USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Bird Checklists of the United States

San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay
National Wildlife Refuges

Newark, California


San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the west coast of the United States. Its 1,600 square miles of wetlands and open water are home to at least 800,000 waterbirds at any given time and to millions during peak migration. Some of these birds are permanent residents and a few come here only to breed. Most, however, use the Bay as a resting and feeding stop on their long migrations. Seventy percent of the birds that migrate along the Pacific Flyway spend some time each year at San Francisco Bay.

This list, which includes 281 species, was compiled by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory with the assistance of many experienced ornithologists and veteran birders. It includes all species that are found in San Francisco Bay and Delta, and their bordering wetlands. It does not include all species that can be found in nearby upland habitats.

The relative abundances printed in this checklist indicate how frequently you might expect to see a bird in its favored habitat. Consult field guides or reference books to learn the specific habitats in which a particular species can be found. This checklist is arranged in accordance with the nomenclature used in the A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition (1983).


Season Symbols

Sp - Spring - March to May
S - Summer - June to August
F - Fall - September to November
W - Winter - December to February

Abundance Symbols

a - abundant: a common species which is very numerous
c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present, but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen only a few times during a season
r - rare: known to be present, but not every year
* - birds known to nest locally
# - threatened or endangered


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Red-throated Loon o r u u ___ Arctic Loon u - u u ___ Common Loon u r u c
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c c c c ___ Horned Grebe u r u c ___ Red-necked Grebe r - r o ___ Eared Grebe* a u c a ___ Western Grebe c u c c
PELICANS AND CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican o c c c ___ Brown Pelican# r u u o ___ Double-crested Cormorant* u c a a ___ Brandt's Cormorant r o r r ___ Pelagic Cormorant u u u r
BITTERNS, HERONS AND EGRETS Sp S F W ___ American Bittern* u o u u ___ Least Bittern - - o r ___ Great Blue Heron* c c c c ___ Great Egret* c c c c ___ Snowy Egret* a a a a ___ Little Blue Heron* o o o r ___ Cattle Egret o o o o ___ Green Heron* r o o r ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* c c c c
IBIS AND SPOONBILLS Sp S F W ___ White-faced Ibis r - - o
WATERFOWL Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan r - r r ___ Greater White-Fronted Goose - - o o ___ Snow Goose - - r o ___ Ross' Goose - - - r ___ Brant r r r r ___ Canada Goose* u r r u ___ Wood Duck r r o o ___ Green-winged Teal u o u c ___ Mallard* c c c c ___ Northern Pintail* c c a a ___ Blue-winged Teal* o r o o ___ Cinnamon Teal* c u c c ___ Northern Shoveler* c u a a ___ Gadwall* u c c c ___ Eurasian Wigeon - - r r ___ American Wigeon c u r a ___ Canvasback c o c a ___ Redhead r - o o ___ Ring-necked Duck r - r r ___ Greater Scaup u r o c ___ Lesser Scaup* a o a a ___ Oldsquaw r r r r ___ Black Scoter r - o r ___ Surf Scoter u r a a ___ White-winged Scoter o - u u ___ Common Goldeneye u r u c ___ Barrow's Goldeneye r - o o ___ Bufflehead c o c a ___ Hooded Merganser - - o r ___ Common Merganser r - o r ___ Red-breasted Merganser u - u u ___ Ruddy Duck* c c a a
VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture u u u u
OSPREY, KITES, EAGLES AND HAWKS Sp S F W ___ Osprey o o o - ___ White-tailed Kite* c c c c ___ Bald Eagle# - r r - ___ Northern Harrier* c c c c ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk u - u u ___ Cooper's Hawk o - u o ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c c c ___ Ferruginous Hawk - - r r ___ Rough-legged Hawk r - r r ___ Golden Eagle r r o o
FALCONS Sp S F W ___ American Kestrel* c c c c ___ Merlin r - r u ___ Peregrine Falcon# r - o u ___ Prairie Falcon - - r o
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Ring-necked Pheasant* c c c c ___ California Quail* u u u u
RAILS Sp S F W ___ Black Rail* o o o o ___ Clapper Rail*# c c c c ___ Virginia Rail* u u u u ___ Sora* u u u u ___ Common Moorhen* u u u u ___ American Coot* c c a a
PLOVERS Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover a u a c ___ American Golden Plover (Lesser Gol-Pl.) r r r r ___ Snowy Plover* u c u u ___ Semipalmated Plover c u c o ___ Killdeer* c c c c
STILTS AND AVOCETS Sp S F W ___ Black-necked Stilt* c c a a ___ American Avocet* c c a a
SHOREBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Greater Yellowlegs c u c c ___ Lesser Yellowlegs o o u r ___ Willet a c a a ___ Wandering Tattler r r o r ___ Spotted Sandpiper r r r r ___ Whimbrel u o u o ___ Long-billed Curlew c u c c ___ Marbled Godwit a c a a ___ Ruddy Turnstone u u u u ___ Black Turnstone u u u u ___ Red Knot c u c c ___ Sanderling u u u u ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper - r o - ___ Western Sandpiper a c a a ___ Least Sandpiper c c a a ___ Baird's Sandpiper r r r - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper r r r - ___ Dunlin c o a a ___ Short-billed Dowitcher c u c c ___ Long-billed Dowitcher c o c c
