Where can I see birds and butterflies in downtown San Francisco?

Find the wild in downtown San Francisco.

Even amidst the tall buildings of downtown San Francisco, wildlife flourishes. In the city’s most developed areas, you may spot red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, and tiger swallowtail butterflies. 

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Civic Center

Civic Center
Plaza Bushtit, brown-headed cowbird, mew gull, white-throated swift, red-tailed hawk

Embarcadero

Exploratorium - Pier 15
Take a walk around the pier for a chance to see brown pelicans, gulls, grebes, harbor seals, and sea lions

Ferry Building
Brown pelican, double-crested cormorant, greater scaup, gulls, kingfisher, grebes, white-crowned sparrow

Levi’s Plaza
Gulls, pigeons, white-winged parakeet, double-crested cormorant, brown pelican, American robin, Brewer’s blackbird, red-masked parakeet

Pier 1 - Port of San Francisco
Brown pelicans, gulls, grebes, harbor seals, sea lions

Pier 7
Brown pelicans, gulls, grebes, harbor seals, sea lions, sharks, bat rays, skates, tomcod, kingfish, jacksmelt, flounder, sole, sanddabs, halibut, striped bass

Pier 14
Brown pelicans, gulls, grebes, harbor seals, sea lions

Financial District

One Bush Plaza
Keep an eye out for the Tiger Swallowtail butterfly while enjoying the beautiful London Plane trees

Sue Bierman Park
Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, sparrows, bushtit, parakeets, Canada goose, band-tailed pigeon, red-wing blackbird, scrub jay, hummingbirds

Sydney G. Walton Square
Red-masked parakeet, rock pigeon, common raven, Brewer’s blackbird, house finch, white-crowned sparrow

Fisherman’s Wharf

Pier 39
Sea lions, double-crested cormorant, gulls, rock pigeon, ruddy duck, barn swallow, bushtit, house sparrow, various marine species (aquarium of the bay)

Mission Bay

Mission Creek
Snowy egret, cormorants, grebes, mourning dove, warbler, sandpipers, cedar waxwing, gulls, bat rays, California sea lion, harbor seals, anchovies, leopard shark, macro-invertebrates

Nob Hill

Huntington Park
A quiet place to kick back, absorb natural surroundings, and maybe spot some birds

North Beach

Washington Square Park
House sparrow, tree swallow, red-masked parakeet, gulls, Anna’s hummingbird, yellow-rumped warbler, red-tailed hawk

SOMA

Alice Street Community Garden
House finch, gulls, rock pigeon, Anna’s hummingbird, black phoebe, white-crowned sparrow

Howard Langton Community Garden
A little spot of nature to escape SoMa’s concrete jungle Victoria Manalo Park Mew gull, yellow-rumped warbler, white-crowned sparrow, American robin

Yerba Buena Gardens
Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, house finch, red-tailed hawk, ruby-crowned kinglet, American robin, chestnut-backed chickadee

South Beach/South Park

Rincon Park
Brewer’s blackbird, surf scoter, rock pigeon, horned grebe, bufflehead, lesser scaup, gulls

South Park
Native plantings, hummingbird garden

Telegraph Hill

Pioneer Park
Cormorants, greater white-fronted goose, pigeons, Anna’s hummingbird, terns, house finch, parakeets

Tenderloin

Boeddeker Park
Check out the upper section for diverse habitat and food plantings

Tenderloin National Forest
Cherry, cypress, Japanese maple trees, redwoods, succulents, cacti, vegetables, herbs, flowers

Western Addition

Jefferson Square Park
A pleasant green space with grassy lawns and stately old trees to enjoy great views of the city

Yerba Buena Island

Yerba Buena Island
Cedar waxwing, Anna’s hummingbird, golden-crowned sparrow, American robin, Canada goose, yellow warbler, fox sparrow, pine siskin, hermit thrush, bushtit


Additional Resources

Stories of San Francisco Species (PDF) - Learn about city’s indigenous critters, including birds, butterflies, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Green Connection Maps - Learn about long-term plans to restore local habitat and improve 115 miles of San Francisco streets.

Find other natural areas in San Francisco


San Francisco is located in a global biodiversity hotspot.