A few years back, the local Del Norte Triplicate posted an encyclopedic guide to what birds you can see at various locations throughout Del Norte county. It remains a definitive guide to local birding.
Crescent City Harbor: Barron calls this area a logical beginning point, and an “excellent base camp for exploring the county for birds.” Three state records: Steller’s Eider, Bristle-thighed Curlew (harbor) and Brambling. Other rare birds include Yellow-billed Loon, Emperor Goose, King Eider, Spotted Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Rufous-necked Stint, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Least Tern, White-winged Dove, Yellow Wagtail, Black-backed Wagtail and Snow Bunting.
Whaler Island, Crescent City Harbor: Once an island colony of 20,000 Storm Petrels (Fork-tailed and Leach’s). Look for loons, grebes, cormorants, sea ducks and alcids. also look for Common Murre and Pigeon Guillemot, and Marbled and Ancient Murrelets, and Cassin’s Auklet. One of the best places to search for Rhinoceros Auklets. Rockpipers live here: Black and Ruddy Turnstones, and Surfbirds. It’s also the home of Willets, Whimbrels. Brown Pelicans, Double-crested cormorants, and Brandt’s and Pelagic.
Ducks, Surf-scoters, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser. Oldsquaw sometimes are here with King and Steller’s Eider, Harlequin Duck, Osprey, Merli, and Peregrine Falcon.
Gulls: Heermann’s, Mew, California and Herring, and Glaucous Gull. They share the space with Black-legged Kittiwakes, and Terns (usually Caspians, sometimes Elegants).
Citizen’s Dock, Crescent City Harbor: Common Loons, Double-crested Cormorants and Pigeon Guillemots.
Mouth of Elk Creek, Crescent City: One of the great birding spots. 15 species of gulls. Caspian and Elegant Terns (best spot to look for Elegants), Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, small numbers of Brant. Rufous-necked Stint, Least Tern, Yellow and Black-backed Wagtail.
Northcoast Marine Mammal Center: Crescent City: Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Surfbird and Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
B Street Pier, Crescent City: Bristle-thighed Curlew record, American Pipit, House Finch, sparrows, blackbirds, Ravens. Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Black-bellied Plover, Black Oystercatcher, sandpipers, Elegant Terns, Marbled Godwits, and very rarely a Rock Sandpiper. Pacific Loon, Black Scoter and Black-legged Kittiwake live here.
Battery Point Lighthouse: Black Oystercatcher, Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone, Surfbird and Rock Sandpiper.
Crescent City: vagrants include Costa’s Hummingbird, Least Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Plumbeous Vireo, Dickcissel and Orchard Oriole. Also Chestnut-sided, Cape May, Blackpoll, Black-throated Green Warblers, Rose-breasted and Blue Grosbeaks. The most famous bird recorded there is the Brambling (Eurasian).
Elk Creek Nature Trail: This loop trail is an excellent spot for Green Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron. Also Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Duck, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal and Ring-necked Duck. Red-shouldered Hawks, Belted Kingfishers. Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush, Warbling Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Black-headed Grosbeak, Tree, Violet-green and Barn Swallows, Orange-crowned and Wilson’s Warblers live here.
Year-round: You’ll see Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Black Phoebe, American Crow, Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Marsh Wren, Wrentit, Hutton’s Vireo, Song Sparrow, Purple and House Finches, and European Starling.
Winter: Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Fox, Lincoln’s and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco stop by, along with the occasional: Ash-throated Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Palm Warbler, Swamp and White-throated Sparrows.
Pebble Beach Drive: A nice assemblage of Harlequin ducks, Black Oystercatcher, Willet, Wandering Tattler, Whimbrel, Black Turnstone, Surfbird. Brown Pelican, three species of cormorants, scoters (three species), gulls, murres and guillemots. Marbled and Ancient Murrelets live here, along with Bar-tailed Godwit, Rock Sandpipers and Black Scoters.
