Most of these bird species depend on more than one habitat type and exemplify the interlinked nature of the Ballona ecosystem. One example is the least tern, an endangered species that forages at the Freshwater Marsh during the breeding season , but raises young on small sandy dunes at Venice Beach, more than a mile away. The great blue heron nests in tall trees in upland areas of Ballona but forages widely along Ballona Creek as well as in upland habitat.
During the breeding season, other bird species are far more dependent on only one habitat type at the Ballona Wetlands. The Belding’s savannah sparrow, a State listed endangered species, forages and breeds primarily in high salt marsh habitat that is flooded only infrequently by tides or is isolated from tides.
The least bittern, a State Species of Special Concern, breeds only at the Freshwater Marsh. In fact the Freshwater Marsh is now providing breeding habitat for several species, including the least bittern, common moorhen, and Canada goose, for the first time in over a century.
These are tantalizing indications of what is possible when the larger Ballona salt marsh ecosystem is restored.