Alameda’s fantastic wildlife / nature / bird photographer, Rick Lewis, has curated these ten birds to showcase the amazing diversity of birds that are found in Alameda either seasonally or year-round, from our island shorelines and tree-filled parks to your backyard gardens. All of the birds are at risk to impacts of climate change. What actions will you take to help minimize climate change and reduce those impacts? For ideas, visit Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA) and Golden Gate Audubon Society.
Brown pelican, the ultimate plunge diver, can be found in many places along Alameda’s coastline. Once listed as a threatened species, its numbers recovered and it’s been delisted—a success story! Alameda has the largest night roost of brown pelicans in the Bay Area.
California least tern, an iconic and very special species for all birders in the Bay Area, is both federally and state-listed as endangered. These birds are simply beautiful. But you have to be quick to see them, for they are fast and tiny and only here for a few months in the summer. Alameda has the northernmost breeding colony.
Western snowy plovers, small and rare, can be found at Crown Memorial Beach in the winter. Many beachgoers appear to be unaware of these tiny ambassadors as they walk or jog along the shoreline. The plovers, if disturbed, usually run along the sand and hunker down in a depression. On occasion, they will fly off in a roundabout and return when the danger has passed.
Double-crested cormorants nest and occupy a crowded rookery along a busy Alameda avenue. They are gregarious and noisy when breeding. The double crests on their heads are easily seen and pronounced during breeding and courtship.
Red-shouldered hawk is a common raptor. The most vocal of our raptors, its piercing cries can be heard on Bay Farm Island in or near the golf course.
Nuttall’s woodpecker, easily identified by its “rattling” call, lets the observer know its vicinity before actually sighting the bird. It’s regularly found at Crab Cove.
Black phoebe is very common and seen in many neighborhoods and habitats in Alameda. A real treat to watch, it actively flies from perch to air and back again as it hunts insects on the wing. A favorite of mine, as I see phoebes almost everyday, regular as sunrise and always entertaining.
Snowy egrets nest locally and can be found wading along the shoreline, hunting for food. This is the smaller version of the two egret species found in Alameda, the other being the great egret. “Snowys” are spectacular in their breeding plumage.
Ruby-crowned kinglets are friendly little birds, very active, and their “ji-dit” call often reveals their presence before they are seen. Consider yourself lucky if you see the ruby crown, for it mostly remains hidden. Crab Cove is a good spot for kinglets in the trees and shrubs.
Western bluebird, in the thrush family, sometimes behaves like a flycatcher as it darts from perch to prey and back again, frequently dropping to the ground for its prey. These beautiful birds are found in many wooded spots in Alameda. A sure spot to find them is Crab Cove, in and around the nest boxes installed by park staff and volunteers.
Introduction by Sharol Nelson-Embry.
Rick Lewis is a longtime member of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, along with other environmental organizations. He contributes often to Bay Area and Central Valley birding groups that promote wildlife and habitat conservation. Learn more about our area’s birds at Golden Gate Audubon Society.