coast. Herring spawn is important in
restoration activities by maintaining deeper water of San Pablo Bay subtidal habitats, and they
diving duck diets, particularly for scoters
depths. Special care should be taken to minimize point to prey distribution and fish and shorebird
during spring migration, but also is used
actions that increase contaminant release (mercury, competitors as key elements in future modeling
heavily by scoters and scaup throughout
selenium, and cadmium) or methylmercury efforts that incorporate all sub-bays.
production in shallow water areas.
Evaluate the effects of human disturbance on
Disturbance from boat traffic flushes
Minimize disturbance in key foraging areas foraging and roosting birds.
resting or foraging ducks off the surface
from recreational and ferry boats, especially in the
of the water. Model sea level rise, salinity, and sediment
following areas: in northern San Pablo Bay; near
to help predict how benthic prey availability in
Winter oil spills have the potential for eelgrass beds; and within the central part of San
subtidal and intertidal habitats may change in
catastrophic impact to duck populations. Francisco Bay from the Bay Bridge to the San Mateo
Declining availability of quality
Determine habitat connectivity among
breeding habitat in Alaska, Canada, Encourage restoration of eelgrass, which is a
San Francisco Bay, migratory corridors, and
and the northern Intermountain West substrate for herring spawn and prey species like
breeding areas to help establish flyway-wide
Region. crabs, mussels, and small fish.
conservation efforts year-round.
Implement the Subtidal Habitat Goals Report
recommendations for the restoration, protection,
and science needed to protect this habitat type –
Brandt’s Cormorant Brandt’s Cormorant anomalies Western Gull
2000 Seabirds are long-lived birds; thus their
populations can withstand occasional years
of poor reproduction or reduced reproductive
Number of Breeding Pairs
effort. Because of this, evaluating the status
1000 of a nesting colony is done by looking at the
reproductive success or breeding population
size. The figures at left present over two
(208) decades of data on reproductive effort for
Several human-created habitats are used by
cormorants and gulls.
birds: levees, bridges, and buildings, to name 0
1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010
Western Gull and Brandt’s Cormorant:
a few. Data on the bird use of all these habitats
Stable. In 20 years of monitoring the nesting
are not available. In this section we discuss Brandt’s Cormorants (blue) and Western Gulls (red) –
success of these long-lived seabirds, repro-
Alcatraz Island reproductive success.
two key places, Alcatraz Island and some of ductive success has remained largely constant
the Bay’s bridges, where bird monitoring data until 2009 and 2010. The complete nesting
exist. San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge Richmond–San Rafael Bridge failure in 2009 and 2010 was likely due
900 to a low anchovy population throughout the
Alcatraz, once a barren sandstone rock 800 Central California coast region.
originally inhabited by seabirds, faced a 700
Double-crested Cormorant: Stable, though
Peak Nest Count
long period of human settlement. In the last their reproductive success has varied over
20 years, the island has once again begun 400
the last 26 years. In 2009 and 2010, these
to attract seabirds that use its human-created 300
cormorants showed a sharp decline, but they
appear to be recovering. The low number of
structures as home. 200
100 nesting pairs in 2009 was likely due to a low
Over100 feet above the water the I-beams and 0 anchovy population throughout the Central
1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010
other support structures under the roadways of California coast region.
the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge and the San Double-crested Cormorants – Number of nesting pairs on Bay
Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge serve as nest- bridges.
ing platforms for Double-crested Cormorants.
18 Meredith Elliott and Sara Acosta (PRBO Conservation Science);
Mark J. Rauzon (Laney College)
Primary threat: Human Planning, Management, and Restoration
disturbance, including main-
Adjust timing of maintenance and construction activities and
tenance activities, tourism, and
manage tourism to reduce bird disturbance during the months of
boating, can cause seabirds to
February–July. If not possible, maintenance and construction personnel
abandon the nesting colony.
should work with biologists on ways to limit disturbance.
Lack of food due to steep
Create new habitat on bridges and piers when possible. Explore
declines in common prey
using methods of social attraction to draw birds to newly built
species, as evidenced by the Double-crested
‘cormorant condos’ (artificial nesting structures on the new San
2009 region-wide anchovy crash, Cormorant
Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge).
can cause seabirds not to breed.
Re-install historic buoys at Alcatraz and work with the Bay
Losing nesting sites on
Conservation Development Commission to implement seasonal closures Success Story
human-created structures. On
to create a boat-free buffer zone during the seabird nesting season. Seabirds on Alcatraz
Alcatraz, if nesting areas are
opened for public tourism during Educate tourists on Alcatraz about the sensitivity of nesting Island – See page 35
the spring and summer, nesting seabirds. National Park Service programs should continue to increase
habitat will be lost. tourist awareness of nesting seabirds on Alcatraz, especially with regard
to closed areas during the nesting season.
in adult birds, in high Scientists
concentrations, can affect
Assess contaminants through studies of nesting birds. Failed-
reproduction and chick survival.
to-hatch eggs have been collected opportunistically from the bridge
Cormorants are fish-eating birds
colonies, but eggs should be collected and analyzed for contaminants
and are at risk of accumulating
on an annual basis. Relating cormorant contaminants with prey
contaminants (e.g., mercury,
contaminants can help identify which fish species carry the most
lead) from San Francisco Bay.
contaminants in San Francisco Bay. Further research on lethal levels of
Climate change effects such these contaminants in Double-crested Cormorants should be considered.
as extreme high temperatures
Prey studies are needed. A better understanding of Double-crested
result in heat stress in nesting
Cormorant diet is needed, since food affects the survival of this
birds (nausea, dizziness, seizures,
death) and nest abandonment, as
witnessed in 2008 on Alcatraz Conduct complete annual monitoring of all known Double-crested
Island. Cormorant breeding sites, especially the South Bay power towers.
