• East view from Crissy Field overlook with old Coast Guard station on left and city on right

    Presidio of San Francisco

    California

Presidio Birds

The Presidio of San Francisco has one of the most diverse bird populations of any urban park in the world, with over 200 species having been spotted here. This diversity is owing to a number of factors, including its great variety of habitats that range from open water and protected bay, to rocky and sandy shoreline, to tidal marshes, coastal scrub, grasslands, mixed woodlands and ornamental areas. Since the Presidio lies on a major bird migratory route along the west coast, it also hosts a variety of transient birds that stop over to rest and feed on their journey to and from places as far away as South America and the Canadian arctic. This combination of factors makes the Presidio a birders paradise with different species to see throughout the year.

The bird diversity at the Presidio has changed over the years. When the Europeans arrived in the 1770s, the area was largely dune scrub with few trees. The planting of the Presidio's forest in the 1880s and 90s allowed the establishment of a much greater variety of forest dwelling birds. During the same period, the marshes along the bay were filled, both at the Presidio and throughout the Bay Area, leading to a decline in shorebirds and waterfowl. With the recent recreation of the tidal lagoon and marsh at Crissy Field those birds are now coming back to the Presidio. Egrets, Herons, Kingfishers and many other water birds are becoming commonplace once again.

The birds listed below are amongst the most common species found at the Presidio. These are the ones that you will likely see on a visit.

 
Water Habitats
Common Name Scientific Name Family
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata Loon
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis Grebe
Brant's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus Cormorant
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis Pelecan
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Heron
Snowy Egret Egretta thula Heron
Great Egret Casmerodius albus Heron
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias Heron
Canada Goose Branta canadensis Duck
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Duck
Greater Scaup Aythya marila Duck
Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata Duck
American Coot Fulica americana Rail
Snowy Plover (rare) Charadrius alexandrinus Plover
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus Plover
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus Sandpiper
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus Sandpiper
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus Sandpiper
Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala Sandpiper
Surfbird Aphriza virgata Sandpiper
Sanderling Calidris alba Sandpiper
Elegant Tern Sterna elegans Gull
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri Gull
Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni Gull
California Gull Larus californicus Gull
Western Gull Larus occidentalis Gull
Mew Gull Larus canus Gull
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis Gull
Belted Kingfisher Cerle alcyon Kingfisher
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus Blackbird
Forest Habitats
Common Name Scientific Name Family
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Hawk
American Kestrel Falco spaverius Falcon
Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus Owl
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus Finch
Brown Creeper Certhia americana Creeper
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Parus rufescens Chickadee
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus Bushtit
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor Swallow
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Swallow
Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pymaea Nuthatch
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula Kinglet
Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni Verio
Townsend's Warbler Dendroica townsendi Warbler
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens Woodpecker
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Woodpecker
Scrub Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens Crow
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos Crow
Common Raven Corvus corax Crow
Cathartes aura Vulture
Scrub & developed areas
Common Name Scientific Name Family
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura Dove
Rock Dove Columba livia Dove
California Quail Callipepla californica Quail
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus Thrush
American Robin Turdus migratorius Thrush
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos Mockingbird
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater Blackbird
Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus Blackbird
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus Finch
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis Finch
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria Finch
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia atricapilla Sparrow
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia Sparrow
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis Sparrow
California Towhee Pipilo crissalis Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata Warbler
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla Warbler
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna Hummingbird
Allen's Hummingbird Selasphorus sasin Hummingbird
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris Starling
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans Flycatcher

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Did You Know?

Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States

While visiting the Presidio in August 1923, General Pershing learned that President Warren Harding had died at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It was Pershing's duty to accompany the body of the late President back to Washington D.C