Naturalist Guide: Birds

The shoreline, coastal prairie, and Garcia River estuary at the Point Arena-Stornetta Lands are all excellent bird habitats. Bird watchers have observed more than 126 species here, including shorebirds like the black oystercatcher, seabirds like the Laysan albatross, and land birds like the peregrine falcon. These different types of birds have adapted to different environments. For example, sea birds spend most of their time in the open ocean and have special glands that let them drink salt water. They mainly come to land when it’s time to nest and raise their young. Shorebirds live on land but have long legs and bills for fishing on the edge of the ocean.

peregrine falcon with chicks
Peregrine falcon with chicks.

As you soak in the views from the coastal bluffs, look for the colonies of pelagic cormorants that use the cliffs as multi-family apartments. They huddle away their days on the steep rocks to protect their nests from ravens, coyotes, and other predators. Then, when it’s time to eat, they dive more than 100 feet down into the ocean to hunt small fish, crustaceans, and worms. For cormorants near Point Arena, the collapse of the kelp forest ecosystem and increase of urchin barrens made it difficult to find enough food to raise their young. A 2019 study found that cormorants produced far fewer chicks of fledgling age than usual.

pelagic cormorants nesting on the cliffs
Pelagic cormorants nest on the cliffs.

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