Extending from Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in the north to Big Lagoon in the south and encompassing much of the southern portion of Redwood National Park, this is an area of extensive forests of redwood, Sitka spruce, and Douglas-fir, with coastal lagoons and miles of unspoiled beaches. Many of the tallest known trees in the world occur here. Elevations range from sea level to over 2,000 feet on Bald Hills Road. Features of interest include Fern Canyon, Gold Bluffs Beach, Elk Prairie, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood Creek, Redwood Creek Overlook, Stone Lagoon, Tall Trees Grove, and Big Lagoon.
The Humboldt Lagoons are a major coastal wintering area for waterfowl. The mature redwood forest east and north of the lagoons supports a significant proportion of California’s nesting Marbled Murrelet population (perhaps the densest anywhere south of Alaska) as well as breeding Spotted Owls. Bird species of special concern in California that nest here include Northern Harrier, Vaux’s Swift, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Purple Martin, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Grasshopper Sparrow, and possibly Bryant’s Savannah Sparrow. Ruffed Grouse, Gray Jay, and Black-capped Chickadee, species not found in California outside the northwest corner, are resident. Roosevelt elk are easily observed, especially along Highway 101 at Stone Lagoon and north of Orick, at Elk Prairie, and at Gold Bluffs Beach.
This IBA was designated because it supports more than 10% of the state population of Marbled Murrelet and, seasonally, more than 5,000 waterfowl.
Most of the IBA is protected as county, state, and national parks (Big Lagoon County Park, Humboldt Lagoons and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks, and Redwood National Park). The east side of Big Lagoon constitutes Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area, and Big Lagoon itself is a state-owned wildlife area where hunting is allowed.
For more information about this and other birding opportunities in the area contact the Redwood Region Audubon Society, (707) 826-7031. See also http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=415 (Prairie Creek Redwoods SP), http://www.nps.gov/redw/ (Redwood NP), http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=416 (Humboldt Lagoons SP), http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=431 (Harry A. Merlo SRA), http://co.humboldt.ca.us/portal/living/county_parks/default.asp?parkID=BLP (Big Lagoon CP), and http://www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/region1/biglagoon.html (Big Lagoon WA).
Best Time for Viewing: First light for murrelets; morning for waterfowl on lagoons and songbirds; morning and evening for elk.
Best Months and Seasons for Viewing: Fall to spring for waterfowl; spring and summer for murrelets and songbirds; spring for grouse.
ADA Accessibility Notes
Redwood Creek, Kuchel Visitor Center, Elk Meadow, Lost Man Creek, Prairie Creek Visitor Center, and Big Tree Wayside are wheelchair accessible.
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are permitted on leash in developed areas of the national, state, and county parks and off-leash but under voice control on the beach at Big Lagoon County Park.
For More Information, Contact:
Redwood Region Audubon Society
PO Box 1054, Eureka, CA 95502-1054