Almost 40 years of avian research and education for Bay Area birds!
Our story began during the 1970's when a collection of bird enthusiasts, including Professor Richard Mewaldt and Michael Rigney of San Jose State University, began studying the birds that lived on and around the commercial salt ponds of the South Bay. With other local residents from a birding class, they started a project to investigate the seasonal use of the ponds by roosting and nesting waterbirds under the auspices of the South Bay Institute for Avian Studies, now called the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory.
In a separate project, during the 1980s the Santa Clara Valley Water District embarked on an ambitious flood control project that included Coyote Creek. Because the flood control channel construction involved removal of riparian vegetation, the Water District established a Coyote Creek restoration site adjoining a pre-existing patch of riparian forest in what was once a pear orchard. As part of the mitigation process, the Water District was required to monitor the wildlife there annually from 1987 to 1996. Researching avian use of the restoration sites through a bird banding operation was initially conducted by the Coyote Creek Riparian Station (CCRS), a non-profit that joined with SFBBO in 1999.
Both of these projects continue today as our Colonial Waterbird Program, Avian Disease Prevention Program, and Coyote Creek Field Station (CCFS) bird banding program. We've also added a number of other research programs, including our managed salt pond surveys, annual shorebird survey, Snowy Plover research and habitat enhancement, Burrowing Owl research and habitat enhancement, and tidal marsh habitat restoration programs, among others.
Since our inception, we’ve also engaged hundreds of citizen science volunteers who help us collect our data. In addition to being a part of our mission to provide decision makers with sound science, our citizen science programs also help us meet our outreach mission by increasing the public's understanding of the scientific process, appreciation for birds, and desire to work for conservation.
Over the past 30-plus years we've grown our outreach program to include everything from traditional bird walks, science talks, bird ID workshops, and bird banding demos to initiatives to engage more diverse and underserved communities in the Bay Area. These newer projects include family science nights, women in science events, youth programs for Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club, citizen science for the population at the Elmwood Correctional facility, and bird walks for military veterans being treated at the Menlo Park Veterans Affairs health care center.