The King City Grasslands IBA encompasses the best remaining riparian habitat on the middle Salinas River forming a corridor of habitat that includes San Lorenzo County Park, and extensive arid grasslands to the east. San Lorenzo is a tributary of the Salinas; it and Lewis Creek form much of the northern and eastern boundary. Habitats within the Salinas Valley itself have been highly modified for agriculture, but the majority of these dry grasslands are uses as a grazed range. Because of the agricultural modification, the area at the east edge of King City is not included. The grasslands support a wide variety of species that are otherwise rare in the region, including the Tricolored Blackbird colony, Loggerhead Shrike and Grasshopper Sparrow, which live in the grassland on both sides of Paris Valley Road. The IBA also includes Five Oak Savanna, located in the Priest Valley Area, that have provide habitat for Lewis?s Woodpeckers.

Updated by Monterey Peninsula Audubon October 2008

Updated by Monterey Peninsula Audubon October 2008

Ornithological Summary

The concentration of grassland birds east of King City and San Lucas is unusually rich. Several of the shallow canyons have populations of Burrowing Owl, the last remaining stronghold in the Central Coast. Raptors are well represented by breeding populations of Northern Harrier, Golden Eagle, and Prairie Falcon, with good numbers of Ferruginous Hawks arriving each winter. California Condors are now foraging in the area from release points at the Pinnacles National Monument. Loggerhead Shrike is still a common resident here. Patches of sage chaparral have Greater Roadrunner and Sage Sparrow. There is a colony of Bank Swallow along the San Lorenzo River, one of the few on the Central Coast. In winter, influxes of Horned Lark and Mountain Bluebird are scattered widely, and Peachtree Valley sometimes has small flocks of Mountain Plover.

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Conservation Issues

None of this habitat is currently protected. While urban development may be several decades away, agricultural conversion of range to vineyards remains a serious concern, and much of the area could become a patchwork of vineyards and agricultural land that would fragment and decimate grassland species. The little remaining riparian habitat along the Salinas River has been reduced to a small border, and cowbird parasitism is a major threat to riparian obligate species. Strategic conservation acquisitions are needed to protect the large remaining blocks of habitat and linkages that remain.

Habitat

The King City Grasslands IBA encompasses the best remaining riparian habitat on the middle Salinas River forming a corridor of habitat that includes San Lorenzo County Park, and extensive arid grasslands to the east. San Lorenzo is a tributary of the Salinas; it and Lewis Creek form much of the northern and eastern boundary. Habitats within the Salinas Valley itself have been highly modified for agriculture, but the majority of these dry grasslands are uses as a grazed range. Because of the agricultural modification, the area at the east edge of King City is not included. The grasslands support a wide variety of species that are otherwise rare in the region, including the Tricolored Blackbird colony, Loggerhead Shrike and Grasshopper Sparrow, which live in the grassland on both sides of Paris Valley Road. The IBA also includes Five Oak Savanna, located in the Priest Valley Area, that have provide habitat for Lewis?s Woodpeckers.

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