The height of summer beach season at Bolsa Chica State Beach is also the height of nesting season at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. As you're probably aware, California least terns and Western snowy plovers like to nest on sandy beaches. But during the first part of the 20th century, their habitats were taken over by people with our parking lots and beach blankets. The populations of our locally nesting terns and plovers plummeted.
The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve was created in the early 1970s in large part to protect the endangered California least tern. Inner Bolsa Bay was re-opened to tidal flushing, creating habitat for the fish that terns feed on. And to give the birds somewhere to nest and raise their young, two sand islands were created in the bay mimicking the sandy beaches that they used to use.
In ensuing decades, birds flocked to the new nesting islands, and each year, the number of birds using them grew. Other species of terns never before observed breeding in this area came to Bolsa Chica to nest. The tide had been turned.