Western Gull at nest site, Alcatraz
Riparian Oak Woodland Coniferous-Redwood Forest Coastal Scrub/Chaparral Grasslands
Each upland type was assigned a suite of
indicator species that best represent that
habitat in the Bay Area. Over the 42 years
Estimated Percent Change
-10 Indicators for riparian birds show an
-20 increase of greater than 20%. Riparian
-30 habitats are recognized as one of the most
-40 important upland habitat types in the West for
-50 birds and other wildlife. Streams were heavily
1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
impacted in the past. In response to the listing
of imperiled salmonids and concern for water
Birds in Upland Habitats – Data are from the Breeding Bird quality, stream restoration has increased
Surrounding the waters and wetlands of Survey for 14 routes in eight Bay Area counties. dramatically over the past several decades,
San Francisco Bay are a variety of ‘upland’ benefiting birds as well.
habitats including the five most common Indicators for oak woodland and coniferous-
types – coastal scrub-chaparral, coniferous- redwood forest birds are stable.
redwood forests, grasslands, oak woodlands,
Coastal scrub-chaparral and grassland
and riparian (streamside) forests. These birds are declining, coastal scrub by 27%
vegetation communities vary in their mix of and grassland by over 45%. Species in these
native and non-native plant species and the habitat types continue to be impacted by loss
composition of bird communities they support. and degradation of habitat. These trends are
consistent with the declining trend found in
the National State of the Birds Report, 2009.
Savannah Sparrow in Acorn Woodpecker in
grassland oak woodland
20 Tom Gardali and Leo Salas (PRBO Conservation Science)
Primary threat: Habitat loss and degradation Planning, Management, and Scientists
caused by land-use changes such as open space Restoration:
Determine which species are most
conversion to housing or intensive agriculture, Adopt and implement the Uplands vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
invasions of native and non-native species, and Habitat Goals and Bay Area Critical Link-
lack of ecological disturbances such as fire. For Map future distributions of species under
ages documents: www.bayarealands.org.
example, the two habitat types with the greatest bird climate and land use change scenarios.
declines, coastal scrub-chaparral and grasslands, are Control the most destructive invasive
Monitor upland birds to track distribution
transitioning to other habitat types due to lack of species, and support and participate in the
and abundance changes and nest success and
disturbance and the invasion of native species (such Bay Area Early Detection Network
as Douglas fir), non-native plant species (such as (www.baedn.org).
broom), and annual grasses that alter fire regimes. Identify Bay Area species population
Use disturbance (e.g., fire and grazing) to
targets, working with the San Francisco Bay
Lack of appreciation for the habitat value of create and maintain diverse upland habitats.
scrub-chaparral and grasslands. Not typically Promote conservation on private lands,
thought of as beautiful or in need of protection, Study the use of grazing and other
including thorough use of economic incentive
scrub-chaparral is seen as an eyesore or fire hazard, disturbances as vegetation management tools.
and a “clear the brush” attitude reduces habitat.
Continue to restore riparian areas.
Climate change affects vegetation type and water
availability, thereby altering the amount, type, and Promote wise water use in order to
quality of habitats available to birds. maintain stream flows and groundwater
Gaps in scientific knowledge that is needed to
inform and evaluate land management decisions and Educate the public on the value of
policy actions. habitats such as coastal scrub-chaparral and
Success Story Riparian restoration on Chileno Creek (Marin County) – See page 36
Wilson’s Warbler in Wrentit in coastal scrub-
riparian habitat chaparral
Clapper Rails in San Francisco Bay have
Minimum Population Estimate
4000 decreased dramatically from the tens of
Minimum Population Estimate
thousands that roamed the undiked marshes
3000 before the California Gold Rush.
Hunting, then development reduced popula-
tions and pushed Clapper Rails into smaller
1000 marshes separated by urban landscapes.
More recently, the rail population hit a low
1970s 1980s 1990s 2005-08 point in the early 1990s, likely due to preda-
Year tion by non-native red foxes. The Clapper
Clapper Rail populations have declined Rail’s rebound during the 1990s was possibly
since the 1970s. Population estimates due to fox control but also coincided with
using different methods from published the rapid invasion of a tall non-native plant
California Clapper Rails nest in the tidal and unpublished sources should be (invasive Spartina). This invader benefited
marshes of San Francisco Bay, and recovery interpreted with caution. rails because it provided nesting habitat and
of this species has been a major impetus protection from predators and high tides.
for marsh restoration around the Bay. Beginning in the mid-2000s, the rail popula-
Unfortunately, the Clapper Rail struggles to 1.25 tion declined sharply, due in part to the
Expected Counts at a Point
removal of invasive Spartina, which threatens
survive because of habitat loss, predator 1.00
tidal flat and marsh ecosystems as a whole.
pressure, and invasive species. The growing 0.75
This recent decline may be leveling off, but
threat from sea level rise also threatens the 0.50 the future of Clapper Rails in San Francisco
Clapper Rail. 0.25
Bay remains tenuous. However, we can be
hopeful that as thousands of acres are being
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
restored to tidal marsh habitat, California
Clapper Rails will be back on the road to
Standardized Bay-wide point count recovery.
surveys for Clapper Rails show a
steep decline that may be leveling off.
22 Contributors: name, name
Julian Wood, Len Liu, and Nadav Nur (PRBO Conservation Science)
Threats Actions Continue funding and support for
tidal marsh restoration such as the South
Primary threat: Predators, Pollution, contaminants, Planning, Management, and Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, which
including introduced species and toxic spills (including Restoration aims to restore over 15,100 acres of former
such as Norway rats, house oil spills) directly kill rails, salt ponds to a diversity of habitat types
cats, and red foxes prey on vegetation, fish, and the Prioritize sites: Use the most current to benefit all birds, including tidal marsh-
Clapper Rails and their nests. invertebrate community and thorough scientific modeling of dependent species.
Some native species of raptors, that sustains marsh wildlife. climate change scenarios to prioritize areas
snakes, and mammals also Toxins (e.g., mercury, lead) for acquisition and restoration (an example Scientists
prey on Clapper Rails. accumulate in rails, impairing is PRBO’s sea level rise modeling tool:
Support research that seeks to under-
their reproduction and survival. www.prbo.org/sfbayslr).
