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 interpretation, so this is by no means an official list of any kind, but rather aims at conveying what an interested amateur would be able to see in a given year with a moderate amount of effort and persistence. If you’d like to check off your progress, you can download a printable version of this list here

Seasonal movements are represented by (s) for summer, (w) for winter, and (m) for a few birds seen regularly in migration, but there are many variations among different species that are not captured by this general indication: for instance, some birds are widespread in winter, but become much less common in spring. For shorebirds with brief arctic nesting seasons, southbound migrants often first appear in July, so “winter” status may more or less mean that they are quite uncommon in May and June, while most wintering ducks typically arrive later, from September through November.

If you’d like more details on seasonal occurrence and locations, or to explore the birds beyond our immediate home region, you can explore the vast information available through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s citizen science project eBird.org. For those who like old-fashioned physical objects, the Marin Audubon Society also publishes a checklist of the county’s birds with a month-by-month abundance chart. 

Ducks, Geese, Swans

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Cackling Goose (w)
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Gadwall
  5. American Wigeon (w)
  6. Mallard
  7. Cinnamon Teal (w)
  8. Northern Shoveler (w)
  9. Northern Pintail (w)
  10. Green-winged Teal (w)
  11. Canvasback (w)
  12. Ring-necked Duck (w)
  13. Greater Scaup (w)
  14. Lesser Scaup (w)
  15. Bufflehead (w)
  16. Common Goldeneye (w)
  17. Barrow’s Goldeneye (w)
  18. Hooded Merganser (w)
  19. Common Merganser (w)
  20. Red-breasted Merganser (w)
  21. Ruddy Duck (w)

Upland game birds

  1. California Quail
  2. Wild Turkey

Grebes

  1. Pied-billed Grebe
  2. Eared Grebe (w)
  3. Western Grebe (w)
  4. Clark’s Grebe (w)

Pigeons and Doves

  1. Rock Pigeon
  2. Band-tailed Pigeon
  3. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  4. Mourning Dove

Swifts

  1. Vaux’s Swift (m)
  2. White-throated Swift

Hummingbirds

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird
  2. Rufous Hummingbird (m)
  3. Allen’s Hummingbird (s)

Rails and Coots

  1. Black Rail
  2. Ridgway’s Rail
  3. Virginia Rail
  4. Sora
  5. Common Gallinule
  6. American Coot (w)

Shorebirds

  1. Black-necked Stilt
  2. American Avocet
  3. Black-bellied Plover (w)
  4. Semipalmated Plover (w)
  5. Killdeer
  6. Whimbrel (w)
  7. Long-billed Curlew (w)
  8. Marbled Godwit (w)
  9. Least Sandpiper (w)
  10. Western Sandpiper (w)
  11. Short-billed Dowitcher (w)
  12. Long-billed Dowitcher (w)
  13. Dunlin (w)
  14. Spotted Sandpiper (w)
  15. Greater Yellowlegs
  16. Willet (w)

Gulls

  1. Bonaparte’s Gull (w)
  2. Ring-billed Gull
  3. Western Gull
  4. California Gull
  5. Mew Gull (w)
  6. Caspian Tern (s)
  7. Forster’s Tern

Cormorant and Pelican

  1. Double-crested Cormorant
  2. American White Pelican

Wading Birds

  1. American Bittern
  2. Great Blue Heron
  3. Great Egret
  4. Snowy Egret
  5. Green Heron
  6. Black-crowned Night-Heron

Hawks and Vultures

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Osprey
  3. White-tailed Kite
  4. Bald Eagle
  5. Golden Eagle
  6. Northern Harrier
  7. Sharp-shinned Hawk (w)
  8. Cooper’s Hawk
  9. Red-shouldered Hawk
  10. Red-tailed Hawk

Falcons

  1. American Kestrel
  2. Merlin (w)
  3. Peregrine Falcon

Owls

  1. Barn Owl
  2. Western Screech-Owl
  3. Great Horned Owl

Kingfishers

  1. Belted Kingfisher

Woodpeckers

  1. Acorn Woodpecker
  2. Red-breasted Sapsucker (w)
  3. Nuttall’s Woodpecker
  4. Downy Woodpecker
  5. Hairy Woodpecker
  6. Northern Flicker
  7. Pileated Woodpecker

Flycatchers

  1. Pacific-slope Flycatcher (s)
  2. Black Phoebe
  3. Say’s Phoebe (w)
  4. Ash-throated Flycatcher (s)
  5. Western Kingbird (s)

Vireos

  1. Hutton’s Vireo
  2. Warbling Vireo (s)

Jays and Crows

  1. Steller’s Jay
  2. California Scrub-Jay
  3. American Crow
  4. Common Raven

Larks

  1. Horned Lark

Swallows

  1. Northern Rough-winged Swallow (s)
  2. Tree Swallow (s)
  3. Violet-green Swallow (s)
  4. Barn Swallow (s)
  5. Cliff Swallow (s)

Chickadees and Allies

  1. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  2. Oak Titmouse
  3. Bushtit

Nuthatches and Creeper

  1. White-breasted Nuthatch
  2. Brown Creeper

Wrens

  1. House Wren (s)
  2. Pacific Wren
  3. Marsh Wren
  4. Bewick’s Wren

Gnatcatchers, Kinglets, and Wrentit

  1. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (s)
  2. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  3. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (w)
  4. Wrentit

Thrushes

  1. Western Bluebird
  2. Hermit Thrush
  3. American Robin
  4. Varied Thrush (w)

Mockingbirds and Others

  1. Northern Mockingbird
  2. European Starling
  3. Cedar Waxwing (w)
  4. House Sparrow
  5. American Pipit (w)

Finches and Allies

  1. House Finch
  2. Purple Finch
  3. Pine Siskin (w)
  4. Lesser Goldfinch
  5. American Goldfinch

Warblers

  1. Orange-crowned Warbler (s)
  2. Common Yellowthroat
  3. Yellow-rumped Warbler (w)
  4. Townsend’s Warbler (w)
  5. Wilson’s Warbler (s)

Sparrows

  1. Grasshopper Sparrow (s)
  2. Lark Sparrow (s)
  3. Fox Sparrow (w)
  4. Dark-eyed Junco
  5. White-crowned Sparrow (w)
  6. Golden-crowned Sparrow (w)
  7. White-throated Sparrow (w)
  8. Savannah Sparrow
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. Lincoln’s Sparrow (w)
  11. California Towhee
  12. Spotted Towhee

Cardinal Family

  1. Lazuli Bunting (s)

Orioles and Blackbirds

  1. Red-winged Blackbird
  2. Western Meadowlark
  3. Brewer’s Blackbird
  4. Great-tailed Grackle
  5. Brown-headed Cowbird
  6. Hooded Oriole (s)
  7. Bullock’s Oriole (s)

Top photo: Acorn Woodpecker by Risa George