BIRDING IN REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK
Enderts Beach: Black-vented Shearwater, Eastern Kingbird, Rock Wren, Red-eyed Vireo, eastern warblers (Tennessee, Chestnut-sided), Magnolia, Cape May, Blackpoll, and Black and white Warblers, American Redstart, Black-throated and Grasshopper Sparrows are here. A Great Gray owl was recorded here once.
Hummingbirds: Allen’s, Rufous and Anna’s. Winter Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Wrentit, Warbling Vireo, Orange-crowned and Wilson’s Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak and American Goldfinch. Olive-sided Flycatcher, Turkey Vulture, Band-tailed Pigeon, Vaux’s Swift, Common Raven above ridges. Bushtit, Wrentit and Bewick’s Wren live in the drier brushy areas.
In fall brambles: Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhees. Stellar’s Jays, Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Hermit Thrushes, Hutton’s Vireos and Purple Finches.
Enderts Beach Road: Yellow-breasted Chat, Spotted Towhee, Fox, Song, Lincoln’s, Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows and House Finches.
Late May-early June above the ridges, Black Swift (rarely seen). Vaux’s Swift.
Peregrine Falcons and American Dippers are also found here.
BIRDING ALONG US HWY 101
Mill Creek campground:Forest birds: Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Steller’s Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s and Varied Thrushes. Spotted owl are here (sometimes) and American Dippers. California Quail, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, pacific slope Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Swainson’s and Varied Thrushes, Steller’s Jay, Hutton’s and Warbling Vireos, Orange-crowned, Black-throated Gray, Hermit and Wilson’s Warblers, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Song Sparrow. and Gray Jays.
Mouth of the Klamath River: The Ducks are Greater Scaup, Bufflehead and Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye and Barrow’s Goldeneye. Loons, grebes, cormorants and gulls, raptors (Osprey, Bald Eagle) are on the bars in the river and trees along the banks.
Marshall Pond: Wood Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead. In breeding season, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Winter Wren, Swainson’s and Hermit Thrush, Wilson’s Warbler, Song Sparrow, Hermit Warbler, Vaux’s Swift, chickadees, both kinglets and winter wren are here with varied Thrushes.
Klamath River Mouth: Large flocks of Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants, Brown Pelicans and Heermann’s Gulls, Caspian Terns and Elegant Terns, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Common Ravens. Ducks, loons, grebes, cormorants and gulls, Western Grebes, cormorants, scoters, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Ancient Murrelet and one record for Magnificent Frigatebird.
Klamath Glen: Home to the Flycatcher, chat, Black-capped Chickadee, Yellow Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole; Song and Fox Sparrows, and Spotted Towhees. Also home to Allen’s Hummingbirds, Wrentits, Orange-crowned Warblers, American Kestrel, Black Swifts, Vaux’s Swifts and swallows.
Lagoon Creek: Think waterbirds here, such as Wood and Ring-necked Ducks, Common Murres, Double-crested, Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Western Gulls and Brown Pelicans.
NORTH OF CRESCENT CITY
Point St. George/Castle Rock: Arguably the best birding spot in the county, according to Barron. This area boasts of rarities and super-rarities, among them a second California record of the Redheaded Woodpecker, the first record north of San Francisco for a Blue-footed Booby, and a White-collared Swift. Records include five of the eight records for Long-billed Murrelet.
County’s first White-winged Dove and a White-eyed Vireo have been spotted here. Year-round are Song Sparrows and Marsh Wrens. In breeding season are American Goldfinches and American Robins. Winter brings Winter Wrens, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Black-capped Chickadees. “In migration, just about anything might turn up here,” writes Barron.
Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Black Oystercatcher are the rockpipers. Harlequin Ducks are here.
Seabirds include Common Murre, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Cassin’s Auklet, Brandt’s Cormorant, Western Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, Pelagic Cormorant, Rhinoceros Auklet, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Black Oystercatcher and Tufted Puffin Â― “the most sought after bird.”