Invasive non-native plant stand marsh development processes in the
species can reduce nesting and Rising sea levels from Acquire and restore uplands and diked face of sea level rise, as well as potential
foraging habitat for Clapper global climate change areas where current shoreline marsh may management actions that can mitigate
Rails, even changing the will drown some marshes migrate as sea level rises. these impacts.
invertebrate community on and increase nest flooding,
Control predators by eliminating cat Study the effect of trail use on
which they feed. Perennial making the habitat unsuit-
feeding stations, supporting predator Clapper Rails – both direct impacts from
pepperweed reduces high- able for Clapper Rails. See
control programs, and keeping marshes, disturbance as well as potential increased
tide refugia, and hybrid www.prbo.org/sfbayslr to
public parks, and adjacent housing areas predator access from trails.
Spartina may reduce channel view maps of projected
free of garbage.
and mudflat areas important change in marsh habitat and Support research on Clapper Rail
for foraging rails. However, changes in bird and plant Enforce regulations on unlawful population trends (including reproductive
invasive plant control/removal species distribution. recreation in sensitive marshes. success, which has not been closely
decisions should always studied at a Bay-wide scale), habitat
Conduct active marsh planting
consider short-term and long- use, and the impacts of invasive hybrid
in restored areas where plants are not
term effects on birds (e.g., Spartina and its removal.
regenerating on their own, or in sites
invasive Spartina eradication Support research that can inform how
where non-native plant removal has
may have contributed to to create upland transition zone habitat as
reduced overall plant cover.
significant reductions in refugia for Clapper Rails.
Clapper Rail populations at Restore high ground adjacent to
some sites and should proceed marshes, such as levees and uplands with Update habitat models as new data
with caution). dense vegetation, to offer birds refuge from become available, to better predict areas
high-tide events. where tidal marsh will persist given sea
Locate public access points and trails
to the Bay shore away from Clapper Rail
Success Story Carl’s Marsh – See page 34
Western Snowy Plover
Status: Uncertain – appears to be recover-
350 ing in the South Bay.
Snowy Plovers in San Francisco Bay have
No. of Snowy Plovers in SF Bay
250 decreased from historic numbers but more
recently show an increasing trend, possibly
reflecting improved survey effort. Snowy
Plover reproductive success is low in the Bay
and has decreased over the past four years.
1971 1974 1977 1980 1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010
How long will it take Snowy Plovers to rebound to their
The Western Snowy Plover is a federally
threatened species under the Endangered
Species Act. Primarily found nesting on
coastal beaches, a subset of the population
nests in San Francisco Bay. Plovers use dry
pond bottoms, isolated islands, and levees
in managed ponds as well as active salt
ponds for nesting.
Snowy Plover chicks
24 Conservation Science);
Gary Page and Lynne Stenzel (PRBOContributors: name, name
24 Caitlin Robinson-Nilsen (San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory)
Predators impact Snowy Planning, Management, and Restoration Prevent California Gulls from establishing colonies
Plovers by preying upon their near plover nesting habitat.
Continue to control predators in San Francisco
eggs and chicks. Nest cameras Bay, to reduce depredation of plover eggs and chicks. Practice adaptive management. Support ongoing
have documented a large suite of monitoring of managed ponds and nesting islands to
predators, including California Remove feral cat feeding stations near plover determine their effectiveness in supporting plovers.
Gulls, Common Ravens, Northern nesting areas in the South Bay, and educate the public Employ an adaptive management approach to pond
Harriers and the native gray fox. about the need for this action. design, acreage, and public access if the current plan
Maintaining predator control Continue to create and improve plover nesting proves to be ineffective.
measures is costly, and funds are within restoration projects. Specifically, continue to
scarce. Conduct public outreach to reduce disturbance
create nesting islands, shallow ponds, and cover for to nesting plovers from public access and use of
Habitat loss from salt pond plover nests and chicks. recreation trails. Close trails seasonally around nesting
conversion projects is a threat to Maintain 500 nesting plovers in San Francisco habitat.
the Snowy Plover, as some of the Bay, as set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
ponds it nests in are former salt Western Snowy Plover Recovery Plan. The South Scientists
ponds that are now being converted Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project aims to support Experiment with substrates that provide cover.
to marsh in the North and South 250 breeding Snowy Plovers. Other federal and state Test the effectiveness of oyster shells on the pond
Bay. agencies need to collaborate to develop a strategy bottom to camouflage Snowy Plover nests and chicks,
Rising sea level from global to support at least 250 additional plovers within San reduce predation, and increase nesting density.
climate change may submerge Francisco Bay.
Assess the implications of public access on nesting
the shallow ponds where Snowy Provide dry spring nesting habitat and late season plovers to determine the level of disturbance likely
Plovers nest. nesting habitat. Initiate managed pond draw-down from future public access and trail use. Determine
Disturbance to nesting plovers early enough in the spring to provide dry early season consequence of disturbance on flushing rates, nest
by the public, from future public nesting habitat, and continue to draw down ponds temperatures, incubation duration, and nest success of
access and recreation trails. throughout the season to create optimal late season the plovers.
Prevent avian predators from nesting and
perching near nesting plovers by modifying the design
of power towers and by removing predator perches
(e.g. sign posts, old duck hunting blinds).
California Least Tern
San Francisco Bay Status: Stable
400 Since 1984, the number of California
350 Least Tern pairs in the Alameda colony has
Number of breeding pairs
300 increased by 9.7% per year, but the colony
250 size appears to have stabilized in the last
100 Dropped prey items have revealed the diet
50 and foraging habits of Least Terns at the
1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010
Alameda Point colony from 1981 to present.
They show that small estuarine fishes are
the dominant prey item. Since the 1990s,
Breeding pairs of Least Terns in the Alameda Point colony.
northern anchovy and surfperches have
While the colony has grown over the last 26 years, it appears
declined in the tern’s diet, while Clupeids
to be stabilizing.
(e.g., herring, sardine) have increased.
The largest Least Tern colony in San Francisco
Understanding prey items is important,
Bay is located at Alameda Point on the
because diet is critical to tern reproductive
runway complex of the former Naval Air success.
