The first herring of the winter spawning season are here! Pacific herring in San Francisco Bay support dozens of species of birds including brown pelicans, western grebes, Brandt's cormorants, surf scoter, scaup and teal and mergansers.
Big herring runs produce a wildlife extravaganza right here in our urbanized estuary. Herring spawn preferentially in Richardson Bay, where conditions are just right, with luxurious beds of eelgrass and other subtidal vegetation and the right salinity and currents. Herring is one of the most vital prey species for birds and wildlife from Alaska through California. Herring here and on the west coast are threatened by climate change, loss of subtidal vegetation, shoreline development, inappropriately times dredging activities, oil spills and more. That is why Audubon California is leading a campaign to protect herring for birds and wildlife. We work closely with commercial fleet leaders, agencies and others to put in place best practices to secure herring.
Our Richardson Bay Center and Sanctuary protects hundreds of acres of habitat where birds come to feed on herring and rest. Our state office works to improve policies and practices to protect herring statewide. Stay tuned and pull out your scope and binoculars as the big runs (hopefully) arrive in December-February!