Los Angeles County Birding Spots
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MAP OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY BIRDING REGIONS
Blue – Antelope Valley Green – San Gabriel Mountains
Orange – San Fernando Valley Violet – Northern Santa Monica Bay
Yellow – Central & Eastern L.A. County Aqua – South Bay & Palos Verdes Penn.
Airplane – LAX International Airport Anchor – Harbor for boat to see Island Scrub-Jay
Table Of Contents
1. At LAX Airport with only a few hours to a day for birding?
2. Santa Cruz Island for the Island Scrub-Jay
3. Finding Parrots & Parakeets
4. Doves and Other Oddities
5. More Los Angeles County Information useful to birders
On-line species search; Bird-finding guide; Email bird chat lines; Audubon chapter web sites; Links to maps, Lists or Audubon chapters of nearby counties; Weather & seasons; Driving tips; Pedestrian tips; Food tips.
6. Los Angeles County Birding Locations:
A – Antelope Valley: Western Valley, Eastern Valley
B – San Gabriel Mountains area
C – San Fernando Valley
D – Northern Santa Monica Bay
E – Central & Eastern Los Angeles County
F – South Bay and Palos Verdes Peninsula area
The information presented here is primarily for birders visiting the Los Angeles area or residents new to birding. The information was supplied by members of the L.A. County Audubon chapters listed below and compiled by Chuck Almdale of Santa Monica Bay Audubon.
1. AT LAX AIRPORT WITH ONLY A FEW HOURS OR A DAY FOR BIRDING?
You’d do best by visiting both a seaside area and/or a mixed riparian-chaparral habitat. Large grassy parks usually don’t have much variety. We suggest the following locations. You could spend 1-5 hours at any of these locales, or bird them all in 5 hours, and easily find 50 – 80 species (depending on the time of year). These areas are quite safe, which can’t be said about every birding locality in LA County.
These sites are:
SW of LAX: Dockweiler Beach, El Segundo Library Park
NW of LAX: Ballona Creek & Jetties, Ballona Freshwater Marsh
NE of LAX: Playa Vista Central Park, Holy Cross Cemetery, Kenneth Hahn/Baldwin Hills Recreation Area
Farther NW: Temescal Gateway Park
D9a. BALLONA CREEK, MARINA DEL REY HARBOR ENTRANCE, PLAYA DEL REY LAGOON, BALLONA WETLANDS
Highlights: Seabirds, cormorants, ducks, grebes, loons, raptors, waders, gulls, migrants. Brown Pelican, nesting Great Blue Heron, Black Oystercatcher, Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone & Surfbird in winter & migration. Large-billed Savannah Sparrow (except high tide) is an occasional winter resident on the fishing jetty. Least Terns nest May-August on Venice Beach north of north MDR jetty. Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds in the flowers, California Towhees in the dune scrub, warblers and Bushtits in the brush alongside the south jetty. Local parakeets are either Rose-ringed or Yellow-chevroned.
MapQuest link & directions from LAX: http://mapq.st/hmdMoq
By Cab: About 10 minutes from LAX to Playa del Rey. Have the cab drop you off at the north end of Pacific. From here you can walk the jetties and beaches, check Del Rey Lagoon (which you just passed), walk back into town and call a cab from any of the restaurants which also have better food than the airport.
Del Rey Lagoon: On your right as you head north up Pacific Ave. It has many local species, esp. ducks, gulls and shorebirds. Black-crowned Night Herons and various parrot species often roost in trees by the shaded parking lot.
Habitat: Open sea, rocky shore, beach, marshland, pond.
Best Season/time: Sept. through Apr. All day. Fishermen can crowd jetties on weekends.
Monthly Birdwalk: 3rd Sunday, 8 AM, led by Los Angeles Audubon Society.
Facilities: Paved road, flush toilets (southeast corner of Playa del Rey lagoon), picnic tables, phone.
Parking: Fee beachside lots. Free parking on street and next to Del Rey Lagoon.
Disabled Access: Paved bike path & jetty sidewalks.
General Location: On the beach north of LA airport, 18 miles WSW of downtown LA.
Directions: East out of the airport, keep right to take exit onto Sepulveda Blvd. north. Move to left, in about 1/4 mile bear left onto Lincoln Blvd/Westchester Parkway. Continue on Lincoln as it bends right (north and continue about 2 miles to Jefferson Blvd. As you turn left onto Jefferson, the Ballona Fresh Water Marsh will be on your left (see below). Continue 0.6 mile to Culver Blvd. Bear left and continue 1.0 miles straight through the stop lights (don’t follow curve to south) until you reach Pacific Ave., the last street before the beach. Turn right (north). About 1/10 mile, park in the lot next to the lagoon or on the street. From here it is a short walk farther north on Pacific to the Ballona Channel. Walk along south side of Ballona Creek to right (east), or north side bike path left or right.
Suggestions: Check lagoon for various ducks and geese, cross footbridge at end of Pacific Ave. to the South Jetty of the MDR entrance and go left, all the way to the end if you want. Rocky shore birds like the south side of this jetty, or the north side of the jetty across the creek. Scan outer jetty for oystercatchers, cormorants and tattlers. Loons, grebes and scoters can be anywhere. Return inland. Along this jetty, up to 500 yards inland of the footbridge, many shorebirds, gulls and terns relax. Ducks are in the creek or main boat channel, as is the occasional alcid. Back across the footbridge, walk left past apartment houses and warning fences to stroll along the south side of the creek, from where you can look over the fence into the wetlands. Keep an eye open for Rose-ringed Parakeets, the common Psittacids in Playa del Rey, which have nested in palm tree holes near the small shopping on Culver Blvd. Back at the beach, you may find gulls, terns and skimmers resting on the sand south of Ballona Creek. Large rafts of grebes and sea ducks winter offshore. These rafts continue southward down Dockweiler Beach (see D10 below); careful scoping often turn up Black & White-winged Scoter, Red-necked and Clark’s Grebe. Snowy Plovers winter on Dockweiler Beach near the trailer park in front of the Hyperion Sewage Plant. Many gulls, including Mew, gather in winter seaward of the fee parking lot across from Hyperion.
