Important Bird Areas

Sacramento River - Upper

California

The Upper Sacramento River between Red Bluff and Chico protects some of the finest remaining valley riparian woodland left in the Sacramento Valley, which holds a majority of the contiguous riparian habitat in the state. It is currently a patchwork of protected and private holdings, with federal and state agencies and conservation organizations planning to acquire thousands of acres of riparian woodland, farmland and orchards along the river. These have been earmarked for habitat restoration, including about 18,000 acres proposed for recently created Sacramento River NWR between Red Bluff and Colusa.

Updated October 2008

Ornithological Summary

This stretch of the Sacramento is one of a handful of remaining riparian areas in California large and complex enough to support multiple pairs of Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The majority of the state's Bank Swallows, widely extirpated throughout the state breed in eroding riverbanks along the upper Sacramento (see Garrison et al. 1987). Bald Eagle is resident, and at least one pair is believed to breed within this IBA (BD).

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Conservation Issues

The most pressing concern to the avifauna of this IBA involves a continuing "bank-stabilization" effort by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which involves the rip-rapping of natural riverbank (stripping off the vegetation and replacing the banks with rock-covered levees). This has had disastrous effects on riparian bird populations, particularly Bank Swallow, which requires freshly-eroded, sandy banks for nesting. Efforts to stop this activity have been unsuccessful, so wildlife agencies have resorted to buying parcels outright and defending them from Corps activities.

Ownership

It is currently a patchwork of protected and private holdings, with federal and state agencies and conservation organizations planning to acquire thousands of acres of riparian woodland, farmland and orchards along the river. These have been earmarked for habitat restoration, including about 18,000 acres proposed for recently created Sacramento River NWR between Red Bluff and Colusa.

Habitat

The Upper Sacramento River between Red Bluff and Chico protects some of the finest remaining valley riparian woodland left in the Sacramento Valley, which holds a majority of the contiguous riparian habitat in the state. It is currently a patchwork of protected and private holdings, with federal and state agencies and conservation organizations planning to acquire thousands of acres of riparian woodland, farmland and orchards along the river. The majority of the state?s Bank Swallows, widely extirpated throughout the state breed in eroding riverbanks along the upper Sacramento.