Liscom Slough, Humboldt Bay Photo Ted Halstead © Creative Commons
Pacific Birds in California covers some of the most important migratory bird stopovers of the conterminous United States. Humboldt Bay, the Eel River Delta, and Lake Earl are the largest coastal wetlands between the San Francisco Bay and the Columbia River, supporting hundreds of thousands of migrating birds each year.
Humboldt Bay, including the mouth of the Eel River, is the only location in the Pacific Northwest designated as a site of International Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). Humboldt Bay is also a critical area for Pacific Brant due to the extensive eelgrass beds and the Bay’s location along the Pacific Americas Flyway. Adding in the species within the region’s coniferous and broadleaf forests, almost 450 avian species occur in the Pacific Birds area of Northwest California.
Climate change, sea level rise and human development are the primary threats to this regions’ natural ecosystems. Although drought severity in northern California is far lower than in the south, increased demand for freshwater and subsequent diversions may impact riparian species. Estuaries are the richest and most imperiled ecosystems on the Pacific Coast, with sea level rise being recognized as the most significant threat to low-laying coastal areas. Competing land use issues will necessitate continued restoration and mitigation in the coming years to offset accelerated habitat loss and degradation.