Audubon Canyon Ranch conducts ongoing waterbird surveys, begun in 1989, to track the health of shorebird and waterbird populations on Tomales Bay. Up to 35,000 waterbirds spend each winter on Tomales Bay, with Surf Scoters, Bufflehead and Greater Scaup the most abundant.

Why monitor waterbirds?

As human activity continues to increase in Tomales Bay and its watershed, habitat conditions for waterbirds may be affected in numerous ways. ACR’s waterbird surveys allow us to judge the impacts of such activities to help plan conservation efforts, including:

  • management and control of recreational disturbance to waterbirds
  • the effects of the shellfish aquaculture
  • protection of eelgrass beds
  • water quality
  • management of human land use in the watershed

What our data show:

Our Tomales Bay waterbird data shows similar increases in overall waterbird numbers as have been recorded across North America over the last 30 years. However, our data also suggest a decline over the most recent 10 years. This decline may be related to recent droughts, but we have yet to formally analyze the data to determine what factors may be associated with these patterns. We are planning to do this analysis in 2022.

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Get involved

For more information on becoming involved in any of these efforts, please use our volunteer interest form.