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
Audublog

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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Eyes on the Sea
Salton Sea

Eyes on the Sea

Communities around the Salton Sea are working together to protect human health and conserve critical bird habitats

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More about the Salton Sea

Eyes on the Salton Sea – what are we seeing?
Salton Sea

Eyes on the Salton Sea – what are we seeing?

The Salton Sea has been referred to as the “crowned jewel of avian biodiversity"

The Salton Sea is Collapsing
Audublog

The Salton Sea is Collapsing

The Salton Sea is shrinking rapidly, killing the fish on which migratory birds depend and exposing airborne dust that endangers the health of the 650,000 residents who live nearby.

Experts, State Officials and Stakeholders to Gather to Plot Future of Salton Sea
Audublog

Experts, State Officials and Stakeholders to Gather to Plot Future of Salton Sea

Swift action urged to avert environmental, public health disaster.

The Salton Sea Holds On For Dear Life
Salton Sea

The Salton Sea Holds On For Dear Life

How migratory birds are faring while they await state action to save this critical water resource for millions of birds.

Eyes on the Sea
Salton Sea

Eyes on the Sea

Communities around the Salton Sea are working together to protect human health and conserve critical bird habitats

U.S. House of Representatives Approves $30 Million for Salton Sea Crisis
Salton Sea

U.S. House of Representatives Approves $30 Million for Salton Sea Crisis

Funding to address threat to 1.6 million people and 300 species of birds

Gov. Newsom meets with environmental leaders to discuss priorities including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (AB454), Salton Sea and investments in natural Working Lands.

Audubon joins local leaders to talk about Salton Sea issues

Audubon California recently joined local water leaders and NGOs to tour the Salton Sea and view the crisis there up close. This great clip from NBC Palm Springs covers the day.

Salton Sea’s iconic pelicans and cormorants are quickly becoming a thing of the past
Salton Sea

Salton Sea’s iconic pelicans and cormorants are quickly becoming a thing of the past

— As bird species disappear from California’s largest inland lake, Audubon report calls on state to restore crucial habitats.

Eyes On the Sea hits the Salton Sea shoreline. Audubon California recently launched a new program that provides opportunities for local youth to monitor birds at the Salton Sea. This is the terrific group from Indio High School this morning.

How you can help, right now