Did you know the San Francisco Bay Area is part of the Pacific Flyway bird migration route? Watch for them August 15th through October 31st throughout the Bay Area. Many birds winter here because of the mild climate and abundance of food. Others continue on their journey into Western Mexico.
Marin Headlands (in particular Rodeo Lagoon), Point Reyes National Seashore, Martinez Regional Shoreline, Coyote Hills Regional Park, and Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline are all spectacular for hiking, photography, and birding during the migration period. Trails.com also suggests Lake Merced and the Presidio. I will have to check these out!
If you are interested in the famous “Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” I have seen them flying by Coit Tower and the Embarcadero. These cherry-headed conures also frequent Dolores Park. They are not part of the migration, but are colorful year round residents that you can count on seeing.
Get yourself a good bird field guide. Many State and National parks offer (for sale) simple laminated guides that fold-up. These are good for a quick look-up for commonly seen birds. A good field guide is even better. I suggest you go to your local bookstore and find your favorite. I own the “National Audubon Society Field Guide to California”. It has been a treasure of information.
Enjoy photography? Whether you’re a skilled photographer or a beginner, you can get some good shots if you are patient. It’s all about the timing. Hike with your camera around your neck in the “on” position so all you have to do is remove the lens and snap! Try sitting on a bench or blanket and after no time you may be surrounded by birds. Having a zoom lens can really come in handy. The pictures you take can later be used to identify what you saw. There are many bird identification sites on the web. Here’s a useful site:
Don’t forget to take along a good set of binoculars. The following website is helpful for choosing a set:
Take along a bottle of water, a good sandwich, a hat, and sunscreen. Contrary to what our generation was taught, do not feed the birds. Just feed yourself. Our food is unhealthy for them.
Help protect the migrating birds by shutting off your lights at night during the migration period. You will help prevent unnecessary bird deaths. http://www.goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/make-the-city-safe-for-wildlife/learn-about-lights-out-san-francisco/
Have a fantastic time birding in our beautiful San Francisco Bay Area!