Birding Folsom Lake in Placer County, California - by Bruce Webb


To get to Folsom Lake State Recreation Area from I-80, take the Douglas Boulevard (East) in Roseville straight to the Granite Bay entrance to Folsom Lake SRA. Follow the binoculars sign "to Folsom Lake" which is about 7 miles from I-80.

Folsom Lake is a must for studying waterbirds -- loons, grebes, ducks and, especially gulls. (check these gull links)

Mystery gull

Hybrid gull


The two main areas are Granite Bay entrance, (see below) and the Beals Point entrance to the Folsom Lake SRA. Entrance fees in 2009 - $6. They are indicated in the bright green areas.


 At the Granite Bay entrance, there are four MAIN AREAS to spend time after you enter the park.

  1. Turn and go to the BOAT LAUNCHING RAMP area. Sabine's Gulls and Common Terns were seen from here in fall of 1998 and 1999. Look for Common Loons, Horned, Eared, Western and Clark's Grebes throughout the winter.
  2. Near the NW corner of the elevated boat/trailer parking area look for a mistletoe-laden oak for Phainopeplas.
  3. Return to the main park road and go north. As you cross a long rock-sided causeway, stop and look for Rufous-crowned Sparrows. In spring this area has many Bush Monkey-flowers and is good for Black-chinned, Rufous and Anna's hummingbirds. There are often Wild Turkeys and Ash-throated Flycatcher here in Summer.
  4. Continue and shortly, after a right bend in the road you come to the only area of a remnant stand of Valley Oaks. Wild Turkeys, goldfinches and Bullock's orioles. After dark, Western Screech-Owls can be heard.
  5. You can take the side road to OAK POINT for another vantage on the lake. If you walk down to the rocky shore, look for grind holes in the rocks-- evidence that the Maidu were here.
  6. Return to the main road and continue North. When you reach the end, at BEEK'S BIGHT (beak's bite) park your vehicle. The rocky area straight ahead of the parking lot is great for Rufous-crowned Sparrows. At dusk in Spring/Summer, Common Poorwills and Western Screech-Owls can be heard. Take the trail just west of the parking lot and hike up and around to a small lake. In spring, this area is full of flowering cantaloupe-colored Bush Monkey-flower plants. One can see Calliope, Black-chinned, Rufous, Anna's (and occasionally, Costa's) hummers chasing each other as they defend the flowers. Continue hiking up into the Chamise chaparral. Here you can see California Thrasher, Wrentits, and occasionally, Lawrence's Goldfinches. A drive out to Doton's Point is also good for these birds.
  7. Return to the entrance and exit the park. Drive back west to Auburn Folsom Road and go left, (south) for a one mile to the other Folsom Lake SRA entrance at BEALS POINT -- a haven for waterbirds.