9 Great California Coastal Birding Sites

9 Great California Coastal Birding Sites

Published: 08/29/2013

This state marine reserve and Global IBA is located in the ocean channel between Santa Barbara on the mainland and the islands of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. The mix of coastal scrub, oak and pine woodlands makes a perfect place to see birds, including brown pelicans, western gulls, pelagic and Brandt’s cormorants, black oystercatchers, pigeon guillemots, island scrub-jays, and San Miguel Island song sparrows. Thousands of seabirds use Anacapa Island as a nesting site due to a relative lack of predators. Boats ferry visitors out to the Channel Islands at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily, and the area is popular with sea kayakers. More info: http://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/anacapa.htm and http://islandpackers.com/


9. Bolsa Chica Basin State Marine Conservation Area

Huntington Beach

Pacific Coast Hwy & Warner Ave.

Wildlife photographers love Bolsa Chica for the unobstructed view of more than 300 bird species, including northern pintails, western grebes, marbled godwits and other shorebirds, egrets, American white pelicans, and the occasional peregrine falcon. Located near Huntington Beach, this global IBAis a key stop on the Pacific Flyway—terns land in the late spring and stay through summer before returning to their winter homes in South America, while ducks that nest to the north spend their winters in Bolsa Chica’s milder climate. Visit in spring for the best of all worlds: nesting and hatching least terns and, very likely, sunny days on one of Southern California’s favorite beaches. More info: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA/Details?mpaID=51


Based in Humboldt County, California, Jennifer Savage is the North Coast Coordinator for Ocean Conservancy’s Pacific Program.

Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Ocean Conservancy brings people together to find solutions for our water planet. Informed by science, our work guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and its wildlife for future generations.



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