State Parks of San Luis Obipso Coast  
California State Parks of the San Luis Obispo North Coast
Cayucos State Beach
Estero Bluffs
Harmony Headlands
Hearst San Simeon SP
WR Hearst State Beach
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California State Parks of the San Luis Obispo South Coast
Los Osos Oaks
Montaña De Oro
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Morro Bay State Park
Morro Strand State Beach
Morro Rock Preserve
Oceano Dunes
Pismo State Beach
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Bird watching can be a rewarding experience by yourself or accompanying other enthusiasts.

All of our state parks in the San Luis Obispo area offer a wide variety of birds such as sandy beach shorebirds, water birds and raptors.  In particular, Morro Bay is an outstanding natural resource that has many species of birds.  Be sure to visit the Heron Rookery and the Back Bay designated as a National Estuary in Morro Bay State Park.  Morro Rock Nature Preserve provides a home to a handful of peregrine falcons that use this area for their nesting sites.  Check out the monthly schedule of Adventures in Nature for guided hikes and lectures about birds.

Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival
Every January many species of birds return to the Morro Bay area and the Morro Bay State Park. Their return is celebrated each year at the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, held over the Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend. According to the Winter Bird Festival’s website, “Morro Bay area is known for its natural beauty and is a Globally Important Bird Area on the Pacific Flyway.”  Birders spotted 213 species ( during the January 2004 Festival.

Plans are under way for the 2005 Festival to be held January14-17, 2005. The weekend events include guest speaker, Mark Herzog talking about “The Alaska- Morro Bay Connection,” nationally acclaimed wildlife photographer Moose Peterson, trips on Morro Bay Back Bay, self-guided tours of Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Audubon Overlook, and the board walk and viewing platform in the Elfin Forest.  For more information, visit their website.

Estero Bay Estuary (MB), Heron Rookery (MB), Estero Bluffs, San Simeon State Park, MB Rock, Morro Strand

In ancient times, Roman birdwatchers formed a society of priests or “augurs” who told the future from various “auspices” or signs such as the flight appearance of certain birds.  Remnants of the lore of “augury” are seen in such modern English phrases as “under good auspices”.    Today, however, most birdwatchers are people with a desire to return to nature and enjoy the beauty, song and charm of birds.

There are a few essentials you should have with you when you trek out to the fields and marshes.  Binoculars and a field guide are a must for serious birdwatchers.  It is recommended that a beginner use binoculars with a magnification of  7 or 8 times.  Too much magnification can be disorienting and appear fuzzy.  A field guide is also necessary.  There are a number of simple yet complete guides available at nature centers and bookstores.  There is always the possibility that you will spot an unfamiliar bird that you will want to check out in your guide before you forget what it looks like.  

It is best to start early in the morning.  Birds are most active from sunrise to about 9 or 10 a.m.  You will probably do a lot of walking.  Dress for the weather and environment.  Comfortable clothes such as long pants and boots are recommended for hiking along the trails.  Bright colored clothes make you more conspicuous, so wear them only when you want to be seen.  Walk quietly and avoid making sudden movements.  

Fortunately for birdwatchers, birds occur everywhere.  Here at San Simeon Creek campground there are several places to go to look for birds.  

 Western Meadowlark
On the beach you will see birds such as pelicans, gulls, terns, and sandpipers to name a few.  A little farther inland - in marshy areas near San Simeon Creek - the magnificent Great Blue Heron is found along with egrets, ducks, marsh hawks and kingfishers. 

The San Simeon Creek bridge is a good place to see a variety of these birds.  On the plateau at Washburn campground, there seems to be another group entirely.  This is a grassland area sprinkled with stands of tall trees.  Here you will find Red Shouldered Hawks, Kestrels, western bluebirds, Quail, and my favorite, the Western Meadowlark.  You will probably hear the song of the meadowlark before you see the bird!

Some species are year-round residents of the park, such as the Red Shouldered Hawk and Great Horned Owl.  Some are migratory - birds that stop on the central coast for feeding during migration or overwintering in our mild climate.   
Some birds are “accidental” species - a bird far out  of its normal range.  -- A lost visitor. 
Bird watching at San Simeon is great year-round.  I’m sure you will enjoy bird watching no matter what time of year you choose.
Enjoy a talk about residents at the rookery in Morro Bay State Park; visit the CCNHA website

Morro Bay Winter
Bird Festival