Key Concepts:

  1. The Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is a part of the San Francisco Bay Estuary.
  2. The Pacific Flyway is a significant global migration path that passes through the Palo Alto Baylands.
  3. A bird’s unique features help it survive in its environment.

As you look out upon the marshlands of the San Francisco Bay Estuary from the EcoCenter in Palo Alto, you may observe some shorebirds and other feathered friends from time to time.

As the seasons change, some birds will migrate, or travel, from place to place to find resources to survive and raise their young. The marshlands of the San Francisco Bay are located directly in the path of the Pacific Flyway, which is a migration route that birds use to travel from as far south as South America, to as far north as Alaska.

Here in these marshes you can find a variety of bird life from gulls to geese, hawks to herons, swallows to sparrows, hummingbirds, ducks, shorebirds, and nearly everything in between!

The variety of bird life that exists here is directly related to the abundance of resources that birds need to survive. Food, water, shelter, and space.

You may notice some birds swimming in the water, nesting in the plants, flying about, or feeding in the mudflats.

Each of these types of birds exhibits special adaptations for living around the marshlands.

Long legs for walking in the water when the tide is in, long pointy beaks for probing in the mud for worms and food, or a flat duck beak for filtering plants and insects through the water, webbed feet for swimming, or divided toes for walking.

Watch the camera for bird life and try to observe their behavior. Standing motionless in place is a resting behavior, sitting down in place can mean either resting or nesting, and active head bobbing in the mud or water usually means its feeding time!

See if you can spot some of these bird behaviors – then see if you can identify what type of bird this is using a field guide or reliable website.

Check the camera later today to see if any more feathered friends have arrived!