San Mateo County Birding Guide by Sequoia Audubon Society - Printed on June 27, 2022

Flood County Park

Spring: •••    Summer: ••    Fall: ••    Winter: •••   


This small urban park (21 acres) is well-known to local birders in the southeast portion of the county; out-of-towners might be here for any of several reasons, from a baseball game, to a bad traffic jam on US101, or a company picnic. Once here, you'll realize that the park features a good selection of oak and bay trees. Because of its small size, the park webpage does not grace walks here with the title of "trail," describing them only as "pathways?beneficial for a brisk walk or a casual stroll." But determined birders have found some exceptional birds on these pathways, especially out-of-range and migrant sparrows. This park can also boost your passerine numbers when coupled with Bedwell Bayfront Park on the other side of US101 (see site in this guide).

As you enter the park, note the Oak Group Reservation area on the right (the largest in the park). This is a good starting point. Proceed on the paved walking path that parallels Bay Road in a counter-clockwise direction. Check the trees as well as the edges of the thicker brushy areas. You will pass the Pine and Bay Reservation areas as you proceed parallel to Bay Road. The trees between Pine and Bay are best for wintering, mixed-species gleaner flocks. As the path turns away from Bay Road, you will pass the Redwood and Maple areas. Check the trees to the right as well as the lawn.

Just after the Maple area, turn right and walk between the smaller softball field and the tennis courts, checking the trees as you proceed. Turn left when you reach the lawn bowling area and take the path along the outfield fence of the full-sized baseball field. Stay to the right and you will pass through the playground, near the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Foundation Office, and soon be back at the parking lot near the Oak Group area.

Look For These Birds

Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Killdeer, Western Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull (winter), Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker (irregular), Red-breasted Sapsucker (winter), Western Screech-Owl, Black Phoebe, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Merlin (uncommon here), Violet-green Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, American Crow, Steller's Jay, California Scrub-Jay, Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch (one of the most consistent locations in San Mateo county for this species), Oak Titmouse, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebirds (aided by local Boy Scouts who built nest boxes), American Robin, Hermit Thrush, Varied Thrush (winter, irregular), Cedar Waxwing, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler (winter), Townsend's Warbler (fall-winter), Orange-crowned Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler (uncommon, rare overwintering), Fox Sparrow (winter), White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Bullock's Oriole (spring), Western Tanager, Purple Finch, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Rarities Seen Here

In this guide, "rarities" are defined as those species given an County Abundance Code of 4, 5, or 6.

Thick-billed Kingbird (2021), Lark Sparrow (2008, 2021), Chipping Sparrow (2006, 2012, 2015), White-throated Sparrow (2006), Pine Siskin, and Band-tailed Pigeon (unusual for the Bayside)


From the Marsh Road exit off of US101, go west on Marsh Road. Turn south (left) onto Bay Road. The park entrance is on your left in half a mile.


There is a $5 parking fee in the main lot. Reservations are required for some group picnic sites and the full-sized baseball fields. Parking in the adjacent neighborhoods is subject to seasonal regulations; check the signs to confirm you are not subjec


The park officially opens at 8:00 am, and closes soon after sunset. The web page describes the shifting closing hours through the year.


To paraphrase Bambi, the most significant enemy here is Man. This is a heavily-used park in the spring and summer, with the attendant problems of noise, clutter, and garbage. While personal safety is not an issue here, there's no sense in aiding opportunistic crime by leaving valuables visible in your parked car. Best birding here is usually in the morning, when fewer of the group areas are in use.


Lots of 'em: large bathrooms and many picnic tables, plus you have the commercial areas of Menlo Park close by for food and provisions. The six largest group picnic sites are available by reservation. There are sports playing fields here too. Expect a lot of families with children. Dogs are officially prohibited; any that are present apparently lack the ability to read.


To make reservations for the picnic areas, call 650-363-4021.

Avian Research Status

Flood Park is a hotspot in eBird, with 43 of 48 quadrants holding data. The general information page for this hot spot can be found here.

Flood Park was the location for a BioBlitz co-sponsored by Sequoia Audubon, San Mateo County Parks, and the California Academy of Sciences in September 2019. The results of that Blitz can be found here.

The iNaturalist place for Flood Park is here.

Author: Rich Ferrick, Uploaded: