eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 51, No. 2
Western Field Ornithologists
Temporal Response of California Black Rails to Tidal Wetland Restoration
Abstract: From the mid-1800s into the 1960s, many tidal wetlands along the coast of California were isolated from tidal influence and converted to farmland. Since 1976, to restore ecological function and hydrological integrity, tidal influence has been restored to some of these wetlands. My collaborators and I monitored three sites—one on the north edge of San Pablo Bay, one on the west side of San Francisco Bay, and one at the south end of Tomales Bay—to document occupancy by the California Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus), a cryptic marsh bird with an extremely narrow habitat niche in emergent tidal wetlands and considered an indicator of tidal-marsh health and restoration success. A source of prospective colonists had persisted adjacent to all three sites. Black Rails occupied each site within three to ten years, demonstrating the value of these restorations.