This complex of mostly protected lands at the base of the San Francisco Peninsula protects some of the richest and most varied bird habitats on the Central Coast. The coastline at Ano Nuevo State Reserve features small offshore islands, rocky headlands, extensive dunes with seep vegetation and bluff-top grassland. East of Highway 1, the vegetation switches to a dense, old-growth Coast Redwood and Douglas-Fir forest, with alders lining the numerous streams, where Big Basin Redwood and Butano State Parks protect several thousand acres of open space (and the largest block of old-growth forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains).

{link:Download map|http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/ca/Ano_Nuevo_Area.pdf}

Ornithological Summary

This Important Bird Area marks the southernmost regular distribution limit for several species along the coast of California, including Marbled Murrelet, Vaux's Swift, Pileated Woodpecker, Bank Swallow, Varied Thrush and Hermit Warbler. Other "redwood coast" taxa such as Winter Wren and Black Swift (breeds in coastal bluffs) become decidedly less common farther south. Scattered patches of grassland in the area support nesting Northern Harrier and colonies of Grasshopper Sparrow. American Dipper nests along streams. Just offshore, Ano Nuevo Island, provides nesting habitat for seabirds and, remarkably, Heermann's Gull (one of the few California colonies of this primarily Mexican breeder).

Conservation Issues

Though this area receives heavy year-round visitation by tourists, particularly to see the breeding Elephant Seals, it is carefully managed by California State Parks. Offshore threats to seabirds include occasional oil spills from the San Francisco area drifting south on currents and affecting species like Marbled Murrelet (SH).

Ownership

Ano Nuevo State Reserve, Big Basin Redwood and Butano state parks protect several thousand acres of open space (and the largest block of old-growth forest in the Santa Cruz Mtns.).

Habitat

The coastline at Ano Nuevo State Reserve features small offshore islands, rocky headlands, extensive dunes with seep vegetation and bluff-top grassland. East of Hwy. 1, the vegetation switches to a dense, old-growth Coast Redwood and Douglas-Fir forest, with alders lining the numerous streams.