Date of this Version
Few places on the North American continent can boast of the concentrations of migratory birds that winter in the Central Valley of California. Long before agriculture and industrialization came west, this great valley served as a major wintering ground for millions of migratory birds. Fall flights of waterfowl, shorebirds, waders, raptors, and passerines returned annually to inhabit the vast wetland, riparian, and grassland habitats which covered the valley floor (Dasmann 1966, Bakker 1971).
Major changes in the Central Valley during the last century have profoundly influenced its physical and biological features. Wetland, riparian, and grassland habitats have been devastated by flood control, drainage, water diversion projects, and agricultural development. Waterfowl and other migratory birds that depend on these areas for vital wintering habitat face an uncertain future as world market demands continue to encourage agricultural, industrial, and urban growth in California.