Landbird Inventory for Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Spotted Towhee perches on a branch.
The Spotted Towhee was among the birds censused at Point Reyes and Golden Gate.

NPS / Will Elder

Map showing inventory transect locations distributed throughout Point Reyes and Golden Gate.
Inventory transect locations in Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Flannery et al, 2001.


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.

Inventory Methods

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.

Inventory Findings

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.*)

Pied-billed Grebe

Ashy Storm-Petrel

Brandt's Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

American Bittern

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Canada Goose

Wood Duck


Cinnamon Teal

Turkey Vulture


Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

Peregrine Falcon

Wild Turkey

California Quail

Black Rail

Virginia Rail


Common Moorhen

American Coot

Western Snowy Plover


American Black Oystercatcher

Heermann's Gull

California Gull

Western Gull

Common Murre

Pigeon Guillemot

Tufted Puffin

Rock Dove

Band-tailed Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Barn Owl

Western Screech-Owl

Great Horned Owl

Northern Pygmy-Owl

Northern Spotted Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Anna's Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Western Wood-Pewee

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Black Phoebe

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Hutton's Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Steller's Jay

Western Scrub Jay

American Crow

Common Raven

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Violet-green Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallow

American Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Oak Titmouse


Red-breasted Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Rock Wren

Bewick's Wren

House Wren

Winter Wren

Marsh Wren

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Western Bluebird

Swainson's Thrush

Hermit Thrush

American Robin


Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Macgillivray's Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Wilson's Warbler

Western Tanager

Spotted Towhee

California Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Black-headed Grosbeak

Lazuli Bunting

Red-winged Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Brewer's Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Hooded Oriole

Bullock's Oriole

Purple Finch

House Finch

Red Crossbill

Pine Siskin

Lesser Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

Red-masked Parakeet

Additional Resources

Contact Information

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

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore

Last updated: May 7, 2018