• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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  • 2014 Harbor Seal Pupping Season Closures

    From March 1 through June 30, the park implements closures of certain Tomales Bay beaches and Drakes Estero to water-based recreation to protect harbor seals during the pupping season. Please avoid disturbing seals to ensure a successful pupping season. More »

  • 2014 Winter Shuttle Bus Operations Have Ended

    March 30, 2014, was the last day for the 2014 Winter Shuttle Bus System. Sir Francis Drake Blvd. is open daily from now through late December 2014. More »

  • Operational Changes Took Effect on May 1, 2013

    The Lighthouse Visitor Center is now only open Fridays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays through Thursdays, including Thanksgiving. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is open on weekends and holidays when shuttles are operating. More »

Bird Watching at Point Reyes

Click on the following links to find out more about viewing opportunities for these species and to learn about their habitats and behaviors:

Birds ¦ Coho Salmon ¦ Elephant Seals ¦ Tule Elk ¦ Whales


Point Reyes National Seashore offers some of the finest birdwatching in the United States. More than 70,000 acres of habitat harbor an incredible variety of bird life. Nearly 490 avian species have been observed in the park and on adjacent waters.

The park's coastal location and its wealth of unspoiled habitats, estuaries, grasslands, coastal scrub and forest all attract many migrating and wintering birds. The projection of the peninsula some 10 miles seaward from the "mainland" makes Point Reyes National Seashore a landing spot for many vagrants—birds that may have made errors in navigation and thus are unexpected in this area.

All of these factors account for the Point Reyes area consistently reporting one of the highest tallies in the nation every year during the Christmas Bird Count.

Visit our Birds page to learn more about Snowy Plovers and Northern Spotted Owls.

Download the Birds of Point Reyes National Seashore species list (205 KB PDF, Adobe® Acrobat Reader® required).

There are many great places to view birds within the park* and the following are some of the best:

A great variety of land birds frequent the numerous habitats along the trails over Inverness Ridge to the ocean—warblers, sparrows, kinglets, thrushes, wrens, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and owls.

A variety of habitats converge in the Limantour area, resulting in an abundance of birds species. Look for wading birds in the marshes, waterfowl on the ponds, shorebirds on the beach, brown pelicans cruising over the breakers, and birds of prey soaring over dunes and wetlands.

Bolinas Lagoon attracts cormorants, pelicans, kingfishers, and a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. Audubon Canyon Ranch's Bolinas Lagoon Preserve protects heron and egret rookeries.

In winter, green-backed heron, hooded merganser, ring-necked duck, and grebes can be seen. In grasses and trees, watch for pileated woodpeckers, swallows, accipiters, warblers, and thrushes.

Excellent for winter ducks and raptors. Black-shouldered kites are commonly seen in winter and fall. This is also a sensitive nesting area for the threatened western snowy plover. Please tread carefully on the sandy beaches during the spring and early summer months.

An old pine plantation provides winter roosting habitat for long-eared and great-horned owls. Look for water and shore birds such as great egrets, great blue herons, and loons in the Estero. Watch for hawks above the grasslands.

Brown pelicans in fall, numerous pelagic and migrating species in spring. Some of the most common spring pelagics include pelagic and Brandt's cormorants, common murres, pigeon guillemots, loons and surf scoters. Keep your eyes open for black oystercatchers all year. Peregrine falcons are occasionally observed. Tufted puffins are infrequently seen in the spring and early summer.


* Please note: employee housing as well as park administrative, maintenance, operations, and storage facilities, including, but not limited, to access roads, outbuildings, grounds, and docks, are closed to public use.

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Did You Know?

Humboldt Squid. © Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Historically, the Humboldt squid were seldom found further north than Baja California. The squid then came north en masse during the 1997/98 El Nino and have maintained a fairly regular presence in the waters off of northern and central California--including Point Reyes--ever since. More...