Hotspots Near You

  • 212. Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, Playa Del Rey, California

    In the Los Angeles Basin, the last significant wetland is the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. It once occupied 2,000 acres of coastal habitat, but since the 1920s, industrial encroachment, agriculture, and population growth have shrunk the area to about one-fourth of its original size.

  • 201. Morro Bay State Park, Morro Bay, California

    On a recent brilliant morning at Morro Bay State Park, the water was glassy and calm, American White Pelicans floated in the bay, and Brown Pelicans flew in V formations overhead. In the distance, several sea lions barked. The peacefulness concealed the significance of Morro Bay and its surrounding protected areas, where more than 320 bird species have been recorded. The bay has been described as “one of the most important waterbird stopover and wintering locations in California south of San Francisco Bay.” It hosts as many as 20,000 wintering shorebirds and thousands of Brant. On the western side of the bay, a seven-mile-long sand spit is home to about 30 percent of the Western Snowy Plovers in the state.

  • 200. Pinnacles National Park, Soledad, California

    In January 2013, after more than a century as a national monument, Pinnacles became America’s 59th and newest national park. It’s known for its beautiful, towering, rocky pinnacles and dank talus caves, and it’s also a haven for birds.

  • 185. Hearst San Simeon State Park, Cambria, California

    A few miles down the road from the former estate of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst lies Hearst San Simeon State Park, one of my favorite birdwatching spots along California’s rocky central coastline.

  • 180. The Presidio, San Francisco, California

    Spanish, Mexican, and American flags have flown over the Presidio since 1776. Today the historic grounds, buildings, and artifacts are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. New vista points, interpretive signs, and trails lead the way.

  • 175. Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California

    Nestled at the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains, this wild place is one of the last areas in southern California where you can see rare Engelmann oak woodlands, hillsides covered in chaparral, and vernal pools. The fleeting bodies of water, California specialty birds, and wintering Lewis’s Woodpeckers are the main draws for birders.

  • 172. Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands, California

    On this hilltop just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, you can see the San Francisco skyline, all of San Francisco Bay, the Marin County hills to the north, and Mount Diablo to the east. To the west, in the vast Pacific Ocean, the Farallon Islands are mere dots.

  • 167. Mendocino Headlands State Park, Mendocino, California

    This 347-acre state park consists of undeveloped seaside bluffs and rocky islets surrounding the town of Mendocino, two beaches, and the Big River, which empties into the Pacific here.