Brandt’s Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic cormorants, Rhinoceros Auklets and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels. Aleutian Geese, especially from March to mid-April.
Outer Point St. George: Northern Harriers, Western Meadowlarks, American Pipits, Cliff Swallows, Lapland Longspurs, Savannah Sparrows and other field birds, and Short-eared Owls.
Rockpipers and shearwaters are here. Rarely you’ll see a Black-footed Albatross. Northern Sulmars in winter and spring, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and Marbled Murrelets. Look for Rock Sandpipers near the tidepools.
Western Grebes, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls in all, 13 species of gulls. Also Jaegers, and all three loons.
The lagoons: Lakes Earl and Lake Tolowa: Marsh-loving birds such as Pied-billed Grebe, American Bittern, Gadwall, Virginia Rail, American Coot and Marsh Wren. Also Western Grebes. Eagles, hawks and falcons.Rare birds include Tufted Duck, Gyrfalcon, Eurasian Dotterel, Spotted Redshank, Snowy Owl, Yellow Wagtail, Red-throated Pipit, LeConte’s Sparrow, Snow Bunting and Snowy Owls.
Rare shorebirds include Bar-tailed Godwit, Sharp-tailed and Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Ruff.
Lake Earl Wildlife Area: Cadre Point Trail is home to winter flocks of Golden-crowned Kinglets and Chestnut-backed Chickadees.
Closer to the lakes are Steller’s Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Winter Wren, Hermit and Varied Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Fox and Song Sparrow, Swainson’s Thrush and Pileated Woodpeckers.
On the water, grebes, cormorants, herons, American Bittern, swans, ducks, raptors, coots and gulls.
At the water’s edge, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Snipe, Black Phoebe, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat and Red-winged Blackbird. Swallow species and rarely the Purple Martin and Swamp Sparrow. A large “dune hollow” pond on the road to the Narrows has Wood Ducks, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck and Hooded Merganser.
At the mouth of Lake Tolowa, look for waterbirds such as terns, pelicans and shorebirds. In the trees check for kites, eagles, hawks and falcons. Barron writes that 17 raptor species have been recorded in the area.
The open country has attracted Western Kingbird, Western Bluebird, American Pipit, Northern Shrike, Savannah sparrows, American Goldfinch and Lapland longspur.
Rarities include Lewis’ Woodpecker, Vermillion Flycatcher, Tropical and Eastern Kingbird, and Bobolink.
Nearby birdwatching sites are at Lakeview Drive, Kellogg Road and Pacific Shores.
Southern Smith River Bottoms: Among its birdwatching areas is a large pond on Alexandre Dairy property. It attracts shorebirds at low water (fall) and “swarms” with ducks in Winter and spring Look for White-faced Ibis, Trumpeter Swan, Emperor Goose, Barrow’s Golden-eye, Curlew Sandpiper, Vermilion Flycatcher and Common Grackle. Also look for American Avocet, Solitary, Semipalmated, Stilt and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and Ruff. All except the Buff-breasted have multiple records.
Bald Eagles, Prairie Falcon and Ferruginous Hawks winter in the area, and Aleutian Geese stop over until about mid-April.
Smith River to the Oregon border: Farmland birds include blackbirds, kingbirds, swallows, and goldfinches.
Common birds include Northern Flicker, Anna’s Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, House Finch, Brewer’s Blackbird, starlings and House Sparrows.
In spring listen for Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat.
Winter brings House Finch, White-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco. The area has winter birds that don’t generally stay this far north, including Western Tanager, Bullock’s Oriole, Nashville and Tennessee Warblers.
Barron’s book contains a long list of “rarities” that have been seen in The Bottoms.
An abandoned boat harbor is heaven for herons and egrets, who feed at night.
The book recommends hiking out the Reservation Ranch Ship Ashore Trail, a gravel top on an old river levee, for birdwatching opportunities.
