Birding and wildlife viewing in Arcata, Eureka, and Northern CA Coast

I’ll be Birding in July along the Northern California Coast (Jediah Smith, Redwoods Park, Elk Praire, Fern Canyon, Arcata Marsh, Humboldt Wildlife Refuge).

I’m particularly interested in owls. (I’d love to see a Barred Owl, Short Eared Owl, or Pygmy Owl) Any trails or areas I should focus on? Thank you for your help.

Arcata has a pretty active birding community.

If @fowlerope is active you might ask him for advice, he’s been birding in Arcata for close to 20 years now.

I used to live in Eureka, and I have many observations from there, both of birds and other things. I have some good news and bad news for you.

The good news is…the area is incredibly diverse and fruitful for observing birds and pretty much every other form of living thing. It is also possible to get 4 or 5 different ecosystems in literally an hour long walk. (Redwood Forest, Meadow/Prairie, Freshwater Marsh, Saltwater Marsh, Beach, for example). If you aren’t having much luck, there is somewhere 15 minutes away where you can find a totally different assortment of life.

The bad news is…actually being inside of a redwood forest is not an extremely good place to observe. This might be due to my lack of experience or equipment, but it is also due to the fact that in a redwood forest, a lot of the action takes place in the canopy, which is far overhead. Underneath the canopy, the shade is great, so there aren’t a lot of flowers, therefore not a lot of insects, therefore not a lot of birds.

So, this might be just my experience, but you will probably have a lot more success in the marshes and beaches, than in the forests.

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Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite birding spots in California. Lovely, diverse, surprising. Lots of rails when there is a very high tide. Headwaters Reserve near Humboldt Hill is good birding, not biggest redwood forest, but as @mnharris says, it is hard to spot many birds in mature redwood forest. That said, I have had a lot of fun birding along the Mattole Rd section of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

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