NORTHERN CALIFORNIA Tourism Recreation & Hospitality Council

Outdoor Recreation

Bird Watching

Plumas County offers rewarding bird-watching opportunities for both the novice and experienced birder. The best birding in the county is during the spring and fall, but interesting species can be found any month of the year.

Owl Family

Nearly 300 different bird species live in the surrounding national forest, which offers great habitat with its many lakes, meadows, marshes, streams and trees. The spots have easy access for those who wish to bird by vehicle as well as many developed hiking trails for more adventurous birders.  

For the latest bird sightings, visit the Plumas Audubon Society website

Sierra Valley, east of Portola, is an Audubon Society nationally designated Important Bird Area. This 130,000 acre valley, the largest in the Sierra Nevada, is home to over 260 bird species alone. Although most of the land in the valley is privately owned, county roads such as Marble Hot Springs Road, between County Roads A23 and A24,  will take you through the heart of the valley past wet meadows and remnant wetlands.
In the fall, Sierra Valley is well known for its large population of raptors. A drive through the valley can provide close-up views of bald eagles, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, prairie falcons, kestrels and long-eared owls. Migrating flocks of waterfowl and songbirds are also a common sight during the fall.
Spring birders can spot white faced ibis, sandhill cranes, American bitterns, black crowned night herons, Canada geese and a variety of ducks and songbirds.

For a birding loop tour, travel on Highway 70 to the Nervino Airport just east of the community of Beckwourth. At the east end of the runway, turn south on County Road A-24. The road crosses several riparian areas where waterfowl can be spotted. Follow the paved road about four miles until it reaches a ranch, and take the right fork, which is Marble Hot Springs Road. The road makes a right turn and then becomes gravel. Marble Hot Springs Road has very little traffic and several marshy areas containing reeds, water and waterfowl. There are natural hot springs along the road and a historic steel bridge which serves as an excellent lookout.  Marble Hot Springs Road eventually intersects County Road A-23. Turn right (north) and you'll return to Highway 70 just east of Beckwourth. Look for bald eagles on the bridge just before you reach the highway.  If you're starting from Highway 89 south of Graeagle, take County Road A-23 at Sattley and travel 9.5 miles until you reach a dirt road (Marble Hot Springs Road) leading off to the right. There is an electrical transformer set up just beyond the intersection. Spring birders can spot white faced ibis, sandhill cranes, American bitterns, black-crowned night herons, Canada geese and a variety of ducks and songbirds.

Plumas-Eureka State Park near Graeagle is worth checking for a variety of alpine birds and willow flycatchers.

Nesting osprey and bald eagle can be found at nearly all the county's major reservoirs, including the largest, Lake Almanor. The causeway, east of Chester on Hwy. 36, is the best place to see large numbers of waterfowl including tundra swan, double-crested cormorants, great blue heron, and American white pelicans. Another good viewing spot is along the west shore, near the campgrounds and along the recreation trail, where birders can enjoy both shorebirds and forest-dwellers such as pileated and white-headed woodpeckers, flycatchers, mountain bluebirds and white-breasted nuthatches.

Other lakes to visit are Antelope Lake, Bucks Lake, Little Grass Valley Reservoir, Frenchman Lake and Lake Davis, which all provide a diversity of bird species and habitats.



Snake Lake, a short drive from Quincy off of Bucks Lake Road, is a popular picnic spot and a good place to view wood ducks, American white pelicans, osprey, grebes and great blue heron. A walk along the forested edge of the lake can turn up a number of forest bird species: hairy woodpeckers, brown creepers, red-breasted nuthatches, warbling vireos and many others.

Osprey and bald eagle, hunting for fish, may be seen on a drive through the Feather River Canyon along the North Fork Feather River. The reservoirs in the canyon are also home to migrating bufflehead, goldeneye, ruddy ducks, and nesting common mergansers.

Plumas County's many rivers and streams also host populations of other riparian bird species: wood ducks, yellow warblers, lazuli buntings, American dippers, downey, Nuttall's and Lewis' woodpeckers and others can be found during a pleasant stroll along the waterways.

Free Bird ListClick the image to the right for a copy of the 8 x 14 Plumas County bird list produced by the Plumas Audubon Society.  

If you are interested in joining the area's Annual Christmas Bird Counts or attending a field trip, email or call (530) 283-2939


Plumas County | 530-927-5180

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