To return to LAX airport:
Back down Pacific to Culver Blvd., left on Culver 1 mile to Jefferson Blvd., angle right ½ mile to Lincoln Blvd., right on Lincoln 2 ½ miles to Sepulveda Blvd. (Lincoln takes a curve to the left when it reaches the north edge of the airport), right on Sepulveda ¼ mile to airport entrance on right or ¼ mile further to Century Blvd., where a right turn takes you to LAX or a left leads to most of the airport area hotels. Return To Top
If you have your own car, here’s a nearby freshwater and field habitat:
D9b BALLONA FRESH WATER MARSH
Highlights: Ducks, raptors, Moorhen & Sora, waders, gulls, ground & bush birds; Marsh Wren, Least Bittern (hard to see), Great-tailed Grackle. Total list is over 150 species.
Habitat: Fresh water marsh, reed beds, ponds, open fields.
Best Season/time: Sept through Apr. All day.
Monthly Birdwalk: None
Parking: No lot. Free on south side of Jefferson Blvd. alongside marsh.
Disabled Access: Level crushed granite and dirt path.
General Location: Intersection of Lincoln & Jefferson Blvds, 1 mile east of Playa del Rey, 17 miles WSW of downtown LA.
MapQuest link & directions from Playa del Rey: http://mapq.st/eBbdGN
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #405 south 4 miles, #90 west 2 miles, Culver Blvd southwest 2 miles to end (don’t follow curve to south), north (right) on Pacific to end & park wherever available. Walk along south side of Ballona Creek to right, or north side bike path left or right.
MapQuest link & directions Back to LAX: http://mapq.st/dLSLIn
Riparian Path to the East: Along the base of the cliff to the east (across Lincoln Blvd.) there is a path alongside a narrow riparian area that leads all the way to the next site, Playa Vista Central Park. Return To Top
About 2 miles farther east is:
PLAYA VISTA CENTRAL PARK
Highlights: It’s small and quick to get around and can offer great views of mostly common birds but also local rarities like Sage Thrasher & Cackling goose. One local birder has 66 species for this tiny park. More ponds may be added in the future.
Habitat: Ponds, lawn, small fields, trees, brush, access to riparian corridor at cliff base.
Best Season/time: All day, best in migration & winter.
Parking: On street.
General Location: 1.5 mile east of intersection of Lincoln & Jefferson Blvds, 3 miles E of Playa del Rey, 17 miles WSW of downtown LA.
Directions: East out of the airport, keep right to take exit onto Sepulveda Blvd. north. Move to left, in about 1/4 mile bear left onto Lincoln Blvd/Westchester Parkway. Continue on Lincoln as it bends right (north and continue about 2 miles to W. Jefferson Blvd. & turn right. As you turn right onto Jefferson, the Ballona Fresh Water Marsh will be on your left (see above). Continue E. 1.4 mile to S. Campus Center Dr., take 1st left onto E. Waterfront Dr. continue 0.3 mile to the park on right side of road. Return To Top
And about 1 mile farther east is:
HOLY CROSS CEMETERY
Highlights: Not really appropriate for a birding group, but a couple of people wandering around isn’t a problem. It has many local birds, has had Gray Flycatcher, is fairly reliable for Lark Sparrow, and Yellow-chevroned Parakeet are there about 35-50% of the time, usually when the coral trees are in bloom.
Habitat: Lawns and trees
Best Season/time: All day, best in migration & winter.
Parking: On cemetery roads.
General Location: 1 mile east of intersection of #405 San Diego Fwy & #90 Marina Fwy., 16 miles SW of downtown LA.
Directions from LAX: East out of the airport on E. Century Blvd. 1.8 miles to #405 Freeway, entrance on right after passing under the Fwy. North 2.7 miles to exit 49B Sepulveda Blvd. towards Slauson Ave. In 0.5 mile merge right onto the #90 Fwy E, keep right, then take slight right onto W Slauson Ave. Take 1st left onto Bristol Ave. and into the Cemetery.
Directions from Playa Vista Central Park: Return west down E. Waterfront Dr. to S. Campus Center Dr., turn right to Jefferson Blvd., right (east) on Jefferson, keeping left to avoid S. Centinela Ave. curving off to the south, continue east under the Fwy interchange ahead. Take 2nd right past interchange onto Slauson Ave. about 1/2 mile to Bristol Ave. where you turn left and into the Cemetery. Return To Top
If you have more time, and want some woodland and chaparral birds:
D11. KENNETH HAHN / BALDWIN HILLS RECREATION AREA
Highlights: Local birds, ducks in pond, migrants in season, wintering vagrants.
Habitat: Lake, trees, brush, plantings.
Best Season/time: Winter & Spring. Morning, early PM.
Monthly Birdwalk: 3rd Saturday, 8am, turn left after gate into 1st lot and park; led by Los Angeles Audubon Society.
Facilities: Paved roads, bike paths, flush toilets, phone, water, picnic tables. This park is under development with many facilities including camping to be added, but some undeveloped areas will remain. It is the closest park to Los Angeles Airport, so if you have only a few hours to spare, you could take a taxi and pick up a few common SoCal birds.
Parking: Fee for all lots.
Disabled Access: Paved roads and sidewalks.
General Location: 8 miles WSW of downtown LA in Culver City in the Baldwin Hills, 7 miles NNE of LAX Airport.
