A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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


Location aliases: Usually referred to by its proper name, or just “Taylor Mountain.”

Location: Opened to the public in February 2013. The park entrance is at the end of Kawana Terrace, but, there is no official street number yet. Plans call for additional access points at Petaluma Hill Rd., and, eventually, Farmers Lane, if the proposed Farmers Lane extension is built--which would connect the existing end of Farmers Lane (at Bennett Valley Rd.) to Yolanda Ave.

GPS address: At present none, but 1800 Kawana Terrace, Santa Rosa, CA, 95404 should get you on to Kawana Terrace, which dead ends at the park entrance.

GPS Coordinates: The Kawana Terrace parking lot is at 38.4154, -122.6930

Access: From Santa Rosa Ave. in Santa Rosa, turn east (the only way you can go) onto Kawana Springs Rd. and head straight out toward the hills. Cross Petaluma Hill Rd. and look for Franz Kafka Ave. on your right. Enter Franz Kafka Ave., which will shortly jog left, leaving you on Kawana Terrace (it’s important to be on Kawana Terrace, not Kawana Springs Rd. here as the latter will take you into the Sonoma Academy property). Kawana Terrace dead ends into the park entrance.

Several miles of walking trails, some fairly strenuous. There is a $7 parking fee. Regional park annual pass holders ($69 at the time of writing) park free. For current information about park passes, see the Sonoma County Regional Parks website.

Habitats: Open grassy areas on rolling hills, scattered mature oaks with denser patches of mostly oak woodland. Creekside brush. Note that the grasslands are cattle grazed, which makes them less attractive to birds than they might otherwise be.

Typical Species: Wild Turkey, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Eurasian Collared Dove, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl, Anna's Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pacific-Slope Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Western Scrub Jay, Common Raven, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Oak Titmouse, Bushtit, Bewick's Wren, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, American Robin, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Brewer's Blackbird, Bullock's Oriole, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, and American Goldfinch

Unusual birds, sightings: Grasshopper Sparrow (Mar 29, 2013, Brook and Orion O’Connor); Lark Sparrow (Mar 29, 2013, Brook and Orion O’Connor); Varied Thrush (Feb 23, 2013, Colin Talcroft)

Restroom facilities: Public Restrooms (portable toilets) by the parking lot, at the start of the trails.

Restaurants nearby:  Nothing in the immediate area, but close to all Santa Rosa area restaurants and the park is not far from Petaluma to the south. If you're heading north, toward Spring Lake, Lake Ralphine or other points, see the relevant pages for restaurant recommendations. For a proper sit-down lunch in Petaluma, my favorite has long been the Water Street Bistro at 100 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma CA 94952 (763-9563). Small, but delicious. Lombardi’s Barbecue (3413 Petaluma blvd. North, Petaluma CA 94952; 773-1271) has excellent sandwiches to eat in or to go. Try the pulled pork sandwich. Ask for your cole slaw IN the sandwich. Yum.

Nearby attractions: See the Nearby Attractions sections on the pages for Spring Lake, Lake Ralphine, Sonoma State University Campus, and the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery for Santa Rosa ideas.

If you’re heading south, the historic downtown area of Petaluma has restaurants, galleries, antique and other shops, mainly on Kentucky St. and the surrounding areas. Good for a stroll and shopping. This area has some good Victorian architecture.  If you’re in the mood for bargain hunting, the Petaluma Village Factory Outlets outside of town may be of interest, at 2200 Petaluma Blvd. North (778-9300). Petaluma has a nice Carnegie Library still in operation that houses a small museum of local interest. (built in 1904; 20 Fourth St., Petaluma CA 94952). For the gardener, Cottage Gardens is an excellent nursery, at 3995 Emerald Dr., Petaluma CA 94952 (778-8025).

Related bird watching spots: Close to Roberts Lake Park and the Sonoma State University campus, which are just to the west. Also see the various Santa Rosa locations on the front page, such as Spring Lake and Lake Ralphine. Annadel State Park, Channel Dr. are to the north. Petaluma area birding locations are to the south (see Shollenberger Park, Lucchesi Park, and Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility).

Notes: Trails can be muddy in the winter months. Cattle graze openly in the grassy areas. Watch for droppings. Also, beware of protective cows with young ones. Never walk between a cow and her calf. It’s a good idea to give cattle a wide berth generally. Beware of poison oak in the wooded areas.

The bird in the photo: Turkey Vulture sunning, Taylor Mountain Regional Park, February 23, 2013  

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps



© 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.


Taylor Mountain Regional Park, Santa Rosa, 95404

Imagery ©2013 DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2013 Google