Station, Alameda. The 3.9–hectare breeding Atherinopsidae (silversides)
area is surrounded by a chain link fence. Engraulidae (anchovies)
Smaller colonies can be found at Napa– Salmonidae (salmon)
Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area, Montezuma Embiotocidae (surfperches)
Wetlands, and Hayward Regional Shoreline. Gobiidae (gobies)
Average percent of each fish in the diet of Least Terns in the
Alameda Point colony. Small fishes are the dominant prey item.
26 Contributors: name, name
Meredith Elliott (PRBO Conservation Science);
Susan Euing (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Primary threat: Avian predators including falcons, Planning, Management, and Restoration
hawks, owls, crows, and ravens prey upon young and Continue predator management, especially of
adult terns. Human activities, such as leaving food for Peregrine Falcons. The increase in local Peregrine
predators and altering native habitat, result in higher than Falcon attacks on the terns at Alameda Point is a
normal predator populations. growing concern. Authorization to permanently remove
Development of the Naval Air Station looms, as the marauding Peregrine Falcons from Least Tern sites needs
base has been decommissioned. to be given to predator management personnel by the
appropriate state agency.
Encroaching vegetation is reducing the nesting area
available to the birds. The California Least Tern needs Control vegetation by continuing to apply herbicide,
bare ground for nesting and roosting. Encroachment of remove weeds, and add gravel to the nesting substrate.
vegetation reduces the amount of nesting habitat. Reduce air traffic disturbance by expanding outreach
Low flying aircraft over the nesting colony flush adult to local airports and pilots regarding impacts to the
terns from their nests, leaving young and eggs vulnerable endangered Least Tern.
to predators and unfavorable weather conditions. Secure/identify adequate undeveloped space beyond
Sea level rise from climate change threatens to the existing colony to allow for colony movement or
submerge the colony site, as it is built on reclaimed land persistence in the long term, given the uncertain future of
close to sea level. the Navy’s presence.
Loss of common prey species, such as the region-wide Scientists
anchovy crash in 2009, can result in fewer feedings to Study the diet and energy requirements of
chicks, nutritional deficiencies, and higher rates of chick developing terns and evaluate the nutritional content of
death. common prey species.
Contaminants can directly kill birds, but they also kill Monitor contaminant impacts to terns. Failed-to-
the prey items that birds depend upon for food. California hatch eggs should continue to be collected and analyzed
Least Terns feed on fish and are at risk of accumulating for contaminants. Further research on lethal levels of
contaminants (e.g., mercury and lead) found in San these contaminants in Least Terns is needed.
Francisco Bay. These contaminants, in great enough
concentrations, can affect survival and breeding success.
Success Story Monitoring Least Terns at Alameda Point – See page 37
Northern Spotted Owl
% sites occupied by pair of Nthrn. Spotted Owls
The Bay Area’s population of Northern
85 Spotted Owls is thought to be stable;
however, thorough population monitoring is
not available as all sites are not monitored
While fecundity (reproductive success) is
40 generally high, we lack survival data for
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
owls, which may be more important to the
Percent of Northern Spotted Owl sites surveyed that overall number of birds in the population.
were occupied by a pair. All sites are not surveyed every Current monitoring occurs on the following
year; however, sites surveyed likely reflect the overall public lands: Point Reyes National Seashore,
population of owls in Marin County. In general, the number Golden Gate National Recreation Area,
In the San Francisco Bay Area (primarily of Northern Spotted Owls in Marin County appears stable. Marin Municipal Water District, Marin
Marin County), Northern Spotted Owls nest County Open Space District, and California
in both old-growth and mature second-growth State Parks (Tomales Bay, Mount Tamalpais,
Northern Spotted Owl Fucundity in Marin County
forests of Douglas-fir, coast redwood, bishop 0.7 and Samuel P. Taylor).
pine, mixed conifer–hardwood, and other
evergreen hardwood trees. This varies from
the rest of the population of Northern Spotted 0.3
Owls in the Pacific Northwest, where they are 0.2
commonly associated with mature coniferous 0.1
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
n=26 n=41 n=43 n=48 n=38 n=42 n=18 n=35 n=32 n=47 n=44
In Marin County, unique forest types are
Except for 2007 when almost no young were produced,
bishop pine and evergreen forests.
Spotted owl fecundity (reproductive success) appears stable.
28 Contributors: name, name
Renée Cormier (PRBO Conservation Science);
Dave Press (National Park Service).
Primary threat: Barred Owls pose a threat to Spotted Planning, Management, and Restoration
Owls by competing for space and food and through direct Follow U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines
aggressive interactions. Currently, the number of Barred for protecting Spotted Owls. Restrictions for habitat
Owls in the Bay Area is relatively small but is predicted to modifications around Spotted Owl territories are
increase. in effect year-round, and modifications to potential
Rat poisons. Spotted Owls feed upon rats; when rats Spotted Owl habitat may require consultation with
have been poisoned with rodenticides used by residents USFWS personnel. Spotted Owl fledgling
and businesses, the owls can become sick or die. Limit loud noises, such as motorized gardening
Sudden Oak Death changes the forest structure and equipment, during the nesting season (February 1st to July 9th) near Spotted Owl habitat.
plant composition, and the loss of tanoaks in particular Discontinue the use of rodenticides as a means to kill pests in areas with Spotted Owl
threaten the owl’s preferred food source, the dusky-footed habitat. Residents and business owners should consider rodent prevention and trapping
woodrat, which depends on the tanoak for cover and food. instead of poisons that harm more than the rodent.
Loss of forests due to urban development along national Communicate to the public the USFWS guidelines pertaining to activities such as
park and county open space boundaries and the threat of noise disturbance and construction near Spotted Owl habitat during the nesting season
wildfires. Losing forests reduces feeding, roosting, and (February 1st to July 9th).
nesting habitat for Northern Spotted Owls.