MapQuest link & directions from LAX: http://mapq.st/foFMer
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 3 miles to La Cienega Blvd exit, right (south) 2 miles to Ken Hahn Park exit, then left into park, pay at entrance gate. Return To Top
A bit farther afield, with a nice riparian area, stream, waterfall, and plenty of chaparral:
D7. TEMESCAL CANYON
Highlights: Raptors, chaparral & riparian birds, migrants in season. Black-hooded Parakeets commonly seen, usually around the parking lot. Nesting Band-tailed Pigeons, hummers, Woodpeckers, flycatchers, Wrentit, Canyon Wren, Phainopepla, many others.
Habitat: Riparian, chaparral hillsides, creek and small waterfall.
Best Season/time: All year. Morning and early evening. Trail can be busy on weekends.
Monthly Birdwalk: None
Facilities: Paved road, flush toilets, picnic tables near Sunset Blvd., phone, miles of trails.
Parking: Fee lot. Lot can be crowded. Free street parking across Sunset Blvd.
Disabled Access: Paved sidewalk in picnic areas; hard packed dirt paths but steep, uneven climbs.
General Location: 17 miles W of downtown LA in Pacific Palisades just above Sunset Blvd. This is about 16 miles from LAX, 12 of which are freeway.
MapQuest link & directions from LAX: http://mapq.st/hTPyIN (Note: This map gives directions to Temescal Gateway Park. Drive through this park to the trailhead and best birding, located a bit farther up Temescal Cyn. Rd.
Directions: From the airport main exit, go east on Century Blvd about 1 ½ miles to the #405 San Diego Fwy, north about 7 miles to the #10 Santa Monica Fwy (connector overpass is on the right), west 4 miles until you go through a short tunnel and the Fwy becomes Pacific Coast Hwy, continue west approx. 2.8 miles west to Temescal Canyon Rd, right (north) 1 mile to Sunset Blvd. Park on Temescal or continue north 1/10th mile to park entrance.
Suggestions: Park for free on Temescal Cyn Rd just below Sunset Blvd. Walk into the park, keeping your eyes open for Black-headed Parakeet which are commonly seen in this area. At the far end of the parking lot, trail maps are usually available for a dime, but you don’t really need a map. The trail starts on the left, following the paved road for about 50 yards, then goes uphill. It soon splits: the left fork continues uphill through pure chaparral; take the right fork for a better walk through mixed riparian and chaparral. You can continue for about a mile up to a small waterfall. On the way back, you can divert through the conference grounds for possibly some different birds. Return To Top
The closest beach:
D10. DOCKWEILER BEACH
Highlights: Sea ducks, loons, grebes, pelicans, sandpipers, gulls, terns, Mew Gull seaward of parking lot south of Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant.
Habitat: Sandy beach, a few rock jetties, ocean.
Best Season/time: Fall – Spring. Bikepath can be busy on weekends.
Facilities: Parking lot, flush toilet, restaurant nearby.
Parking: Fee parking lot.
Disabled Access: Paved around parking lot. Paved bike path.
General Location: About 2 miles west of LAX terminals.
Google Map to Location
Directions: At the airport exit, turn south onto Sepulveda Blvd./Pacific Coast Hwy. In .7 miles, turn right (west) onto Fwy #110. Continue west 2 miles to the ocean as the fwy. ends and becomes Imperial Hwy. Left on Vista del Mar and 0.6 mile to a large pay parking lot on the ocean side. There are stairs down to the beach at the NW corner of this lot, next to a restroom.
Suggestions: Go for a walk on the beach. Scope is very useful (almost necessary) to scan the offshore flocks. Return to the airport or stop at El Segundo Library Park (next location) for some tree and park birds. Return To Top
Even closer than Dockweiler Beach:
EL SEGUNDO LIBRARY PARK
Highlights: Tree and lawn birds in park and nearby streets. A nice location with a small-town feel. Migrants in trees in season.
Habitat: Trees, lawns, houses and gardens.
Best Season/time: Some birds all year, migrants spring & fall.
Facilities: Bathroom in the library. Stores and restaurants
Parking: Both free and paid.
Disabled Access: Paved sidewalks everywhere.
General Location: About 1.5 mile west, .5 mile south of LAX.
Google Map to location
Directions: At the airport exit, turn south onto Sepulveda Blvd./Pacific Coast Hwy. In .7 miles, follow the sign to Fwy #105 East, staying in the right lane. Take the ramp for Imperial Highway West, on the far right. Do NOT get onto Fwy #105. Continue west on Imperial Hwy about 1 mile towards the ocean. Turn left at Main St. and continue 0.4 mile until you see a park on the right, a High School on the left. Park anywhere.
Suggestions: Check the park trees and lawn. Walk around the shady streets. Have a bite to eat.
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2. SANTA CRUZ ISLAND – ISLAND SCRUB-JAY
Highlights: The Island Scrub-Jay is endemic to Santa Cruz Island.
How to get there: Island Packers http://www.islandpackers.com/index.html
Suggestion: Read the Island Packers website and book ahead. Dress for cooler weather on the ocean than on land. Have seasickness medicine at hand. The channel can be rough.
Which Trip: Santa Cruz Island trip that docks at Prisoner’s Harbor on the island’s north side.
Why There: The birds are easily seen. If you go to Scorpion Anchorage on the east end of Santa Cruz Island, the birds are far less common and you will probably have to take a rugged hike of several hours to fine one.
Best Season/time: All year, although seas tend to be rougher in the winter.
Cost: Day trip to Prisoner’s Harbor is currently $56.
Island Packers Boat Dock: 1691 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA. 93001-4367 Phone: 805-642-6573
Mapquest Map to Ventura Harbor Boat Dock
Mapquest Directions from LAX Airport
Travel Time: 75 minutes in good traffic. Best to allow 2 hours.
Alternate Pacific Coast Hwy Route: More scenic but slower.
