In April 2015, after many months of data gathering and analysis, Audubon California nominated two new open bay Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in San Francisco Bay. They have now been accepted under the global and state level criteria due to the number of waterfowl consistently observed in the areas. California criteria requires that at least 5000 waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans) are regularly present in an area, while global designation requires a minimum number of a particular species. The new IBAs easily exceeded the state criteria for all waterfowl and were designated at the global level status based on the high number of Surf Scoters and Greater Scaup seen there regularly. All data used for the analysis was collected during aerial surveys conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (surveys were conducted for research unrelated to IBA nominations).
The combined acreage of the two new areas is nearly 25,000 acres! The northern area is in San Pablo Bay adjacent to the current San Pablo Bay Wetlands IBA, and covers 15,320 acres; the southern area is near San Leandro and covers 9192 acres next to the San Francisco Bay-South IBA. Other than Richardson Bay IBA (3140 acres), these areas will be the only other open-bay (subtidal) IBAs within San Francisco Bay; and they will represent a habitat type that has received little conservation attention until recently.
Now that these crucial areas are identified, we can start the process of identifying actions to help protect and enhance the populations of waterbirds that use them. Stayed tuned for news and ways you can help.
The IBA program is global initiative developed by Bird Life International and administered by National Audubon Society in the United States. More information on National Audubon's program can be found here; for information on California IBAs, including an interactive map, click here.
[Citations for data used in analysis: Takekawa, J.Y. and S.E.W De La Cruz, unpublished (U.S. Geological Survey); and Richmond, O.M.W., Dulava, S., Strong, C.M. and Albertston, J.D. 2014. San Francisco Estuary Midwinter Waterfowl Survey: 2012 Survey Results and Trend Analysis (1981-2012). U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region. National Wildlife Refuge System Inventory and Monitoring Initiative. Fremont, CA, USA.]