Human activities, such as extended presence near Scientists
Spotted Owl nest trees and noise disturbance from yard Continue and expand monitoring of Spotted Owl and Barred Owl populations on
maintenance, tree trimming, and construction activities in public lands. Current research is ongoing in Marin County but should be expanded to
the communities neighboring owl nesting sites, can disturb include Sonoma and Napa counties, on both public and private lands.
nesting owls and may prevent them from feeding their
young. Community awareness of regulated protections for
Spotted Owls is lacking. Leave owls alone. Spotted Owls reside near many busy trails in the Bay Area, and it
is not uncommon for fledgling owls to perch on the ground. If you see an owl, give it
Genetic isolation. The Marin County population of
space and keep pets on leash. The parents will continue to care for a fledgling owl on the
Northern Spotted Owls is isolated from populations to the
north because of a break in forested habitat needed for
dispersal. Small populations, such as those found in Marin Discontinue the use of rodenticides as a means to kill pests. Residents and business
County, are at a higher risk of local extinction. owners should consider rodent prevention and trapping instead of poisons that harm more
than the rodent.
Success Story Spotted Owl monitoring on public lands – See page 36
The human population of the San Francisco flood protection as sea levels rise; healthy streams
Bay Area has more than tripled since the 1950s, improve our water quality; diverse and abundant
yet the ponds, open waters, mudflats, and bird populations provide us with recreation,
marshes continue to support rich and abundant inspiration, and enjoyment; and birds’ presence
birdlife. Protection of birds and their habitats has in the Bay Area indicates the sustained quality of
resulted from decades of public involvement, those habitats and the services they provide.
conservation investments, and a strong frame- Today the most fundamental policy challenges
work of laws and regulations. However, we to maintaining and enhancing conservation in the
cannot assume that all threats to birds and their Bay Area, across a broad array of habitat types,
habitats have been averted and that all protection can be grouped into four categories: 1) funding;
is permanent. We need an engaged public and 2) climate change including sea level rise; 3)
informed decision-makers to continue to protect threats from development; and 4) balancing
public use with adequate protections for birds.
the hundreds of thousands of majestic and
The State of the Birds Report offers policy
ecologically important birds that depend on the Caitlin Robinson-Nilsen (left) and Cheryl Strong hold
recommendations for each.
San Francisco Bay Estuary region. Black-necked Stilt chicks at Hayward Regional Shoreline.
The future state of the birds in San Francisco
Bay region is at significant risk, resulting from Our ability to protect existing habitats To protect birds in San Francisco Bay region:
the urban use of the area, the looming threat of and respond to new threats is compromised
without adequate funding to: 1) acquire, Support the efforts of the San Francisco Bay
climate change and associated sea level rise,
restore, and manage important habitats in Restoration Authority (California Government
and funding limitations during this period of
public spaces; 2) continue incentives for the Code §66700 et seq.) to establish a regional
economic uncertainty. It is time to develop and
private protection of open spaces; and 3) funding program in the Bay Area. Doing
support solutions that benefit our environment,
continue efforts to maintain and enhance the so would support wetlands restoration,
economy, and community. A more resilient San
quality of Bay waters upon which birds and enhancement, and management, and associated
Francisco Bay will be better for birds, people,
people depend. public access and flood management.
and the economy: healthy tidal marshes provide
30 Dan Taylor (Audubon California);
Beth Huning (San Francisco Bay Joint Venture).
Support full funding for the Federal Land and isms, and continue the systematic
Water Conservation Act, the North American removal and control of the species
Wetlands Conservation Act, and other relevant that pose a significant threat to
federal authorities to increase and improve birds’ habitats in the Bay region,
wetland habitats and wetland-dependent bird such as invasive Spartina hybrids.
Restore full funding for the
Support federal appropriations to the U.S. Williamson Act (California
Army Corps of Engineers for wetland restora- Government Code §51200 et seq.),
tion projects authorized in the Water Resources which has historically provided
Development Act; appropriations for the critically important property tax
San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge incentives and prevents urban
Complex; and appropriations for NOAA and development for over 1.23 million
USEPA for programs focused on wetlands res- acres of upland bird habitat and
toration and water quality improvements in San open spaces in the nine-county Bay
Francisco Bay. Area region. State funding for this
program has been deeply cut and is Alcatraz Island
Ensure adequate funding for the San Francisco threatened with elimination.
Bay Regional Water Quality Board’s effective
enforcement of the Federal Clean Water Act Support continued state funding for the San
nongovernmental organizations active in
and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Francisco Bay Area Conservancy Program of the
protecting habitats in the Bay Area.
Act (California Water Code §13000 et seq.), State Coastal Conservancy, which provides grants
and to local jurisdictions for infrastructure to multiple organizations for wetland restoration Support science and monitoring associated with
improvements to aid in keeping sewage and and other projects that benefit birds, and support restoration and management projects that answer
animal waste out of the Bay and reducing funding for the California Department of Fish and key uncertainties and help guide priorities for
storm-water pollution, to reduce the threat of Game to manage their ecological reserves and future bird habitat protection and enhancement.
catastrophic spills and improve water quality wildlife areas in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Climate change and sea level rise
and supply for wildlife and for people.
Increase local funding for habitat acquisition
To ensure that critically important habitat areas
Ensure adequate funding for the early detection and management actions by entities such as
for people and birds are preserved, we encourage:
of non-native invasive plants and aquatic organ- Open Space Districts, land trusts, and other
(continued from page 31)
Rapid reduction of greenhouse gases through Support dredging policies and regulations that Efforts to exempt projects, or to weaken
the full implementation of AB 32, the California require beneficial re-use of material currently existing development protection provisions
Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 being disposed offshore or in-Bay. Sediment that of the California Environmental Quality Act
(California Health and Safety Code §38500 et is in the system will enable marshes to better (California Public Resources Code §21000
seq.), and support for national climate change build and keep pace with sea level rise, protecting et seq.) or the McAteer-Petris Act (California
legislation to help mitigate the most extreme not only marsh and mudflat habitats but enabling Government Code §66600 et seq.) establishing
levels of climate change. them to serve their natural functions as buffers the Bay Conservation Development Commission
against sea level rise and storm events. (BCDC), should be opposed.
