Many visitors to the island have no idea that Alcatraz is a premiere spot for viewing colonial nesting seabirds. Most seabirds nest on inaccessible offshore rocks. The determined bird lover would need a boat and some fancy binoculars to get a glimpse. But Alcatraz visitors can see the mating, nesting and parenting behaviors of these charismatic creatures up close.
Long before humans set foot on the island, Alcatraz was home to thousands of nesting birds. The first humans to interact with these birds were Native Americans, who hunted and possibly collected eggs for food. The name Alcatraz itself came from a European explorer who named one of the islands in the bay "Island of the Seabirds" for the multitudes of avian life he observed.