SAWA WHMS biologists play an active role in the restoration of the watershed by performing field studies involving birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and plants. WHMS biologists also monitor animals and plants during invasive plant removal projects to protect both endangered and more common wildlife species from potential impacts during restoration. SAWA biologists are permitted local experts on the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo and Brown-headed Cowbird management. They document all known vireo territories and monitor the bird’s nests to help recovery efforts of this species. Though all of SAWA’s biologists are considered local experts on the Least Bell’s Vireo, they each have a variety of backgrounds and taxa specialties. The Wildlife and Habitat Management Services (WHMS) staff produce quality comprehensive reports for all projects.
SAWA biologists conduct a variety of biological services, including endangered species monitoring, breeding and winter bird surveys, point-count surveys, raptor surveys, herpetological surveys (e.g. pit-fall, drift fence, coverboards), aquatic species surveys, camera-trap monitoring, habitat assessments, and vegetation monitoring (CRAM certified). In addition to monitoring vireo and supporting SAWA’s restoration activities, biologists nest monitor the endangered California Least Tern Colony in Huntington Beach and conduct surveys for other threatened and endangered species, such as the California Gnatcatcher, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Coastal Cactus Wren, Stephens’ and San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat, and the Santa Ana Sucker.
Biologists also support community environmental activities by surveying sites before clean-ups and flagging sensitive areas. Local government agencies contact SAWA biologists when they are analyzing projects to get information on where endangered and sensitive species are located within the watershed.