A NEW Alcatraz Seabirds Brochure is available!
A visit to the island is full of a surprising wealth and variety of bird life. Even before arriving on Alcatraz, a visitor will notice the large numbers of gulls and cormorants active in the waters surrounding the island. The familiar call of the dominant Western Gull will be heard from birds swooping into the Bay waters foraging for fish. Disembarking from the ferry, and glancing up onto the heavily overgrown wall above the amphitheater, you may spot a Black-crowned Night-Heron sitting quietly and saving its energy for its evening forays.
Walking up the road towards the cell house, you may spot some landbirds such as White-crowned Sparrow, Anna’s Hummingbird, Song Sparrow, and Black Phoebe. In the tall cypress trees, Common Ravens are gripping branches, surveying the situation and perhaps waiting for careless gull parents to be distracted long enough that they can successfully kidnap a young chick or steal an egg.
As you reach the western side of the island, you may spy Snowy Egrets, Night-Herons, Black Oystercatchers, and others hunting for shellfish in the tidepools or rocky cliffs. Cormorants of several species can be seen preening and sometimes drying their wings on the rocky cliffs. If you peer over the railing (not too far!) above Barker Beach and look carefully at rock crevices in the cliff below, you may see a Pigeon Guillemot calling from its nest burrow.