Great Blue Heron

Scientific: Ardea herodias
Spanish: Garza ceniza
Mutsun: Aareh

Diet: Fish, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals
Habitat: Near fresh and saltwater
Status: Least Concern

Great blue herons have a six foot wingspan and a long beak, neck, and legs to aid in hunting. Locally they can be spotted year round near water where they hunt on the banks or roost in trees, like the eucalyptus overlooking the San Lorenzo River mouth.

Great Egret

Scientific: Ardea alba
Spanish: Garza blanca

Diet: Wetlands, shoreline
Habitat: Fish, amphibians, invertebrates, small mammals
Status: Least Concern

These long-legged wading birds can be seen in local wetlands, and are distinguished by their yellow beaks and black feet. Great egrets almost went extinct in the 19th century due to the demand for their feathers, but conservation efforts have helped their populations recover.


Scientific: Schoenoplectus acutus
Spanish: Tule
Awaswas: Rookush

Tule is a salt-tolerant plant that many wetland animals use for nesting materials and food.  Indigenous people also used tule to build houses and an array of items like baskets, mats and even boats. While tule can withstand periods of drought, they do best when the rhizomes are submerged in up to a foot of standing water.

Short-billed Dowitcher

Scientific: Limnodromus grieus
Spanish: Becasina piquicorta

Diet: Worms, mollusks, crustaceans
Habitat: Wetlands, sloughs, estuaries, beaches
Status: Least Concern

Short-billed dowitchers use their long beaks to probe the soft mud in search of aquatic invertebrates.

American Coot

Scientific: Fulica Americana
Spanish: Focha americana
Mutsun: Yuran

Diet: Aquatic plants, insects, snails, worms, tadpoles
Habitat: Wetlands, freshwater ponds
Status: Least Concern

Coots have specialized lobed feet that allow them to walk on soft mud without sinking while foraging for bits of vegetation.

Western Pond Turtle

Scientific: Actinemys marmorata
Spanish: Tortuga occidental de estanque
Mutsun: Awnicmin

Diet: Algae, aquatic plant roots, insects, tadpoles, frog eggs
Habitat: Water with muddy bottoms in forests, woodlands and grasslands
Status: Threatened

These turtles are out-competed by invasive red-eared slider turtles, leading to their threatened status.