Experience Bird Watching in Monterey Bay CA

October 22, 2021
Bird Watching in Monterey Bay - Quail

The Monterey Bay area is home to stunning natural sites. Some of the world's most amazing birds either reside in Monterey's nature preserves or use it as a migratory stop. Bird watchers will not be disappointed as they explore Monterey Bay's best birding trails.

Monterey's Unique Bird Watching Habitats

Monterey Bay draws birders from all over the world. This stunning area features diverse protected habitats. Birders can visit the shoreline to view shorebirds and seabirds.

The Elkhorn Slough Estuary provides sanctuary to nesting sites and an essential migratory site for over 300 bird species. Further inland, birders are treated to birds of prey. Rare and protected birds abound in our unique Monterey Bay haven.

Pinnacles National Park

Woodpecker on a tree

Pinnacles National Park provides a haven for area birds and delights bird watchers. Over 160 bird species have been documented in Pinnacles National Park. In addition, California condors are present in Pinnacles year-round.

Visit High Peaks early in the morning or in the early evening for your best chance at seeing a California condor. Spotting scopes are available in the Campground to help you view condors that soar on the morning thermals.

Woodpeckers, hawks, quails, thrashers, swallows, wrens, and falcons are among the birds spotted in Pinnacles.

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve

This show-stopping reserve is home to almost 350 bird species. Elkhorn Slough is one of the top birding destinations in the US. Bird watchers are likely to spot the gorgeous American white pelican and unique marbled godwits. In addition, migratory shorebirds flock to Elkhorn. Waders such as the long-billed curlew are often seen on the mudflats. In winter, loons, grebes, herons, and egrets are present.

Birders will get a different experience during different tides. At low tide, the mudflats are exposed, and shorebirds will be hunting in the shallows. At high tide, there are no mudflats, but the water is closer to the road, providing better viewing opportunities. Birders often prefer an intermediate tide to get the best of both worlds.

Carmel State River State Beach

Carmel State River State Beach

This protected stretch of coastline is home to a variety of birds. The state park included the protected Carmel River Lagoon and Wetlands Natural Reserve. Birders can watch for mallard ducks and other waterfowl in the lagoon. You might spot a Brant goose, which breeds in the Arctic and migrates every winter. Kites, harriers, and swallows are drawn to this beautiful wetland.

Hawks and songbirds are often seen in the park. In addition, the beach backdrop is home to shorebirds and seagulls and is a photographer's delight.

Marina Dunes Preserve

This beautiful coastal preserve is home to the gorgeous snowy plover. The snowy plover is a threatened species, and the dunes provide a critical breeding ground for this small shorebird. Snowy plovers rely on dunes to forage for invertebrates and build their nests. In addition to the snowy plover, about 30 bird species frequent this preserve.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Turkey Vulture on a tree

Point Lobos State Reserve offers several unique birding trails, resulting in great lookout points. Birders often report western gull sightings. Other popular bird species in reserve include turkey vultures, western scrub jays, and American crows. In addition, keep a lookout for a variety of herons, egrets, and cormorants.

Enjoy the Best Bird Watching in Monterey Bay CA

Monterey is home to beautiful natural areas, diverse wildlife, and soaring birdlife. It's also home to delicious and memorable restaurants. For a lovely treat after your bird-watching adventure, relax and enjoy some of the best clam chowder in Monterey.


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