Alameda Wildlife Reserve

The Alameda Wildlife Reserve supports a rich variety of wildlife, including one of the most consistently productive breeding colonies of the federally listed endangered California Least Tern. The Reserve is located at the former Alameda Naval Air Station on the western end of the city of Alameda, on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs land.

More than 200 species of birds have been observed at the Reserve, including Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, Burrowing Owls, Horned Larks, Bryant’s Savannah Sparrows and Loggerhead Shrikes. The Reserve provides nesting habitat for 30 species in addition to the Least Terns, including species of special status and concern. Nearby, thousands of California Brown Pelicans flock to Breakwater Island, considered one of Northern California’s most important pelican roost sites. Harbor Seals forage in adjacent waters and sun themselves on a nearby haul-out designed especially for them.

Each spring, California Least Terns make their annual migration from Mexico and Central America to the Alameda Wildlife Reserve site. And each year, Golden Gate Audubon volunteers prepare the terns’ nesting ground by removing invasive plants and placing shelters and barriers to protect chicks from predators. Throughout the year, biologists conduct regular bird surveys, gathering information on bird populations to determine how the site can best serve the needs of migrating and resident species. During the Least Tern breeding season, trained volunteers participate in Tern Watch to assist the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in its efforts to recover this tiny but remarkable endangered species.

The Alameda site is a wildlife treasure that provides vital habitat to a great diversity of species. The National Audubon Society has designated the Reserve an Important Bird Area and the city has zoned the site as a nature preserve.

Conservation Issues

Continuing conservation threats include:

 Predation of adult Least Terns and their chicks and eggs
 Invasive vegetation on the nesting site, diminishing habitat value
 Boating and other human activities that disturb sensitive wildlife

Our Goals

 Prepare the Least Tern nesting area for their return each spring.
 Maintain the reserve as key breeding habitat for Least Terns and as critical habitat for other nesting, resident and migrant species.
 Support the USFWS in its efforts to recover the California Least Tern.

What You Can Do

 Join our Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Reserve Committee to help restore habitat at the Reserve and optimize the Least Tern nesting site for breeding success.
 Participate in the USFWS Tern Watch program.
 Tell your friends and other community members about the importance of the Reserve and the great variety of wildlife that depend on it.

Click HERE to see and hear the terns at Alameda Point in a seven-minute documentary created by Alameda resident Richard Bangert.

In 1994, Golden Gate Audubon and the College of Alameda co-sponsored a scientific symposium on the natural resources of the Alameda Naval Air Station site. You can read proceedings of the symposium in the following two PDF files.

Alameda Symposium – Part 1

Alameda Symposium – Part 2