The Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake, supports a spectacular bird population that is among the most concentrated and most diverse in the world. Sadly, this crucial stopover along the Pacific Flyway for migratory and wintering shorebirds, landbirds, and waterfowl is dangerously close to collapse from several environmental threats. This book is the first thoroughly detailed book to describe the birds of Salton Sea, more than 450 species and subspecies in all. A major contribution to our knowledge about the birds of western North America, it will also be an important tool in the struggle to save this highly endangered area.
Synthesizing data from many sources, including observations from their long-term work in the area, the authors’ species accounts discuss each bird’s abundance, seasonal status, movement patterns, biogeographic affinities, habitat associations, and more. This valuable reference also includes general information on the region’s fascinating history and biogeography, making it an unparalleled resource for the birding community, for wildlife managers, and for conservation biologists concerned with one of the most threatened ecosystems in western North America.
Preface and Acknowledgments
A HISTORY OF THE SALTON SINK
Formation of the Salton Sea
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT ISSUES
BIOGEOGRAPHY OF THE SALTON SEA
The Fauna of Lake Cahuilla
The Salton Sea and the Gulf of California
Vegetation and Habitat
A CHECKLIST OF THE BIRDS OF THE SALTON SEA
The Next Twenty
THE SPECIES ACCOUNTS
Geographic Region Covered
Taxonomy and Nomenclature
Michael A. Patten is Director of Research at the Sutton Avian Research Center, University of Oklahoma, and is a Research Associate at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Guy McCaskie is a civil engineer and editor of the four seasonal reports for the Southern Pacific Coast Region in North American Birds. Philip Unitt is editor of the journal Western Birds and Collection Manager for the San Diego Natural History Museum's department of birds and mammals.
“Recommended.”—C.J. Pollard Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“This is an important book. . . this book will interest ornithologists, as well as to those responsible for planning the Sea’s future.”—Joseph R. Jehl Qtly Review Of Biology
"The Salton Sea has a fascinating history and is one of the most important inland seas for water birds of North America. [This book] is an important contribution to our understanding of the distribution and abundance of birds on our continent."—Nils Warnock, Point Reyes Bird Observatory
"The Salton Sea environment, a jewel of human-altered ecosystems, shimmers amidst the otherwise harsh and arid landscape of the Colorado Desert. Offering a rich mosaic of diverse avian habitats that attract phenomenal numbers of land and waterbirds to its productive saline shores, agricultural fields, freshwater wetlands, desert woodlands, and riparian-lined drainages, the Salton Sink represents one of the most important regions for bird populations in western North America. In Birds of the Salton Sea,
authors Patten, McCaskie, and Unitt have combined their extensive individual expertise, a collaboration based on experience that spans nearly half a century, to produce this comprehensive tome on the avifauna of the Salton Sink. This important volume is a must for anyone interested in birds and their habitats in western North America."—Kathy C. Molina, Dickey Bird Collection, University of California, Los Angeles
"Patten, McCaskie, and Unitt—three of California’s elite field ornithologists—have crafted a definitive book on the avifauna of the Salton Sea, an otherworldly, saline water body that provides a crucial nexus in the Pacific Flyway for millions of birds. Tracing the geologic and human forces that have shaped this highly productive desert wetland from the Pleistocene to the present, they reveal the secrets of the intricate comings and goings of birds reliant on this now-threatened ecosystem. Stitching together the details of the seasonal occurrence patterns, habitat needs, biogeographic affinities, and taxonomic relationships of the region’s incredibly diverse bird life, they highlight the richness, importance, and need for protection of one of the West’s irreplaceable natural treasures."—Dave Shuford, Point Reyes Bird Observatory