Full implementation of the California Climate
Adaptation Strategy of 2009. On the issues of Support science and monitoring to improve our Implement the Climate Change amendments to
sea level rise, discourage urban development in ability to predict the effects of climate change BCDC’s Bay Plan.
areas containing habitat and habitat restoration as a means to prioritize future land acquisition,
The recommendations in the Subtidal Habitat
potential and that are vulnerable to sea level rise. management, and restoration efforts and to
Goals report should be implemented in order to
mitigate sea level rise impacts.
The acquisition and restoration of remaining maintain and improve fish and wildlife habitat in
open space areas in proximity to existing Threats from development the Bay.
wetlands to provide for future habitat refugia With the population of the Bay Area estimated Utilize decision-support tools, such as that
for tidal marsh and tidal flats, birds, and other to grow to over eight million people by the end developed by the Bay Area Open Space Council’s
wildlife in the face of rising sea level; and of this decade, there will be additional pressures Upland Habitat Goals project, and the San
to allow for tidal wetlands to migrate up the to fill baylands and adjacent restorable uplands Francisco Bay Sea Level Rise decision support
shoreline as the Bay rises. for urban development. To ensure that habitat tool developed by PRBO Conservation Science
When practical, encourage the use of natural protection and restoration objectives can be met, and its partners, as resources for determining
shoreline protection and buffer lands such as tidal we encourage that: priority parcels for future protection and
marsh, eelgrass and oysters, and rocky subtidal Further development should be prohibited on restoration.
habitat, in contrast to sea walls and other artificial Bay wetlands or lands adjacent to, and restorable The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality
barriers that are prone to catastrophic failure and to, wetland conditions. Control Board should complete and adopt its
provide little habitat value.
32 Contributors: John Kelly (Audubon Canyon Ranch) and
Caitlin Nilson-Robinson (San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory)
Regulations regarding dogs and cats should be
implemented to protect key shoreline areas used
by endangered bird species.
New boat launching and access points should be
developed away from sensitive habitats. Boating
activities should avoid those areas that provide
important foraging and resting for diving ducks,
grebes, and waterbirds during the migratory and
wintering seasons when those species are present.
Clapper Rail, dependent on tidal
Study impacts of public access on wildlife as a
marsh habitat in the Bay
means to improve future planning for beneficial
Support educational programs and facilities to
help the public to appreciate, understand, and
Tidal marshland is likely to be inundated by sea level rise. Here, value birds and the ecology of San Francisco Bay.
winter rainwater and an extreme high tide flood the Bay shore.
Wetlands and Riparian Area Protection Program Protect and enhance values of tidal marsh,
recommendations in order to provide protection managed pond, open Bay, and other sensitive
for many bird species. habitats, particularly those utilized by listed and
Public use and bird protection sensitive wildlife species. Where wildlife would
be negatively impacted by public use, public
A balancing act exists in wildlife conservation: access should be limited. As much as possible,
the needs of sensitive wildlife populations versus access should be designed in ways and locations
the need to connect the public with the outdoors that both provide public enjoyment and reduce
and provide opportunities to observe wildlife. We impacts to sensitive habitats and species.
recommend the following policy considerations
to accommodate habitat protection and outdoor
Status: Overall stable with large
Success Stories variation between years
Managed Ponds South San Francisco Bay Salt Pond Restoration Tidal Marsh Carl’s Marsh
With the transfer of over 15,000 acres to 70,000
Carl’s Marsh is a great example of
public ownership in 2003, the South Bay Salt 60,000 successful tidal marsh restoration.
Pond Restoration Project is the largest wetland 50,000 After this 42-acre dry fallow field
restoration on the West Coast. An early goal in 40,000
was breached in 1994, sediment
the long-term restoration plan was to reduce began accumulating with each tidal
salinity in open ponds from their inherited toxic 10,000
cycle, and the site is now a lush
production concentrations to those of ambient 0
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
tidal marsh supporting a diversity of
Bay waters. The U.S. Geological Survey began birds including several endangered
Dabbling ducks have increased in South Bay ponds.
monitoring birds and water quality from the start California Clapper Rails. This collab-
of the project and has documented increases Western Sandpipers. Further north, in the Eden orative project between California
in shorebirds and ducks as the restoration has Landing pond complex, small shorebirds during Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) Song Sparrow
proceeded. Examples include the 480-acre spring have increased from 10,000 to over and Sonoma Land Trust was more
Island Ponds that were opened to tidal action 50,000 birds observed in monthly surveys, as successful than expected. The transition from
in 2006. As salinity declined from 160 to less water depths declined in former commercial salt fallow agricultural land, to productive mudflat
than 20 ppt, average numbers of dabbling ducks ponds now maintained as seasonal wetlands. habitat for shorebirds, to a fully vegetated
increased from zero in 2003 to over 4,000 birds Numerous ponds are planned for enhancements marsh was rapid, occurring within the first
at high tide on a given winter day in 2009. In the or restoration to tidal marsh within a 50-year time five years. Carl’s Marsh now supports over 60
larger Alviso system and across the South Bay’s horizon, and continued monitoring is critical to pairs of breeding Samuel’s Song Sparrows.
managed ponds, dabbling ducks such as Northern learn from successes or unexpected changes that This subspecies of Song Sparrow is found
Shoveler increased substantially through winter can feed back into adaptive management in this only in the tidal marshes of San Pablo Bay and
2010. The restoration project occurs within a extremely important area for birds within San is recognized by CDFG as a Bird Species of
designated area of Hemispheric Importance Francisco Bay. Special Concern.
for migratory and wintering shorebirds such as —L. Arriana Brand and Cheryl Strong —Julian Wood and Nadav Nur
Tidal Marsh Herons and Egrets Human-created Habitats
West Marin Island Seabirds on Alcatraz Island
The West Marin Island National Prior to human settlement, Alcatraz Island
Wildlife Refuge is a protected home was home to thousands of nesting seabirds,
to one of the largest nesting colonies as indicated by the guano-covered sandstone.
of herons and egrets in San Francisco As early human settlement took place, birds
Bay, and is a true bird conservation left the island and did not return throughout
success story. During the 1980s the military and prison history. Over a century
the Marin Islands were slated for later, Alcatraz became part of the Golden
development. Over the next 12 years, Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA),
local citizens, the Friends of the a unit of the National Park Service (NPS), Brandt’s Cormorant
Marin Islands, the California Coastal and birds slowly began to return to reclaim
Snowy Egret with nest material
Conservancy, the Trust for Public the island. The Brandt’s Cormorant colony on Alcatraz is one of
Land, and at least 14 other agencies the few known estuarine breeding sites for this species. Pigeon
and organizations participated in the establishment of the Marin Islands Guillemots are not known to breed elsewhere in San Francisco Bay.
