White Pelicans and Gulls in Flight

One never knows what one will stumble across while trekking the River Loop Trail or Beach Trail- the rhythmic beats of hundreds of birds as they take flight from the lagoon, or the silent gaze of mule deer from across the grasslands.

  • Snowy Plover

    Snowy Plover Behind Kelp

    This threatened species is often portrayed as the "face" of Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge.  Their sandy coloring cryptic nests blend easily into the background, making it difficult for predators to see them.  Unfortunately, their camouflage works so well that humans and pets often step on their nests, not realizing they are there.  View the Threatened and Endangered Species gallery to see other listed species on the refuge. (coming soon)

  • Black Legless Lizard

    Black Legless Lizard in Dunes

    How do you know it's not a snake?  Black legless lizards have movable eyelids and have the ability to detach their tails when escaping predators.  This species live in the sand dunes.

  • Caspian terns

    Caspian Terns

    Caspian terns began nesting in colonies on the refuge in 2001.  They are the largest and strongest of the tern family and nest on the sand near the saline pond. 

  • Black Skimmer

    Black Skimmer

    The lower mandible of black skimmers is noticeably longer than its upper mandible.  These birds can be found near Caspian terns near the saline pond. 

  • Coyote


    Coyotes can sometimes be spotted in the grasslands and using the wetland areas.  Coyotes contribute substantially to predation on ground-nesting birds.