This spring I added the Colonial Waterbird Monitoring Program to my list of volunteering I do with the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFFBO). I work with another partner because it is a fairly large pond (“A16”) within the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge opened in 1974 in an effort to protect the wetlands. SFFBO has been monitoring colonial waterbirds since 1981, which has enabled us to understand behavior and population trends in one of the three key resting and foraging spots on the Pacific Flyway. The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project completed an enhancement for A16 of 240 acres of shallow ponds with 50 nesting islands for migrating shorebirds in recent years.

Pond A16- Island Map

The primary species we are monitoring are the California gull, Forster’s Tern, and Caspian Tern. Other species we keep an eye out for are American avocet, black-necked stilt, and the black skimmer. Currently, we have two islands (#11 and #12) that have Caspian terns nesting on them. Caspian terns are the largest of the terns with a large thick red beak, black cap, and white body. It is pretty fun to watch them plunge themselves into the water to catch food. Their nest site is on bare ground, which is built by both sexes.

We use our bikes to get out to the observation points and then use both binoculars and a scope to gather data on the total count of the species we see, how many are nesting, and if chicks are present and in what stage of development. So far we have yet to see chicks but I hope soon!

Species observed around the refuge that day:

  • Caspian Tern
  • Barn Swallow
  • American White Pelican
  • Mallard
  • American Avocet
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Canada Goose
  • California Gull
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Snowy Egret
  • Double-crested Cormorant

More information:

San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
Caspian Tern Species Account
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

2 Replies to “A16”

  1. Hi Laura,

    This is a great blog post! We’d like to add it to our SFBBO website, can you please let me know when you published it? Thanks very much!

    Take care, Kristin Butler, SFBBO Communications Director


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