Water and birds

Water is of vital importance to the survival of California’s birds and the habitats that support them.

Snow Geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Scott Flaherty/USFWS

California in 2016 entered its fifth straight year of drought, and the ramifications for birds and people are considerable.

Water, of course, is fundamental to our lives, our communities, and our economy. Public policy around water allocations and usage is serious business. Water is also of vital importance to the survival of California’s birds and the habitats that support them. That’s why Audubon California has been at the forefront: advocating for birds during important policy discussions around the recent water bond, drought response, and water allocations to critical wildlife refuges.

The National Audubon Society new strategic plan creates an initiative around water that takes into account its growing importance in our organization’s ongoing efforts to safeguard birds. Nowhere is that focus more apparent than in California, where water is at the center of several important initiatives.

Below you will find links to the important work that Audubon California is doing around water and birds.

Drought and birds
Seas & Shores

Drought and birds

With the California drought entering its fifth straight year in 2016, the impacts to birds are already being seen and felt.

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Fighting for Central Valley birds
Seas & Shores

Fighting for Central Valley birds

Audubon California continues to advocate for adequate water supplies for Central Valley refuges.

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Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Securing a home for birds at the Salton Sea

Audubon California is helping secure the future of one of the state's key bird habitats.

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New opportunities for birds at Owens Lake
Important Bird Areas

New opportunities for birds at Owens Lake

Audubon California is working with Eastern Sierra Audubon to take advantage of a unique opportunity to support migratory birds at Owens Lake.

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San Joaquin River restoration
Important Bird Areas

San Joaquin River restoration

The San Joaquin River is one of the most threatened rivers in North American, and we need to bring it back to its former glory.

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Latest news

House ‘drought’ bill could have disastrous effects for Central Valley birds
Water

House ‘drought’ bill could have disastrous effects for Central Valley birds

— Drought bill introduced on first day of the 115th Congress rolls back protections for birds and the environment that Californians have supported for decades.

Talking about migratory birds in the Central Valley

Audubon California's Khara Strum recently took to Capital Public radio to talk about migratory birds in the Central Valley, and particularly how they use agricultural fields as surrogate habitat. Listen to the interview here.

Congress passes controversial water bill

Waterfowl at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Jim Gain

Over the objections of Audubon California and other conservation organizations, Congress over the weekend passed major water infrastructure legislation that included last-minute language that has the potential to undermine the Endangered Species Act and destabilize the wetland habitat that millions of birds need to survive.

The issue was difficult, because members of Congress were eager to pass the larger Water Resources Development Act that contained vital funding for projects around the country, and this controversial language was inserted into the bill in the last few days, giving representatives very little time to remove it.

More than 3,700 Audubon activists joined the chorus objecting to the language, but the language still passed.

Exploring bird habitat in the Colorado River Delta
Audublog

Exploring bird habitat in the Colorado River Delta

An Audubon team examines what remains, what has been lost, and where there are opportunities to bring habitat back.

Proposed 'drought-response' language holds dangers for birds and wildlife
Press Center

Proposed 'drought-response' language holds dangers for birds and wildlife

— Audubon California joins many other conservation organizations in urging lawmakers to reject rider to Water Resources Development Act that undermines the Endangered Species Act and destabilizes water deliveries to Central Valley wildlife refuges.

Wet fall is helping Central Valley birds

Mixed flock of ducks rise up over a wetland. Photo: Gary Kramer/USFWS

While the drought is far from over, the wet fall we're experiencing is certainly helping Central Valley birds, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Audubon’s work in California’s Central Valley may open opportunities for birds at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Audubon’s work in California’s Central Valley may open opportunities for birds at the Salton Sea

Can Audubon California’s efforts to support birds on Central Valley farms can be translated to the Imperial Valley?

Nothing like a flyoff at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
Audublog

Nothing like a flyoff at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Seeing one of California's great natural wonders is a reminder of how cooperation creates great conservation victories.

Birding and Brews
Water

Birding and Brews

Fall is a great time to get outside and explore new birding hot spots in the West. But a long day spent birding can leave you parched, which is why this month, we are sharing our new Birds and Brews map with you.

Urban Californians' water conservation dropped below 18% in August

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

The State Water Resources Control Board today announced that urban Californians’ monthly water conservation declined to 17.7 percent in August, down from 27 percent savings in August 2015, raising concerns that some water suppliers are abandoning their focus on conservation as California heads into a possible sixth drought year.

“The statewide August conservation results raise questions, and we are examining the data to understand why some areas slipped more than others,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Are we seeing relaxation of conservation messaging and programs, or are we seeing abandonment of programs?  One may be appropriate, the other is not.  It’s a mixed picture.  Many communities who certified that they didn’t ‘need’ to conserve are still conserving up a storm, while others have slipped more than seems prudent.”

​Marcus added: “While last year’s rain and snow brought a respite for urban California, we are still in drought, and we can’t know what this winter will bring. What we do know is that climate change will continue to make our water years even more unpredictable, so we need to retain our conservation habits for the long term, rain or shine, drought or no drought.”

How you can help, right now