Birding in Marin

Late summer is a great time to get curious about birds in Marin, because September through November is raptor migration season - from the Marin Headlands, you can spot a huge variety of different raptor species.

Birding Locations in Marin

But first, you can start with your own backyard! There might be plenty to see just by looking out the window or taking a lap around the block. Try this Marin Magazine article for an introduction, including smartphone apps that can help with identification.

Once you're ready to go further afield, Marin's Audubon Society chapter lists over sixty Birding Locations of Marin: the best birding sites around the county, particularly those where you are likely to encounter rare birds.

Here are a few highlights:

Point Reyes National Seashore

According to the Audubon Society page on California birding, the Point Reyes National Seashore is "one of North America’s best all-around birding destinations" because of the way it "combines a location seemingly designed to attract seabirds and rare vagrants with a diversity of land habitats that host a correspondingly wide variety of land birds".

It's also been the society's #1 birding site for multiple years running, given that 54% of North American bird species have been observed in the park.

Marin Headlands

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the headlands are an important stop along the Pacific Flyway, one of the four major North American migratory routes for birds, stretching from the Pacific coast of South America to the entirety of Alaska.

    • Hawk Hill - An aptly named site "where more migrating raptors are seen than any other place in the Pacific states," at least according to this Birdwatching Daily article. Best from September to November.
    • Marin Headlands Bird Checklist
    • Rodeo Beach by Rodeo Lagoon is a great place to view some hundred brown pelicans that nest off the coast each fall


Here are some handy and portable references to help you identify and learn more about birds in our area, whether you're hitting the trail or just looking out your kitchen window.

Peterson Guide to Bird Identification in 12 Steps

The Hidden Meaning of Birds

The Beginner's Guide to Birding

Field Guide to Birds of the Northern California Coast

Birds of Northern California

Raptors of California


If you're curious to learn more about birds from some local experts, check out naturalist Shannon Burke's talk which will be held via Zoom:

Raptors: An Online Presentation
Monday, August 9, 10 - 11 am

From colorful kestrels to enormous eagles, diurnal raptors are charismatic birds of our landscapes. Perched at the top of the food web, these species take advantage of different habitats and use various strategies to hunt. We’ll explore how these behaviors, along with distinguishing field marks, can help in identifying our local species as we discuss some of the life history stories that make each unique.