black yellow and green bird on tree branch

MOST Common Birds Found in San Francisco

Brewer’s Blackbirds can be seen living year-round in our neighborhoods, and as per ARKive they often vary considerably in both size and appearance due to large breeding populations relocating as the seasons shift.

Locate this bird by scanning open water or perching on power lines – they are easily found throughout California. I often like to enjoy viewing these birds after a game of online poker on websites reviewed at!

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Ducks can be seen year round in San Francisco. These ducks can be easily identified by their bright blue bills and reddish-brown bodies; males stand out more with black heads and white cheeks. Wintering flocks of ruddies tend to stay separate from other ducks such as American Coots; they dive and swim underwater using their feet to strain food items out of lakes’ bottom mud deposits, remaining quiet throughout their stay in winter ponds.

The Dark-Eyed Junco, or sparrow, can be seen year round throughout the Bay Area. As part of the corvid family – alongside crows and ravens – it forages for seeds in soil, vegetation, shrubland and chaparral as well as residential seed feeders; best observed during winter when actively scratching through leaf litter or listening out for its “oh dear me” whistling song.

California Quail (commonly referred to as Valley Quail) has long been an integral part of Bay Area wildlife, often found gracing San Francisco gardens and lawns and making themselves known through whistled calls or distinct whistled songs as they wander the streets. While rarely seen out and about in nature, California Quails can often be heard calling out distinctive whistled songs as they pass through city streets – often making an appearance during gardens tours and lawn maintenance programs!

Although many birds migrate through or visit the Bay Area annually, some remain year-round, raising their young in their neighborhood. Some, like robins, become so familiar that we take them for granted, yet their presence adds warmth to parks and neighborhoods during cold months.

Dark-Eyed Junco

Juncos are common winter visitors to backyards across North America, feeding on black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer seed and cracked corn as well as wild fruits, insects such as caterpillars, ants, spiders and spiders. Although they are quite widespread across North America, each location you find them can have unique appearances of Junco hyemalis birds ARKive notes: “Junco hyemalis can vary considerably in terms of size, coloration and behavior”.

In spring, juncos switch their instincts from winter survival to reproduction. They become more active, pairing up and singing musical trills. Additionally, they breed, laying three to six eggs that look whitish-grayish or pale bluish in colour – both males and females protect and care for their young offspring.

Juncos are social birds, commonly seen in winter feeding flocks that include Cedar Waxwings. Commonly referred to as “snowbirds,” this name derives from their tendency to travel greater distances for food sources during this season.

Dark-eyed Juncos inhabit a wide variety of habitat types, from forest edges and clearings to rocky slopes and dry meadows. Their preferred locations are brushy tangles, riparian woodland, backyard bushes and suet feeders in winter months.

Differing among subspecies can be challenging, but having a reliable field guide is invaluable in doing so. There are 15 described variations, five of which were once classified as distinct species. Of those variations, two are widely recognized: Slate-colored Junco found across much of North America with uniformly smooth gray feathers above, and Oregon-like “pink-sided Junco of the West; both can be seen regularly at Bay Area feeders during winter.

American Wigeon

This dabbling duck is one of the most frequent sights around town during winter months. You may spot them rafted together with other duck species on Lloyd’s Lake or Eurasian Wigeon (similar to American Wigeon but with reddish heads). These birds have evolved well to both feed on land and in water environments with short bills for easy scooping up aquatic plants like pond weeds, wild celery stalks, cattails, duckweed, watermilfoil and watermeilfoil; they will even feed on materials brought up from diving ducks or American Coots diving down.

American Wigeon nest in shallow marshes, wetlands, lakes, bays and coastal estuaries and are at home both on land and water, often seen walking across open shores or feeding from above as they float across pond surfaces. Their 9-12 eggs typically hatch after 25 days; precocial ducklings emerge shortly afterwards to leave the nest before adult males. Their bodies are light brown to cinnamon in color with pale heads, white rumps, light blue bills with black tips and an iridescent green head patch as adults while in flight they sport white upper wing patches with green secondary feathers when in flight.

The American Wigeon is one of the most abundant duck species found within cities, yet is not considered endangered or threatened species. Recently however, their numbers have been steadily decreasing due to habitat loss caused by conversion of wetlands into pastures for development or the conversion/loss of grasslands into other forms. They are particularly sensitive to environmental changes during breeding season when competing against other ducks for food resources and resources such as pond resources.


Buffleheads, though diminutive in size, are formidable divers and swimmers. Able to remain submerged for 13 seconds or more during hunting sessions, these ducks are North America’s smallest diving duck and derive their name from their large head patch that resembles that of a buffalo head; males’ patches are black with iridescence while females sport grey patches instead. Nesting holes often used by Pileated Woodpecker or Flicker nests offer safe sanctuary; Buffleheads fly near water but do not produce whistling sounds during flight – making this species both adaptable and captivating!

Year-round residents, they’re usually found in oak woodlands, chaparral and residential areas. They frequent feeders of all sorts – preferring hopper and platform feeders – feeding on seeds, buds, fruit nectar and nectar as well as building nests of tangled branches in summer and mud burrows in winter.

Cedar Waxwings may be rare sightings, but you might hear their soothing call as they swoop down to feed on insects or collect seed in the tree canopy above. Cedar waxwings play an integral part in pollination and dispersion of plant species across their range.

This bird can be hard to spot in San Francisco city limits but is common in the Presidio where it nests almost exclusively in Fan Palms. With its bright orange and black plumage, this vibrant species certainly stands out in a city characterized by gray fog.

These birds can be more difficult to spot in urban environments than you might expect, though they’re frequently found in open habitats in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. Primarily herbivorous but will eat insects and berries as well, these birds don’t make very loud calls when feeding themselves or nesting; so when looking out for one keep an eye out for its long, narrow tail!

California Quail

California Quail are unlike many birds that migrate; instead they raise their young in the same location year round. You might find them living in suburban yards, parks, and gardens, usually showing themselves with brown-tinged wings with heavy dark streaks as well as a curving black plume which starts at their head and goes forward toward their body.

Though more common in the west, San Francisco offers one of three major bird migration routes in North America where these creatures can be seen regularly. Quails feed on seeds, fruits and insects while nesting in ground depressions.

Golden Gate Park and the Presidio once boasted vibrant populations of quail that flourished within their green spaces, boasting thousands of these charismatic birds across their landscape. However, as urbanization continued to encroach upon their habitats, the population slowly began to dwindle until eventually extinct in both parks. Researchers don’t yet know exactly why this happened but predation by raccoons and feral cats (which had generally tolerated humans) as well as competition between coyotes for food may have had significant roles to play in its disappearance.

Loss of San Francisco’s official bird is an unfortunate reminder of how human development often leads to population dwindle and local extinctions. A recent study published in Journal of Applied Ecology suggests there may still be hope in bringing California quail back into San Francisco parks.

Researchers conducted an in-depth examination of community science records submitted to the eBird database for urban parks throughout California. Based on this analysis, they discovered that parks with larger areas, less isolation from other parks due to urbanization and fewer paved surfaces are more likely to support quail communities than parks without coyotes; additionally they believe having corridors between Presidio parks and residential neighborhoods would increase chances of them flourishing in San Francisco.