Great spots on the Bay Trail for winter birding

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Bay Area residents don’t have to go far to see migratory birds, from overwintering waterfowl to rare raptors. The Bay Trail is not just a great place to walk, run and bike, but also to go winter birding.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is funding the planned 500-mile shoreline path that passes through 47 cities, 130 parks and seven toll bridges, has released a guide on where to check out migratory birds during the winter. In addition to the option of visiting these locations, bird enthusiasts can celebrate the peak of the winter migration season by joining the 27th annual San Francisco Flyway Festival, taking place virtually from Feb. 11-13.

South Bay

  • At Alviso Marina, the levees around the marsh host large flocks of sparrows, and the islands in the pond provide an excellent study of gulls


  • Black Turnstones and Surfbirds scour the rocky shoreline in fall and winter at the Coyote Point Recreation Area
  • At the Palo Alto Baylands, sometimes Short-Eared Owls emerge at dusk. Look for the small breeding population of Black Skimmers and Barrow’s Goldeneye at nearby Shoreline Lake

North Bay

  • The annual herring spawn in Richardson Bay, bringing a wide variety of birds (and sea lions) that can be easily seen from the shores of downtown Sausalito
  • The John F. Kennedy Park trail is at the same level as the Napa River, so waterfowl are easily viewed here in the winter

East Bay

Learn more about year-round opportunities for birding on the Bay Trail