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 Harry Fuller Birding Tours

Checklist of Birds for Cliff House, Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights
(Updated September 29, 2006)

This checklist is useful for birds to be seen in the area of San Francisco west of 48th Avenue and north of Balboa.  This includes all offshore rocks and birds visible from shore with binoculars and telescopes up to 60 power.  The mild winters here— where neither ground nor water freeze— attract many migrants every year.

Here is the code used to designate the likelihood a particular species will be seen during a specific season:

A    Abundant; hard to miss in the right habitat
C    Common; should be seen in 3 out of 4 trips
U    Uncommon; may see about 1 trip out of 4
R    Rare; lucky to find, less than one trip out of ten
X    Irregular, erratic and unlikely
(B) Breeds regularly in area covered by this checklist
(b) Has bred in checklist area sporadically.

See the foot of the list for notes referenced by #, * or ~.

In addition I have included a list of species that have been seen at least once but much less than once per year.






Red-throated Loon C R --- U
Pacific Loon U U --- R
Common Loon U R --- U
Pied-billed Grebe A U R C
Horned Grebe X --- --- X
Red-necked Grebe --- X --- X
Eared Grebe X --- --- X
Western Grebe A U X C
Clark's Grebe R R X R
Northern Fulmar X --- --- X
Pink-footed Shearwater X --- --- X
Sooty Shearwater * --- X U X
Short-tailed Shearwater X --- --- X
Black-vented Shearwater --- X X ---
Fork-tailed Storm-petrel X X --- X
Black Storm-petrel X X --- X
Ashy Storm-petrel ~ X X X X
Brown Pelican R C A A
Double-crested Cormorant ~ C C U C
Brandt's Cormorant (B) A A A A
Pelagic Cormorant R R X R
Turkey Vulture X --- --- X
Great Blue Heron ~ C C R C
Great Egret R R X R
Snowy Egret X --- --- X
Brant X R --- R
Canada Goose X X --- X
Gadwall X X X X
American Wigeon X --- --- X
Mallard ~ A A C C
Blue-winged Teal --- --- --- X
Cinnamon Teal X X --- X
Northern Shoveler X X --- X
Northern Pintail X --- --- X
Green-winged Teal X X --- X
Ring-necked Duck U X --- X
Greater Scaup X --- --- X
Lesser Scaup X --- --- X
Black Scoter X --- --- X
Surf Scoter C X X C
White-winged Scoter R X --- X
Common Goldeneye R X --- X
Bufflehead U X --- X
Osprey ~ X X R R
Northern Harrier --- --- --- X
Sharp-shinned Hawk X --- --- X
Cooper's Hawk (b) U U U U
Red-shouldered Hawk (b) X X b R
Red-tailed Hawk (B) C A A C
American Kestrel R X --- X
Merlin R --- --- R
Peregrine Falcon X X --- X
California Quail X X --- ---
American Coot ~ C R X U
Killdeer X --- --- ---
Black Oystercatcher (B) C A C C
Greater Yellowlegs --- X --- X
Willet # A U X A
Wandering Tattler U X X R
Long-billed Curlew --- --- --- R
Spotted Sandpiper --- X --- X
Whimbrel ** X R R R
Marbled Godwit ** C R R C
Ruddy Turnstone R R --- R
Black Turnstone C U U C
Surfbird *** U U R R
Sanderling # C R U C
Red-necked Phalarope --- X --- X
Red Phalarope ## X --- --- X
Pomarine Jeager X --- --- X
Parasitic Jaeger X --- U U
Bonaparte's Gull X X --- R
Heermann's Gull R X A A
Mew Gull U X --- U
Ring-billed Gull R X --- X
California Gull U X X U
Herring Gull R X --- R
Thayer's Gull C X --- U
Western Gull (B) A A A A
Glaucous-winged Gull C R --- U
Glaucous Gull X --- --- X
Black-legged Kittiwake X X X X
Sabine's Gull X --- --- ---
Caspian Tern ~ --- R C R
Elegant Tern ### --- --- C C
Arctic Tern --- X --- X
Forster's Tern --- --- X X
Common Murre ~ U U C C
Pigeon Guillemot (B) X U C X
Marbled Murrelet X --- --- X
Cassin's Auklet X --- --- X
Delete this line X X --- X
Rock Dove (B) A A A A
Band-tailed Pigeon --- --- X X
Mourning Dove (B) C A A A
Burrowing Owl --- --- --- X
Vaux's Swift --- --- --- R
Anna's Hummingbird (B) A U U A
Allen's Hummingbird (B) C A A ---
Rufous Hummingbird --- --- --- R
Belted Kingfisher U U R R
Downy Woodpecker (B ) C C C C
Hairy Woodpecker X --- --- X
Northern Flicker C R X U
Olive-sided Flycatcher (b) --- R b R
Pacific-slope Flycatcher --- X R R
Black Phoebe (B) A A A A
Ash-throated Flycatcher --- X --- ---
Hutton's Vireo ~ X X X X
Warbling Vireo --- R --- R
Western Scrub-jay (B) C U U C
Steller's Jay --- --- --- X
Yellow-billed Magpie X X --- ---
American Crow ~ R R R R
Common Raven (B) A A A A
Tree Swallow (B) --- U C X
Violet-green Swallow (b) --- R R ---
Northern Rough-wing Swallow (b) --- X X ---
Cliff Swallow --- X X ---
Barn Swallow ~ --- C C ---
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (B) C C C C
Bushtit (B) C C C C
Red-breasted Nuthatch R R --- X
Pygmy Nuthatch (B) A A A A
Brown Creeper (B) C C C C
House Wren (b?) U R R R
Winter Wren (b) C U R U
Golden-crowned Kinglet U R --- R
Ruby-crowned Kinglet A C --- C
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher --- --- --- X
Hermit Thrush U R --- R
American Robin (B) A A A C
Varied Thrush R --- --- X
Northern Mockingbird ~ X X X X
European Starling ~ C C C A
Cedar Waxwing R U --- X
Orange-crowned Warbler X X X U
Tennessee Warbler --- --- --- X
Blackpoll --- --- --- R
Yellow Warbler --- X --- U
Chestnut-sided Warbler --- --- --- X
Yellow-rumped Warbler A C --- C
Black-throated Gray Warbler --- --- X R
Townsend's Warbler A U --- A
Hermit Warbler --- --- --- R
Common Yellowthroat R U R R
Wilson's Warbler --- X --- X
Western Tanager --- --- --- X
Spotted Towhee U --- --- R
California Towhee (B) C C C C
Chipping Sparrow X --- X X
Clay-colored Sparrow --- --- --- R
Lark Sparrow --- --- --- X
Fox Sparrow C U --- C
Lark Bunting --- --- --- X
Song Sparrow (B) A C C C
Lincoln Sparrow X --- --- R
White-throated Sparrow X --- --- X
Golden-crowned Sparrow A U --- C
White-crowned Sparrow (B) A A A A
Dark-eyed Junco (B) C U U U
Red-winged Blackbird (b) U U U U
Western Meadowlark X --- --- X
Brewer's Blackbird (B) A A A A
Brown-headed Cowbird (B) R C C C
Hooded Oriole (B) X C C ---
Bullock's Oriole --- X --- X
Black-headed Grosbeak --- --- --- X
Pine Siskin X --- --- X
Purple Finch (b) R U U R
House Finch (B) A A A A
Red Crossbill X --- --- X
Lesser Goldfinch (b) X U X X
American Goldfinch ~ (b) X U U X
House Sparrow (B) C C C C

