Nesting Season Begins

Many migratory birds as well as locals begin to make the Bay their nursery this Spring. One species of special interest is the endangered Ridgway’s Rail. This bird is a poor flyer and moves mostly on foot under the cover of cord grass and other vegetation. It can be rarely seen in the early morning looking for snails, crabs, insects, and other food along the edge of the marsh; however few of our naturalists have ever seen it. Upper Newport Bay hosts the largest subpopulation of this bird remaining in the US. We will continue to keep an eye out for these special birds to protect them through the season and ensure a new generation is able to grow. Tips to help our friends:

cr and 3 chicks

Stay on Trails. During the nesting season it is important to stay on marked trails and obey all park signage and to stay off of the marsh to assure that you do not accidentally crush any nests under foot or scare away nesting mothers that may abandon their eggs or young.

Keep Dogs on Leashes. As much as we want to let our furry friends run free, keeping your dog on leash assures that they will not chase off any nesting birds. Keeping your dog on leash protects wildlife and protects your dog too. It also helps to manage dog waste in the bay, so grab a bag and make sure you clean up after Fido as well.

Keep it Clean. We have cleaned up a lot but now that the birds are nesting we can’t do as much to help out. Help us by packing out what you pack in. Water bottles and styrofoam were two major threats so be aware of what you use and where it might end up. In addition to trash, be aware of poisonous pesticides, fertilizers, and rodenticides that you might use in your gardens or around your home and think of where those chemicals will travel when the rains come.

Earth Day at the Bay

Saturday, April 22, 2017
Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center
2301 University Dr. Newport Beach
10 – 3 p.m.
Free parking, free admission
Bring some cash for food trucks and opportunity drawing

Newport Bay Conservancy, in partnership with OC Parks, present the 27th Annual Earth Day at the Bay.  Earth Day is a time when we can all reflect on the importance of our natural surroundings and how we can preserve and protect them. This Earth Day event features many exhibits and booths designed to help us connect with the natural world and help preserve it for future generations. Live music, children’s arts and crafts, scavenger hunt, live presentations, environmental movie shorts, and so much more.

Visit our Earth Day webpage for all the latest information.


Migration Haven

Tis the season for birds, birds and more birds
Whether a novice or skilled birder, the Upper Newport Bay gives you an opportunity to check out our feathered friends from different vantage points around the Bay. All walks are FREE; RSVP to 949-923-2269 or
Visit the Orange County Chapter Audubon Society’s website, Sea & Sage, to view monthly bird counts of the Bay.
Visit eBird for all bird counts in the Bay and throughout Orange County.
Saturday, March 4, 9 am
Entrance to Shellmaker Island
Leisurely walk along Back Bay Drive with a Naturalist who will  identify the BIRDS and plants they see along their walk.
Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5, 9:30 am
Newport Aquatic Center
Lesson on kayaking and explore the BIRDS that live at the Bay.

World Wetlands Day


Ground Water Management in Orange County: “What Happened to the Swamp of the Frogs?”
In Observance of World Wetlands Day/46th Anniversary of the Ramsar Convention
Back Bay Science Center
8:30 a.m. Parking, check-in & breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Speakers
1:00 p.m. Tour of Orange County Groundwater Recharge Facility

$10/members, $15/public ($20 door)

For full list of speakers/schedule or to purchase tickets, click HERE.

Gift of Giving

ridgway-railConnecting people to nature has been at the heart of the Newport Bay Conservancy since we were founded almost 50 years ago.  Yes, our Mission is to “Protect and Preserve Upper Newport Bay,” but more than that, we actively encourage and inspire our neighbors and visitors to get out and explore the reserve and to grow a love of nature.

walkOur dedicated, volunteer naturalists donated 12,000 hours of their time this year.  You see them around the Bay removing invasive plants and replacing them with native plants, picking up trash on Coastal Cleanup Day, leading bird and plant walks, connecting 2000 youth to nature through story-time, arts and crafts, exploring the habitats, and enjoying land and water activities. You see them on Earth Day or at seminars on environmental issues.

groupOur valued donors are the heart and soul of Newport Bay Conservancy.  They include people of all ages and backgrounds but with a common focus, keeping our wild species and wild spaces as untouched as possible.  We only succeed in our mission because of support from people like you.