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3. FINDING PARROTS AND PARAKEETS
Parrots are easiest to find at their roosts which they leave around dawn and return to a bit before sunset. The rest of the day they spend foraging and/or resting. Foraging sites are blooming/fruiting/seeding trees and thus change frequently. The western San Gabriel Valley communities host the most species and largest concentrations. You may see Amazona parrots over the #210 Fwy in Pasadena, Monrovia & Arcadia; Black-hooded Parakeets are also in the area. Sierra Madre hosts many Amazona and Aratinga species. Listed below are the most reliable locations.
Link to Parrot Map This link opens a separate window for the same map.
Adjust map size to see all locations. Click markers for site description.
Temple City has the most reliable roosts, but these roosts do move around a bit.
1. Temple City Library Park – Arrive 1-2 hours before dark and watch for parrot flocks flying overhead to the nighttime roosts. This helps you to locate them. Parrots often land and rest in trees in the park or nearby, so check around.
Directions: From intersection #10 & #405 Fwys: 9.3 miles east to #110 Fwy north, 2.2 miles to #10 Fwy east, 7.7 miles east to Rosemead Blvd. north, 2.4 miles north to E. Las Tunas Dr., right (east) 1 mile to the park on left side of street.
2. Daines St. & Golden West Ave. roost – the largest roost
Possible Parrots: mostly Red-crowned & Lilac-crowned; occasional Red-lored & White-fronted.
Possible Parakeets: Red-masked & Mitred; occasional Blue-crowned & Rose-ringed. Directions: From Temple City Library park, take Golden West on east border of park, south of Las Tunas 4 blocks to Daines. Park anywhere.
3. Blakely St. roosts – secondary to Daines St. roost
Roosts, if active, are usually located south of Blakely on Camellia Ave, Barela Ave. or Kauffman Ave. Directions: From Temple City Library park, take Las Tunas west 3 blocks to Temple CityBlvd., left (south) 5 blocks to Blakely St., left 1-3 blocks & explore the trees.
4. Search outward from Baldwin & Live Oak intersection
The roosts could be anywhere in 1/2 mile radius from here. Drive around, listening & looking for flocks gathering in trees and on utility wires. Useful if you haven’t found them anywhere else. Directions: From Temple City Library park, take Las Tunas east 3 blocks to S. Baldwin St., right (south) 2 blocks to W. Live Oak Ave.
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South Pasadena also has roosts and foraging psittacids, primarily Mitered Parakeet, but also Amazona species including Yellow-headed Parrot.
1. South Pasadena Library: Mitred Parakeet most common but various Amazona species (including Yellow-headed) sometimes appear.
This is a nighttime roost: You’d need to be here just before dark; if you have to choose, Temple City is more reliable. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 9.5 miles, #110 northeast 9.2 miles to Orange Grove, right (south) 0.2 miles to Mission St., left (east) 0.3 to Fairview, right (south) 1 block to El Centro.
2. Larger area around South Pasadena Library:
Birds may forage and/or roost in the general residential area west of Fair Oaks Ave. & north of Monterey Rd. (intersection is 1 block S and 5 blocks E of the library). Drive around, looking and listening.
3. Trader Joe’s Market on Mission west of Orange Grove: In daytime, Mitred Parakeets often show up in the camphor trees on surround streets. Directions: From South Pasadena Library, return to Mission, turn left (W) about 1/2 mile.
4. Caltech Campus: See below, listed under Yellow-chevron Parakeets.
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Sites for the other three common parakeets are listed by bird.
Best found in the southwest San Gabriel Valley and from the Los Angeles Civic Center west through urban parks such as MacArthur Park and Lafayette Park, all the way to the seashore in Marina del Rey, Venice and Santa Monica. They fly around a lot, calling noisily as they do, sounding like children screaming in the distance. They especially favor the Silk-floss Kapok tree which has large seed pods and spikes on the trunk.
1. Caltech Campus: Silk-floss trees outside Chandler Cafeteria are frequented by Yellow-chevroned Parakeets. Red-masked Parakeets are occasional at the maintenance yard N. of Tournament Park at south end of campus (S of Calif. Blvd) and around nearby tennis courts. Various Amazonas (Red-crowned, Yellow-headed, etc.) fly over the campus and neighborhood south of campus, occasionally perching in campus trees. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 9.5 miles, #110 northeast 11.5 miles, when Fwy becomes Arroyo Parkway continue ½ mile to California Blvd, right (east) on California 1.5 to S. Hill St., left 0.1 mile to San Pasqual St., left into the campus. Chandler Cafeteria is on the left, just past intersection with S. Holliston Ave. For Tournament Park, return to California Blvd, west (right) two blocks to S. Wilson Ave, south two blocks to Cornell Rd., turn left and to end of road. You’re on you own for finding legal places to park.
2. Huntington Gardens – See also Site E4.
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 9.5 miles, #110 northeast 11.5 miles, when Fwy becomes Arroyo Parkway continue ½ mile to California Blvd, right (east) on California 1.3 miles to Allen Ave, right (south) & cross Orlando Rd. into the grounds.
3. Legg Lake – South end parking lot – See also Site E12.
A bunch of silk-floss trees grow right next to the south end parking lot (free). Chevron-winged Parakeets love the seeds found in the large pods. No pods? Probably no birds. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 13 miles, #60 Fwy east 9.4 miles to Santa Anita Ave exit, right (south) ¾ mile (passing one entrance to Legg Lake on the right) to Durfee Ave, left (east) ¼ mile to parking lot entrance on left (north).
4. Los Angeles County Arboretum: see Site E5. As they prefer Silk-floss Trees, ask at the gate where the trees are.
5. Los Angeles Civic Center
Check trees, especially the silk floss trees at NE corner of N. Grand Ave. & W. 1st St.
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 9.5 miles, #110 northeast 2.2 miles, interchange onto #5 east, immediately exit at Temple St. exit, turn left onto Temple, turn right 1 block onto Grand Ave. West end of Civic Center Park is 1/2 block down the street. Parking is available on streets (very limited). For pay lots continue 1/2 block to W. 1st St, left 1 block to S. Olive St., right to several pay lots.
