A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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


Nagasawa Park, Santa Rosa, CA, 95403

Location aliases: Not sufficiently on the local bird-watching radar to have nicknames. Officially Nagasawa Community Park. Usually referred to simply as Nagasawa Park.

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

Location: Off Fountaingrove Pkwy., Santa Rosa, CA 95403

GPS address: None available, as there are no addresses in this stretch of the road. An address of 1313 Fountaingrove Pkwy. will get you somewhat north of the entrance (if you’ve been driving uphill to this address, you’ve gone too far. If you’ve been going downhill, the park will be further along, on your right. The entrance to the park is not well marked and it’s easy to miss because it's hard to see until you're almost on top of it.

GPS Coordinates: Entrance is at 38 28 53N, 122 43 01W

Access: Ample free parking. Adjacent to a golf course. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to walk entirely around the lake without trespassing, using holes in fences or jumping fences in some spots. Even staying within the park, there is enough to see, however. I have heard there are plans to create a public path around the lake at some time in the future. That would make the park much more attractive as a bird watching location. Also see notes below.

Habitats: Freshwater lake, mature oaks, mature evergreens, scrub, seasonal marshy areas.

Typical Species: Pied-billed Grebe, American Wigeon, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Common Gallinule (Moorhen), American Coot, Great Egret, Snowy egret, Oak Titmouse, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Western Scrub-jay, American Crow, House Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black Phoebe, California Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Northern Mockingbird, Western Bluebird, Wild Turkey, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Turkey vulture, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch. 

Unusual birds, sightings:  White-throated Sparrow (1/1/15, Doug Shaw); Black-throated Grey Warbler (Oct 14, 2011); Lincoln’s Sparrow, Hooded Merganser (Jan 11, 2010); Barrow's Goldeneye (January 2011).

Restroom facilities: Public restrooms at the top of the parking lot.

Restaurants Nearby: Nothing much. Further afield: There is a deli in the Safeway at 2751 Fourth St. 522-1455. Michelle Marie's Patisserie, 2404 Magowan Dr. (575-1214) has sandwiches and full meals at lunchtime.

Nearby attractions: Paradise Ridge Winery at 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr. Santa Rosa, (528-9463) is worth a visit. The giant oak tree at the entrance to the winery is a tree an acorn woodpecker has used in the past. The views from the winery are excellent. The winery also has an extensive outdoor sculpture garden.

Related bird watching spots: Closest is the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, but all the Santa Rosa sites listed on this site are within about 15-30 minutes by car. See individual location pages for details.

Notes: 1. Can be especially good during very wet winter weather when seasonal pools form, but paths will be muddy and may even be covered in spots near the water just after rain. Regardless, I recommend taking the trail right at the water's edge at the top of the parking lot and heading to the left around the lake (clockwise). The official trail ends at the end of a dike, but fording a small spillway allows you to walk further, through a small wooded section and out onto a second dike, further west. The trail really ends at the end of the second dike with a fence enclosing the golf course. I cannot officially recommend going further, but there is a large hole in the fence here that easily allows you to continue, but it also requires you to jump the fence to exit the golf course property (near the water towers visible in the satellite map above) unless you backtrack the whole way. Proceed discreetly. Again, I can't recommend a complete circuit. I simply note that it is possible to do. Within Nagasawa Park proper, there are trails through wooded areas  away from the water as well.

2. Beware of speeding on Fountaingrove Pkwy. Our Santa Rosa police love to ticket people on this road.

The bird in the photo: Lincoln’s Sparrow, Nagasawa Park, January 2010

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps



© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011.

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.