Please take a moment to join or renew your annual membership this holiday season.

Removed over 7,500 lbs trash on Coastal Cleanup Day

Over 700 people came out September 17 for Coastal Cleanup Day at the Bay to remove over 7,500 lbs. of trash and recyclables from our waterway! Reporting from the Muth Center, volunteers removed over:

2,500 food wrappers, 2,500 take out containers, 5,000 bottle caps, 1,600 plastic lids, 1,500 straws, 500 plastic silverware, 2,700 glass & plastic bottles and the list goes ON and ON and ON…

If you weren’t able to make it out, please make sure you are on our mailing list so you can be notified about future cleanup events. EVERY person helps. It starts in your own backyard. Think about what you use and how you throw it away.

cud-all-cleanup cud-caps cud-strawcud-toy

Coastal Cleanup Day at the Bay

Be one of the 1,000 people to help remove 20,000 lbs. of trash and recyclables from our waterway! Coastal Cleanup Day at the Upper Newport Bay will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information and to sign up click here.

CUD 2016 small

Most of the trash actually comes from inland communities, and gets carried to the coast through storm drains. The Upper Newport Bay watershed (the network of storm drains, rivers, creeks, and canals that all flow into the bay) covers 154 square miles, and encompasses the communities of Newport Beach, Irvine, Tustin, Orange, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Costa Mesa, and Santa Ana.

Upper Newport Bay Is a Beautiful Estuary

Estuaries are places like no other. Unique features include:

  • Estuaries can make up an individual ecosystem. The Mississippi Delta estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico are different from estuaries in San Francisco Bay.
  • Life is dynamic and diverse in estuaries. Some animals and plants specialize in, or adapt to, living in the unique conditions of estuaries.
  • Because of the Earth’s changing geology, flowing water and different weather patterns help create many diverse types of estuarine habitats.
  • Rivers provide nutrients, organic matter, and sediments to estuaries.
  • Estuaries can filter small amounts of pollutants and runoff. Vegetation helps filter and trap silt.
  • Estuaries act like huge sponges, buffering and protecting upland areas from crashing waves and preventing soil erosion.
  • Estuaries provide a safe haven and protective nursery for small fish, shellfish, migrating birds, and coastal shore animals.
  • People enjoy living near estuaries and the surrounding coastline. They sail, fish, hike, swim, and enjoy bird watching.

SOCALPAPA Paints the Back Bay and OC Parks

Saturday and Sunday
July 16-17, 2016
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center

Southern California Plein Air Painters Association (SOCALPAPA) return to the Upper Newport Bay with several hundred original paintings from over 40 artists at this year’s art show and sale. Spend the day browsing pieces capturing the beautiful scenery and the natural heritage of Southern California.  

Art Show & Sale

Free painting classes for kids 7-12 years of age will be offered on Saturday and Sunday. This festival of fine art is a collaborative event organized by Newport Bay Conservancy in partnership with SOCALPAPA and Orange County Parks. A portion of the sales proceeds to benefit the Newport Bay Conservancy. For more information, click here.

The Flight of Thousands

Every spring, Upper Newport Bay becomes a destination for weary travelers from the Arctic. These tourists take in the weather, socialize, dine and bask in the comfort and protection of the Bay. Welcome our feathered friends – birds.

After enduring a trip of over 3,000 miles on the Pacific Flyaway, the highway in the sky, some birds rest here and others continue to other destinations farther south. With wetland environments disappearing rapidly, the Bay is important oasis – over 200 species! Exhausting nearly 50% of their body weight during migration, the lush resources of the Bay helps them to re-energize.

February is the time to grab binoculars and get to know some of these visitors. Identify low tide locals and check out marbled godwits and longbilled curlews, probing into the mud or the osprey hunting for fish. Migratory birds to look for include the dowitcher, western sandpiper and the bufflehead as well as many other wetland ducks.

There are plenty of opportunities for all ages this month to view the nearly 30,000 expected birds from land and from the water. Don’t wait too long as many birds will continue on or return to the great north starting in March.