When & Where to Find Wildlife
Check out our Watchable Wildlife Brochure
Dawn and dusk are generally the best times to observe wildlife. However, tide levels also have great influence on wildlife behavior and movements around estuaries. The best times around the South Bay are generally within 1–2 hours either side of high tide.
Peak season for most species of waterbirds and raptors is November through April. Aleutian cackling geese, Pacific brant and migratory shorebird populations peak from March to late April. Summer visitors can see many terns, cormorants, and pelicans, as well as resident egrets, herons, and migratory songbirds such as warblers, sparrows, and swallows.
Most waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors can be found on the Hookton Slough and Salmon Creek Units.
The Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes also offer a unique birding experience. The Tsoutsgish Trail at Ma-le’l Dunes combines opportunities to view unusually high densities of song birds in the adjacent and swamp habitats with wading and shore birds on the adjacent flats and raptors cruising overhead.
Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge is part of a network of wildlife viewing areas dedicated to celebrating the State of California's wildlife and diverse habitats by acknowledging and elevating the value of wildlife viewing to benefit individuals, families, communities, and industries while fostering awareness and support for conservation and protection of wildlife and habitats. Visit the California Watchable Wildlife website and learn about other wildlife viewing areas.