20 Best California Birds | spring & summer

Birding California 2023 -2024 Year-round 20 best birds to see by habitat. California is a vast area with many habitats and a variety of landscapes. We each have our own criteria that influence our choices. These are my choices. We offer individual, couples, small groups, private, and small group tours —never more than six birders.

2022 Fall -Winter – migration trips are available – call to confirm open dates..

Group 1 Oak Savannah and Mountain Forest

  1. Yellow-billed Magpie – seen all year
  2. Lewis’s Woodpecker – seen all year
  3. Black Swift -spring and fall migrant
  4. Pacific Wren – seen all year
  5. Wrentit – seen all year
  6. Mountain Quail – seen all year
  7. Pileated Woodpecker – seen all year
  8. Sooty Grouse – difficult
  9. Williamson’s Sapsucker -difficult
  10. Northern Spotted Owl – endangered species and difficult in select habitat

Group 2 Water, Sea, and Wetland Birds

  1. Black Rail – winter is very difficult
  2. Ridgeway Rail – seen all year
  3. Wood Duck – difficult
  4. Hooded Merganser – fall, winter
  5. Short-eared Owl – fall winter
  6. Black Oystercatcher – seen all year
  7. Herrmann’s Gull – later summer into winter
  8. Snowy Plover – endangered species seen all year in select habitat
  9. Elegant Tern – summer
  10. Pigeon Guillemot – seen all year

“I enjoyed my time birding with Richard Cimino of Yellow-billed Tours immensely.  Richard is the type of guy who bends over backward, trying to help you get on a bird – especially the difficult Grasshopper Sparrow!  His patience is second to none.  This is my second time birding with Richard in California, and I want to return for some more.  I highly recommend him to anyone planning a trip to California or beyond.

Tom – Connecticut June 2023

My wife and I very much enjoyed our recent birding outing with Rich to Marin County’s bay wetlands. Rich was sure to provide beautiful weather and a welcome respite from the recent spate of rainy days. He knew his birds and how to get good looks at them. Among several highlights were wide open closeups of a Sora Rail and a Ridgeway’s Rail, the latter flushed by Rich’s simple, loud hand clap, and a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron who obligingly provided closeup viewing. Rich was sure to ask about our particular interests, and we enjoyed a good conversation throughout the morning. He followed up our trip with a list of the birds we saw and a few good pics. We very much recommend a bird outing with him.

Rob & Maureen of Sacramento, Ca. March 21, 2023

Dear Rich, It was great to see you and the birding Saturday group. Thank you. But the part I attended was wonderful and action-packed! Seeing the Barn Owls was great. The Red-tailed Hawk was beautiful too. I’ll need to add the sighting to the breeding bird atlas for next year.

Jeanine Star August 27, 2022.

Thanks Rich ! You always come through. I needed the Ridgeway Rail for my life list. You brough us the hot spot and we observed 9 Ridgeway Rails. You know where the birds are!

Jim Crumpler, January 3, 2022

November 3 2021 Corte Madera Creek Restoration – ecological preserve. Field Trip attendees.

Dede Bag- Hi Rich, it was a great day, and I enjoyed seeing you and that rich habitat again. It was great to see the restored areas too. It’s hard, never-ending work! We had a beautiful day for our adventure!

Thanks, Rich!  This was one of the best birding days I’ve had in awhile – and so close to home too.  Hope there will be more field trips like this one. Barbara Nathan

Thanks for the comprehensive list and links to pictures. It was a beautiful day! Anne Todd

May 10th through 14, 2021

A customized birding tour

I’ve had the pleasure of a few birding trips with Rich Cimino and Yellowbird Tours. They were from his regularly scheduled YBT tours but this past year many of those were canceled because of Covid-19. But now that many of us are vaccinated, including Rich, there are more YBT trips opening up. But if you are like me, and not really ready to fly somewhere, there are still options. I asked Rich if he would design a 4-5 day trip for a part of California that I haven’t birded for many years, namely the NE part of the state. He came up with a great trip that covered fields, forests, lakes and mountains and we saw many birds that were new to me. His knowledge of local history was an added bonus to his knowledge of the local birds. Consider a customized birding tour as an option if you are not ready for flying, or if you have a particular place you would like to bird that is not on the YBT schedule.  

Kent McDonald,

San Francisco

May 17, Dear Rich,

Thanks for this email and thanks for a great morning.  I now am more familiar with birding places close to my daughter’s home in San Francisco and Marin County, one of the main objectives I had.  I also really liked the Marin County wetlands and all the birds we were able to see clearly there. Your driving, knowing where to go gave me more time in the field rather than traffic. I think you were a great leader of this trip and look forward to more, possibly in the mountains. 



Tom Harbin, MD, MBA

Eye Consultants of Atlanta, retired

Vice Chair- Georgia Composite Medical Board

Author: Practical Ethics in Ophthalmology

Waking Up Blind..Lawsuits over Eye Surgery

The Business Side of Medicine: What Medical Schools Don’t Teach You

The Business Side of Veterinary Medicine: What Veterinary Schools Don’t Teach You, co-author Duffy Jones, DVM

Trip Details

Start date:
July 1, 2023
End date:
July 1, 2024