Hotspots Near You

  • 248. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

    A collection of arid landscapes and habitats and diverse bird species drew me to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which occupies eastern San Diego County and reaches into Imperial and Riverside Counties. From the desert floor of the Colorado Desert to several towering mountain ranges, the park covers nearly 600,000 acres. Elevations range from near sea level to 6,200 feet.

  • 245. Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Dorris, California

    Established as the nation’s first waterfowl refuge by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, Lower Klamath is one of six refuges in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex in southern Oregon and northern California.

  • 229. South Coast Botanic Garden, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California

    Somewhat overlooked as a birding hotspot in the Los Angeles area, the South Coast Botanic Garden nevertheless has a reputation for attracting vagrants. In the winter of 2009, a Thick-billed Kingbird stayed for a few months. In May 2007 and again in July 2015, I discovered a first-summer Mississippi Kite at the garden — the sixth and seventh recorded sightings in Los Angeles County. A Scott’s Oriole and a Summer Tanager perched next to one another in a coral tree in 2010, and a Baltimore Oriole was seen in the same tree as Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles a few years later.

  • 227. Ormond Beach and Wetlands, Oxnard, California

    Located between the coastal town of Port Hueneme and a Navy base, two-mile-long Ormond Beach is one of the few beaches remaining in southern California with an intact system of dunes, transition zones, and marshes. Its large size and mix of habitats make it prime nesting habitat for Western Snowy Plover and the endangered California Least Tern. Both are well camouflaged. Your best bet for spotting them is to scan the dunes above the wrack-line.

  • 224. Baylands Nature Preserve, Palo Alto, California

    Baylands Nature Preserve is one of the largest tracts of undisturbed marshland remaining in the San Francisco Bay region and a favorite year-round spot for birders and photographers. Its 15 miles of multi-use trails provide access to tidal, freshwater, and upland habitats and the birds that depend on them. I’ve been hiking the area for years, and since joining the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, my appreciation for the preserve has deepened.

  • 214. Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

    On a backpacking trip in Yosemite Valley a few decades ago, a small gray bird zipped across Illilouette Creek, just upstream from me. It bobbed up and down a few times on a moss-covered rock and then dove beneath the ice-cold waves. It was my first encounter with an American Dipper, and watching it hunt along the creek bottom inspired me to learn more about the funny little species. Over the years, I’ve visited the valley dozens of times. Each time, I look for dippers among the boulders and rapids.

  • 212. Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, Playa Del Rey, California

    In the Los Angeles Basin, the last significant wetland is the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. It once occupied 2,000 acres of coastal habitat, but since the 1920s, industrial encroachment, agriculture, and population growth have shrunk the area to about one-fourth of its original size.

  • 201. Morro Bay State Park, Morro Bay, California

    On a recent brilliant morning at Morro Bay State Park, the water was glassy and calm, American White Pelicans floated in the bay, and Brown Pelicans flew in V formations overhead. In the distance, several sea lions barked. The peacefulness concealed the significance of Morro Bay and its surrounding protected areas, where more than 320 bird species have been recorded. The bay has been described as “one of the most important waterbird stopover and wintering locations in California south of San Francisco Bay.” It hosts as many as 20,000 wintering shorebirds and thousands of Brant. On the western side of the bay, a seven-mile-long sand spit is home to about 30 percent of the Western Snowy Plovers in the state.