6. Holy Cross Cemetery
Yellow-chevroned Parakeets are there about 35-50% of the time, usually when the coral trees are in bloom. Red-crowed Parrots are also seen here occasionally, as well as around the general area. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys 3.4 miles south, exit 50b towards Slauson Ave, merge briefly onto #90 Fwy east, in about 0.5 mile keep right, then take slight right onto W Slauson Ave. Take 1st left onto Bristol Ave. and into the Cemetery.
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Nanday (or Black-hooded) Parakeet
This bird favors the wooded canyons of the southern and western side of the Santa Monica Mountains from Beverly Hills to Sycamore Canyon in SW Ventura County next to the ocean. They occur in Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Arcadia but we don’t have reliable locations. They nest in holes, especially in sycamore trees. In the right area, you can see them resting in trees, feeding, or flying noisily overhead. (Mitred Parakeets and some Amazona species are also in the same areas.)
1. Franklin Canyon – See also site Site D8.
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #405 north 1.5 miles to Santa Monica Blvd exit, right (east) 3 miles to Coldwater Canyon Drive, then left onto Beverly Drive, (north) 2.5 miles to Franklin Canyon Dr, right 2 miles to reservoir.
2.Temescal Canyon – See also Site D7.
They roost and (at least they used to) nest in the trees NE of Sunset Blvd. and north of the park access road.
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 Fwy west 4 miles, continue on Pacific Coast Hwy west approx. 2.5 miles west to Temescal Canyon Rd, right (north) 1 mile to Sunset Blvd. Park on Temescal or continue north ¼ mile to park entrance.
3. Malibu Canyon – See also Site D4.
They could be anywhere in the lower canyon, especially the Serra Retreat area.
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 Fwy west 4 miles to Pacific Coast Hwy, continue approx. 11.9 miles west to Malibu Pier, continue past the bridge 0.1 mile to Serra Rd. on right, turn and continue about 0.8 to Serra Retreat entrance drive. Either drive uphill 0.4 to the center. Park where you can, walk around for great views and possible parrots, Otherwise, continue past driveway another 0.4 miles to (more or less) end of road. Park where you can and look around. They’re always noisy when they fly.
4. Solstice Canyon – See also Site D2.
They could be anywhere from the lower parking lot to a mile up the canyon where the burned-out house and the waterfall are, but they have nested in the sycamores about 0.1 mile up the main path from the parking lot, just past the bridge over the creek. Take the fork to the right, continuing uphill, and keep checking the trees along the creek on your right. Directions: From intersection 10 & 405 Fwys, #10 Fwy west 4 miles, continue on Pacific Coast Hwy west 15.7 miles, right (north) on Solstice Cyn. Rd and .7 mile to park entrance on left.
5. Zuma Canyon – See also Site D1.
Along Bonsall Dr. in the lower canyon.
Directions: From intersection 10 & 405 Fwys, #10 Fwy west 4 miles, continue on Pacific Coast Hwy west 19.4 miles; right at Bonsall Dr. just before stoplight and uphill.
Far less common than the other species, Rose-ringed are fairly reliable in Playa del Rey, where they may be the most commonly seen psittacid. They have nested in palm tree cavities in and near the small shopping center on Culver Blvd. & Vista del Mar, but they could be anywhere around the palm-laden residential area and del Rey Lagoon. See Ballona Creek & Playa del Rey – Site D9a.
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Rock Pigeon Columba livia: Widespread in urban & suburban areas, just like in the rest of the USA. Much less common in unsettled areas.
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura: Possible anywhere, but more common in suburbs, parks and wild areas than in treeless urban areas. They have developed the peculiar habit of nesting in hanging flower pots, probably because they’re too lazy to build a real nest.
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto: Can be found almost anywhere, but more common in suburbs & rural areas than in treeless urban landscapes or in mountains. More common in eastern and southeastern portions of county than in western. Just about any park listed in the central, eastern and southern areas below, and many that aren’t, will have some.
Ringed Turtle-Dove Streptopelia risoria: Forget it. There used to be a significant population 20-30 years ago in downtown L.A., especially around Olvera St., but that’s gone. No one counts them anymore. Too many people letting loose flocks of doves/pigeons whenever someone gets married or dies to consider any OrTD you might see as a countable bird.
Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti: Forget it. One was seen in La Canada (area around C12 below) in 2006 for about a week. That’s it. Go to the Imperial Valley where they are reported in the Calipatria area, near the intersection of W. Eddins & Sperry Rds., about 1.5 miles west of Hwy #111. Return To Top
SPOTTED DOVE (LOWER) AND INCA DOVE (UPPER) SITES
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis: Introduced many decades ago, and verging on abundant in city and suburbs until 15-20 years, they have almost disappeared for unknown reasons. Several locations are suggested.
Salt Lake Park in Huntington Park, about 3 miles SE of downtown L.A., is by far the best location, with up to 30 birds residing there since 2010. People seem to have the best luck in the central and northern part of the park as well as the residential areas just north of the park.
Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 12 miles, merge onto #60/#5 for 0.6 mile, then 2.5 miles to #710 south. In 3.4 miles, take exit #10 to Florence Ave towards Bell, turn right (west), go 2.3 miles to Bissell Ave, turn right, 0.2 miles to center of the park.
Gonzales Park in Compton may have two birds. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #405 south 8 miles, #105 east 7.9 miles, exit 10 Wilmington Ave, turn right onto S. Wilmington Ave., 1.6 miles south to W. Rosecrans Ave, 0.2 mile to Bobby Parham Ave/N Dwight Ave, turn right, N 1 block to W. Cressey St, turn right, then left into the small park.
