A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)


A Place to Play Park, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

©2011 Google – Imagery ©2011 DigitalGlobe, USDA Farm Service Agency, GeoEye, Map data ©2011 Google

Location aliases: Not well enough frequented by local birders to have nicknames. 

Location: On West Third St., Santa Rosa, CA between Fulton Rd. and Stony Point Rd., but closer to Fulton.

GPS address: 2375 West Third St., Santa Rosa, CA 95401 is the official address of the park, but that is considerably further east than the actual entrance. One entrance is near the intersection with Senna Dr. An address of 600 Senna Dr., Santa Rosa, 95401 may take you close to the main (eastern) entrance (to be confirmed). The other entrance is about 500 yards further west.  

GPS Coordinates: The eastern entrance on Third St. is at 38 26 17N, 122 45 41W

The western entrance on Third St. is at 38 26 17N, 122 45 56W

Access: Can be approached from Stony Point Rd. or Fulton Rd. There are two entrances from Third St. Extensive free parking. The areas most interesting for birding are at the western end of the park (the Fulton Rd. end) around the pond.

Habitats: Residential, urban park, freshwater pond, mature oaks and eucalyptus

Typical Species: Canada Goose, Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Coot, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Greater Yellowlegs, Black-necked Stilt, Dowitchers, Black Phoebe, Anna’s Hummingbird, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Barn Swallow, Northern rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Bushtit, European Starling, Marsh Wren, American Robin, Western Scrub-jay, Northern Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, California Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, House Sparrow; Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, House Finch

Unusual birds, sightings: Greater White-fronted Goose (11/21/13, Wendy Dandridge); Cattle Egret (11/21/13, Wendy Dandridge); Virginia Rail (4/10/13); Swamp Sparrow (11/14/12), Colin Talcroft; Lincoln’s Sparrow (11/14/12, Colin Talcroft); Eurasian Collared-Dove (6/13/12, Colin Talcroft); Common Gallinule (6/11/12, Bethany Browning & George Dondero); Great-tailed Grackle (6/7, 2012, Colin Talcroft); Greater Scaup (6/1, 2012, Colin Talcroft); Great-tailed Grackle (6/1, 2012, Colin Talcroft); Cattle Egret (6/1, 2012, Colin Talcroft); American Avocet (4/18, 2012, Colin Talcroft); Nashville Warbler (12/18, 2011, Lisa Hug); Western Meadowlark (10/26, 2011, Colin Talcroft); Western Kingbird (6/3, 2011, Colin Talcroft); Nashville Warbler (12/27, 2010); Snow Goose (12/4, 2009); Say’s Phoebe; Red-breasted Merganser. I have seen as many as 33 Greater Yellowlegs here at one time (November 2010). Good place to see swallows--all five common species can be seen here. Good sparrow and finch habitat can sometimes mean very large flocks of these birds.

Restroom facilities: None in the immediate vicinity, although porta-potties are sometimes on site. Otherwise, Oliver’s Market at 461 Stony Point Road Rd. 284-3530 may be the closest and most convenient.

Restaurants Nearby: Excellent Vietnamese noodles at Pho Vietnam at 711 Stony Point Rd. (571-7687).

Nearby attractions: To be determined

Related bird watching spots: The Ninth St. Rookery, on West Ninth St., is a short drive away (active only during spring breeding season). At the north end of the pond at Place to Play Park, there is an entrance to the paved trail that runs all along Santa Rosa Creek on the north side of the park, but I have always seen many more birds inside the park than anywhere along this path. Otherwise, see the various Santa Rosa areas listed on the front page of this site.

Notes: A walk around the pond takes about 45 minutes. The oaks and brush all around the pond can be very productive (including the trees along the north side of the park). Be sure to check the big trees on the south side of the pond and those along W. Third St. The open fields around these big trees can be excellent for sparrows and finches. At the end of 2010, a fenced-in dog run was added along the trees on the north side the park area near the pond. That makes it impossible to walk along the trees there, and dogs in that enclosure may discourage birds in the immediate area, but there is plenty of room on either side of the enclosure, with the areas closer to the pond likely to be more productive.

The birds in the photo: Upper photo--Dowitchers, A Place to Play Park.

Lower Photo--Hutton's Vireo, A Place to Play Park, October 19, 2011

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps



© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.