National Wildlife Refuge and State Ecological Reserve. Senator The Western Gull and Black-crowned Night Heron colonies are
Barbara Boxer designated September 19th as Marin Islands National the largest in the Bay. Currently, this diversity of species exists in a
Wildlife Refuge Day in 1992. delicate balance with the considerable human presence both on and
The establishment of West Marin Island Wildlife Refuge was largely around Alcatraz Island. Over the last 10 years, PRBO Conservation
due to data provided by ongoing monitoring, which began in 1979 and Science and the NPS have been monitoring the return of the
documented the importance of the island to nesting herons and egrets. nesting birds and especially the growth of the cormorant colony.
Region-wide monitoring of heronries throughout the San Francisco With cooperative efforts between biologists and
Bay Area by Audubon Canyon Ranch substantiated the importance NPS staff, improved public outreach (signage,
of this nesting colony and now guides the management of the Marin bird interpretive displays, tours), and island
Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Today the Refuge is home to over management (altered tourism, maintenance, and
500 nesting pairs of herons and egrets each year. construction activities to protect nesting birds)
—John Kelly human-caused disturbance to the cormorants has
been reduced and the colony has grown.
Status: Overall stable with large
variation between years
Upland Habitats Chileno Creek, Marin County
Over the years, neighboring ranches joined in
and the cumulative effect in Marin and southern
Sally and Mike Gale live and groundwater, and provide
Sonoma counties has greatly increased the
work on a 600-acre ranch first better wildlife habitat.
number and diversity of birds.
purchased by Sally’s great- Working with the Marin
grandfather in 1856. The Gale Resource Conservation —Tom Gardali
Ranch is located in Marin District, the Natural
County’s picturesque Chileno Resource Conservation Endangered Species Spotted Owls
Valley, where agriculture has been Service, and the Students
a way of life for 150 years. Mike and Teachers Restoring For over 10 years, the
and Sally took over operation of a Watershed Program National Park Service, Marin
the ranch in 1993 and currently (STRAW), the Gales Municipal Water District, and
tend a humanely raised grass-fed undertook a seven-acre Marin County Open Space
beef herd of about 100 cows as riparian restoration project. have been conducting surveys
well as other farm enterprises such The restoration has on their lands to ensure that
as u-pick apples. successfully increased Northern Spotted Owls are
Mike and Sally are stewards of native vegetation (see not disturbed by management
the land and quickly noticed that photo), especially to benefit activities. Their commitment to
the creek running through their Riparian habitat on the Gale Ranch, birds. The number of the protection of Spotted Owls
property, Chileno Creek, was before and after restoration began bird species found on the has resulted in better timing of Adult Spotted Owl
completely lacking vegetation and Gale Ranch has increased management activities (e.g.,
drying out in the summer. The Gales recognized significantly since the restoration project began. trail work) to avoid disturbance to nesting owls
the need to revive Chileno Creek in order to The growing populations of the 33 bird species and increased knowledge about the status of
retain soil and prevent creek sedimentation, keep inhabiting the ranch tell us the restoration is Northern Spotted Owls in Marin County.
evaporation in check, retain water, replenish really paying off. —Renée Cormier and Dave Press
36 Contributors: John Kelly (Audubon Canyon Ranch) and
Caitlin Nilson-Robinson (San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory)
Endangered Species—Least Tern Watch Marshland on Reclaimed Shoreline
Monitoring and Protecting a California Sonoma Baylands
Least Tern Breeding Colony
Much of the historic
Tern Watch is a volunteer predator observation program at marshland in the North Bay
Alameda Point. The intention of Tern Watch is to give a broader was diked from the Bay
picture of predator presence during the least tern breeding season, and drained in the late 19th
allowing USFWS to conduct proactive predator management. century for farming oat hay
Annually, volunteers are recruited and trained to observe the tern and other crops. From 1991
colony from a vehicle outside the colony fence line, for three to 1996, the State Coastal
hours at a time. Volunteers record predator and Least Tern activi- Conservancy and the Sonoma
ties during daytime hours, seven days a week. Land Trust conceived and
Not only are the Tern Watch data useful for understanding developed the Sonoma
the local predators at the Least Tern colony, but the volunteers Baylands Project to restore
themselves act as predator deterrents. The physical presence of a tidal marsh on 320 acres. This
human in their vehicle close to the Least Tern colony appears to pioneering project of wetland creation used dredged materials from navigation
deter many avian predators from entering the nesting area, thus channels to jump-start the restoration.
giving more protection to the terns. The Tern Watch volunteers While it took many years to establish, the site now boasts large numbers of
also record least tern activities and their responses to predator shorebirds (sometimes as many as 18,000 individuals), with at least 23 species
presence. While conducting a tern watch, each volunteer is able to amassing on the mud before and after high tides. As rising water pushes the
enjoy the behaviors and nature of the Least Terns in their breeding birds off these restored bay mudflats, they pause at the Baylands for a last frantic
habitat, a rare sight to see. forage before moving to upland habitats where they rest and preen until the tide
In 2010, the presence and vigilance begins to drop again. During high tide in the winter, 18 species of ducks and
of volunteers at the Least Tern colony geese have been recorded in the aquatic habitats within the Sonoma Baylands.
helped thwart several hunting attempts With its ability to attract large populations of wading birds, the site is also
made by juvenile Peregrine Falcons. The attractive to diurnal raptors including Merlin, Prairie and Peregrine Falcons.
quick response time by volunteers alert- Surveys for endangered California Clapper Rails by PRBO biologists since 2008
ing the biologists of predators enabled have documented their presence, along with Black Rails, in the restored Sonoma
them to chase off marauding predators Baylands.
in time. The restoration of Sonoma Baylands has enhanced opportunities for San Pablo
—Meredith Elliot and Mark Rauzon Least Tern incubating and San Francisco Bays’ wildlife, especially birds, in ways only dreamed of 30
eggs years ago.