Rowdy Creek Road to High Divide: This area is about 2,400 feet elevation, and attracts Mountain Quail, Western Scrub-Jay and Mountain Chickadee.
Check the brambled openings in the forest in spring and summer for Allen’s Hummingbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Bunting, American and Lesser Goldfinch. In winter the thickets hold sparrow, junco and towhee flocks.
After the forest canopy closes in, look for Hairy Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Stellar’s Jay, Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Winter Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Hutton’s and Warbling Vireo, Orange-crowned and Wilson’s Warbler, Song Sparrow and Purple Finch.
Sometimes the Black and white Warbler and Pileated Woodpeckers, and listen for American Dippers.
Along the ridge Cassin’s and Hutton’s Vireo, and Black-throated Gray and Hermit Warbler breed in the area.
Because the area has “serpentine soils,” which stunt tree growth, it’s home to Western Scrub-Jay, Bushtit, Wrentit and Spotted Towhee. In the winter come Mountain Quail, Mountain chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Western Bluebird.
Barron’s list of exceptional birds in the area are the Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, a Clark’s Nutcracker and Cassin’s Finch. Common Snipe has also been seen.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park: This area is home to Marbled Murrelet, Vaux’s Swift, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided and Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Western Wood-Pewee, Gray Jay, Winter Wren, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Golden- and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Swainson’s, Hermit and Varied Thrushes, Hutton’s Vireo, Yellow-rumped, Townsend’s, Hermit and Wilson’s Warblers, Western Tanager, Purple Finch, Red Crossbill and Pine Siskin. Barred Owls also live there.
Barron writes that the Winter Wren is known as “the voice of the redwood forest,” having the “longest and loudest song for a bird its size.
Look along the river for Great Blue Heron, Common Merganser, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Spotted Sandpiper, Band-tailed Pigeon, Violet-green Swallow, Common Raven, American Dipper, Warbling Vireo and Yellow Warbler.
It’s possible to spot the flight of Marbled Murrelets. Barron writes that a paved boat ramp to the Smith River near the visitor’s center is the “best” spot to look for them at treetop level.
Walker Road, Myrtle Creek, Stout Grove and Howland Hill Road are also recommended as birding spots.
HIGH MOUNTAIN AREAS
South Fork Road and Gasquet-Orleans Road are the only fully paved routes into the county’s high country.
At the 5,000-plus foot level are Blue Grouse, Mountain Quail, Flammulated Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, White-headed Woodpecker, Hammond’s and Dusky Flycatcher, Cassin’s Vireo and Hermit Warbler.
South Fork Road: Look for Band-tailed Pigeon, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Stellar’s Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, American Dipper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dassin’s, Hutton’s and Warbling Vireos,Black-throated Gray, Hermit, Wilson’s Warblers, Black-headed Grosbeak and Song Sparrow.
Winter brings finches that include the Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin and Evening Grosbeak.
Riverside birds include Common Merganser, Spotted Sandpiper, Belted Kingfisher and American Dipper, along with “swallow gangs.”
Gasquet-Orleans Road: Birds in this area include Northern Pygmy-Owl, Spotted Owl, Common Nighthawk, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, Ducky Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Stellar’s Jay, Common Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Cassin’s, Hutton’s and Warbling Vireos, and Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow-Rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, Hermit and MacGillivray’s Warblers.
Also look for Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Spotted Towhee, Chipping, Fox, Song and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco and Pine Siskin.
Northern pygmy owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl can also be seen.
Along the road, Barron’s book pinpoints a Flammulated Owl area, accessible with a half-mile hike.
The final mile of the road is a good place to spot woodpeckers. Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers nest in this area, and Red-breasted Nuthatch and Dark-Eyed Junco are also common.
Big Flat: In the brambles are Western Scrub-Jay, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat and Lazuli Bunting.
The valley is good for migrating birds, including Western Kingbird, Western Bluebird. Townsend’s Solitaire and Acorn Woodpeckers can also be found.
