A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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


Sonoma County Bird Finder and Species Notes



What is a passerine?

Family Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
  1. Black-footed Albatross: Mostly summer, into late autumn (Pictured here)

  2. Laysan Albatross: Rare, mostly autumn sightings

  Family Procellariidae (Fulmars, Petrels and Shearwaters)

  1. Sooty Shearwater: Mostly Spring through autumn

  2. Pink-footed Shearwater: Sum into autumn migration

  3. Buller's Shearwater: Late Sum, autumn

  4. Northern Fulmar: Sporadic, Win

  5. Black-vented Shearwater: Sporadic, autumn

  6. Short-tailed Shearwater: Sporadic autumn visitor

  7. Flesh-footed Shearwater: Sporadic autumn visitor

  Family Hydrobatidae (Storm-petrels)

  1. Ashy Storm-petrel: Autumn

  2. Fork-tailed Storm-petrel: Sporadic, rare, mostly spring, Sum, and autumn

  Family Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)

  1. Pomerine Jaeger: Autumn migration

  2. Parasitic Jaeger: Autumn migration

  3. South Polar Skua: Rare autumn migrant

  Family Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)

  1. Common Murre: YR, Common in coastal waters. Duncan's Landing, Bodega Head, Campbell Cove. Often nests at Point Reyes, in neighboring Marin County

  2. *Pigeon Guillemot: Mostly Sum, common along the coast. Has nested at Bodega Head. Bodega Head, Campbell Cove, near Boat channel jetties at Doran Beach

  3. Ancient Murrelet : Win, Uncommon but fairly regular offshore at Duncan's Landing, Bodega Head

  4. Marbled Murrelet: YR, but uncommon. Occasional seen off Duncan's Landing, Bodega Head

  5. Cassin's Auklet: YR, but fairly rare. Occasionally seen off Bodega Head. Noted fairly regularly on pelagic tours. Nests to the south of us, at the Farallon Islands

  6. Rhinoceros Auklet: YR, but mostly autumn, Win. Occasionally seen off Bodega Head. Noted fairly regularly on pelagic tours

  7. Horned Puffin: SVAR, has been noted at Salmon Creek, Wright's Beach, Bodega Head

  8. Tufted Puffin: YR, but rare--mostly autumn, Has been noted at Bodega Head, Jenner, but mostly at Bodega Canyon, on offshore boating trips. Numbers appear to be declining


  1. Abundance: (Color coded to make it clear at a glance which birds are most common)

  2. Common (Permanent resident or abundant seasonally)

  3. Less common (usually present, or present in season, but not abundant)

  4. Unusual (migrants present seasonally, but only for a short period or in small numbers; or birds that may be confined to a limited habitat)

  5. Uncommon or Rare (One or only a few accepted county sightings, or birds that are noted only once or twice yearly).

  6. Birds are listed in rough order of abundance within their groups.

  7. Seasonality: Winter (Win); Spring; Summer (Sum); Autumn; Year-round (YR); Sporadic, Vagrant, Accidental, or Rare (SVAR). Intended as a rough guide only--many "summer" birds, for example, arrive in early spring and leave in late autumn, and some may overwinter.

  8. Locations given are some of the most likely places to find each bird in the county (not exhaustive, and, obviously, birds will be found in places not listed here. Again, intended as a rough guide.)

*Birds marked with an asterisk are birds known to breed in Sonoma County, according to Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas (Betty Burridge, Ed., Madrone Audubon Society, 1995)

**Sora confirmed as a county breeder for the first time, in spring 2011



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

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.