Migratory Birds in California

Spring is a great time to observe the bird migrations along the Pacific Flyway. Here are a few of our favorite avian photos.

In Northern California, Humboldt Bay and its nearby lands host thousands of wintering marbled godwits; but in the springtime, this number swells to the tens of thousands, as birds that have wintered farther south "stop over" here.

The bright yellow Wilson’s warbler stops along numerous river corridors during its annual migration, which spans about 4,000 miles one way. Birds embark on their journey from Mexico and Central America and eventually end up in the vast boreal forests of Canada.

Swainson’s hawks tend to form large flocks and rest on the ground in farm fields during their migration, making them conspicuous to birders. A Swainson’s hawk is impressive on its own; but during migration, they can be spotted by the dozens — and often hundreds — perching on the ground, on farming equipment, or in ditches and berms near farm fields.

Sanderlings are known for an interesting behavior: while feeding, they tend to run together in a flock, following the ocean waves' ebbs and flows.

During migration, sandhill cranes may fly as much as 400 miles in one day.

Common yellowthroats are distinguished by their black ‘Zorro-like” masks, bright yellow bodies and often-inquisitive nature around humans. The Conservancy’s Cosumnes River Preserve, Elkhorn Slough and Suisun Marsh provide critical habitats for wetland breeding birds such as the common yellowthroats.

May is a great time to get out and catch the tail end of shorebird migration, as birds like dunlin are making their way north toward their Arctic breeding grounds in the Alaskan and Canadian tundras.


   Please leave this field empty
x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Learn about the places you love. Find out
how you can help.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

I'm already on the list!

Read our privacy policy.