Cormorant building a nest on Año Nuevo Island
Bird life at Año Nuevo is extraordinarily varied and interesting in every season. In the spring, mallards, pintails, wigeons and both Green-winged and Cinnamon Teals can be seen on or near the fresh water pond within the reserve. Migrating waves of warblers, vireos, thrushes, orioles and other land birds also pass through the area in the spring. Red-winged Blackbirds nest near the pond along with the Marsh Wren. Several species of hummingbirds are present in the reserve and especially noticeable in springtime, when they carry out their spectacular courtship rituals.
Swifts and swallows can often be seen hunting insects above the upland brushfields. Quail, meadowlarks, sparrows, finches and other seed eaters live right in the brush. Towhees, bushtits and wrentits can be found in both the chaparral and dune areas. Several kinds of hawks and falcons, including Northern Harriers, Black-shouldered Kites, Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels are often seen hovering above the fields.
Flocks of turnstones, sandpipers and plovers search the beaches and rocky areas for food, especially in April and early May, before moving north for the summer. Loons, grebes, terns and brants are also seen during the spring as they pass through this area on their way north, and at least seven different species of gull migrate through the area each spring, most of them on their way to nesting areas in Canada and Alaska.
Sanderlings, Black turnstones, Marbled Godwits, willets and Black-bellied Plovers are the most numerous shorebirds to be seen during the fall. Brown Pelicans move north from Mexico each spring and can be seen along the California coast throughout most of the year.
The spectacle is always changing and always fascinating, no matter what season you choose to visit the reserve.