Important Bird Areas

Benicia State Recreation Area

California

Benicia State Recreation Area protects a small area of tidal marsh within Southampton Bay, sandwiched between the cities of Vallejo and Benicia. It is noteworthy both because of its proximity to urbanized areas and because of the concentration of sensitive species it protects.

Ornithological Summary

This Important Bird Area supports a large, apparently stable population of Black Rail, as well as other wetlands breeders such as Northern Harrier and (winter only) Short-eared Owl. Benicia is situated near the interface of the ranges of several of the San Francisco Bay Area's races of Song Sparrow, whose genetics are currently being investigated. Nonetheless, it is known to support nearly 3% of the global population of what are probably Suisun Song Sparrows, as well as 5-10% of the global population of Saltmarsh Common Yellowthroat (H. Spautz, PRBO, unpublished data). The abundance of migrant and wintering waterbirds provide food for Peregrine Falcon, which have maintained one of the Bay Area's few nesting areas on nearby bridges. As with most protected parts of the San Francisco Bay, large numbers of waterfowl winter here, particularly rafting bay species like Canvasback, scaup and both goldeneyes.

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Conservation Issues

Following the Baylands Habitat Goals Project (1999), suggested activities for these marshes include the protection and restoration of existing tidal marsh (e.g. elimination of exotic species and barriers to flow) and the removal of trash. Human disturbance, both direct and indirect, continues to threaten this increasingly urban site.Predation of birds by feral cats is a major concern. The city of Benicia has designated certain areas to feed feral cats. Although Benicia State Recreation Area is not one of those areas, a State Park employee feeds cats in the Park (fide Sue Johnson). People walking off-trail through the marsh, often with unleashed dogs is an additional major threat to its bird community (Robin Leong).

Habitat

Benicia State Recreation Area protects a small area of tidal marsh within Southampton Bay.

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