Habitats and Birds

We work to preserve and restore habitats that will sustain healthy populations of waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland dependent species.

Habitat conservation and management is the foundation of the JV partnership and our top priority.  We seek to protect, restore, and enhance habitats within our geographic scope so that wildlife will have the functional and resilient land and waterscapes they need to survive and thrive.  To do this we have set acreage goals for a variety of habitats both within and adjacent to SF Bay.

As an estuary of international significance SF Bay has been given several designations including being one of few places where shorebirds can rest and fuel on their long Pacific Flyway migration journeys and where a multitude and diversity of birds spend their winters.  Also of note, as of 2022, 26 animal species protected by federal or state Endangered Species Acts live here and rely on the Bay habitats for which we have set protection goals.

Fortunately what is good for birds is good for people because the Bay is also home to and shared by a beautiful diversity of close to 8 million people.  Our work aims to benefit all who live in the nine Bay Area counties.

The places we protect (or Priority Habitats and their dependent birds)

While our focus is on habitats within the SF Bay Estuary, we have also set goals to protect habitats found in the outer coasts as well as adjacent upper watersheds.  Here we include descriptions of our 3 primary habitat categories and the birds that rely on them.  In Restoring the Estuary 2.0  we go into detail about what these goals are, how they were first established and how they have been updated in our 2022 revision.  [link to chapter 2 and use a goals graphic alongside this text.]

Estuarine habitats

[include table 1 appendix chapter 2 and any photos of mentioned habitats and/or ducks – we want these to be largely visual]

These are subtidal and baylands habitats where lands are touched by the tides or would be in the absence of levees or other unnatural structures. Our protection goals also include the adjacent uplands that provide physical and ecological connections with the baylands and/or allow for habitat migration to accommodate for sea-level rise.

Within this larger estuarine category, there are a number of different habitat types including non-tidal wetlands and waters, tidal marsh, and beaches (among others).  All are found in San Francisco Bay, Central Bay, San Pablo Bay and part of Suisun Bay.  The open and shallow waters offer food and rest for dabbling ducks like Shovelers and Pintails or diving ducks such as the Western Grebe or Double-crested Cormorant.   Closer to shore in the transition zones, you might see the Greater Yellowlegs or a Curlew wading through the waters.  If you are lucky and there is some native Spartina for cover, the endangered Ridgway Rail might bravely take a stroll.


A watershed is defined as an area of land in which rainfall and snowmelt feed into a common set of streams and rivers that ultimately drain into a single larger body of water such as a large river, bay, or ocean.  Habitats within this system for which we have goals include stream valleys, lakes and ponds, seasonal wetlands and vernal pools.  Good health is signaled by ?? in these habitats

Outer Coasts

Found along the Pacific Coast in San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, and Sonoma counties, these habitats are influenced by coastal and marine conditions and processes such as tides, waves/swell, coastal winds, and longshore sediment transport.  They also include coastal estuaries affected by both marine and watershed processes, and the riparian habitats that drain into them.  Abundant with wildlife, these habitats are a great place to see shorebirds in large numbers and to observe closures when posted to help protect these species during breeding season.