There are over 200 species of birds which may be seen at the Hayward Shoreline. Some migrate through along the Pacific Flyway, some stop only to breed, and some are year-round residents. Here are a few of the most commonly seen birds.
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
Avocets can be seen year-round in the Bay Area. They sweep their heads from side to side on the surface of the water to eat aquatic invertebrates. They are especially aggressive toward approaching predators while nesting, sometimes physically striking them.
Identifying characteristics: 17 to 18 inches long, upturned bill, black and white striped wings, head is white in the winter and rust-colored in the summer.
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Least sandpipers are the smallest shorebirds in the world. They breed in Canada in the summer and migrate to the Bay Area for the winter. They eat invertebrates that they find by probing the mud with their beaks. They are slightly smaller than another common bird here, the Western Sandpiper (which has black legs), and are often seen in the channels of the salt marsh.
Identifying characteristics: 5 to 6 inches long, yellow legs, brown upperparts, white underparts.
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
Stilts can be seen year-round in the Bay Area. They walk in shallow water and use their beak to catch small fish and aquatic invertebrates. During breeding season, they will flock at predators and make loud displays to protect chicks.
Identifying characteristics: 13 to 16 inches long, black upperparts, white underparts, pink legs.
Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
(short-billed dowitcher) Limnodromus scolopaceus (long-billed dowitcher)
Short-billed dowitchers and long-billed dowitchers are very similar species of shorebirds which breed in Canada and overwinter in the Bay Area. They use a “sewing machine” method of eating aquatic invertebrates from the mud by moving their heads quickly up and down.
Identifying characteristics: 10 to 11 inches long, white on rump and lower back.
Great Egret Ardea alba
Great egrets can be seen year-round at the Hayward Shoreline. They stand in shallow water and catch fish, crabs, and other small animals with their beaks. They are larger than snowy egrets with a wingspan of up to 5 feet.
All white feathers, black feet, and yellow beak.
Mallard Duck Anas platyrhynchos
Mallards are found year-round at the Hayward Shoreline. They are dabbling ducks that dip their heads under shallow
water to eat seeds, aquatic plants, and aquatic invertebrates such as worms and insects.
The males have a green head and both males and females have orange feet and and white-bordered blue speculum patch on each wing.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Snowy egrets can be seen year-round at the Hayward Shoreline. They stand in shallow water and catch fish, crabs, and other small animals with their beaks. In breeding season, they grow long, wispy feathers on their heads and backs, for which they were extensively hunted, until it was banned in 1910. They have a wingspan of up to 3.25 feet.
All white feathers, yellow feet, and a black beak.
Willet Tringa semipalmata
Willets overwinter in the Bay Area and breed in northern regions of North America. They eat invertebrates that they find by probing the mud with their beaks.
Identifying characteristics: 13 to 16 inches long, reveal black and white stripes under wings while flying.
Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center
4901 Breakwater Ave.
Hayward, CA 94545
(510) 670-7270 Email
Friday - Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Closed on June 16