Species Profile

Quick Facts

  • Less than 10% of California’s original riparian habitat still exists.

  • Some of California’s riparian birds travel long distances to find warmer climates for the winter. The least Bell’s vireo migrates to southern Baja California, Mexico, and the yellow warbler winters in parts of Central America.

  • In 2005, the Central Valley saw the return of an endangered species when the endangered least Bell’s vireo successfully nested in the Central Valley for the first time in 50 years.


The least Bell’s vireo, one of the Exchange’s focal riparian bird species, is endangered at the state and federal levels. Other special status focal species include the yellow-breasted chat and the yellow warbler, which are both California Bird Species of Special Concern.


This guild of species with compatible habitat needs currently includes eleven riparian landbird species: the ash-throated flycatcher, the black-headed grosbeak, the common yellowthroat, the nuttall’s woodpecker, the lazuli bunting, the least Bell’s vireo, the song sparrow, the spotted towhee, and yellow-breasted chat, the yellow-billed cuckoo, and the yellow warbler.


Less than 10% of California’s original riparian lands still exist today, and loss of riparian habitat is the greatest cause of recent declines in songbird populations in the western U.S. Much of California’s remaining riparian habitat is on private land, making landowners a crucial partner in the recovery of these species.