Indian Valley Open Space Preserve

Indian Valley Open Space Preserve is a modest slice of forested foothills on the north side of Big Rock Ridge. That significant barrier to the south comprises the main topographical influence here, casting its long shadow over Indian Valley’s web of trails and modest hills, which rarely reach much over 400 ft. or so within […]

Deer Island Open Space Preserve

Deer Island is not exactly an island, at least not anymore. These days it is a lightly-used open space preserve in eastern Novato, centered around a hill which rises from the surrounding flatlands which were once part of the Petaluma River delta. One nice thing about Deer Island is its convenient, digestible smallness: a short […]

The Birds of Novato

What birds do we have here? The following list contains birds that can be regularly found in Novato. Some are more abundant than others and some can be more easily found in other parts of the county. Uncommon and locally rare species are excluded from this list. What constitutes “rarity” is of course subject to […]

Black Oak

Identification: Our only oak with lobes both deep and pointed, with soft, pointy bristles at the tips. (Live oak’s much smaller leaves have very shallow lobes with sharp, pointy bristles; the lobes of our other large-leafed oaks are rounded and unpointed.) Black oaks are deciduous, but even in winter you can usually find some old […]

Backyard Birdsong

Why Birds Sing: Birds make many sounds to communicate. Often they will have different sounds to stay in contact, beg for food, or sound an alarm, for example. But most well known is the phenomenon of song: these longer, more complex, sometimes musical series of notes are the center of spring’s soundtrack. As temperatures warm […]

Las Gallinas Ponds

Guest Site Profile by Susan Kelly The Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds is the birding community’s name for the complex of sewage treatment ponds, tidal mudflats, salt marsh, and agricultural fields around the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District plant in San Rafael. The wastewater facility includes four treatment ponds and two miles of flat levee trails […]

Hamilton Wetlands

Within these pages, we often praise Marin’s system of open space preserves. These areas are what we typically think of when we talk about bird habitat—natural plant and wildlife communities that have been preserved intact among the surrounding matrix of human development. The Hamilton Wetlands, in contrast, have not merely been preserved, but actually re-created. […]

Indian Tree Open Space Preserve

Novato is home to several preserves that seem to be well known among birders: Rush Creek, Mount Burdell, Stafford Lake, and the Hamilton Wetlands all pop up regularly in the lists of seasonal sightings, perhaps aided by their relatively prominent public access points and often quick and easy access to patches rich with easy sightings. […]

Big Year #2: Three Week Update

Big Year #2: Three Week Update Earlier this month, I introduced my undertaking of a “Thoreauvian Big Year,” an attempt to see as many bird species as possible this year within a ~10 mile radius of my home in southern Novato, while transporting myself only by feet and bike rather than big gas-powered machines. On January […]

California Buckeye

Identification: When in leaf, buckeyes are hard to mistake: they are our only tree with opposite, palmately compound leaves (i.e. divided into 5 “finger” leaflets, like a palm, a hand). In leafless fall and winter, you can often still recognize them by their nicely rounded shape in open areas or more sprawling form in crowded canyon […]