San Francisco Bay Wildlife
Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area


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Rare and Endangered Species of San Franscisco Bay Area

Mountain Beaver
Mountain Beaver - Aplodontia rufa
Photo credit: Camera Trap Codger / Creative Commons

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse - Reithrodontomys raviventris

California Clapper Rail
California Clapper Rail - Rallus longirostris obsoletus

Marbled Murrelet
Marbled Murrelet - Brachyramphus marmoratus
Photo Credit: USFWS

Northern Spotted Owl
Northern Spotted Owl - Strix occidentalis caurina
Photo Credit: Heather Jensen, NPS

Red-legged Frog
Red-legged Frog - Ambystoma californiense

Tidewater Goby
Tidewater Goby - Eucyclogobius newberryi
Photo Credit: Jessica Weinberg, NPS

Bay Checkerspot Butterfly
Bay Checkerspot Butterfly - Euphydryas editha bayensis
KQEDQuest / CC BY 2.0

Mission Blue
Mission Blue Butterfly - Icaricia icarioides missionensis
Photo Credit: Will Elder, NPS

California Freshwater Shrimp
California Freshwater Shrimp - Syncaris pacifica
Photo Credit: NPS

Black Abalone
Black Abalone - Haliotis cracherodii
Photo Credit: NPS

Many wildlife species are facing declining numbers all over the world. According to a report by Conservation Lands Network the Bay Area has 97 endangered or threatened species. We encourage everybody to do their share to help protect the natural environment for these rare species. We will help you find out more about them. Note: We are using the term "endangered" in a more general sense to include all rare, threatened or vulnerable species.

Endangered Mammals

Mountain Beaver - Aplodontia rufa
The Point Reyes subspecies - Aplodontia rufa phaea - is an endemic subspecies that is only found in western Marin County almost entirely within Point Reyes National Seashore. 
Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse - Reithrodontomys raviventris 
San Joaquin Kit Fox - Vulpes macrotis
The San Joaquin Kit Fox is one of the eight recognized subspecies of Kit Fox. It is listed as Endangered by the Federal Government and listed as Threatened by the State of California. 
Southern Sea Otter - Enhydra lutris nereis
It lives in the nearshore waters along the mainland coastline of California, from San Mateo County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south. 
Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae
The California/Oregon/Washington stock winters in coastal Central America and Mexico and migrates to areas ranging from the coast of California to southern British Columbia in summer/fall. 

Endangered Birds

Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Bald Eagles have been making a comeback in the Bay area. Nesting has been observed in a few locations including Lake Chabot (Castro Valley), Crystal Reservoir (San Mateo County), Dell Valle Reservoir (Livermore), Lake Sonoma (Sonoma County), Calaveras Reservoir (border of Alameda and Santa Clara County).
California Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Clapper Rail - Rallus longirostris obsoletus
This is a subspecies of the Clapper Rail. 
California Least Tern - Sternula antillarum brownii
A subspecies of the Least Tern, which is U.S. federally listed as endangered. 
Marbled Murrelet - Brachyramphus marmoratus
It has the distinction of being the last bird species in the United States to have its nesting site discovered - old growth redwood forests! 
Northern Spotted Owl - Strix occidentalis caurina
They reach the southern limit of their range in Marin County, where they occur in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore, and other parts of the county. A nice summary by Jessica Weinberg, August 2013.
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
This is one of the success stories of the Endangered Species Act. The Peregrine Falcon population is currently considered secure. There is a monitoring plan which will sample status five times at three-year intervals, beginning in 2003 and ending in 2015.
Western Snowy Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus

Endangered Reptiles

Alameda Striped Racer (Alameda Whipsnake) - Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus
It is found in Alameda, Contra Costa, western San Joaquin and northern Santa Clara counties. 
Blainville's Horned Lizard (Coast Horned Lizard) - Phrynosoma blainvillii
It is found in suitable habitat in Alameda County, Contra Costa County and the Santa Cruz mountains, It is listed as a California species of Special Concern
Pacific Pond Turtle - Actinemys marmorata
It is listed as a Federal and California Species of Special Concern
San Francisco Gartersnake - Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia
It has been called the most beautiful serpent in North America. It is listed as endangered by the state and by the federal government.

Endangered Amphibians

California Tiger Salamander - Ambystoma californiense
In the Bay Area, it is considered threatened in parts of Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties. 
Red-legged Frog - Rana aurora
In 1996 it became the first Bay Area frog to be federally listed as a "threatened" species. 

