This IBA refers to several distinct habitats along a 20-mile stretch of coast from the mouth of Ten Mile River south through Ft. Bragg to the Mendocino Headlands. Its diverse natural communities include extensive grassland, pockets of coniferous forest, riparian corridors, freshwater wetlands and small brackish lagoons at creek mouths. A patchwork of state lands and private ranches, major protected areas within this IBA include (north to south) MacKerricher State Park, Caspar Headlands State Reserve/Caspar State Beach, Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino Headlands State Park and Van Damme State Park. Key bird habitats include the broad, sandy beach of MacKerricher State Park (very rare on the north coast), the grasslands between here and Bald Hill (just inland of Hwy. 1); Lake Cleone, a coastal freshwater lake; Glass Beach in Fort Bragg; the estuary at the mouth of Big River; and grasslands in the Mendocino Headlands area. Significant seabird breeding areas include Goat Island, just offshore of the town of Mendocino, and rocks within Van Damme Cove, just to the south.

Updated by Mendocino Coast Audubon, September 2008

Ornithological Summary

Snowy Plover maintains a tiny breeding population (up to 5 pr.) at MacKerricher State Park, one of just a handful of sites in northwestern California, with about 40 birds typically found in winter here. The grasslands within this IBA, particularly those between MacKerricher and Bald Hill, support wintering Tricolored Blackbirds, a diverse raptor community including wintering Ferruginous Hawk and (at least formerly) Burrowing Owl; as well as breeding Northern Harrier. Grasshopper Sparrow is known to nest in the hills on the north side of Ten Mile River, and may be more widespread, particularly after wet winters. Other localized nesters include a handful of Purple Martins nesting in drain-holes under Hwy. 1 bridges over Ten Mile River, Big River, Russian Gulch and in snags along Caspar Creek. Goat Island is known to support 1000+ breeding Brandt's Cormorant, about the same number of breeding Common Murre, as well as small numbers of Rhinoceros Auklet and Tufted Puffin, and Van Damme Cove may be the farthest-north known nesting site of Ashy Storm-Petrels in the world (Carter et al. 1992).

Help us learn more about the birds at this IBA! Enter your birding data online at Calfornia eBird! (http://ebird.org/california/)

Conservation Issues

Though the lands within this IBA are reasonably secure from development, human disturbance remains a concern, particularly for breeding Snowy Plovers and nesting seabirds (especially Van Damme Cove Rocks, fide Carter et al. 1992). Although the plover nesting area at MacKerricher has been fenced, it is not regularly patrolled, and in 2000, the single nest on the site was apparently abandoned due to human disturbance (K. Carter, in litt.). Glass Beach and part of the Big River have been acquired and are now in the California State Park ownsership (fide D. Tobkin).

Ownership

A patchwork of state lands and private ranches, major protected areas within this IBA include (north to south) MacKerricher State Park, Caspar Headlands State Reserve/Caspar State Beach, Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino Headlands State Park and Van Damme State Park. Glass Beach and part of the Big River have been acquired and are now in the California State Park ownsership (fide D. Tobkin).

Habitat

This IBA refers to several distinct habitats along a 20-mile stretch of coast from the mouth of Ten Mile River south through Ft. Bragg to the ?Mendocino Headlands.? Its diverse natural communities include extensive grassland, pockets of coniferous forest, riparian corridors, freshwater wetlands and small brackish lagoons at creek mouths.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.