They are still seen occasionally in other locations, but in very small numbers and irregularly. You can always do a message search on LA County Bird Chat (just above start of messages) for this or any other bird. Return To Top
Inca Dove Columbina inca: Far more common in the Imperial Valley in many places like Finney Lake. A small population at Lake Los Angeles (sorry, there’s no lake there) in the eastern Antelope Valley appears to be an outlier group of this common Mexican bird, rather than an escapee population. They are most recently found near #40955 172nd Street East. They have previously been reported between 167th to 169th St., between Mossdale and Valeport Aves.; in a lot across from 16819 Mossdale Ave. west of 169th, the intersection of 169th St E and Mossdale Ave.; a front yard on 168th St East just north of Valeport Ave.
Directions to Lake Los Angeles: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #405 north 19.9 miles, #5 Fwy north 3.6 miles, #14 Fwy northeast 34.3 miles to exit 35 Hwy #138/Palmdale Blvd., right (east) 9.5 miles to 90th St. E, left (north) 2.6 miles to E. Ave. O, 8.1 miles to 170th St. E., left 0.5 mile to N-8. For 172nd St. E, go right on N-8 0.2 mile to 172nd, left to Valport, left to 172nd (yes, again), right. About 3-5 house down on the right is where they’ve been most recently seen. For 167-169th Sts. E.: go back to N-8, cross 170th St. E, continue 0.3 mile to 167th St. E., turn right and explore area between 167th-169th & Mossdale & Valport Aves, especially the intersection of 169th St. E. and Mossdale Ave.
Washington Park in S.E. Los Angeles. A small population of seven Inca Doves was recently (Feb 6,2014) discovered here. Whether they are escapees or wild birds is unknown. North of Watts: Maie Ave. between Firestone Blvd and 92nd St. Check the south end of the park, the (possibly abandoned) plant nursery across the street, or the high-tension wire towers at the nursery’s west end. Return To Top
Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata: Fairly common in the canyons of the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mtns, but they get down into the surburban areas and even downtown L.A. in the Civic Center. They’re very quiet when perched or flying. Acorns is one of their primary foods, which is why they like the oak-filled riparian canyons, but they are also be found in the mountains among the conifers. You rarely see the band in the tail on a perching bird, but the white mark on the nape is fairly easy to spot, the iridescent patch below it a bit less obvious.
Likely Areas: Antelope Valley – Site A18 (Valyermo), Site A20 (Big Rock Creek); Mountains – All Areas; San Fernando Valley – Site C1 (O’Melveny Park), Site C3 (Wilson Cyn), Site C4 (Veteran’s Park), Site C12 (Descanso Gardens, especially); N. Santa Monica Bay – Site D2 (Solstice Cyn), Site D5 (Cold Canyon Preserve), Site D6 (Trippet Ranch), Site D7 (Temescal Cyn), Site D8 (Franklin Cyn); Central & Eastern L.A. County – Sites E1 thru E10. Return To Top
WHITE-WINGED DOVE SITES
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica: They are far more common in the southeastern Calif. deserts of Imperial and Riverside Counties, but there seem to be a few residents, or at least visitors that show up repeatedly in a few locations.
Point Dume: Several are regularly seen mostly around Point Dume State Beach Park (about 1 mile from Site D1 Zuma Beach) at the top of the cliff, which is also a good spot to look for passing seabirds and whales. Eurasian Collared-Doves and Mourning Doves area also in the area. White-winged Doves move around the area, and are also seen on Cliffside Dr. east of Grasswood Ave. and at intersection of Fernhill and Boniface Drives. Directions: From intersection 10 & 405 Fwys, #10 Fwy west 3.2 miles, continue on Pacific Coast Hwy west 18.7 miles; left on Zumirez Drive and continue on Wildlife Rd for 0.3 mile, turn right on Fernhill Dr., in 0.7 mile turn right on Cliffside Dr, continue 0.5 mile to parking area.
Malibu Lagoon: See Site D4. Single birds are seen irregularly at the lagoon. Most recently one was near the nursery adjacent to the commercial area north of PCH. Directions: From intersection 10 & 405 Fwys, #10 Fwy west 3.2 miles, continue on Pacific Coast Hwy west 12.1 miles, left at Cross Creek Rd. into Malibu Lagoon State Park, or right 0.2 mile, park wherever open and start looking around.
Kenneth Hahn Park: See Site D11. Follow main park road around to left, drive up the hill. Area around the fenced maintenance yard or short radio towers is best. They hang out with Mourning Doves.
Ballona Fresh Water Marsh: See Site D9b. They also are seen in the Westchester residential area at the top of the cliff to the south.
Angel’s Gate Park in San Pedro: Occasionally seen here perching on fences, utilities poles and wires. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #405 south 16.5 miles, #110 Fwy south 7.8 miles, follow fork to left onto Gaffey St. for 3 miles, turn right onto Levenworth Dr. and immediate right into the park. Area at north end of par seems to be best. Birds have been seen at the N. end of the parking area and at western edge of the Salt Marsh nearby.
Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro: See Site F5. Probably the same birds as above location. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #405 south 16.5 miles, #110 Fwy south 7.8 miles to end, follow fork to left onto Gaffey St. for 2 miles, left on W. 22nd St for 0.3 miles, right on S. Pacific Ave. for 0.9 mi, left on Stephen M. White for 0.1 mile and left into the park. Return To Top
COMMON GROUND-DOVE SITES
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina: Widely scattered and irregularly seen in LA County.
Powder Canyon trailhead in La Habra Heights seems to be the most reliable spot. They are seen and heard near the parking lot and on the ground along the access road. These birds often sit in trees when not feeding. Look for very small, tailless Mourning Doves. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 12 miles, #60 Fwy east 19.3 miles to exit 19 Fullerton Rd, turn right, keep right at the fork and follow signs 2.0 miles for Fullerton Rd S. and merge onto Fullerton Rd, turn right to stay on Fullerton, access road to trailhead should be about 0.2 mile on the right.
