Central coast

Morro Bay's Beautiful Birds Are Wintertime Superstars

A joyful January gathering is putting the sky-watching spotlight on the area's winged icons, but birders enjoy Morro Bay throughout the year.

Dave Keeling

What to Know

  • Morro Bay Bird Festival (canceled for 2022)
  • Jan. 13-17, 2022
  • "Approximately 200 species are sighted during each festival," share the fest's organizers

Updated: The 2022 event has been canceled. Check the event site for more information on the 2023 festival.

MORRO BAY? It has a rather famous landmark, a huge and hard-to-miss sight, the sort of incredibly visual feature that draws the notice of people, wherever they happen to be around town. It's Morro Rock, of course, that panache-filled plug, an impressively massive remnant of a long-ago volcano. But while you're gazing upon the ginormous wonder and pondering its geological character, and how it may have changed over the years (and by "years" we do mean "eons"), something else catches your eye: birds. Lots and lots of birds, in fact, of all spectacular sorts, because Morro Bay happens to be the home, or regular stopping point, for numerous species, with several varieties of ducks, and geese, and water-loving fowl calling upon the picturesque area. And seeing a squadron of pelicans pass by Morro Rock? It feels like a gift straight from the skies, a snapshot forever emblazoned on your mind and heart.

HUNDREDS OF BIRDERS... also flock to this birdly bastion o' big waves, mega rocks, and remarkable sunsets each year in the wintertime, for the five-day, ultra-feathery Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. The January meet-up boasts over 160 events, covering everything from Beginning Bird Photography to searching for raptors around Highway 1. Condors, songbirds, and owls all have their own special happenings, and numerous outings give birders a deeper look around the bay (yep, birding cruises are on the schedule). Have you been dreaming of spreading your wings and alighting in Morro Bay for some quality birding one day soon? Circle this annual fest, or call upon the charming burg on your own, with your binocs and a guidebook in hand. Winter is always rife with wingful moments around the magnificent bay, but the area pleases nature lovers, from bird buffs to otter aficionados, throughout the calendar.

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