While in the preserve, see how many local bird species as you can find. There are finches, ground feeders, woodland birds, nectar feeders and predator birds.
Try a free bird identification app called Merlin.
Habitat: Northern spotted owls live in forests characterized by dense canopy closure of mature and old-growth trees, abundant logs, standing snags, and live trees with broken tops. Although they are known to nest, roost, and feed in a wide variety of habitat types, spotted owls prefer older forest stands with variety: multi-layered canopies of several tree species of varying size and age, both standing and fallen dead trees, and open space among the lower branches to allow flight under the canopy. Typically, forests do not attain these characteristics until they are at least 150 to 200 years old. When spotted owls were forced to live in small patches of forest they become more susceptible to starvation, predation, or further loss of habitat due to natural destruction such as windstorms.
More recently, competition from encroaching barred owls has accelerated the decline in spotted owls across most of their range. Barred owls are not native to the Northwest, having arrived from the Eastern U.S. relatively recently. They are larger than spotted owls, more aggressive, and have a broader diet which makes them more resilient to declines in habitat quality. They compete for, and exclude spotted owls, from the remaining spotted owl habitat.
Significance: Federally threatened Northern Spotted Owls are key predators in the woods they inhabit, keeping rodent and other small animal populations in balance. They are also vital indicators of forest health since their survival depends on the presence of diverse, robust evergreen forest ecosystems. Their favorite prey is the Dusky Footed Wood Rat, which the ENP has a strong population of. Marin County could be the densest population on record anywhere in their range. They do not migrate.
Breeding Season: Please keep your voices down and minimize disruptions during the breeding season. Night rides are especially disruptive to owls due to their increased activity when the sun goes down. Although the breeding season varies with geographic location and elevation, spotted owls generally nest from February to June. One to four (usually two) pure white eggs are laid in the early spring and hatch about a month later. The parents care for the young through September. Sadly, they do not breed every year and are monogamous.
Identify: Our largest and most impressive woodpecker, nearly crow-sized. Just as some guy said of the danger of mistaking a condor for a turkey vulture that “if you’re not sure you’re looking at a condor, you’re not,” it is also pretty reliable that “if you’re not sure you’re looking at a pileated woodpecker, you’re not.” They’re huge!
Plumage-wise, their backs are entirely black, with no bars or stripes. Both males and females have red on their caps, but only males have a red mustache stripe (females have a black mustache stripe).
Identify: The California Quail is a handsome, round soccer ball of a bird with a rich gray breast, intricately scaled underparts, and a curious, forward-drooping head plume. Its stiffly accented Chi-ca-go call is a common sound of the chaparral and other brushy areas of California and the Northwest. Often seen scratching at the ground in large groups or dashing forward on blurred legs, California Quail are common but unobtrusive. They flush to cover if scared, so approach them gently.
Identify: To find Wild Turkeys it helps to get up early in the morning, when flocks of these large birds are often out foraging in clearings, field edges, and roadsides. Keep an eye out as you drive along forest edges, particularly forests with nut-bearing trees such as oak and hickory, and you may even see turkeys from your car. In spring and summer, listen for gobbling males; the calls are loud, distinctive, and they carry great distances. You’ll usually find turkeys on the ground, but don’t be surprised if you run across a group of turkeys flying high into their treetop roosts at the end of the day.
Identify: A large and distinctive woodpecker – not black and white, but brown with a black bib, black belly spots, and black stripes on the wings and back. Males have a red mustache stripe (ladies don’t have mustaches, naturally). Look for the bright red shafts flickering in their wings in flight.
Identify: Look for ravens anywhere from the outskirts of towns (particularly landfills) to foothill forests or scrub, and out to the deep woods of mountains and national parks. If they’re around you’re likely to hear a deep gurgling croak from far overhead: look for a long-tailed black bird flying on long wings and easy, graceful wingbeats. When driving, keep an eye out for them on the roadsides, gathered at roadkill, or flying straight down the center line on the lookout. Ravens are twice the size of crows.
Identify: Steller’s Jays are large songbirds with large heads, chunky bodies, rounded wings, and a long, full tail. The bill is long, straight, and powerful, with a slight hook. Steller’s Jays have a prominent triangular crest that often stands nearly straight up from their head. Stellar's Jays are larger than Scrub Jays.
Identify: Warbling Vireos are fairly plain birds with gray-olive upperparts and white underparts washed with faint yellow. They have a mild face pattern with a whitish stripe over the eye. They stay high in deciduous treetops, where they move methodically among the leaves hunting for caterpillars. Find them by listening for their loud, caroling song. Because of their habitually slow foraging speed, you can often track down the singer fairly easily.
Identify: “Coops” are the primary hawk that eats birds in our yards, along with their smaller lookalike the sharp-shinned hawk in winter. Note that adults have a rather different color palette than juveniles (first years), with reddish breasts and grey backs in adults, contrasting with light breasts with vertical brown streaking and brown backs in juveniles. Distinctly smaller than our common big soaring hawk, the red-tailed hawk, which feeds mainly on mammals.
Identify: They are the most common big bird to see soaring around Bay Area skies. They are generally pretty easy to recognize, even at a distance: tiny red heads, mostly black plumage (wings are two-toned, black and silver, when seen from beneath while flying), and a distinctive flight style characterized by a strong v-shape to the wing position and frequent little rocks and wobbles. And while not generally numbered among our most beautiful birds, vultures perform an invaluable service in cleaning up carrion.
Identify: Acorns have all black backs and clown faces. Easy! Our other small woodpeckers have various kinds of white patterns on their backs and lack the distinctive white facepaint. One other trick with these guys compared to the preceding three species is that both male and female acorn woodpeckers have red on their heads. On males, a larger red patch extends all the way to the white forehead, while on females the red is only on the rear of the head, with a black area intervening between the red and the white forehead.
Identify: American Crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black birds with hoarse, cawing voices. They are common sights in treetops, fields, and roadsides, and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers. They usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything—typically earthworms, insects and other small animals, seeds, and fruit; also garbage, carrion, and chicks they rob from nests. Their flight style is unique, a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides.
Identify: Pretty unmistakable. Big, blue, loud, and fairly ubiquitous. More open areas not too crowded with trees or houses could get the smaller, quieter, and insect-eating western bluebird. The most adaptable of these birds, capable of thriving wherever there are at least some trees. Unpopular in some circles due to their harsh voices and aggressive behavior. On the other hand, they are highly intelligent and crucial to the survival of our native oak trees.