A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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


Ragle Ranch Regional Park, Sebastopol CA 95472

Location aliases: The official name is Ragle Ranch Regional Park, but usually referred to simply as Ragle Ranch Park, or just Ragle Park.

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

Location: 500 Ragle Ranch Rd., Sebastopol, CA 95472.

GPS address:  500 Ragle Ranch Rd., Sebastopol, CA 95472

GPS Coordinates: 38 24 18N, 122 50 46W will take you to the entrance kiosk.

Access: From Ragle Ranch Rd. by way of Ragle Rd., which runs between Mill Station Rd. and Bodega Hwy. (Hwy. 12) just west of Sebastopol. Open sunrise to sunset, year round. There is a $7 parking fee, but regional park pass holders park free ($69 a year at the time of writing--late 2011, $39 for seniors 60+). For more information, call 823-7262 or 565-2041

Habitats: Meadows, open scrub, streamside brush, marshy areas, mature deciduous and conifer woods

Typical Species: Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Barn Owl, Acorn Woodpecker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Mourning Dove, Band-tailed Pigeon, Black Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Hutton’s Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Scrub-jay, American Crow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick’s Wren, Hermit Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Northern Mockingbird, Wrentit, Orange-crowned Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch. Very reliable place to see Band-tailed Pigeon.

Unusual birds, sightings: Least Flycatcher (January 30-February 5, 2012); Lewis's Woodpecker (January 16-February 5, 2012, Marcia Johnson); White-throated Sparrow (February 4, 2012); Swamp Sparrow (October 24, 2011, Lisa Hug); Prairie Falcon (Dec. 28, 2008); Peregrine Falcon, Pileated Woodpecker (Sep. 25, 2008); Black-throated gray Warbler (Sept. 24, 2008)

Restroom facilities: Restrooms near the parking areas.

Restaurants Nearby: If you’re headed out to Bodega following a visit to Ragle Ranch Park, it makes more sense to eat in Bodega Bay rather than going to Sebastopol. See the Bodega Bay Overview page for restaurant suggestions. If eating in Sebastopol is more convenient, try East-West Café at 128 N. Main St., Sebastopol, CA 95472, 829-2822) for good Mediterranean-influenced fare, including many vegetarian dishes.

Closest to Ragle Ranch Park is The French Garden at 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol CA 95472 (824-2030), which has a good reputation). For quick take-out sandwiches, Sebastopol has a Safeway (406 N. Main St., Sebastopol CA 95472, 823-1101) and a Whole Foods Market (6910 McKinley St., Sebastopol, CA 95472, 829-9801). In neighboring Graton, try Willow Wood Market Café (9020 Graton Rd., Graton, CA 95444, 823-0233). Always delicious.

Nearby attractions: The eclectic Sebastopol downtown area has interesting shops to browse, including art galleries, music stores, and the excellent Copperfield’s Used & Rare Books (176 N. Main St., 829-0429), and others. Incredible Records & CDs (112 N. Main St., 824-8099) is something of an institution in its own right (recommended for vintage rock & roll fans). The West County Museum (261 S. Main St., 829-6711) has high-quality exhibitions of items of local interest. The museum, housed in a former railway station on the electric rail line that once connected Petaluma and Santa Rosa is of some interest in itself. Florence Ave. is worth a visit. Home to sculptor Patrick Amiot, whose whimsical sculptures decorate the front yards of most of his neighbors, the street has become an outdoor sculpture garden. Park and walk to view the artwork (driving slooooowly down the street annoys the locals). For antique hounds, The Antique Society (2661 Gravenstein Hwy, Sebastopol, CA 95472, 829-1733), the last large antiques mall in Sebastopol to survive the recession remains a good place to look for the unusual. The neighboring town of Graton has galleries and antiques as well. If you happen to be in the area in late April, the Apple Blossom Festival can be entertaining, and the apple orchards are beautiful when in bloom, although many orchards have been replaced by grapes in recent years. The grape vines are attractive when laden with fruit in late September and when brushed with autumn color in October and November.

Related bird watching spots: Ragle Ranch Park is a convenient stop on the way to Bodega Bay heading west from Santa Rosa. However, there are enough trails at the park to occupy a full morning or afternoon or more, which leaves little time for lunch and then getting out to Bodega Bay (which takes about half an hour from Sebastopol)--but it can be done (see the Bodega Bay Overview page for Bodega Bay birding spots). The Laguna de Santa Rosa area accessible from Sebastopol is near the opposite (eastern) entrance to the town.

Notes: Watch out for poison oak in wooded areas here (and throughout the county).

The birds in the photos: Above: Band-tailed Pigeon, Ragle Ranch Park, November 14, 2011

Below: Wrentit, Ragle Ranch Park, October 15, 2012

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps



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

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.