Wetlands of Watsonville

Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Wetlands of Watsonville

  1. Great spot for birding with over 220 species of birds.
  2. One of the largest remaining freshwater wetlands in the Central Coast of California.
  3. Over seven miles of walking, biking, and jogging trails for the whole family with 29 easily accessible trail entrances.
  4. Diverse wildlife to discover, including muskrats, bobcats and tree frogs.
  5. Free Guided Nature Walks offered every Sunday through the City Nature Center located in the back of Ramsay Park at 30 Harkins Slough Road

Birding the Wetlands of Watsonville

Come experience the incredible bird life that the Wetlands of Watsonville have to offer. Located along the globally important Pacific Flyway, the Wetlands of Watsonville provide a resting stop for birds on their migratory journey. The wetland system of sloughs and their uplands offer breeding and year-round habitat for over 220 species of shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors and song birds.
White pelicans on a lake
Discover great birds in every season:
  • Residents include an array of herons and egrets as well as the American Bittern!
  • Fall mudflats provide some of the best shorebird habitat in Santa Cruz County.
  • Winter waterfowl can include Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead and Northern Shovelers.
  • Migrants that nest here include the Cinnamon Teal and the Barn Swallow.
  • Spring songbirds include Wilson's and Orange-crowned Warblers and Bullock's Orioles.
Read about the rare bird that rocketed the Wetlands of Watsonville into the spotlight of the bird watching world overnight - Bird Watching Highlight: Cuckoo (PDF).


The Wetlands of Watsonville are home to 23 species whose survival is in danger. The Red-legged Frog, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, and Golden Eagle are just a few of the animals that depend on our wetlands and the adjacent grassland habitat. Begin your exploration at the City's Nature Center to learn about wetland animals, plants, and local cultural history.

Wetlands Restoration

The Wetlands of Watsonville are a system of six freshwater sloughs that provide a home to 23 species listed as endangered or threatened and over 220 bird species. Unfortunately, 90% of the wetlands in California have been destroyed or degraded.
Volunteers working the wetlands ground
The City of Watsonville and Watsonville Wetlands Watch are working to preserve and enhance 800 acres of wetlands, one of the largest remaining freshwater marshes on the central coast of California. Together our goal is to bring our wetlands back to life through invasive species removal, native plant seed collection, garbage removal, education and planting.

For more information on restoration, view the Watsonville Wetlands Watch Restoration page.

To learn about the City of Watsonville’s Restoration Plan, please read the Watsonville Sloughs Watershed Resource Conservation and Enhancement Plan (PDF)