Important Bird Areas

Point Reyes - Outer

California

Pt. Reyes is a triangular-shaped piece of land jutting out into the Pacific Ocean north of the San Francisco Bay Area in Marin County. The area is located south of Tomales Bay and just north of Bolinas Lagoon. This Important Bird Area centers on its western edge, a region of rugged headlands, broad, sandy beaches, windswept pastureland, dune lakes and one of the largest coastal estuaries in California, Drake's Estero. Managed as Pt. Reyes National Seashore, this area has numerous private in-holdings (mainly dairy farms and oyster operations) that pre-date the park. Like other Important Bird Areas in the region (Tomales Bay, Bolinas Lagoon), this area has received close scrutiny by Point Reyes Bird Observatory and is exceptionally well covered year-round by birders from California and around the world.
The Pt. Reyes IBA occupies 353 hectares of land comprised of: shrubland and open water. The IBA is located in the Northern California ecoregion. It is owned and managed as: state, and has the following primary uses: conservation/ natural area.
The Pt. Reyes IBA contains 9 seabird species and an estimated 43,061 birds. The colony is an IBA for the following species: Ashy Storm-Petrel (15), Rhinoceros Auklet (6), Tufted Puffin (4), Brandt's cormorant (1,160), Common Murre (40,810), Pelagic Cormorant (266), Pigeon Guillemot (616), and Western Gull (178). The following species are on the Audubon WatchList: Ashy Stormpetrel.

Ornithological Summary

This IBA includes 38 threatened and endangered species along the shoreline and water. The areas of this Important Bird Area most important for bird conservation include the vast saltmarsh and mudflats of Drake's Estero, which support very large numbers of waterbirds in migration and winter. The headlands and offshore rocks within this Important Bird Area are critically important to a diverse nesting seabird population that includes Ashy Storm-Petrel (74 at Bird Rock, off Tomales Pt.), Rhinocerous Auklet and Tufted Puffin (handful on Pt. Reyes proper), all localized in the state (Carter et al. 1992). These are concentrated in three areas: Bird Rock, in the north near Tomales Point; the headlands at Pt. Reyes proper (southwest of Drake's Estero); and offshore rocks within Drake's Bay southeast of Drake's Estero. The sandy beaches in the area host nesting Snowy Plover (declining, fide Dave Shuford), particularly along North Beach and Limantour Spit. The open fields in the area are also important for open-country migrants and winterers, including shorebirds such as the localized Pacific Golden-Plover, which winters at just a handful of sites in California. Finally, the scattered clumps of trees associated with ranch yards within this Important Bird Area have long been known as important migration hotspots, with hundreds of songbirds crowding into planted groves of cypress, particularly in fall.
The Pt. Reyes IBA contains 9 seabird species and an estimated 43,061 birds. The colony is an IBA for the following species: Ashy Storm-Petrel (15), Rhinoceros Auklet (6), Tufted Puffin (4), Brandt's cormorant (1,160), Common Murre (40,810), Pelagic Cormorant (266), Pigeon Guillemot (616), and Western Gull (178). The following species are on the Audubon WatchList: Ashy Stormpetrel.

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Conservation Issues

Common Ravens, increasing in the region have been implicated in recent declines of nesting Snowy Plover, and oil spills (many originating near the Farallon Islands, see above) continue to affect seabirds in this region of the coast. Remarkably, in 2001, the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach, which sank off San Francisco in 1953, was found to have been leaking oil during winter storms, possibly since the 1970s. This oil has now been implicated in major winter mortality of Common Murres in and around this Important Bird Area (Steve Hampton). Gill net fishing still occurs outside of the sanctuary providing some risk to seabirds.

Ownership

Managed as Pt. Reyes National Seashore, this area has numerous private in-holdings (mainly dairy farms and oyster operations) that pre-date the park.

Habitat

This IBA centers on its western edge, a region of rugged headlands, broad, sandy beaches, windswept pastureland, dune lakes and one of the largest coastal estuaries in California, Drake?s Estero. The areas of this IBA most important for bird conservation include the vast saltmarsh and mudflats of Drake?s Estero. Also the scattered clumps of trees associated with ranch yards within this IBA have long been known as important migration hotspots, with hundreds of songbirds crowding into planted groves of cypress. The Pt. Reyes IBA is located in the Northern California ecoregion and contains the following habitat types: shrubland and open water. The colony occupies a total land area of 353 hectares. This IBA is also part of the San Gregorio fault zone.

Land Use

The Pt. Reyes IBA is used for: conservation/ natural area.