SNIPE Sp S F W ___ Common Snipe u r u u
PHALAROPES Sp S F W ___ Wilson's Phalarope u a u - ___ Red-necked Phalarope c a c r ___ Red Phalarope r - o o
JAEGERS Sp S F W ___ Parasitic Jaeger - r o r
GULLS AND TERNS Sp S F W ___ Franklin's Gull - - r r ___ Bonaparte's Gull a c a a ___ Heermann's Gull* r u u r ___ Mew Gull u r u c ___ Ring-billed Gull c c a a ___ California Gull* a a a a ___ Herring Gull a o c a ___ Thayer's Gull u - u u ___ Western Gull* c c c c ___ Glaucous-winged Gull c u c c ___ Glaucous Gull o - r o ___ Caspian Tern* c c c r ___ Elegant Tern r u o - ___ Common Tern - r o - ___ Forster's Tern* c c - - ___ Least Tern*# u u r - ___ Black Tern r r r -
SEABIRDS Sp S F W ___ Common Murre r c o r ___ Pigeon Guillemot u u r r
DOVES Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove* c c c c ___ Mourning Dove* c c c c
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Barn Owl* u u u u ___ Great Horned Owl* u u u u ___ Burrowing Owl* u u u u ___ Short-eared Owl* u r u u
SWIFTS Sp S F W ___ Vaux's Swift o - o - ___ White-throated Swift u u u u
HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Anna's Hummingbird* u u u u ___ Rufous Hummingbird u - u r ___ Allen's Hummingbird* c c o r
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher u u u u
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Acorn Woodpecker r - r r ___ Red-breasted Sapsucker - - - u ___ Nuttall's Woodpecker u r u u ___ Downy Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Northern Flicker* u u u u
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher r - - - ___ Western Wood-Pewee r - - - ___ Willow Flycatcher - - r - ___ Western Flycatcher u r u - ___ Black Phoebe* u u u c ___ Say's Phoebe o r o o ___ Ash-throated Flycatcher o r - - ___ Western Kingbird o - r -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* u u u u
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow* u u u o ___ Violet-green Swallow u u u o ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* u u o r ___ Bank Swallow r - - - ___ Cliff Swallow* a a c - ___ Barn Swallow* a a c r
JAYS, MAGPIES AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Scrub Jay* u u u u ___ American Crow r r r r ___ Common Raven* u u u u
CHICKADEES AND TITMICE Sp S F W ___ Chestnut-backed Chickadee* c c c - ___ Plain Titmouse u u u u
BUSHTITS Sp S F W ___ Bushtit* c c c c
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch u - u o
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper - - - r
WRENS Sp S F W ___ Rock Wren o - o o ___ Bewick's Wren* c c c c ___ House Wren r - - - ___ Marsh Wren* c c c c
KINGLETS, BLUEBIRDS AND THRUSHES Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet o - o o ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet c - c c ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher r - o - ___ Western Bluebird o r o o ___ Swainson's Thrush u u - - ___ Hermit Thrush u - u u ___ American Robin* u u u c ___ Varied Thrush u - u u ___ Wrentit o o o o
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Northern Mockingbird* u u u u
WAGTAILS AND PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit c - c c
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing o - r o
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Loggerhead Shrike* u u u u
STARLINGS AND MYNAS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* c c c a
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Solitary Vireo o - o - ___ Hutton's Vireo* u u u u ___ Warbling Vireo u u o -
WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Orange-crowned Warbler* c o c o ___ Nashville Warbler o - r r ___ Yellow Warbler u u u - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler c - c c ___ Black-throated Gray Warbler r - r - ___ Townsend's Warbler u - u u ___ Hermit Warbler o - r - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler o - o - ___ Common Yellowthroat* u u u u ___ Wilson's Warbler c o o -
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Western Tanager u o u -
GROSBEAKS AND BUNTINGS Sp S F W ___ Black-headed Grosbeak* c c u -
TOWHEES AND SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Rufous-sided Towhee u u u u ___ Brown Towhee* u u u u ___ Savannah Sparrow* c c c c ___ Sharp-tailed Sparrow r - - r ___ Fox Sparrow c - c c ___ Song Sparrow* a a a a ___ Lincoln's Sparrow c - c c ___ Swamp Sparrow - - - r ___ White-throated Sparrow o - o o ___ Golden-crowned Sparrow c - c c ___ White-crowned Sparrow a - a a ___ Dark-eyed Junco* o - o o
BLACKBIRDS, MEADOWLARKS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Red-winged Blackbird* a c a a ___ Tricolored Blackbird* u u u u ___ Western Meadowlark* c c c c ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird r - r r ___ Brewer's Blackbird* a c a a ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* u u u o ___ Northern Oriole* c u o r
FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Purple Finch r - - r ___ House Finch* c c a c ___ Pine Siskin r - - r ___ Lesser Goldfinch* c c c u ___ American Goldfinch* c c c u
WEAVER FINCH Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow c c a c
ACCIDENTAL SPECIES

