Bird Watching, Bird Refuges & Bird Sanctuaries

The Half Moon Bay Coastside is the ideal place for bird watching in the San Francisco Bay Area. Offering miles and miles of open space, along with bird refuges and bird sanctuaries, to view hundreds of species of birds in their natural habitats. If your a birder visiting Northern California, it’s a great place to go birding.

Pescadero Marsh

(650) 879-2170
Pescadero, California

Off Highway 1, about 16 miles south of Half Moon Bay

Pescadero Marsh is on the pacific Flyway.  Every year thousands of birds (nearly 200 species) rest and feed here. Great blue herons nest in the northern row of blue gum eucalyptus trees; great egrets and snowy egrets stalk shallows, and northern harriers glide over the meadows.  The best bird watching times are late fall and early spring. The trail leads you along an old dike between marshlands and the musical rattle of marsh wrens accompanies your every step. Pescadero Marsh is one of the most important remaining wetlands on the California Coast.

The Audubon Society offers docent-led walking tours in the Pescadero Marsh.

Pillar Point Marsh

(650) 728-3584 (Fitzgerald Marine Reserve)

Princeton-by-the-Sea, Half Moon Bay, California
Between Pillar Point Harbor and Mavericks

Although tiny, Pillar Point Marsh is a paradise for lucky bird watchers, who have sighted here nearly twenty percent of all North American bird species.  Look for great blue herons, snowy egrets, and red-winged blackbirds.  This unique marsh is fed by both fresh water and salt water.  For unmatched views of Pillar Point and the Coastside, be sure to follow the trail around the point to the breakwater and tide pools on the far side.  Always be watching for California sea lions basking on the jagged offshore rocks.  Surfers catch the famous Mavericks Wave just west of the marsh.

In the Fall and Winter months you can expect to see bird watching in the Coastside part of the Bay Area:

Birds of Prey:  Northern Harrier, Sharp Shinned Hawk, Ferruginious Hawk, Rough-Legged Hawk

Shorebirds:  Dunlin, Common Loon, Pacific Loon, Great Egret, Surf Scoter, Semi-palmated Plover, Black bellied Plover, Willet, Whimbrel, Long-billed Curlew, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Western Sandpiper

We hope you enjoy your Bay Area bird watching experience at the bird refuges and sanctuaries here in our special part of the Bay Area where there is direct access to the open sea for birders and birds alike.

Other locations along the Coastside include the Devil's Slide Trail, Año Nuevo and the Coastside Trail.