Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore encompass 160,000 acres of wild areas and diverse habitats, enabling them to host a wide array of birds.
In 1996, the National Park Service identified birds as a major component of ecosystems to be inventoried and monitored. Although 35 continuous years of landbird data had been collected at the Palomarin Field Station in Point Reyes, the species found there are not representative of all park lands. Therefore in 1999, the National Parks Service contracted Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly known as Point Reyes Bird Observatory) to perform a two-year landbird inventory in Golden Gate (including the Presidio of San Francisco) and Point Reyes. The goal was to survey the landbirds (excluding waterbirds, shorebirds, or raptors) breeding in the parks. Park biologists continue to keep track of confirmed bird sightings and update the park bird lists.
During the breeding seasons (late April through early July) of 1998 through 2000, Point Blue conducted landbird surveys along 61 transects (see map).
Researchers conducted multiple five-minute bird counts along transects during peak singing hours, noting songs, visuals, and calls. They also collected vegetation data to relate the differences in bird species composition and abundance to differences in vegetation. The bird detection data allowed Point Blue to derive information on bird diversity, species richness (the number of species present), and relative abundance. The inventory covered all 22 major habitat alliances (groups of vegetation commonly found together) in the area.
This inventory, along with additional sightings by National Parks Service staff and visitors, resulted in observations of 129 species that breed in the parks (see list below).
- Among the species breeding in the park, several migrate to the neotropics during the non-breeding season. These include the Allen's Hummingbird, Orange-crowned Warbler, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush, and Wilson's Warbler.
- Other breeding birds include year-round residents or short-distance migrant species, such as Song Sparrow (the most abundant), Anna's Hummingbird, Bewick's Wren, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Purple Finch, Spotted Towhee, Winter Wren, and Wrentit.
- Bishop pine, Douglas fir, red alder, and willow habitats yielded the highest diversity of landbird species.
Bird species breeding at either Point Reyes or Golden Gate, detected during surveys or other confirmed sightings by National Parks Service staff as of 2009.
(This list is limited to those birds defined as breeders, not residents.*)
Great Blue Heron
Western Snowy Plover
American Black Oystercatcher
Great Horned Owl
Northern Spotted Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Western Scrub Jay
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
American Cliff Swallow
Black-throated Gray Warbler
San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network
Pacific Coast Science & Learning Center
San Francisco Bay Area Network Species Lists - Certified Species lists including residency, abundance, and native/non-native status.
Point Blue Conservation Science
Landbird Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
Summary by Alison Williams, San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network, March 2009.
Download PDF from the NPS Data Store
Last updated: May 7, 2018