Humboldt Threatened and Endangered Species

SnowyPlover LeValley 512

The western snowy plover, shown above, is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

  • Western Snowy Plover

    SnowyPlover LeValley 150

    The western snowy plover is a small shorebird, about 6 inches long, with a thin dark bill, pale brown to gray upper parts, white or buff colored belly, and darker patches on its shoulders and head, white forehead and supercilium (eyebrow line). Snowy plovers also have black patches above their white forehead and behind the eye. Juvenile and basic (winter) plumages are similar to adult, but the black patches are absent. These birds nest above the high tide line on coastal beaches, sand spits, dune-backed beaches, sparsely-vegetated dunes, beaches at creek and river mouths, and salt pans at lagoons and estuaries.

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  • Tidewater Goby

    TidewaterGoby 150

    Tidewater goby are small fish (~2”), that are found in coastal lagoons and brackish edges of estuaries in northwestern CA.  They are a federally listed endangered species, and have been found in numerous locations on the Refuge, particularly brackish water with little current.  Tidewater goby proposed critical habitat includes most of the Humboldt Bay NWR units in South Bay. The entire life history of the goby can be completed in Refuge habitats.  Tidewater goby can “migrate” upstream in tributaries up to 0.6 mile from estuaries. Sub-adult and adult goby migrate upstream in tributaries in summer and fall for reproduction. Nesting burrows are dug in coarse, sandy substrate. They primarily feed on small benthic crustaceans and aquatic insects. Individuals typically live for 1 year.

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  • Coho Salmon

    CohoSalmon 150x101

    Coho spend approximately the first half of their life cycle rearing and feeding in streams and small freshwater tributaries. Spawning habitat is small streams with stable gravel substrates. The remainder of the life cycle is spent foraging in estuarine and marine waters of the Pacific Ocean. Adult coho may measure more than 2 feet (61 cm) in length and can weigh up to 36 pounds (16 kg).

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  • Chinook Salmon

    Chinook NOAA 150


    Chinook salmon are easily the largest of any salmon, with adults often exceeding 40 pounds (18 kg). Individuals over 120 pounds (54 kg) have been reported. Chinook salmon are very similar to coho salmon in appearance while at sea (blue-green back with silver flanks), except for their large size, small black spots on both lobes of the tail, and black pigment along the base of the teeth. Adults migrate from a marine environment into the freshwater streams and rivers of their birth in order to mate. 


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  • Steelhead

    Steelhead USDA 150

    Steelhead are a unique species; individuals develop differently depending on their environment. While all steelhead hatch in gravel-bottomed, fast-flowing, well-oxygenated rivers and streams, some stay in fresh water all their lives. These fish are called rainbow trout. The steelhead that migrate to the ocean develop a much more pointed head, become more silvery in color, and typically grow much larger than the rainbow trout that remain in fresh water.

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  • Menzies' Wallflower

    ERME Pickart 150

    Menzies’ wallflower (Erysimum menziesii) is a low, succulent, biennial to short-lived perennial member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae).  Like other wallflowers in the genus, Menzies’ wallflower produces dense clusters of bright yellow flowers in the winter and early spring (February to April).  Menzies' wallflower occurs in semistable dunes, usually in low native vegetation called "dune mat", dominated by beach bursage, beach sagewort, dune goldenrod, coast buckwheat, beach pea, and beach bluegrass.

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  • Beach Layia

    Layia Pickart 150

    Beach layia (Layia carnosa) is a succulent, annual herb belonging to the sunflower family (Asteraceae).  The plant can range from a nickel-sized single stemmed flower, to a many-branched tuft up to 6 inches tall and more than 16 inches in breadth. Beach layia is restricted to openings in coastal sand dunes ranging in elevation from 0-100 feet, where it colonizes sparsely vegetated, semi-stabilized dunes and areas of recent wind erosion. 

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