Winter Birding near Yosemite

Though it’s a bit too cold for most of our feathered friends in the Yosemite high country, the warmer, drier California foothills offer abundant bird sightings in the winter months.

The Groveland Hotel patio, located at just 3,000 feet in elevation, is host to several species of birdlife with Stellar Jays and Western Scrub Jays, those saucy bluebirds, squabbling over scraps while Ravens mock them from high above. The smaller Acorn Woodpeckers and Hairy Woodpeckers delight in hammering their heads into the old oak trees, caching their collection of acorns for future snacks.  Quail families run around looking cute as ever with their bobbing headdresses, and the LBB (Little Brown Birds: Chickadees, Titmouse, Sparrows, and Nuthatches) flitter and flirt among the bare branches of denuded deciduous trees and the year-round green of the conifers.  Watch out for the European Starlings, scavengers that they are, they can become aggressive if there is food involved.  During the day, you might hear the soft purring of the Mourning Dove, and at night you can listen for the whistles, barks, shrieks, hisses, and coos of the Great Horned Owl.

Quail bird with grey breast and brown mottled body with bobby black headress

Many of these species are also be found in the Yosemite Valley, with the addition of waterfowl such as the Common Merganser, and of course, the Mallard Ducks.  Spring and Summer offer the most opportunities for bird watching in the area, as California’s Central Valley is a vast flyway for migrating birds heading north in the spring and south in the fall.

Want to make note of your local bird sightings?  Yosemite National Park has created a checklist of 265 birds presently known to have occurred within its boundaries.   Download it HERE.  Then come stay at the Groveland Hotel and start your birdwatching anytime of the year!

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