For birders with children, Northern California is a great
birding and family vacation destination.  With the help of
Nestling Tours to plan and support this vacation, most
birders can add significantly to their life list, and the whole
family can enjoy other fun, interesting, and worthwhile
vacation activities.  
  • Between Californian endemics, pelagic birding
    opportunities, and other regional specialties,
    Northern California provides the opportunity to enjoy
    birds not seen in the rest of the country.  
  • Furthermore, a number of these birding habitats are
    child friendly.  They offer opportunities for the
    children to have fun (the beach and hiking) and
    to learn more about birds and wildlife (with the
    help of our Outdoor Instructors).
  • In addition, the area offers a wide variety of other
    family vacation opportunities from 2 great
    aquariums (including the Monterey Bay Aquarium), 3
    natural history and science museums, and Marine
    World and Six Flags amusement park.  In addition,
    every kid will enjoy the Sea Lions at Pier 39 in San
For birding, Northern California is one of the few places in
the United States where mountains, marshland, deep
forest, open ocean and arid grassland exist within a short
drive of one another.  Because of its location, you can find
birds that nest above the Arctic Circle and migrate south in
the same area as birds that breed in Mexico and migrate
north!  In addition, California’s endemics can be found in
this area including Yellow-billed Magpie, California
Towhee, and California Thrasher.  Shearwater Journey’s
pelagic trips provide the best access anywhere in the
country for Pacific coast pelagic birds.  Most birders add at
least 10 lifers on their first Pacific pelagic trips, and an
August trip (for example) often includes Black-footed
Albatross, Pink-footed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater,
Rhinocerous Auklet, Cassin’s Auklet, Red Phalarope, 2
and sometimes 3 Jaeger species, a few rarities, sometimes
mega-rarities, whales, and other marine mammals.  With
Point Reyes to the north and with Monterey to the south,
starting a trip in San Francisco gives you quick access to
two of the best birding spots along the Pacific Coast.  
Adding a few days of guided birding to your trip through
Nestling Tours to find a few more target birds (such as
Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, Surfbird, White-tailed
Kite, White-headed Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher,
and Golden-crowned Sparrow), and a trip to Northern
California becomes a great birding vacation.  
California Gnatcatcher
Lake Murray Park, San Diego, CA
photo by David Trently
Townsend's Warbler photo
by Bill Schmoker
Brief Itinerary
Steller's Jay
Pinnacles National Monument, CA
photo by David Trently
Northern California Bird Watching
Northern California
More Details on This Trip
Island Scrub-Jay
Santa Cruz Island, CA
photo by David Trently
For more information or to register for this trip, call Charles at 888-203-7464 or
Charles directly at 720-320-1974 or by email at
Day 1:  Arrival in morning, and then bird Lake Merced,
Golden Gate Park and Land's End
in San Francisco,
before heading up to Marin County and Point Reyes
National Seashore.
Day 2:  Point Reyes National Seashore and Marin
Day 3:  Inland to Livermore for Yellow-billed Magpie and
Day 4:  Calaveras Big Trees in the Sierra Foothills bird
Day 5:  Big Sur for California Condor and more.
Day 6:  Bird Monterrey Bay in the morning, and then
afternoon transfer back to airport and/or spend the
weekend enjoying a Shearwater Journey's pelagic trip.
Pelagic Extension and More Extension Options:
  • Nearly everyone on the trip will extend at least one
    day for a pelagic trip.  Scheduling our trip soon will
    allow a better chance to get on one of Shearwater’s
    Journeys.  Book early to link well with our trip.  
  • In addition, with enough group interest, we could
    add a trip to Southern California, adding a few sights
    and specialties down south (including California
    Gnatcatcher).  A morning trip out to see the Island
    Scrub Jay would also be worthwhile.
Why Northern California for
birding and a family vacation?
Oak Titmouse
Pinnacles National Monument, CA
photo by David Trently
Heerman's Gull, Goleta Beach, CA
photo by David Trently
Black Turnstone photo
by Bill Schmoker
Burrowing Owl at the Salton Sea
photo by David Trently