Living Coast - Ridgeway Rails

Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail Recovery Program

Chances are you’ve never seen a light-footed Ridgway’s rail in the wild, and as the only zoological facility with rails on exhibit, your only other chance to see one is here at the Living Coast. The light-footed Ridgway’s rail (Rallus obsoletus levipe) is a state and federally-listed endangered species that can only be found in Southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. The presence of the Ridgway’s rail within a coastal habitat indicates a functioning tidal salt marsh ecosystem and its rich biological diversity. Loss and degradation of habitat due to coastal development threaten this bird, although recent management efforts are reversing those trends in the wild.

The Living Coast is proud to be part of Team Clapper Rail, composed of organizations dedicated to the study, restoration, and introduction of rails in Southern California. With partners from San Diego Zoo Global, SeaWorld San Diego, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, among others, Team Clapper Rail aims to support the rail population through collaborative efforts in zoological propagation, field research, annual census, monitoring, banding, genetic sampling, and introductions into the wild throughout the region.

Thanks to Team Clapper Rail’s efforts, over 500 rails have been zoologically propagated and introduced into the wild since 2000.

We hope you’ll become inspired by the rails we have on exhibit, and if you visit in the spring or summer, you may even see chicks! You can support rails at home by reducing single-use plastic consumption, using non-toxic pesticides and properly disposing of chemicals. Rails need healthy, non-polluted waterways to survive.


Living Coast - Burrowing Owl

Western Burrowing Owl Recovery Program

Diurnal and ground-dwelling, burrowing owls are not your typical hooting, nocturnal owls. But their small size, large eyes, and “sassy personalities” make them a guest favorite here at the Living Coast. Perhaps you’ve met one of our trained ambassadors on the glove of one of our Keepers, or you’ve seen one of our burrowing owls on exhibit and can attest to their allure.

Burrowing owls can be found throughout grasslands and deserts of North America (they can even be found here on the National Wildlife Refuge), but our local San Diego population is threatened due to habitat loss and degradation. That’s why we’re working in a multi-agency  collaborative partnership with San Diego Zoo Global on a dedicated recovery program for western burrowing owls. Our participation supports the conservation breeding goals of the program. Owl groups produced from conservation breeding are soft-released as an effort to support the establishment of the first recovery node for burrowing owls in San Diego County.