Redwood Coast Birdwalks: Humboldt Bay & Arcata Marsh

Attention birders: Make Fortuna your home base for a great birding weekend.  The Pacific Flyway, a migratory route for birds that breed in the far north and winter in California, Mexico, and Central or South America, brings hundreds of species of birds to the area. Birding is good throughout the year, but it’s at its best from winter through early May. You’ll find songbirds in spring through fall, shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl in the cooler months of October through April, and raptors year round. bird walking on sandy beach with white edged surf in background

Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary

Begin your weekend with a Saturday morning birdwalk at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, about a half hour drive from our hotel, at the north end of Humboldt Bay. The Sanctuary provides five different bird habitats — grassy uplands, freshwater marshes, a brackish lake, a salt marsh with tidal slough, and tidal mud flats. 
Their network of trails for easy hiking offers wonderful views of Arcata Bay as well as their innovative wetland system that integrates wastewater treatment. The Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center offers free maps and literature, interpretive displays, bird lists and logs of recent bird sightings, plus a bookstore.  For more information, call 707-826-2359.
  • The Redwood Region Audubon Society offers bird watching tours every Saturday morning.
    Time: 8:30 am Location: Klopp Lake parking lot at the end of South I Street, Arcata, CA
  • The Friends of the Arcata Marsh offer guided marsh tours focusing on the ecology and plants of the marsh every Saturday afternoon.
    Time: 2:00 pm Location: Interpretive Center, 569 South G St, Arcata, CA

Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary and Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, plan to visit the Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary in Eureka (20 minutes away), and/or the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, just a 15 minute drive from the hotel.
The Hikshari’ Trail winds along the Elk River and through the Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The Audubon Society offers guided birdwalks once a month that include the public dock as well as the Trail.
    Dates: 3rd Sunday of every month Time: 9:00 am
    Location: Foot of W. Del Norte Street, Eureka  

The Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s two trails follow along a tidal slough and near some of the best shorebird viewing areas. In February and March, it is one of the most important areas south of Alaska for the once endangered Aleutian cackling geese. Their morning flyoffs occur within 15 minutes before or after sunrise (from approximately 6:45 – 7:15 am during those months). The Visitor Center opens early on these occasions (call 707-733-5406 for specific dates).

  • Year round, the Audubon Society offers guided bird hikes that last two hours or less. Beginners are welcome.
    Dates: 2nd Saturday of every month Time: 9:00 am
    Location: Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 1020 Ranch Road, Loleta, CA
Anytime of year, The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel is perfectly located for birders, and anyone who enjoys exploring the fauna and flora of the California’s Redwood Coast, so plan your weekend getaway and make your reservation soon!
Photo by Albert Amor on UnSplash

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