Catway Rd.

Catway Rd.

Los Olivos, California 93441

Tips for Birding

This hotspot goes along Zaca Ridge Road from the intersection with Figueroa Mountain Road, where there is a pullout. You can bird from the car, but the main attraction - the pine forest - only occupies a stretch of about two miles along the road, so it's easily walkable.

Birds of Interest

See the Figueroa Mountain Area group description below. Catway Road has recently not been reliable for some of the montane species like Pygmy Nuthatch and Mountain Chickadee, but it has had regular sightings of Golden-crowned Kinglet. This site gets far fewer visits than nearby East Pinery, so it probably has more to offer than recent records would suggest.

About Figueroa Mountain Area

See all hotspots at Figueroa Mountain Area

This hotspot group includes 15 hotspots in the vicinity of Figueroa Mountain, all of which are within a 30-or-so-minute drive from one another; several can be birded in the same morning.

Many of these hotspots are dominated by pine forest, sometimes mixed in with oaks. Some shady north slopes grade from pine forest into bigcone Douglas-fir. On Figueroa Mountain proper these habitats include Catway Rd. on the north slope; Pino Alto Picnic Area near the summit; Figueroa Mtn. summit; and Pino Alto Rd. going up to the summit. Similar pine-dominated habitat is also found on and near Ranger Peak, including the Ranger Peak hotspot itself and East Pinery. 

Many of the region's montane species are regularly found here, including Mountain Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Townsend's Solitaire. Less frequently recorded species include Williamson's Sapsucker, Red-naped Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Red Crossbill, and Cassin's Finch. Casual visitors include Clark's Nutcracker, Evening Grosbeak, and Green-tailed Towhee.

Figueroa Mountain and its environs form one of only a handful of areas with high-altitude pine forests in Santa Barbara County, the others being San Rafael Mountain, Big Pine Mountain, and Madulce Peak.

The pine forest habitat has been diminished by forest fires over the last two decades, and some species have been extirpated as breeders. As such, while eBird bar charts show some of these species occurring year-round, these days, most of them are only seen in winter.

At slightly lower altitudes, the pine forest is replaced by mixed oak woodlands that also include manzanitas and a variety of other evergreen species. Creeks flowing through the woodland and down the north slope of the mountains feature perennial summer flows and shady canopies of sycamore and bigleaf maple. Hotspots with this habitat include Figueroa Mtn. Campground; Davy Brown Trail; NIRA Campground and Manzana Creek east of Lower Manzana Trailhead; Davy Brown Campground; Munch Canyon between East Pinery and Davy Brown campground; and Willow Spring Trail.

These areas, often bordered by grasslands or chaparral, are home to breeding songbirds like Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Western Wood-Pewee, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Cassin's Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Western Tanager (formerly?), and Black-headed Grosbeak. Some of these also breed in the higher-altitude pine forest.

The Figueroa Mountain area is also worth checking during spring and fall migration when it sometimes attracts many migrating passerines. For example, Hammond's and Willow Flycatchers, as well as Hermit Warblers, have been seen here in spring.

Several species of owl occur in this area and can be found in various habitats. This includes Western Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and Spotted Owl.

Other species that can be found here are Mountain Quail, Common Poorwill (sometimes flushed from the road at night), Golden Eagle, Steller's Jay, Violet-green Swallow, Varied Thrush, Pacific Wren, and Lawrence's Goldfinch. Hermit Thrush and Fox Sparrow are common in winter.


  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Roadside viewing

  • Restrooms on site

  • Entrance fee

Content from Linus Blomqvist and Linus Blomqvist

Last updated December 29, 2023