Welcome toBirding in Placer County, California --
Placer County is located in Northern California and reaches from the agricultural lands of the Central Valley, east through the oak and chaparral-covered foothills up over the high elevation habitats of the Sierra Nevada to the California-Nevada state line.
-- Bruce E. Webb
Check the binocular icons below for detailed information on Birding in Placer County. These links jump you to more detailed pages with directions and birds to be found. You can print out those pages and have them with you.
Other interesting Placer County Links
Aerial photograph. A gull's eye view. Beals Point is the huge peninsula left of the Dam.
Folsom Lake Live Video Camera (courtesy See 'N Ski - useful to see if it is a windy day)
Sierra Foothill, Oak Woodlands-- Take the Granite Bay entrance to Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (enroute to Beek's Bight) for hummingbirds in migration, nesting Phainopeplas, Western Bluebirds, Yellow-breasted Chat, Rufous-crowned Sparrow. (Specific Details)
Foothill ChaparralUpper Beek's Bight and the area just east of the Foresthill Bridge (details below) In Summer/Fall. California Thrasher, Lawrence's Goldfinches, Rufous-crowned Sparrows.
Montane -Four regions.
From the West:
Most notably Lake Tahoe -- where recent finds include some remarkable numbers of unusual ocean birds such as loons (including Pacific and many Common), three species of mergansers, Sabine's Gull, a flock of Red Phalaropes, a flock of Brant. (Specific Details)
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area -- Beals Point and Granite Bay entrances (see below) to the Lake are easily accessible. When they check, (not before 7 A.M. and rarely in Winter at Beals Point) the fee is $6 at the Kiosks. In winter, mind-boggling numbers of gulls roosting on the lake bring some unusual ones, such as Mew, Ring-billed, California, Herring, Thayer's, Western, Glaucous-winged and Glaucous. Pacific Loons and Red-necked Grebe have almost become annual Fall visitants. The lake offers a great afternoon opportunity tostudy unusual gulls and plumages. This is a must see spot in winter. (Map and Details) The aerial photo is worth a look.
Birding from West to East:
BREWER ROAD(Click The bins for more details and directions)
FOLSOM LAKE STATE RECREATION AREA(Click the bins for more details and directions)
FORESTHILL BRIDGE CHAPARRAL AREAJust east of I-80 and the Auburn-Foresthill exit, this 700+ foot high structure is on the Foresthill Road. Rock Doves and White-throated Swifts nest under the structure. Shortly after you cross the bridge, you will pass through a band of the most accessible chamise (greasewood) chaparral habitat in the county. This extensive habitat contains breeding Sage (Bell's) Sparrows as well as most of the typical chaparral species, such as California Thrasher, Wrentit, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, etc.
Directions:From I-80 take the Foresthill Exit. Continue east, to just past the east end of the bridge. On the left is a wide spot in the road and a green gate. If you hike up this drainage, after about a half mile you will reach a steep area where 2-3 singing Sage Sparrows can be found. Check for Lazuli Bunting, and Empidonax flycatchers as you go. (Gray and Dusky have been seen here in spring), Orange-crowned Warblers, Bewick's Wrens and Hermit Thrushes are frequently encountered. While Lawrence's Goldfinches have been seen here, Lesser is more likely.
A few miles up the road is a side road to Lower Lake Clementine that can produce the typical oak-woodland birds. Western Screech Owl has been heard here. There are better spots up the road. Continuing east, you will pass the left side pullout at Driver's Flat. One evening in May, I heard Great Horned, Western Screech-Owl and Northern Pygmy-Owl on the hike down the trail here. Subsequently, while helping on a bird banding project here, I learned that the deer ticks in this area have some of the highest infection levels of Lyme disease in California. Maybe you should pass this by. There are better owling spots up the road.
LOOKING FOR MONTANE OWLS?Click the bins for the Mosquito Ridge Road owling page where the owling is perhaps the best in the Sierra Nevada. Find out why and what species may be seen.
LAKE TAHOE REGION(click here for details and directions). The elevation on this, the eastern end of Placer County is generally up around 6000 feet. High elevation birds like Black-backed Woodpecker, Williamson's Sapsucker, Sooty Grouse, American Dipper and some of high elevation finches are likely. Birding around the lake offers some exciting surprises. Here is where we do "pelagic birding" in Placer County. Check out the link to Lake Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Mount Watkins, Martis Peak and the sagebrush area of Martis Creek Wildlife Area.
Enjoy birding in Placer County -- Contact me for reasonably priced bird guiding Bruce Webb BruWebb@[remove]surewest.net-- Bruce Webb