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Top Places for Bird Watching in Morro Bay

Bird Watching in Morro Bay - Peregrine falcon
Matt Claiborne
Matt Claiborne
October 8, 2021

Morro Bay is a birdwatcher's paradise. But don't take just our word for it--the National Audubon Society describes Morro Bay as a Globally Important Bird Area. Morro Bay is also part of the National Estuary Program. Birds flock to this critical area, and birdwatchers follow. 

Morro Bay Birding Tips

The best time to see migratory birds is during the winter. The tide plays a significant factor in your birding plans. Shorebirds like to forage in mudflats during low tide. At high tide, the vista changes and brings waterfowl closer to viewing sites. Binoculars can help you see and identify birds from farther away. 

Best Places for Bird Watching in Morro Bay

Morro Rock

Morro Bay provides a wonderful diversity of habitats for birdwatching. Impressive peregrine falcons and shorebirds are often seen at Morro Rock. The coastline offers essential habitat for migratory birds and tens of thousands of shorebirds overwinter in the Morro Bay area.

In addition, Morro Bay is home to a large portion of California's western snowy plovers. The estuary, lagoons, and marsh areas provide vital nesting areas, while coastal scrub and woodland provide another habitat for migratory birds. 

Morro Bay State Park Marina

Morro Bay State Park has numerous opportunities for bird watching, with a lagoon and natural bay habitat. This area is known as one of the best places in Morro Bay to watch birds. Loons, grebes, brants, and ducks are seen in deeper water. Black-crowned night herons are often seen perched in the cypress trees. Grebes and loons are often spotted in the boat basin. 

The area is also home to various shorebirds, savannah sparrows, and American pipits. In addition, hummers, warblers, and sparrows are often seen at the campground. 

Natural History Museum--Docent-Led Walks

The Natural History Museum has a wide variety of displays describing the area's birdlife. The museum bookstore sells excellent area birding resources. Birders can check out the estuary area just outside of the museum.

Docent-led walks are available, and docents will point out a variety of habitats, identify birdlife, and give birdwatchers tips.

The Audubon Overlook

Goose swimming

The Audubon Overlook offers stunning views of the estuary. Birders can sit in the overlook and watch a variety of waterfowl hunting for food. Shorebirds, ducks, and geese are often seen here.

Soras, Virginia Rails, and Eurasian widgeons also frequent the area. The Audubon Overlook provides birders with a convenient site and is excellent for beginner and experienced birders alike. 

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve

This beautiful reserve has a variety of habitats and two viewing platforms. Sweet Springs Reserve features freshwater ponds, marshland, saltwater ponds, mudflats, and upland scrub. 

Birdwatchers often spot various ducks, wintering Brant geese and ospreys. Birders should also watch out for blue-winged teals and Eurasian widgeons.

Morro Rock

Peregrine falcon

Morro Rock itself doesn't have public access. However, Morro Rock's designation as a protected nesting area for peregrine falcons makes it a birder's destination. These fabulous falcons and other shore and seabirds can be viewed from the water or nearby vantage points.

In addition, a variety of gulls, loons, grebes, cormorants, long-tailed ducks, and sea ducks can be seen around Morro Rock. 

Experience the Best Bird Watching in Morro Bay

Morro Bay is home to world-class bird watching, internationally-renowned cuisine, and delightful wineries and breweries. Check out our favorite locations for craft beer and enjoy a top brewery Morro Bay CA.

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