—Caroline Warner and Rich Stallcup
Status: Overall stable with large
Contributors variation between years
Josh Ackerman, PhD; Sara Acosta; Marine L. Arriana Brand, PhD; Renee Cormier; Avian Susan W. De La Cruz; Jill Demers; Executive Meredith Elliott;
Research Wildlife Ecologist, PRBO Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Ecologist, PRBO Wildlife Biologist, Director, San Francisco Marine Ecologist,
Biologist, U.S. Conservation Science Geological Survey, Conservation Science U.S. Fish and Wildlife Bay Bird Observatory PRBO Conservation
Geological Survey Western Ecological Service Science
Tom Gardali; Director, Mark Herzog, PhD; Beth Huning, Amy Hutzel; Program John P. Kelly, PhD; Leonard Liu; Nadav Nur, PhD;
Pacific Coast and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Coordinator, San Manager, San Francisco Director, Conservation Wetlands Ecologist; Population Ecologist;
Central Valley, PRBO Geological Survey Francisco Bay Joint Bay Area Program, State Science and Habitat PRBO Conservation PRBO Conservation
Conservation Science Venture Coastal Conservancy Protection, Audubon Science Science
Not pictured: Susan Euing; Wildlife Biologist; U.S. Geological Survey
38 Contributors: John Kelly (Audubon Canyon Ranch) and
Caitlin Nilson-Robinson (San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory)
Gary Page; Wetlands Claire Peaslee; Editor, Melissa Pitkin; Dave Press; Wildlife Mark Rauzon; Caitlin Robinson- Leonardo Salas, PhD;
Ecologist; PRBO PRBO Conservation Director, Education Ecologist, Point Reyes Geography Department Nilsen; Waterbird Senior Scientist,
Conservation Science Science and Outreach and San National Seashore Chair, Laney College Program Director, San Informatics and
Francisco Bay groups, Francisco Bay Bird Climate Change, PRBO
PRBO Conservation Observatory Conservation Science
Rich Stallcup; Lynne Stenzel; Cheryl Strong; Dan Taylor; Director of Caroline Warner; John Wiens; PhD Julian Wood; San
Naturalist, PRBO Wetland Ecologist, Wildlife Biologist, Public Policy, Audubon Outreach Coordinator, Chief Scientist, PRBO Francisco Bay Program
Conservation Science PRBO Conservation U.S. Fish and Wildlife California San Francisco Bay Conservation Science Manager, PRBO
Service Joint Venture Conservation Science
Sara Acosta—p19 gull; p31 Alcatraz Caroline Hardter (Creative Commons)—p24 landscape
Audubon Canyon Ranch —p14 Sherman Island Beth Huning—front cover marsh landscape; p5 surveying;
Brian Aydemir (Creative Commons)—p18 Alcatraz p8 salt ponds; p10 landscape, shorebirds; p12
Mike Baird—p6 Willet; p16 row of scoters landscape; p22 marsh; p30 landscape; p32 landscape
Peter Baye—p33 flood tide Scott Jennings—p29 owl
Len Blumin—p19 cormorant Bruce Jensen—p20 large landscape
Philip Bouchard (Creative Commons)—p6 tidal flat Walter Kitundu—front cover and p22 clapper rail
Cris Benton—p1 South Bay; p2 South Bay; p8 South Peter LaTourrette—front cover, canvasback; p11 flying
Bay; p40 tidal marsh; p41 aerial flock shoveler; p12 rail; p21 warbler
Von Canon (Creative Commons)—p14 flying heron Lorenz-Avelar (wwwlorenz-avelarcom)—p16 underwater
Renée Cormier—p28 owls; p36 owl Marin RCD—p36 two views Gale Ranch
Corinne C DeBra—p12 marsh landscape; p20 trail James Matuszak—p2 shorebirds
Franco Folini (Creative Commons)—p2 SF Bay David Reinsche—p30 field biologists
Wally Gobetz (Creative Commons)—p4 Bay bridge Caitlin Robinson-Nilson—p24 plover, chicks
Tom Grey—front: terns, egret, sparrow, avocets; p8 San Francisco Bay Subtidal Goals Project—p12 tidal
shoveler, terns; p9 stilt; p10 avocets; p13 yellowthroat; marsh
p14-15 herons & egrets; p16 three duck species; p20 Sonoma Land Trust— p5 wetlands, p37 wetlands
sparrow, woodpecker; p21 wrentit; p26 tern; p33 rail; Jack Snell (Creative Commons)—p18 Richmond Bridge
p34 sparrow; p35 three bird species; p36 warbler; Ingrid Taylar—p3 landscape; p4 shorebirds; p34 flying
p37 tern willets; back cover flying avocets
Anonymous photographers (Creative Commons)—cover aerial landscape; p6 dunlin; p18 Alcatraz; p28 forest
Diana Howard—treatment of all graphs South San Francisco Bay tidal marsh
Reviewers (does not include contributors)
John Baker Ryan DiGaudio Amy Hutzel Barbara Salzman
Grant Ballard Wendy Eliot Brooke Langston Nat Seavy
Kathi Borgman Arthur Feinstein Jen McBroom Christina Sloop
John Bourgeois Michael Fitzgibbon John Parodi Laura Valoppi
Ellie Cohen Geoff Geupel Steve Rottenborn
The 2011 State of the Birds Report, San Francisco Bay was funded by the following:
The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation (formerly the J.M. Long Foundation)
Pacific Gas and Electric Foundation
PRBO Conservation Science
San Francisco Bay Joint Venture
San Francisco Estuary Partnership
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
American Avocets Aerial view of shorebird flock over saltworks
The State of the Birds San Francisco Bay 2011 is a collaborative
project of PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay
Joint Venture, with contributions from numerous partners.
Found online at www.prbo.org/sfbaystate of the birds