Endangered Fish

Delta Smelt - Hypomesus transpacificus
It is a small fish found in the upper reaches of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary. An extinction risk analysis in 2006 warned that the Delta smelt could go extinct within 20 years. 
Steelhead Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss
Steelhead are a unique form of Rainbow Trout. The ocean-going form is called Steelhead. Like salmon, they spend most of their adult life in the ocean, but spawn and rear in freshwater streams and rivers. Streams along the central California coast and in the San Francisco Bay Area may support both winter-run anadromous Steelhead and resident Tainbow Trout forms. 
Coho Salmon - Oncorhynchus kisutch
The southernmost continually-returning natural population of endangered Coho is found in Redwood Creek in Marin County, and is recognized as a reproductively isolated and distinct population. For more information see Coho Salmon Monitoring in Redwood Creek.
Tidewater Goby - Eucyclogobius newberryi
It is endemic to lagoons of streams on the California coast. There is a reintroduction and conservation effort in the Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay State Park region.

Endangered Insects

Ohlone Tiger Beetle - Cicindela ohlone
It is endemic to Santa Cruz County and found on coastal terraces in remnant patches of native grasslands with poorly drained soil. It was registered as a federally endangered species in 2001. 
Mt. Hermon Beetle - Polyphylla barbata
It is endemic to the Santa Cruz Mountains and found primarily (perhaps exclusively) in the Zayante Sand Hills formation. It was registered as a federally endangered species in 1997. 
Delta Green Ground Beetle - Elaphrus viridis
It is only found in a small area of Solano County. It's Federal status is "Threatened". 
Zayante Band-Winged Grasshopper - Trimerotropis infantilis
It is endemic to the Santa Cruz Mountains and found primarily (perhaps exclusively) in the Zayante Sand Hills formation. 
San Francisco Lacewing - Nothochrysa californica
It is been proposed for listing as Threatened or Endangered . 

Endangered Butterflies

San Bruno Elfin - Callophrys mossii bayensis
Endemic to the Bay area and found in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. 
Bay Checkerspot - Euphydryas editha bayensis
Endemic to the Bay area and and known from six core areas - one on the San Francisco peninsula, one in San Mateo County, and four in Santa Clara County. 
Callippe Silverspot - Speyeria callippe callippe
Endemic to the Bay area and their range has reduced considerably. There is one small, vulerable population in Alameda county and a bit more protected population on San Bruno mountain. 
Myrtle's Silverspot Butterfly - Speyeria zerene myrtleae
Found in western Marin and southwestern Sonoma counties, including the Point Reyes National Seashore. Status is endangered. 
Lange's Metalmark - Apodemia mormo langei
Status - endangered. Lange's Metalmark is known almost exclusively from the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge was the first piece of land set aside (1980) in the history of the United States for the distinct protection of an insect. 
Mission Blue Butterfly - Icaricia icarioides missionensis
Status - endangered. This is now found at only a few sites in the bay area. San Bruno mountain and Golden Gate National Recreation Area are two such sites.  ...link1   ...link2 
Smith's Blue Butterfly - Euphilotes enoptes smithi
Status - endangered. Found along the central California coast in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo counties. Several sites along Monterey Bay are now being managed for preservation, including a preserve established by the U.S. Army at Fort Ord. 

Other Invertebrate Species

California Freshwater Shrimp - Syncaris pacifica
This is an endangered species of freshwater shrimp. It is only found in portions of 16 coastal streams within Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties. Lagunitas Creek in Marin County is home to the most viable population and is the only site on protected lands. 
Black Abalone - Haliotis cracherodii
They are large marine snails with smooth shells colored in shades of dark green, blue, or black. The San Francisco Bay area network of national parks contains some of the more northern stretches of Black Abalone habitat on the West Coast. Recent surveys indicate that low numbers of Black Abalones are occupying parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore coastlines. 

Articles and Links About Bay Area Endangered Species


Particular Species

  • Peregrine Falcon Nest Diary 2009 - Peregrines nesting in the San Francisco financial district. 
  • Breeding Status, Nesting Densities & Diet Trends of Two Endangered California Least Tern Colonies by David L. Riensche, Meredith L. Elliott and Susan H. Euing, Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering, Oct. 2012. The two colonies described are Alameda Point and Hayward Regional Shoreline. 
  • Mission Blue butterflies page on San Francisco Bay Area National Park Science and Learning website 
  • California Freshwater Shrimp (Syncaris pacifica) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation by US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007. 
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