Salton Sea

Audubon California is helping shape the future of this remarkable place for birds.

White Pelicans at the Salton Sea. Photo: Robin L

The Salton Sea is one of the most important places for birds in North America and is recently in danger of losing its ecological value. As the Sea changes, we will face losing a vital part of the Pacific Flyway and face a toxic dust bowl that will threaten public health for more than a million Californians.

As part of the Colorado River Delta, the sea filled and dried for thousands of years prior to its current, 35-mile-long incarnation, which came into existence as the result of a massive flood of the Colorado River in 1905. The 330-square-mile Sea has partially replaced wetland habitat lost to agricultural and urban conversion in the Colorado River Delta, California’s coast, and the San Joaquin Valley.

The Sea is a globally significant Important Bird Area. For the past century, the Sea has served as a major nesting, wintering, and stopover site for millions of birds of approximately 400 species. Until recent years, tiny Eared Grebes wintered by the thousands in rafts far out on its surface. American White Pelicans roosted on mudflats and fished for tilapia in its shallows.  Migratory shorebirds stopped to migrate and feed along the Sea’s edge. Today’s avifauna is shifting – the Sea is loosing the fish-eating birds such as pelicans and cormorants because fish populations are disappearing.  Eared grebes, who have fed on pile worms, are also declining rapidly, from millions to several thousand. Shorebirds, however, that feast on invertebrates along the shore edges, as well as shallow feeding ducks such as Northern Shoveler and Ruddy Duck, are still wintering at, or passing along the Sea, in massive numbers.

Recently, its water level dropped to the point that colonial seabirds began abandoning nesting sites en masse in 2013, and shallow, marshy habitat areas at the sea’s edge have begun to rapidly vanish, particularly at the south end. And in 2017, inputs of Colorado River water that have been maintaining a minimum sea level are scheduled to end, as more water is transferred from local agricultural uses to urban uses on the coast. As less water flows into the sea, it will shrink considerably, becoming more saline and eventually inhospitable to birds, fish, and insects.

Audubon California has the opportunity to help address some of the immense challenges of the Salton Sea.

Birds of the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Birds of the Salton Sea

More than 400 species of birds come to the Salton Sea in California.

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Crisis looming at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Crisis at the Salton Sea

Water losses could soon present major problems for birds at the Salton Sea.

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Audubon's role at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Audubon at the Salton Sea

Audubon is speaking out for the birds in this troubled ecosystem.

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New online map for birding the Salton Sea
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Explore the birds of the Salton Sea

New interactive map shows you the best places to view birds at the Salton Sea.

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Roadmap for protecting bird habitat at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Roadmap for protecting bird habitat at the Salton Sea

Research about how much habitat -- and what kind -- birds are using at the Salton Sea should guide restoration.

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Local students help migratory shorebirds of the Salton Sea
Audublog

Local students help migratory shorebirds of the Salton Sea

San Diego Audubon Society recently partnered with an elementary school to educate students about birds that rely on the Salton Sea.

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More about the Salton Sea

Stop calling the Salton Sea an accident
Salton Sea

Stop calling the Salton Sea an accident

It doesn't help solve the ongoing problems in the region, and it's also not true.

2018 Farm Bill includes funding for Salton Sea

The Desert Sun highlights how the 2018 Farm Bill allows for federal funding for Salton Sea restoration.

Surveying birds at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Surveying birds at the Salton Sea

We were at the Sea this week participating in a sea-wide survey of birds

Latest survey results from the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Latest survey results from the Salton Sea

November counts at fourteen sites show changes in bird populations.

Go Green Radio talks with Audubon California about the Salton Sea

"Learn about it, advocate for it and go visit it, " said Andrea Jones, Director of Bird Conservation at Audubon California about the Salton Sea in an interview with Jill Buck of Go Green Radio last week. 

The August 3, 2018 episode of Go Green Radio featured a conversation with Jones and Michael Cohen from the Pacific Institute about the Salton Sea and implications for public health and migratory birds if the state of California does not accelerate progress on the implementation of projects to reduce dust and stave off environmental degradation. 

Listen to the full episode here.

The Warning Lights Are Flashing for California’s Once-Glorious Salton Sea

“The clock is ticking for the people—and the birds as well,” says Frank Ruiz, Audubon California's Salton Sea Program Director in this article from NRDC. The article takes a look at the issues at the Sea facing birds and people today and the partnerships between organizations, including Audubon that are working to address the challenges at the Sea. 

The article also quotes Andrea Jones, Audubon California's Director of Bird Conservation.  “Three iconic birds that have used the Salton Sea in large numbers—the American avocet, the eared grebe, and the American white pelican—have all seen significant declines,” says Jones.  

Read the full article here.

Learn more about Audubon California's work at the Salton Sea here.

Talking shorebirds and action at the Salton Sea

Birds at the Salton Sea. Photo by Andrea Jones

Great article from the The Western Hemispher Reserve Shorebird Network about the need for action at the Salton Sea with some input from Audubon California's, Andrea Jones. Check out the story here.  

Our own Andrea Jones stopped by the Red Hill Bay restoration project at the Salton Sea day before yesterday. Doesn't look much like bird habitat at the moment, but our fingers are crossed that this will soon be replaced by much-needed wetland habitat.

California voters approve Proposition 68
Salton Sea

California voters approve Proposition 68

— $4 billion bond measure supported by Audubon will fund programs for safe parks, clean water, natural resources protection, climate change preparedness, and relief for the Salton Sea

Audubon California's Frank Ruiz today speaks at a rally for Prop 68 at an event in Brawley. The event was organized by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia.

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