* Sooty Shearwaters usually return to the offshore waters of the San Francisco Bay Area in June. They are ocean wanderers who can show up off the Cliff House in a flock of several hundred thousand birds, usually in the afternoon.

** Early post-breeding migrants; it is usual to see Whimbrels, Godwit & Sanderlings on Ocean Beach in July. Most Whimbrels keep moving and winter further south.

*** Surfbirds often flock with the smaller, darker Black Turnstones on the rocks around the Cliff House and Sutro Baths. They arrive in late fall and leave in April, each year the numbers fluctuate as some birds pass through.

# Willet and Sanderlings begin arriving in July still in breeding plumage, by August most are gray and they are the most numerous shorebird on Ocean Beach. They will also visit Sutro Baths.

## Red Phalarope is highly pelagic and should be sought only after strong onshore storm winds.

### Elegant Terns nest in southern California and move north after breeding, first arriving in July.

~ These species do not breed within the area of this checklist but regularly breed close enough that individuals may forage or wander into this checklist area.

Other species that have been recorded in this checklist area include: Magnificent Frigatebird, Cattle Egret, Manx Shearwater, Snow Goose, White-fronted Goose, Redhead, Tufted Duck, Barrow's Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Broad-winged Hawk, Virginia Rail, Black-necked Stilt, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, Long-tailed Jaeger, Common Tern, Ancient Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Tufted Puffin, Horned Puffin, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Gila Woodpecker, Tropical Kingbird, Horned Lark, Rock Wren, Bewick's Wren (b)— extirpated, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Lucy's Warbler, Summer Tanager, Harris's Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Lawrence's Goldfinch.

Possible sightings include:  a booby species and a Peterodroma plus various exotics that are escapees.

Species that will eventually be seen: American Avocet, Black-crowned Night-heron, Common Moorhen, Say's Phoebe.

Species that will eventually be seen:  Steller's Jay, American Avocet, Black-crowned Night-heron.

This list was compiled by Harry Fuller with assistance from Alan Hopkins, Mark Eaton, Hugh Cotter and other members of the San Francisco Field Ornithologists. Special thanks to Myra Ulvang who also has birded this area regularly and carefully for years while also keeping meticulous records off all reported sightings. Visit the SFFO website at http://home.pacbell.net/mweaton/SFFO/SFFO.html.


TOWHEE.NET:  Harry Fuller, 820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, OR 97128