A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

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

 

Pine Flat Road, Healdsburg CA, 95448


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Location aliases: None


Location: About seven miles east of Healdsburg and about eight miles from Geyserville.

GPS address: 3710 Pine Flat Rd., Healdsburg, CA 95448 is close to the intersection of Hwy. 128 and Pine Flat Rd. Areas good for birding begin about a mile up the road to the east.

GPS Coordinates: 38 40 19N, 122 48 46W will take you close to the intersection of Hwy. 128 and Pine Flat Rd.


Access: From State Rt. 128, about seven miles east of Healdsburg, CA, via Alexander Valley Rd. From Hwy. 101, The Dry Creek Rd. or Shiloh Rd. exits will be closest. Use pull-outs along the way to bird from the road. Properties on either side of the road are mostly private. The road is gated near the summit, which means you have to turn around and come down the way you came. Not heavily traveled by vehicles, but watch for the many bicyclists, which sometimes come down the road at alarming speeds.


Habitats: Open grassland, rollings hills, deciduous and conifer woods, rocky upland scrub.


Typical Species: Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Kestrel, California Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Western Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, Anna’s Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Say's Phoebe, Western Wood Pewee, Western Kingbird, Barn Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Oak titmouse, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick’s Wren, House Wren, Pacific Wren, American Robin, Varied Thrush, Hutton’s Vireo, Cassin’s Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Steller’s Jay, Western Scrub-jay, Wrentit, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, California Thrasher, Yellow Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Black-throated gray Warbler, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Brown-headed Cowbird, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch


Unusual birds, sightings: Northern Parula (5/22/14-5/23/14, Rich Cimino); Sage Sparrow (6/1/13, Colin Talcroft); California Thrasher (6/1/13, Colin Talcroft); Northern Pygmy Owl (May 28, 2013, Ruth Rudesill); Sage Sparrow (May 28, 2013, Ruth Rudesill); Rufous-crowned Sparrow (May 28, 2013, Ruth Rudesill); Bald Eagle (May 28, 2013, Ruth Rudesill); Sage Sparrow (May 1, 2013, Gene Hunn); Sage Sparrow (Jun 24, 2012, Everett Clark); Mountain Quail (Jun 24, 2012, Everett Clark); Indigo Bunting (Jun 19, 2012, Linda Swanson--this bird was last reported on Jul 13, 2012); Sage Sparrow (Jun 15, 2011; Scott Carey); MacGillivray's Warbler (Jun 1, 2011), Black-chinned Hummingbird (May 14, 2011; Peter Colasanti). Can be a place to see such less common birds as Golden Eagle, Mountain Quail, Common Nighthawk, Northern Pygmy Owl, Rock Wren, Common Poor-will, and Nashville and Hermit warblers during migration. Known as a place to see some of the more unusual sparrows in the county such as Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Sage Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and Lark Sparrow. Lawrence’s Goldfinch has been sighted on one or two occasions.


Restroom facilities: None along the road or in the immediate vicinity. Closest are probably in the town of Healdsburg.


Restaurants Nearby: The town of Healdsburg is only a few miles from the start of Pine Flat Rd. at Hwy. 128. The town has numerous restaurants on the main square.


Nearby attractions: The views from the top of the road can be very beautiful. A fire burned much of  the area in 2004, affording an opportunity to study the progress of ongoing regeneration. If you have an interest in geology, there are some good outcroppings of blue schist along the road. There is much serpentine as well. The botanically-minded will find some unusual flowers here, among them flowers that have adapted to the serpentine-rich soils that deter many other plants because of their high magnesium and chromium content (the photo shows a weathering outcropping of serpentine). The town of Healdsburg has restaurants, galleries, wine and other shops worth browsing. The well-known Jimtown Store--a country store where time appears to fly at a somewhat slower speed than elsewhere--is on Highway 128, about a quarter mile before the start of Pine Flat Rd. At the very top of the road, you can walk up a Calpine access road and get a view of the Geysers geothermal plant, which exploits one of the largest underground steam fields in  the country--not that it's much to look at.


Related bird watching spots: About 20 miles south on Hwy. 128 is Ida Clayton Rd., which offers similar habitat. About 25 miles further south is Shiloh Ranch Regional Park. See the relevant location pages for details. 


Notes: 1. Much of Pine Flat Rd. goes through the Mayacamas Mountain Sanctuary, which is in places marked with "No Trespassing" signs, but the road is a county road open to the public. The signs are intended to discourage people from off-road activities. A number of trips through the sanctuary are organized on a fairly regular basis, which allows you to explore the area with people that know it well. See the Events/Calendars page for information. The Sanctuary is administered by Audubon California and the Madrone Audubon Society. For information, contact Audubon California (473-0601 at the time of writing) or the Madrone Audubon Society. 2. Watch out for poison oak in wooded areas here (and throughout the county).


The bird in the photo: California Thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum), Pine Flat Rd., June 1, 2013


All photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Maps by Google Maps

 

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© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.

ctalcroft@yahoo.com