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Birds can act as barometers of ecological change, be it in response to a restoration action, the influence of climate change, or a shift in land management.  Given their visibility and vocalizations, they can provide cost-effective proxies to measure environmental condition.  What's more, they are readily experienced by people: be it in the classroom, neighborhood or along the roadside, offering ample opportunities to invigorate human-nature relationships.  Unfortunately, they are also declining, in some cases dramatically, and the C3JV recognizes a responsibility to reverse these declines, restore species at the brink in the Central Coast, and through these measures, strengthen the wellbeing of habitats for other wildlife and our human communities equally dependent upon them. The C3JV has identified focal species for each conservation target; these species representing one of three categories: 1) a species of greatest conservation concern; 2) a C3JV Stewardship Species; and 3) a habitat indicator species.  Explore each focal species type in more detail below. 


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Focal Species of

The C3JV represents a substantial portion of the Bird Conservation Region 32, a region hosting more Bird Species of Conservation Concern according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service than any other in North America.  Of the 31 Federal or State listed bird species (including subspecies), 19 occur within the C3JV region, and of the 49 listed USFWS Bird Species of Conservation Concern, 42 can be found in the JV geography, most of which are focal species for the C3JV. For each Conservation Target, species of greatest conservation need have been identified and elevated as a focal bird warranting the heightened attention of the JV. Though not always a listed species, focal birds of conservation concern are often experiencing significant population declines, have highly restricted ranges, have been extirpated from parts of their historic range, or are perhaps highly vulnerable to climate change among other concerns. A total of 21 focal species of conservation concern have been identified by the C3JV and partners. Please revisit the website as we expand our profile of each focal species, while the link below provides a summary of the current list.


Meet three of the most at-risk species in the C3JV region.  The California Condor is an iconic bird of the Central Coast, where recovery efforts are centered for the species.  The Least Bell's Vireo, a Federally listed subspecies, is a harbinger of riparian recovery, and the California Least Tern embodies the sensitivity of beach-nesters in a landscape of attraction for people and predators.

California Condors_MTKhaled mahmud_SS_U_edited.jpg
Least Bell's Vireo2_Agami Photo Agency_SS_U_edited.jpg
LeastTern_Tom Grey_U.jpg

Focal Species of

In accordance with Partners in Flight's concept of Stewardship Responsibility, or caring for species where they are most abundant, even if populations are not yet highly threatened or declining, the C3JV has identified focal species that have an outsized reliance on the Central Coast in relation to their global population or species range. These species merit special attention to ensure their numbers are retained at levels that enable continued ecological function, not just within the C3JV, but as a species at large. Furthermore, the status of these species can serve as an indicator of the health of habitats, and targeting conservation at these focal species may achieve the habitat goals that support other birds and wildlife. 

Stewardship responsibility, for the C3JV, is measured by the estimated proportion of the species' population that occurs within the geography. To be identified as a Focal Stewardship species, at least 5% of the bird's population occurs, or is estimated to occur, within the Joint Venture region. Some species are both of conservation concern and are of stewardship responsibility, and where overlap exists, those species are included as a Focal Species of Conservation Concern. For example, while the Yellow-billed Magpie is a C3JV Stewardship Species, it is listed as Focal Species of Conservation Concern given concerns of declining populations, a highly restricted range, and sensitivity to land-use change. The Oaks and Prairies Conservation Target, perhaps unsurprising given the proportion of the geography it represents, hosts the most Stewardship Focal Species, including Nuttall's Woodpecker, California Scrub Jay and Band-tailed Pigeon.  While focal species profiles are forthcoming, the link below provides a summary of the 25 Stewardship Species of the C3JV. 

C3JV Stewardship

Stewardship species are those which the Joint Venture region plays an outsized role in overall survival.  In other words, the C3JV has a responsibility to monitor and steward these species in order to protect them from extinction......

Focal Species of


The California Thrasher is a perfect example of a C3JV Stewardship species, where up to 35% of the species' entire population occurs in the geography. Essential to the soundscape of the Chaparral, the thrasher's restricted range extends only from northern Baja to northern California. The Allen's Hummingbird, a denizen of the Pacific Coast, also ranks high for its dependence upon the C3JV region, as well as the White-tailed Kite, which has made a strong comeback since the 1940's when California was one of the last strongholds of the species in North America. 

California Thrasher1_Mike Parr_U_edited.jpg
Allen's Hummingbird_ Andrej Chudy_SS_U.jpg
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Burrowing Owl perched one-legged_Lev Frid_SS_U_edited.jpg

Focal Species of

Some species simply represent good indicators of habitat condition, ecological function, or restoration success. They may not be federally listed, or perhaps the C3JV geography doesn't represent critical habitat for the overall survival of the species. Instead, these focal species may have been extirpated from the region, and their return would mark an incredible measure of conservation success. Or, perhaps their habitat requirements offer a proxy for measuring water quality, habitat connectivity, or degree of disturbance. Indicator species may be extremely common, such as the European Starling, or functionally extinct in the C3JV, such as the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but their inclusion as a focal species nonetheless offers important information useful in tracking conservation impact overtime.  


Though perhaps not the darling of conservation, the European Starling is an important indicator of habitat condition as a highly competitive secondary cavity nester. The Grasshopper Sparrow on the other hand, is a relatively uncommon native grassland obligate requiring large, intact and unfragmented habitats, an umbrella species for grassland wildlife. The Surf Scoter, a common winter migrant, may offer a useful barometer of benthic habitat conditions along our coast, particularly in the face of climate change. 

Grasshopper Sparrow2_Dan Behm_U.jpg
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