Yellow-billed Loon Black-legged Kittiwake Laysan Albatross Royal Tern Northern Fulmar Arctic Tern Pink-footed Shearwater Black Skimmer Sooty Shearwater Marbled Murrelet Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel Xantus' Murrelet Leach's Storm-Petrel Ancient Murrelet Ashy Storm-Petrel Band-tailed Pigeon Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Western Screech-Owl Greater Flamingo Long-eared Owl Fulvous Whistling-Duck Northern Saw-whet Owl Emperor Goose Hairy Woodpecker Tufted Duck Hammond's Flycatcher King Eider Gray Flycatcher Harlequin Duck Tropical Kingbird Smew White-breasted Nuthatch Red-shouldered Hawk Winter Wren Broad-winged Hawk Sage Thrasher Swainson's Hawk Northern Shrike Sandhill Crane Northern Parula Mountain Plover Palm Warbler Surfbird Blackpoll Warbler Sharp-tailed Sandpiper American Tree Sparrow Stilt Sandpiper Lark Sparrow Pomarine Jaeger Chipping Sparrow Long-tailed Jaeger Harris' Sparrow South Polar Skua Lapland Longspur American Black Oystercatcher Bobolink


Please help us keep this checklist accurate and up to date. Report unusual bird sightings to Refuge Headquarters.

For further information contact:

                 Refuge Manager
                 San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
                 P.O. Box 524
                 Newark, California 94560-0524      
                 Telephone: 510/792-0222

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1987.  Birds of San Francisco Bay and San Pablo 
     Bay National Wildlife Refuges.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1987.  Birds of San Francisco Bay and San Pablo 
     Bay National Wildlife Refuges.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge.  Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govsfbay.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

Return to Bird Checklists of California
Return to Bird Checklists of the United States

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/chekbird/r1/sfbay.htm
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 01-Feb-2013 18:42:23 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww55]