San Gabriel River Bike Path, as it runs through Bellflower, Artesia, Norwalk and Cerritos, between Foster Rd. on the north and Del Amo Blvd. on the south, is a long and narrow area, with frequent sightings. You’ll find them mostly in old storage yards, the few remaining nurseries, private corrals/stables, and the Edison towers right- of- ways where there is bare dirt or gravel. Slightly more specific, check between Iron-Wood Golf Course and Alondra Blvd. crossing in Cerritos; just south of Rosecrans Blvd. at several private horse stables.
Los Angeles Arboretum (see Site E5)
Holiday Valley Lake in the Antelope Valley (see Site A3). Return To Top
No Bulbuls, Bishops or Mannikins are official California Checklist birds.
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL SITES
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus: This Asian species, found from India to Hong Kong, became locally established around 1968 in from Pasadena east to Monrovia. They are on the Federal Injurious Species list as crop pests, so it’s illegal to import them or own them as cage birds. Eradication efforts were made during the 70′s. They are very well established. The surest place to see them is at the Arboretum where there is a very robust population.
Los Angeles County Arboretum, see Site E5. Probably at least several dozen birds. They love berries; ask at the entrance gate where they might be.
Descanso Gardens in La Canada-Flintridge, see Site C12. They arrive when the fruit ripens on the mulberry tree by one of the ornamental ponds.
Huntington Gardens in San Marino, see Site E4, reportedly has a large population.
City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Hospital in Duarte has a reliable flock of 20 or so, singing and eating berries. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 Fwy east 12 miles to #60 Pomona Fwy, 11.5 miles east to exit 12 #605 Fwy, 9.1 miles north on #605 to Huntington Dr (Fwy ends here). Left on Huntington Dr. 0.6 mile to Highland Rd, turn left & drive south 0.5 mile to where it bends right and becomes E. Duarte , 0.3 mile to Hope Drive on left, follow that to parking area.
Arlington Garden in Pasadena may have a mated pair, seen gathering nesting material in April 2010. Park on Arlington Dr just before the Speed limit sign, go in the park entrance, follow the left trail until you come to a stone wall/bench. They were seen here 4:30 – 5:30PM. They may have nested in an old broken bird house with the roof missing. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 8.9 miles to exit 13B onto north #110 Fwy, northeast 9.2 miles to exit 31A Orange Grove Ave. Left on Orange Grove 0.7 mile, right on Arlington Dr. 0.2 mile to park on left.
Atwater Village near Griffith Park NW of downtown L.A., may be a new location for the birds, seen on the E. side of the L.A.River just south of Los Feliz Blvd, foraging from large bushes along the neighborhood fence line. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 8.9 miles to exit 13B onto north #110 Fwy, 4.2 miles to Exit 26A on left for #5 Fwy north, NW 3.6 miles to exit 141A Los Felez Blvd. Turn right, 0.2 mile to Glenfeliz Blvd., turn right, 0.2 mile to Dover St., continue 0.1 mile and park where you can. This is a residential area and I’m not sure how you get to the open area near the river. Return To Top
ORANGE BISHOP & NUTMEG MANNIKIN SITES
Orange Bishop Euplectes franciscanus: This southern African grassland species has been around for a couple of decades. Generally restricted to unused grassy areas. I’ve seen them only in grasses and low leafy plants, but people have reported them in reeds. The males develop their bright orange breeding plumage in late August. In basic plumage, they look like females which look like odd sparrows.
Nutmeg Mannikin Lonchura punctulata: Any habitat hosting bishops may, and often does, have Nutmeg Mannikins as well.
Sepulveda Basin – L.A. River – See Site C9 below. Orange Bishops often visible from the Burbank Blvd. bridge, looking south towards the “dam,” but you may need to walk along the dirt trail on east side of the river.
Hansen Dam – See Site C5 below. Both Orange Bishops & Nutmeg Mannikins. In seeding grasses at east shore of main lake.
Santa Fe Dam – See Site E8 below. In the grasses near the spillway are about a dozen Orange Bishops.
San Gabriel River in El Monte: Orange Bishops and Nutmeg Mannikins possible anywhere between Valley Blvd. at the north to Thienes Ave in the south. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 12.7 miles, #60 Fwy east 10.8 miles to exit 11 Durfee Ave, left on Durfee and left again onto Peck Rd, 0.3 mile and continuing 0.2 mile when it changes back to Durfee Ave, right on Thienes Ave and 0.4 mile to end.
San Gabriel River in Pico Rivera: A thriving colony of Orange Bishops and Nugmet Mannikins in the weedy grasses going to seed, upstream side of Whittier Narrows Dam flood control gates. Yellow-crowned Bishop also sighted here. Directions: From intersection #10 & 405 Fwys, #10 east 12.7 miles, #60 Fwy east 11.5 miles to exit 12 #605 Fwy south, 1.7 mile south to exit 17 Rose Hills Rd. towards Beverly Blvd W, 0.8 mile west on San Gabriel River Parkway, right on Cypress Pt. Dr and right again onto Fairway Dr, 0.5 mile to golf course, park in lot. From lot, take river trail/bike path north, up and over the dam and down into the river bottom right in front of the gates. Watch out for slippery mud.
Lower Los Angeles River – see Site F8, particularly near Willow St. Both Orange Bishops and Nutmeg Mannikins possible.
Deforest Park – See Site F9. Both Orange Bishops and Nutmeg Mannikins possible. Access to river through gate at each end of park.
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5. More Los Angeles County Information useful to birders
As of July 2006, Los Angeles County had over 490 species of birds, not counting the parrots and various uncommon escaped or feral species. This breaks down into over 270 non-passerines and over 210 passerines, a higher species count than 80% of the other 49 states. Among causes of this high diversity: major land and sea migration routes pass through, many habitats and elevations, many species winter here, and the warm weather of the southern United States.
