The most visible wildlife in Golden Gate are definitely the birds. You will see them rustling in the bushes near a path, soaring overhead, or floating across a marsh. An astonishing number of avian species live in or migrate through
The old growth forest of Muir Woods represents a fragmented island of the redwood stands that existed 150 years ago. Muir woods is now the last remaining contiguous stand of old growth coast redwoods in
Colonial nesting waterbirds have found not a prison on Alcatraz Island, but inviting habitat in which to nest during the Spring and Summer months. In one of the most internationally visible settings within the National Park Sysytem, Alcatraz supports black-crowned night-herons, Brandt’s cormorants, pelagic cormorants, and pigeon guillemots - the only colonies found in San Francisco Bay for these species. Most colonial nesting waterbirds breed on offshore islands. The island’s large western gull colony represents a significant portion of its coastal breeding population in northern California.
Sandy beaches and mucky estuaries provide important habitat for migrating and wintering waterbirds and shorebirds. Tomales Bay, Bolinas Lagoon, Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Big Lagoon, Rodeo Lagoon, Crissy Field and Ocean Beach, provide habitat for loons, grebes, scoters, numerous species of dabbling and diving ducks, gulls, terns, willets, sanderlings, and sandpipers. Federally threatened western snowy plovers overwinter in Ocean Beach. The park's mudflats provide plenty of tasty invertebrates, and estuaries provide fish and crabs galore. The San Francisco Bay is an important stopover for migrating species both due to its size and diversity of suitable habitat. Nearshore marine waters just outside the Golden Gate also provide foraging sooty shearwaters and pigeon guillemot, with thousands of birds rafting together on open water.
© Alan Hopkins
An island of green in an urban matrix, the Presidio’s location on the northwest tip of the San Francisco peninsula offers a stopover location to many birds before crossing the Golden Gate Straights, or as an entrance gate to the rich wetlands of the San Francisco Bay. Native habitats and introduced forest are regionally important to locally declining species such as the California quail, western screech owl, wrentit, and Hutton’s vireo. The landscaped areas of the Presidio also attract some interesting birds. The hooded oriole reaches the northern limit of its breeding range in the Presidio due to the royal palms planted throughout this former Army Post.
Did You Know?
To take a hike on the seafloor, explore any of the trails around the Golden Gate headlands, where you are surrounded by slabs of ocean crust that have crept thousands of kilometers on a tectonic journey to end on dry land.