Birding

Bring your binoculars and your love of the wild to these great birdwatching spots along the Bay Trail.

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Credit
Noah Berger

Presidio (San Francisco)

The bayside of the Golden Gate Bridge is a great spot for landbirds, and Crissy Field’s restored wetlands have enticed marshland birds back to the area. The Palace of Fine Arts has nesting herons and waterfowl. Birding is best fall through spring. 

Colma Creek Public Shore (South San Francisco)

This marsh at the end of Colma Creek is a busy feeding zone for shorebirds and ducks, despite its proximity to Highway 101 and San Francisco International Airport. Look for activity along the marsh islands at low tide.

Bair Island

Grab your binoculars and explore a shorebird paradise at the restored wetlands of Inner Bair Island, part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge. The Bay Trail leads to raised observation platforms with views out over 1,400 acres of new vegetated marsh. 

Palo Alto Baylands Preserve

This well-established preserve is one of the best bird-watching destinations in the Bay Area. The marshlands are host to a sizable local population of shorebirds and a migratory stopover on the Pacific Flyway.

Alviso Ponds

Visit the southernmost reaches of the bay to see what a transformation from salt ponds to tidal wetlands has done for shorebird habitats. A 4.5-mile loop trail will take you to one of the most remote sections of the bay. End your tour with some time at the Alviso Environmental Education Center. 

Hayward Regional Shoreline

This 1,811-acre shoreline park is a haven for over 200 bird species including egrets, herons, shorebirds and other waterfowl. Bring your binoculars and scopes out on the trail and enjoy the birds in these valuable wetlands during migration season. 

Hoffman Marsh (Richmond)

Between Point Isabel Regional Shoreline and Meeker Slough, walk the approximately one-mile stretch of Bay Trail next to Hoffman Marsh and look for egrets, herons, shorebirds, ducks and other waterfowl. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of a Ridgway’s Rail.

White Slough (Vallejo)

Mudflats reclaimed by nature now host hundreds of waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds and gulls. Black Rail are known to breed here, and likely Ridgway’s Rail too. The Saltmarsh Common Yellowthroat also breeds here, as do Least Terns. All seasons have good birding potential.

John F. Kennedy Park (Napa)

The marshland habitat along the river at this well-developed park provides many birding opportunities, and a boat ramp and dock allow access to the water to bird from kayaks, canoes and other watercraft.

Las Gallinas Sanitary District Wildlife Area (San Rafael)

Wastewater treatment plants often provide birders excellent opportunities to see marshland species from levee trails encircling ponds, and Las Gallinas includes wildlife viewing as part of its mission. Numerous waterfowl and raptors including Cackling Goose, Erurasion Wigeon, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, four species of falcon and the Great Horned Owl have been spotted here. Birding is best fall through spring.