Look for Songbirds on Earth Day Weekend

On this Earth Day Weekend, we are spotlighting North American songbirds! Did you know that there are over 4,000 species of songbirds? Songbirds are passerines, or “perching birds,” as identified by how their toes are arranged – three pointing forward and one back – to allow them to grasp branches. Songbirds help keep a proper balance in their ecosystem by feeding on insects, rodents and other small animals, while also serving as pollinators and dispersing seeds. Do songbirds actually sing? Yes, you may hear songbirds sing or call, as they vocalize to communicate.

SAFE stands for Saving Animals From Extinction, an initiative through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to protect and save endangered species. North American songbirds are a SAFE species group in danger of extinction due to habitat destruction, disease and climate change. Nearly three billion birds have disappeared across North America since 1970.

If you love birdwatching, SF Zoo is a perfect place to see a variety of native and migrating wild songbird species, such as sparrows, wrens, orioles and warblers! Every year, during our annual Audubon Winter bird count, birders identify and count a variety of bird species that stop by our zoo, with some that are common, or maybe even rarely seen. This count gives us a good idea of what bird species visit us, how often we see them and if there is a pronounced decline in their populations.

We invite you to seek out some of our native songbirds over Earth Day Weekend. Some of the hotspots include the African Savanna, the upper lake by Australian WalkAbout, the lower lake by Grizzly Gulch, and throughout our many gardens. See if you can spot some of our resident species, like house sparrows, or a purple finch. You might even see a summer tanager, or spotted towhee, both visible in the spring.

Our ambassadors will be out and about to answer questions all weekend long! Be sure to bring binoculars, or post your songbird photos on social media and tag us @sfzoo!

Spring into Action

Here are some useful resources to create your own bird and butterfly-friendly backyard habitats!


Songbird I.D. Guide

From white crowned sparrows to ruby-crowned kinglets, there are a variety of songbirds that stop by our zoo throughout the day. Use this Songbird I.D. Guide as you explore San Francisco Zoo & Gardens over Earth Day Weekend to identify the species you see! Download the guide here