Photo: Birds wade in the tidal zone.
Humboldt Bay is a major stop on the Pacific Flyway, the migratory birds' “aerial highway.” Here birds stop and replenish their energy supplies while traveling north in spring and south in autumn. Numerous bird species winter here, nest here, or live here year-round. More than 250 different species of birds are seen in and around Humboldt Bay over the course of the seasons.

The bay’s mudflats providing excellent feeding-grounds for shorebirds, including American avocets, long-billed curlews, marbled godwits, and willits. During the summer months, common sightings include terns, cormorants, and pelicans, as well as resident egrets herons and migratory songbirds.

For the black brant, Humboldt Bay plays a very important role. Brants feed primarily on eelgrass, which is quite abundant in Humboldt Bay. Indeed, the bay supports the largest remaining eelgrass habitat south of Willapa Bay in Washington, thus serving as critical feeding grounds for brants along their migration route. On their return trip from Mexico - headed for Alaska - as many as 10,000-20,000 brants may be using Humboldt Bay at a given time, January through April.  

Best times for birdwatching are at dawn and dusk and within 1-2 hours of the high tide. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the local Threatened or Endangered bird species: peregrine falcon, bald eagle, brown pelican, marbled murrelet and western snowy plover. For more information on local birds and birdwatching, visit the Redwood Region Audubon Society's website. Or, find out the best time of year to view specific species of birds on Humboldt Bay by checking out Natures Calendar on the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex website. The town of Arcata, located on the northern end of Humboldt Bay, hosts the annual Godwit Days, a three-day festival celebrating the spring shorebird migration.