Nine Years and Counting: SDG&E Employees Restore Vital Nesting Site for Endangered Bird Species in Mission Bay

Nine Years and Counting: SDG&E Employees Restore Vital Nesting Site for Endangered Bird Species in Mission Bay

For nine consecutive years, San Diego Gas & Electric has teamed up with the San Diego Audubon Society for an annual volunteer project supporting the endangered California Least Tern bird species. With more than 100 of our employees, their families, and colleagues volunteering at Mariner’s Point in Mission Bay May 7, this year was no different!

Volunteers of all ages spent their Saturday morning removing non-native vegetation to help prepare habitat for the sand-colored eggs and chicks, which will begin hatching in mid-May.

SDG&E All-Stars clean California Least Tern habitat.

The California Least Terns are migratory seabirds that nest on open, sandy dunes along the coast, which makes them extremely vulnerable to disturbance and habitat loss. Up from only 600 nesting pairs in the 1970s, the California Least Tern population is rebounding but still fragile. Threats include the spread of invasive weeds (which grow over the exposed sand that they need to nest on), urban predators such as gulls, crows and ravens, and loss of habitat due to coastal development.

San Diego County is home to upwards of 60% of the entire nesting population, so protecting the remaining nest sites is vital to ensuring the species’ continued survival. The San Diego Audubon Society relies on volunteers to restore habitat that this important bird species needs to blend in and stay safe. Every year, volunteers donate over 2,000 hours to remove invasive weeds and make these sites tern ready before the birds arrive to breed in mid-April, and every year, Team SDG&E looks forward to joining the effort!

Thanks to annual restoration efforts, Mariner’s Point continues to be one of the most successful nesting colonies in our region.

SDG&E All-Stars volunteer, cleaning Least Tern Habitat.

"It is partners like SDG&E and their passionate team that make the protection of critical habitat and species possible, as well as build a community of engaged citizens who value our rich biodiversity and are committed to making a difference,” said Travis Kemnitz, San Diego Audubon Society Executive Director. “They truly are All Stars and San Diego's wildlife and habitats are fortunate to have this vital care."

Through the Environmental All-Stars program, SDG&E employees regularly volunteer their time for a variety of projects in the community, ranging from building school gardens and installing solar panels for low-income residents to restoring habitats for endangered species.

In 2020, Team SDG&E has a full calendar of projects scheduled, including partnerships with San Diego Audubon Society, Habitat for Humanity, Produce Good, GRID Alternatives, I Love A Clean San Diego, and many more.