Search for Any Species on any of the Local Bird Chat Forums:
You can do a “message search” for any particular species. On LA County Birds http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LACoBirds/ scroll down to the “Search” box at the top of the Messages section & follow instructions. All the local county bird chat lines are hosted by Yahoo and they all work the same way. You don’t have to be a member. Return To Top
Local Bird-finding Guide Book:
A Birder’s Guide to Southern California $25.95 ABA/Schram, 2007. Covers area from Mexico & Arizona borders north to San Luis Obispo & Mono Counties.
American Birding Association (800-634-7736, http://www.aba.org/siteguides/scal.html)
Los Angeles Audubon Society On-line Bookstore (888-522-7428, 323-876-0202), http://www.losangelesaudubon.org/store/
See also Amazon.com Return To Top
Nationwide Birding Lists Digests
The Birding List Digest: http://digest.sialia.com/?region=2 direct link to California areas, shows you ALL the postings on Cal. bird-chat lines.
ABA Birding News: http://birding.aba.org/ gives access to blog postings of over 140 different geographical areas and topics, including 20 birding areas for California alone.
Subscribe to Local Email Bird Chat Lines.
Send an email by clicking a link below; put “subscribe” without the quotes on the subject line. The chat line will automatically send you a confirmation email to which you must respond to successfully sign up. If your email system/program has a spam blocker, you must first tell it to let their confirmation through.
Los Angeles County: LACoBirdsemail@example.com
San Diego & Imperial Counties: SDBIRDSfirstname.lastname@example.org
Orange County: OrCoRBAemail@example.com
San Bernardino, Riverside & Imperial Counties: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ventura County: email@example.com
Santa Barbara County: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kern County: email@example.com
General California bird chit-chat: CALBIRDSfirstname.lastname@example.org
L.A. County Audubon Chapter Web Sites:
All Chapters have bird walks open to the public.
The Links below will take you to their local bird-finding tips page, if any.
Conejo Valley Audubon Bird Finding Tips (Ventura Cnty & SW LA Cnty)
El Dorado Audubon
Los Angeles Audubon
Palos Verdes Audubon
Pasadena Audubon Bird Finding Tips
Pomona Valley Audubon Bird Finding Tips
San Fernando Valley Audubon Bird Finding Tips
Santa Monica Bay Audubon Website
Links to Maps, Lists or Audubon Chapters of Other Counties and Areas
Central Coast Birding Trail (Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura Counties)
Eastern Sierra Audubon
Fresno Audubon Bird Finding Tips (Fresno County)
Joe Morlan’s California County Birding Page
Kern County (Nature Ali’s list)
Pasadena area Bird Map
San Bernardino Valley Audubon Bird Finding Tips (San Bernardino County)
San Diego Audubon Bird Finding Tips (San Diego County)
Santa Barbara Audubon (Santa Barbara County)
Sea & Sage Audubon Bird Finding Tips (Orange County)
Tulare Audubon Bird Finding Tips (Tulare County)
Ventura Audubon Bird Finding Tips (Ventura County)
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Weather & Seasons:
We have four seasons, roughly:
Fog: April – June, sometimes into July, mostly along the coast.
Smog: April – November. We have a natural temperature inversion layer which holds the smog low. If you can see the mountains, no matter how poorly, the smog isn’t too bad. If you can’t see them, it’s a bad smog day.
Fire: June – December, especially August to October.
Mudslide (aka rainy season): November – April, especially January – March. If the fires were bad, so too will be the mudslides.
Mid-to-late summer is slow for birding in the SoCal lowlands, but can be good in the cooler mountains and at the really hot (110-120°) Salton Sea. Winters can be cool, plunging way, way down into the 40’s near the ocean, often with a strong wind. Inland valley and desert summers are usually over 100; winters can be cool (high of 45 – 50) and windy, but rarely snowy. Mountain mornings are always cool, and the mountains freeze and snow up in the winter, closing some roads. Winter rainstorms can be fierce (mostly in El Nino years) and mudslides can close canyon roads. Humidity is generally very low. It’s a desert here! Return To Top
Have a very good idea how to get to your destination before you set out. If possible, get a map(s) that cover the areas you’ll be in. This is a very large city. Know which direction (N-S-E-W) you want to go, as the road signs often refer to distant towns – often hundreds of miles away – you’ve never heard of. Many streets are many miles long (Western Blvd. is reportedly the longest straight city street in America), and many names are re-used in various locales, so your GPS might lead you astray unless you know exactly where you’re going.
Turning right on a red light, after cross traffic has passed and pedestrians have crossed, is usually legal unless posted otherwise.
Always, always yield to pedestrians crossing at an intersection, whether or not a crosswalk is painted on the pavement. The police run sting operations in order to catch and ticket drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians. Stay stopped until the pedestrian reaches the opposite sidewalk. Signal all lane changes. Be courteous and thoughtful.
Please don’t drive and talk or text on a cell phone at the same time, even if it does seem like everyone around you is doing it.
Never throw anything burning out the window: major local forest fires, destroyed houses and loss of life start this way.
Links to SIGALERT, TRAFFIC411, and LA DOT (city streets).
Please stay on the sidewalk while waiting to cross the street. Standing in the street while waiting for the light to change immediately brands you as an out-of-towner. Drivers trying to turn right won’t expect you to be in the street and may run you over. Pedestrians, in a crosswalk (and any intersection is considered to have a crosswalk whether or not the lines are actually painted on the road), always have the right-of-way unless the traffic has a green light. Native and/or courteous drivers observe this law; unfortunately many drivers from out-of-town do not, so taking this right for granted can be a dangerous matter.
Food Tips: Great food everywhere. The dumpy little burger, burrito, felafel, Chinese, Thai, Indian or whatnot hole-in-the-wall places usually have better-tasting and more interesting food than the well-known fast food chains. We have the best chiliburgers in the world! (Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to eat one without making a mess all over yourself.) All eateries must prominently display their food safety rating; A is the highest rating. Don’t eat anywhere rated C or lower.
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