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 Nature Center



The shorebird exhibit is a walk-through aviary and tidal slough which is home to numerous species of water and shorebirds, including the endangered Light-footed Clapper Rail.

In the mid-1990's, the staff of the Chula Vista Nature Center was asked to help the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the development of a captive-breeding protocol for the endangered Light-footed Clapper Rail. At that time, it was determined that a support building would be needed as well as aviaries. It was also decided that the facility should be educational with a boardwalk, tidal slough and interpretive signage.

The Wergeland Avian Support Building was constructed in 1996 with a generous donation from David and Floyd Wergeland. The tidal slough soon followed, with the completion of the aviary in 1998. All this was done through grants and donations from the following sources: California Coastal Conservancy, Hank and Ida Holland, Bank of America, Chula Vista Capital, the County of San Diego, Dallas and Mary Clark, Executive Office Systems, Frost Foundation, NASSCO, Pacific Bell, Pacific Waste Services, Remy and Thomas, SDG&E, San Diego Unified Port District, SeaWorld, and the San Diego Foundation.

Since the completion, besides Light-footed Clapper Rails, the aviary has housed shorebirds, ducks, herons, and egrets. In December of 1998, the first pair of Clapper Rails were added. After they became acclimated in 2000, a second pair was introduced into the enclosure. Although no offspring were produced in 2000, the spring of 2001 was highly successful after a re-pairing of the birds. Most of the young of the year were released into a Southern California marsh, but two were kept back to become a third breeding pair.

In 2002, both experienced pairs produced young. Later, the experienced pairs double-clutched and the 2nd generation pair nested. The young of the year have begun to be introduced into Southern California marshes.

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Stilt In Aviary
Snowy Egret
Kids In Aviary
Family In Aviary


Stroll down Raptor Row where the Center exhibits a number of non-releasable native hawks and owls of all sizes. As with the Shorebird aviary, Raptor Row has many supporters who helped to fund the enclosures and interpretive panels.


"Raptor Row" Supporters

Red-tailed Hawk-The Fuller Family
Peregrine Falcon-The Cox and Willet Families
Great Horned Owl-The State of California, Builder's Club of Bonita Vista Middle School, Mr. and Mrs. C.D. Beintema.
Turkey Vulture-The Frost Foundation, Ltd., Everetta Rogers
Red-Shouldered Hawk -The Hattie Ettinger Conservation Fund

Interpretive panels-The Hattie Ettinger Conservation Fund

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Raptor Cages

Burrowing Owls

As you walk to the Burrowing Owl Aviary, you will notice owls awake and resting on the ground or on a low branch. Be sure to check out the Owl Sound Board where vocalizations of Burrowing Owls are as curious as their nesting habits. After you push the Guess Who? button on the board, you will hear a sound. Is it a rattlesnake or an owl? You decide.

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