A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)


Channel Dr., Santa Rosa, CA 95409

Location aliases: None. Known generally by its proper name, Channel Dr.

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Location: Channel Dr., off of Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa CA 95409. Continue beyond the Spring Lake Park entrance at Violetti Rd. on the right. The parking area is at approximately 6030 Channel Dr., Santa Rosa, CA 95409.

GPS address: 6030 Channel Dr., Santa Rosa, CA 95409 ( although the closest house to the parking area is at 5858 Channel Dr.) Either address should be close.

GPS Coordinates: 38 27 24N, 122 38 20W will take you approximately to the Channel Dr. parking area.

Access: There is a $7 parking fee for entrance to Annadel State Park with a vehicle. It is possible to walk into the park for free, but it as takes about half an hour to walk from the free parking area on Channel Dr. to the entrance to Annadel State Park. The entire area along Channel Dr. from the parking area and into Annadel State park is usually very good birding (see map).

Habitats: Riparian woods (mature evergreens, mature oaks), creekside brush, grassland, residential. Can be excellent for spring and autumn warblers.

Typical Species: Excellent habitat for various woodland species and species that like open scrub. Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Acorn Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, California Quail, Black Phoebe, Steller's Jay, Western Scrub-jay, American Crow, Raven, Bushtits, Bewick's Wren, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Oak Titmouse, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, House Finch, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch.

Unusual birds, sightings: I sighted an strangely diminutive Hermit Thrush here on Jan. 22, 2011. Pileated Woodpecker is present.

Restroom facilities: Facilities at the Annadel State Park parking lot (parking fee required) at the end of Channel Dr. Also at Spring Lake Park (parking fee required), the entrance at Violetti Rd. being closest.

Restaurants nearby: East West Café at 557 Summerfield Rd. (546-6142) serves good Mediterranean-influenced meals with many vegetarian choices. Lepe's Taqueria at 4323 Montgomery Dr. (538-8891), about a minute further up Summerfield Rd. offers very good informal Mexican. Further afield: There is a deli in the Safeway at 2751 Fourth St. 522-1455. Michelle Marie's Patisserie, 2404 Magowan Dr. (575-1214) has sandwiches and full meals at lunchtime.

Nearby attractions: Extensive hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails at Annadel State Park. Nearby Spring Lake offers swimming at the lagoon during the summer months (with lifeguards). Canoes, kayaks, other small (non-motorized) boats and paddle boats allowed on the main lake. Fishing (largemouth bass, sunfish, catfish; California fishing license required for those 16 and older). Hiking trails. Picnic areas. Campgrounds open seven days a week from May 1 through September 30, otherwise weekends and holidays only (539-8092 for information). Neighboring Howarth Park offers play areas for children, paddle-boating at Lake Ralphine; summer children's activities include a carousel, a miniature steam engine kids and adults can ride on, petting zoo, pony riding. Public tennis courts. Continuing beyond Howarth Park on Summerfield Rd. and then out Montgomery Dr. to the right will connect you with Highway 12 (also known as Sonoma Highway), which leads to the Sonoma Valley wine country with many excellent wineries. Bennett Valley Golf Club is at 3330 Yulupa Ave. (528-3673). Public tennis courts next door to the golf course at Galvin Park. There are one or two wineries also further out Bennett Valley Rd. beyond the golf course, the best known being Matanzas Creek Winery (6097 Bennett Valley Rd., 528-6464)--worth a visit for its lavender fields, usually in bloom in June.

Related bird watching spots: Near Lake Ralphine, in Howarth Park. Near Spring Lake Park. Melita Rd. is also nearby.

The bird in the photo: Golden-crowned sparrow

All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps