What kinds of birds can you find in Sequoia National Park?
This question is hard to answer because of the vast number of birds found in the park. Did you know there have been over 340 species recorded here? As you can imagine, there was no way to include this many birds in the below article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed.
Below I have listed the TEN birds you are most likely to find while visiting Sequoia.
#1. Steller’s Jay
- Cyanocitta stelleri
- Larger bird with a black head, rounded wings, and long tail. A tall black crest on the crown of the head helps identify them.
- Both sexes are half black, half blue on their wings, belly, and tail.
You will find the Steller’s Jay in evergreen forests. These bold birds often visit parks, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
Steller’s Jay Range Map
Steller’s Jays are very intelligent, bold, and noisy. They are known to even rob other nests for food, attacking or killing small adult birds like nuthatches or juncos.
Males and sometimes females have calls that sound like “shaack, shaack, shaack,” shooka, shooka.” Listen below.
#2. White-headed Woodpecker
- Dryobates albolarvatus
When it comes to woodpeckers found in Sequoia National Park, this species is unique!
First, the White-headed Woodpecker has a truly distinctive appearance. The bird’s entire body is covered in black feathers, except for its bold white head! One look, and you know how it got its name. Males have a small red patch on the back of their heads, which females lack.
White-headed Woodpecker Range Map
Second, these woodpeckers require a very specific habitat. Look for them in mountainous old-growth pine forests in California, especially ones with open canopies and LOTS of pine cones.
White-headed Woodpeckers LOVE to eat pine seeds. They obtain their favorite food by prying and hammering against pine cones until they have gotten their reward. These birds also eat insects during warmer months, such as ants, beetles, and termites, like normal woodpeckers. And if you live within their range, make sure to put out a suet feeder, as they will visit backyards that offer a consistent food source.
White-head Woodpeckers have a call that sounds like a sharp “pee-dink” or “pee-dee-dee-dink.” But it’s not often heard, as these birds are mostly silent.
#3. American Robin
- Turdus migratorius
- A beautiful thrush that features a rusty red breast and a dark head and back.
- Look for a white throat and white splotches around the eyes.
- Both sexes are similar, except that females appear paler.
American Robins are one of the most familiar birds in Sequoia National Park!
They inhabit a wide variety of habitats. These thrushes are comfortable around people and are common to see.
American Robin Range Map
Even though they are abundant, American Robins rarely visit bird feeders because they don’t eat seeds. Instead, their diet consists of invertebrates (worms, insects, snails) and fruit.
These birds also commonly nest near people. Look for an open cup-shaped nest that has 3-5 beautiful, distinctive sky blue color eggs. American Robins sing a string of clear whistles, which is a familiar sound in spring. (Listen below)
Many people describe the sound as sounding like the bird is saying “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.”
#4. Sooty Grouse
- Dendragapus fuliginosus
- Males are mostly dark in color, with a yellow air sac in their throat, which is surrounded by white feathers. They also have a yellow patch of skin above their eye.
- Females have a mottled brown appearance with dark brown and white markings on their underparts.
To locate a Sooty Grouse in Sequoia, it is important to have patience.
One effective approach is to move quietly on foot or drive through open coniferous woodlands during the spring season. In the early morning hours, you might encounter one walking along trails or roadsides, where they gather grit as part of their diet.
Sooty Grouse Range Map
During the day, Sooty Grouse spend their time resting and eating. They search for food on the ground, including plants and insects, and also in trees, where they eat leaves, needles, and buds, particularly in winter. In early spring, the males show off by perching in trees, making brief flights, and performing impressive displays on the ground.
Listen carefully for the distinctive DEEP hooting calls of the male grouse.
#5. Wild Turkey
- Meleagris gallopavo
- Wild Turkeys are large and have dark body feathers.
- Adult males sometimes are called toms or gobblers and have a large, featherless, reddish head.
- Female birds, known as hens, have feathers that are duller overall, in shades of brown and gray.
Everyone knows what this popular bird looks like in Sequoia National Park!
Wild Turkeys can’t be confused with any other animal. Many people even think they look like little dinosaurs as they strut around.
To find Wild Turkeys, wake up early in the morning, and you will often find them foraging in clearings and along roadsides. Luckily, they typically aren’t shy and are often spotted while driving.
Wild Turkey Range Map
Believe it or not, despite their hefty size, Wild Turkeys can fly! It surprises many people when they come across them roosting high in a tree. In addition, these talented birds can also swim by folding their wings, extending their tails, and using their legs to propel themselves.
Interestingly, only male turkeys make the famous gobble call. This sound is used to announce themselves to females while competing with other males for the ladies’ attention. LISTEN BELOW:
#6. Acorn Woodpecker
- Melanerpes formicivorus
Acorn Woodpeckers are typically easy to find in Sequoia.
You just need to find and take a walk in a forest with LOTS of oak trees and look for a bird that resembles a clown!
These woodpeckers rely on acorns as one of their primary food sources (hence the name). They have an interesting way of storing these acorns, as they put each nut into individually drilled holes in “storage” trees.
These trees, also called granaries, can house up to 50,000 nuts that the woodpeckers use for food when needed! The acorns are shoved so tightly into each space that other animals have difficulty getting them out. And amazingly, all of these tiny holes don’t kill the tree! But if you have a house with wood siding, and these woodpeckers have discovered it, you may have a hard time getting rid of them. 🙂
Acorn Woodpecker Range Map
Acorn Woodpeckers also have incredibly fascinating and complex social lives. For example, they live in family groups of up to twelve individuals. These groups cooperate in many aspects, including raising young, finding food, and guarding the food stored in their granaries.
These birds make very distinctive sounds, so make sure to listen for Acorn Woodpeckers if you find yourself hiking in an oak forest. Calls resemble “waka-waka-waka.”
#7. Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawks are one of the most prevalent birds of prey in Sequoia National Park!
These large raptors are often seen soaring in the sky or perched on a fence post. The color of a Red-tailed Hawk’s plumage can be anything from nearly white to virtually black, so coloration is not a reliable indicator. The best way to identify them is by looking for their characteristic red tail. 🙂
Red-tailed Hawk Range Map
These hawks are highly adaptable, and there is no real description of their preferred habitats because they seem to be comfortable everywhere.
Red-tailed Hawks have impressive calls that are easily identified.
In fact, people are so enamored with their screams it’s common for directors to use the sounds of a Red-tailed Hawk to replace Bald Eagles that appear in movies. In case you have never heard one, Bald Eagles don’t make sounds that live up to their appearance (putting it nicely!)
#8. Common Raven
- Corvus corax
- Large bird that is completely black, including its eyes and bill.
- The bill is hefty and thick.
- In flight, look for their wedge-shaped tail.
Ravens are one of the SMARTEST birds in Sequoia National Park!
Their intelligence makes them efficient predators, and it’s common for ravens to team up to get food, such as stealing eggs from nests or attacking larger prey.
Common Raven Range Map
Since they are so smart and adaptable, Common Ravens are found in many habitats in Sequoia. Look for them living near the edges of towns. But ravens also have no problem living far away from civilization.
Common Ravens are impressive vocalists that make many different types of calls, from harsh grating calls to shrill alarm sounds. But the most common sound you will hear in the wild is a gurgling croak that rises in pitch.
Interestingly, they can mimic the sounds of many other bird species and even humans if raised in captivity.
#9. Western Bluebird
- Sialia Mexicana
- Males are vibrant blue with rusty chest. Blue throat and gray belly.
- Females look similar, but the colors are more subdued.
Look for these bluebirds in Sequoia National Park at the edge of forests or open woodlands. Western Bluebirds are not often found in meadows and fields. Instead, these birds opt for the woods. Their favorite habitat seems to be areas that have been logged or burned, as these places are open but still contain many trees.
These bluebirds tend to stay close to the ground to fly down quickly to catch insects, which are their favorite food. They can usually be found perched on low limbs, signs, and fence posts. Western Bluebirds even stay low to the ground while flying!
Western Bluebird Range Map
This bluebird species only nests in enclosed cavities. Competition is high for these limited spots, and they regularly compete with nuthatches, House Wrens, European Starlings, House Sparrows, swallows, and even other Western Bluebirds.
You should try listening for Western Bluebirds next time you are out. These birds make a soft call, which phonetically often sounds like “kew” repeated several times. Press PLAY to hear a Western Bluebird!
#10. Mountain Chickadee
If you want to find Mountain Chickadees in Sequoia National Park, look for small birds with black heads and distinctive white eyebrows, which makes them fairly easy to identify.
Like other chickadee species, these birds are agile and curious. They are most often seen flitting from tree to tree in coniferous forests, searching for insects, spiders, seeds, and nuts.
Mountain Chickadee Range Map
Listen for them singing a 3-4 note descending whistle “fee-bee-bay” or “fee-bee-fee-bee.” Some people think it sounds like they are saying “cheeseburger!” Press PLAY below to hear a Mountain Chickadee!
Which of these birds have you seen before in Sequoia National Park?
Leave a comment below!
To learn more about other birds that live in Sequoia National Park, check out these guides!
The range maps above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!