Birds are one of the most abundant, easily watched forms of wildlife at the Yaquina Headland. The availability and diversity of habitat at Yaquina attracts different bird species all year-round.
Spring brings 65,000 common murres, Brandt’s cormorants, pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, western gulls, and glaucous-winged gulls to Yaquina’s bluffs and offshore rocks. For bald eagles and peregrine falcons, the sea bird nesting season provides an all-you-can-eat buffet! Early in the morning, eagles and falcons can be observed dining on seabirds near the Lighthouse.
Barn swallows arrive in the spring to build nests of mud pellets and straw, lined with feathers, on the ledges of the Interpretive Center. Violet-green swallows nest on the cliff walls surrounding the Interpretive Center. Watch for them from the parking lot as they dart and dive through the air.
White Crown Sparrow
Barn swallows, and violet-green swallows, are here throughout July. Chicks can be seen peeking out of their nests while awaiting their parents’ return with food.
Large numbers of brown pelicans fly in long lines, low to the water. Pelicans will often plunge dive from the air into the water to feed on fish.
Turkey vultures can also be seen at Yaquina. Turkey vultures are sometimes confused with bald eagles when in flight. Although both have large wing spans, vultures have a ‘V’ shaped wing angle, while eagles soar with wings nearly flat.
Listen for the distinctive, raspy call of the Caspian tern as it flies by Cobble Beach.
White crowned sparrows and song sparrows can be spotted in the brush surrounding the Lighthouse parking area and on Salal Hill.
In November and December, large numbers of brown pelicans land on Colony Rock after the sea birds have left.
Northern harriers have been spotted on the trail between Quarry Cove and the Interpretive Center.
Red-tailed hawks arrive in late summer and early fall. They soar and hover with wings outstretched above Salal Hill.
Brandt’s cormorants and pelagic cormorants may remain at their nesting sites through October. In the fall, adult-sized chicks appear dark brown rather than black like the adults.
Look for peregrine falcons on or near Colony Rock.
Red-tailed hawks can be seen hovering above Salal Hill.
American kestrels can be seen at Quarry Cove or perching on road signs throughout the area.
Shorebirds, such as surfbirds and black turnstones, feed on barnacles and snails on the offshore rocks.
Western meadowlarks have been spotted in the grass between Quarry Cove and Ocean Bluff.
Black scoters, white-winged scoters, and western grebes can be seen off shore. Surf scoters are visible near Colony Rock, on the north side of the headland, and in Quarry Cove.
- Western gull
- Glaucous-winged gull
- Black oystercatcher
- Brandt’s cormorant
- Pelagic cormorant
- American crow
- Northern flicker
- Song sparrow
Preliminary List of Birds for Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (PDF)