On November 28, 2001, the president of the National Audubon Society, John Flicker, came to the Bay Area to launch the U.S. component of the international “Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program.” The announcement was made here to underscore the global signifcance of San Francisco Bay as a sanctuary for migratory birds. With over a million shorebirds passing through each year, the Bay is the largest, most significant estuary on the Pacific coast and is a major stopover for birds traveling on the Pacific Flyway, which extends from Alaska to South America. Nearly 350 species of migratory birds travel back and forth along the flyway, between their summer nesting habitats in the north and winter grounds in the south. Over a million shorebirds pass through, or stop over on, the Bay each winter. Many of these species are in decline because of human impact on their habitats. That is why sanctuaries such as the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (SFBNWR), with its 7000-plus acres of wetland habitat managed for the benefit of wildlife, are so important. Each year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, the federal agency that manages the refuge) celebrates the Bay’s significance for migratory birds with the annual San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival. This year’s festival will be held on the weekend of January 18-20, on Mare Island in Vallejo, and will feature bird walks, video presentations, exhibits, activities for children, and guided tours of marsh habitat restoration projects. For information and a brochure, contact (707)557-9816.
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