For birders it’s the bird watching, not the Birdman that draws them to Alcatraz, including falcons, ravens, hawks, Brandt’s and pelagic cormorants, herons, western gulls, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, black-crowned night herons, great egrets, and snowy egrets. Other species visit at different times of the year as they migrate through the Bay Area.
The island’s name comes from the Spanish alcatraces, which means pelicans. Alcatraz is the singular version of the word, so in Spanish when we say “Estamos viajando a Alcatraz” it literally means “We’re going to Pelican!”
Fun Fact: We consider the seagulls that visit every Bay Area park and school yard to be common and ubiquitous, but most of the ones we see nest only in protected areas on Alcatraz.
Seabirds that nest on the island include:
This NPS brochure has extensive details on the island’s birds. The Park Service also as both a general page about Alcatraz seabirds and a great page with photos of all the bird species that nest on the island.