Ship Mountain and Bear Basin Butte: High Inland areas with dramatic views dominate this area, along with old-growth Douglas Fir forest.
Birds include Mountain Quail, Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadee, Rock Wren and Townsend’s Solitaire.
Owls include the Western Screech, Great Horned, Northern Pygmy, Spotted and Northern Saw-whet. others are likely there, too, however Barron notes the area is “under-birded for owls.”
Hiouchi north on South Fork Road: Rock Wrens are along this area, as well as Common Nighthawks. Past the fire lookout, watch for White-headed Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Townsend’s Solitaire.
In the forest are Northern Pygmy Owl, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Mountain and Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush, Cassin’s Vireo, Yellow-rumped and Hermit Warblers, Western Tanager and Dark-eyed Junco.
It’s possible in some years to spot Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin and Evening Grosbeak.
The older trees are home to the Spotted Owl. In the clearings are MacGillivray’s Warbler and Fox Sparrow, along with Mountain Quail, and once, Red-naped Sapsucker.
Bear Basin Butte: At the meadow, look for Stellar’s Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch and MacGillivray’s Warbler. In summer you may see Lincoln’s Sparrow.In the forested areas are White-headed Woodpecker and Brown Creeper. Snags attract Mountain Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon and Acorn Woodpecker. Along the road, watch for Ruffed Grouse.
Knopki Creek Road to Sanger Creek: This area hold some of the county’s highest-elevation lands, and is home to White-headed Woodpecker, Townsend’s Solitaire and Cassin’s Finch. Ruffed Grouse and Mountain Quail also live here.
At the right season you can see Western Wood-Pewee, Hammond’s, Dusky and Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Stellar’s Jay, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Cassin’s and Hutton’s Vireos, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Hermit, MacGillivray’s and Wilson’s Warblers, Spotted Towhee and Western Tanager.
Knopki Creek Road (off U.S. Hwy. 199): In the forest are Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Cassin’s and Hutton’s Vireos, and Black-throated Gray and Hermit Warblers at the right season. Northern Pygmy-Owls can be lured in by imitation calls.
In the cut timber areas are Bushtits, Wrentit, Nashville and MacGillivray’s Warblers and Spotted Towhee. Mountain Quail and Ruffed Grouse can be seen along the road. In the meadow are quail, Western Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Dark-eyed Junco. Rarities include the Northern Goshawk and Golden Eagle.
Siskiyou National Forest: Only here is the California Towhee found. Its companions include Acorn Woodpecker and Green-tailed Towhee, and Blue and Ruffed Grouse. Mountain Quail also live in the area.
Past Patrick Creek on the Takilma Road are Acorn Woodpecker, Western Scrub-Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, and California and Spotted Towhees.
Thickets that are within an old burn area are the only area to spot California Towhee, according to Barron. Also in the area are Acorn Woodpecker, Western Scrub-Jay, Bushtit, Western Bluebird, Wrentit, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Lazuli, Bunting and Chipping Sparrow.
On the road to Crazy Peak is a large Darlingtonia bog. Coming up on it, look for Band-tailed Pigeon, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Common Nighthawk, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. It’s also possible to see Cassin’s Hutton’s and Warbling Vireos, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Hermit and Wilson’s Warblers, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee and Dark-eyed Junco.
Past the bog look in the steep, brushy areas for Townsend’s Solitaire, Fox Sparrows and some Green-tailed Towhee.
More common birds are Red-breasted Nuthatch and Spotted Towhee. rarities include Lewis’ Woodpecker, Clark’s Nutcracker and Mountain Bluebird. A hike will access Mountain Chickadee and Cassin’s Finch.
On the way back look for Ruffed Grouse, and Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin and Evening Grosbeak can also be spotted.
The full Triplicate story can be found here. The California Redwood Birding Trail also maintains an excellent online resource for local birding information and tips. As does the Redwood Region Audubon Society.
Photos above are © 2015 National Audubon Society, Inc.