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