Birding along the Sonoma Coast
Bodega Bay

Sonoma County Birdwatching Parks

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With terrain that includes Pacific Ocean beaches, healthy marshlands, thick forests, and broad meadows - not to mention its location on the Pacific Coast Flyway - Sonoma County supports a wide diversity of resident and migrating birds.

Together, we can protect and preserve the beauty and natural resources of Sonoma County for generations to come. Check out our page on Sustainable Travel, and look over the Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

Owls in Spring Lake Regional Park, Sonoma County
Owls in Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa

Here are some county parks and protected areas known for being avian hot spots, arranged in alphabetical order: 

Bodega Bay

A stream flows through the marsh on a foggy day
Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail

Sonoma County Regional Park trails in Bodega Bay offer wonderful opportunities to spot pelagic birds on the water, shorebirds in the mudflats, and waterfowl on the harbor. Head to trails at Doran Regional Park (loads of shore birds), the Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail (situated beside a coastal saltwater marsh), and Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail for great birding. 

Gualala Point Regional Park

The Gualala River flows into the ocean
Gualala Point Regional Park

Situated where the Gualala River enters the Pacific Ocean, the park attracts numerous species of shorebirds. As you walk across the white sand dunes beside the ocean, you'll sometimes see huge flocks of birds rise before you, soar into the sky, cart about, and then land together in 'new' feeding grounds a short distance away.

Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail

A wooden building sits in the middle of the marsh
Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail

Thanks to the unique and complex habitat of Sonoma County's largest freshwater wetlands, this trail is a birder's paradise. More than 200 species of birds are known to reside in or feed and rest in the Laguna in the course of migration, including egrets, hawks, sparrows, finches, woodpeckers and even bald eagles.

Lake Sonoma

A person looks out over the lake at sunset
Lake Sonoma

Nestled into a valley overlooked by mountains and bordered by 50 miles of shoreline, this huge lake and its beautiful surroundings provide a year-round residence for live-in birds and a great temporary shelter for those passing through. When you're not birding, visit the fish hatchery, go boating, fish the stocked lake, paddle a canoe, or hike, bike, or canter on more than 40 miles of trails.

Riverfront Regional Park

A bench sits overlooking the river
Riverfront Regional Park

Located on the Russian River west of Windsor, this park is a nesting spot for great blue herons from January through July. You're bound to see some of those magnificent birds throughout the year, along with hawks, coots, mallards, hummingbirds, the occasional osprey, and many others.

Spring Lake Regional Park

Ducks swim on a lake
Spring Lake Regional Park

Located on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, the park's large size and huge freshwater lake attract diverse bird species, especially during migration. You may see a variety of geese, egrets, herons, hawks, woodpeckers, owls, jays, warblers, sparrows, and many more species.

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Birds sit on a jetty
San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Situated along the Pacific Flyway, the Refuge and its estuary provide an important wintering area for west coast migrating waterfowl. Among the denizens, both year-round and transitory: American white pelican, Northern harrier, American wigeon, Peregrine falcon, Ring-necked pheasant, Greater yellowlegs, Red-necked phalarope, Least tern, Western burrowing owl, and the Song sparrow. 

Tolay Lake Regional Park

People sit in a field of wildflowers
Tolay Lake Regional Park

Tolay Lake is prime habitat for hawks, eagles, owls, white-tailed kites and many other birds. Park access is allowed through a day-use permit program, guided hikes, and the annual Tolay Fall Festival.

Trione-Annadel State Park

With nearly 5,000 acres of rolling hills, trees, grasslands and plains - all of it mostly untouched - wildlife thrives at Trione-Annadel and bird sightings are plentiful.

Written by Sonoma County Insider Suzie Rodriguez.