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 in danger of losing its ecological value. As the Sea changes, we face losing a vital part of the Pacific Flyway and 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 (IBA). 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 losing 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. In 2017, inputs of Colorado River water were transferred from local agricultural uses to urban uses on the coast. As less water flowed into the Sea, it shrunk considerably, becoming more saline and inhospitable to birds, fish, and insects.

We must take immediate action at the Salton Sea to protect human health and establish viable habitat for millions of migratory birds.

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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Salton Sea Information and Resources
Salton Sea

Salton Sea Information and Resources

Discover the data and resources about the habitats and changes happening at the Salton Sea from across the network.

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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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Gov. Newsom, 2020 must be a year of action at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Gov. Newsom, 2020 must be a year of action at the Salton Sea

One year into his term, the Salton Sea continues to recede unabated, dust plumes rise, and birds disappear.

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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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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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More about the Salton Sea

Se necesita todo un pueblo: Dr. Ryan Sinclair y la ciencia comunitaria
Salton Sea

Se necesita todo un pueblo: Dr. Ryan Sinclair y la ciencia comunitaria

Conversamos con Dr. Ryan Sinclair de Loma Linda University de la ciencia comunitaria, la justicia ambiental, y de la proliferaciones de algas en el área de la laguna Salton Sea.

It Takes a Village: Dr. Ryan Sinclair and Community Science at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

It Takes a Village: Dr. Ryan Sinclair and Community Science at the Salton Sea

We sit down for an interview with Dr. Ryan Sinclair to talk about community science, environmental justice, algal blooms at the Salton Sea.

Guía de aves comunes de los Cahuilla del Desierto Torres-Martínez
Salton Sea

Guía de aves comunes de los Cahuilla del Desierto Torres-Martínez

Estamos estrenando nuestra nueva, descargable guía de campo de algunas aves del Valle de Coachella, las cuales son culturalmente importante para los Cahuilla.

Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Common Birds Guide
Salton Sea

Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Common Birds Guide

Our new, downloadable pocket field guide features some birds of the Coachella Valley that are culturally significant to the Cahuilla people of the Torres-Martinez Band.

El caso de los humedales accidentales
Salton Sea

El caso de los humedales accidentales

La naturaleza interviene donde las personas no lo hacen.

The Case of the Accidental Wetland
Salton Sea

The Case of the Accidental Wetland

Nature is helping us to reduce emissive dust at the Salton Sea. It’s time for us now to help nature.

What's wrong with the Salton Sea?
Salton Sea

What's wrong with the Salton Sea?

Let's clear the air about the Salton Sea.

¿Cual es el problema con la laguna Salton Sea?
Salton Sea

¿Cual es el problema con la laguna Salton Sea?

Despejemos algunas dudas sobre la laguna Salton Sea.

How you can help, right now