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Bay Trail offers good opportunities for winter birding

in A&E/Community

Bay Area residents don’t have to go far to see migratory birds, from overwintering waterfowl to rare raptors. The Bay Trail is not just a great place to walk, run and bike, but also to go winter birding.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is funding the planned 500-mile shoreline path that passes through 47 cities, 130 parks and seven toll bridges, has released a guide on where to check out migratory birds during the winter. In addition to the option of visiting these locations, bird enthusiasts can celebrate the peak of the winter migration season by joining the 27th annual San Francisco Flyway Festival, taking place virtually from Feb. 11-13.


  • Black Turnstones and Surfbirds scour the rocky shoreline in fall and winter at the Coyote Point Recreation Area
  • At the Palo Alto Baylands, sometimes Short-Eared Owls emerge at dusk. Look for the small breeding population of Black Skimmers and Barrow’s Goldeneye at nearby Shoreline Lake

South Bay

  • At Alviso Marina, the levees around the marsh host large flocks of sparrows, and the islands in the pond provide an excellent study of gulls

North Bay

  • The annual herring spawn in Richardson Bay, bringing a wide variety of birds (and sea lions) that can be easily seen from the shores of downtown Sausalito
  • The John F. Kennedy Park trail is at the same level as the Napa River, so waterfowl are easily viewed here in the winter

East Bay

  • The eucalyptus forest of the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline is inhabited by many Yellow-Rumped Warblers in the winter
  • The tidal marsh at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline along San Leandro Bay in Oakland provides habitat for endangered Ridgeway’s Rails and many other shorebirds and waterfowl
  • The mosaic of uplands, sloughs and marshes of the Hayward Regional Shoreline is a paradise for Northern Harriers in the daytime, and hunting grounds at night for Short-Eared Owls

Learn more about year-round opportunities for birding on the Bay Trail.

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission