An ideal spot in busy L.A. to see hummingbirds, raptors, and songbirds.
By Jason Finley | Published: 8/22/2008
Tucked away in the southeast corner of the UCLA campus, the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden is an ideal spot for birding.
This is where I learned to bird. Having had the revelation that, even in the city, birds were all around me, I set out to discover just how many species called UCLA home and to create a website about them. The garden is where I honed my skills: watching, listening, and photographing. The sheer variety of potential experiences has kept me coming back.
On some days, the winding paths and towering trees offer nothing more than quiet contemplation. But on others, they nearly burst with activity: a frenzied Bushtit flock, a mischievous pair of ravens, a rushing Cooper’s Hawk, a scolding House Wren, a skulking Hermit Thrush.
Nesting birds include Bewick’s Wrens, Anna’s Hummmingbirds, Bushtits, Cooper’s Hawks, and (I strongly suspect) Spotted Towhees. A trio of Western Tanagers stayed the winter one year. And during migrations, ragtag convoys of birds pass through: Lincoln’s Sparrow, Rufous Hummingbird, Ash-throated and Dusky Flycatchers, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and others. — Jason R. Finley
Jason R. Finley is a UCLA grad and the webmaster of Birds of Westwood. He now lives in Illinois, where he misses the hummingbirds but digs the cardinals.
At a Glance
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Wide variety of exotic and native plants (tropical and subtropical), artificial stream and pond, and experimental crops.
Some steep and narrow paths. Stairs in places. Perimeter service road and some internal paths are wheelchair accessible.
Common: Allen’s and Anna’s Hummmingbirds, Bewick’s Wren, Black Phoebe, Bushtit, California Towhee, Common Raven, Cooper’s Hawk, House Finch, House Wren, Lesser Goldfinch, Northern Mockingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Less common: Common Yellowthroat, Hermit Thrush, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Orange-crowned Warbler, Song Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Scrub-Jay, Western Tanager, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet. Rarities: Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-headed Grosbeak, Dusky Flycatcher, Lincoln’s Sparrow, MacGillivray’s and Nashville Warblers, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Rufous Hummingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Yellow Warbler.
When to go
Any time of year. Spring and fall hold the most potential for surprises. Mornings best.
Picnic tables, benches, outdoor amphitheater. Restrooms, food, and water at medical center.
University garden. Free admission. Hours 8-5 Monday-Friday (8-4 in winter) and 8-4 on weekends. Closed on university holidays.
Patience and a strategically chosen sitting rock can yield close-up views of hummingbirds bathing themselves in the tiny waterfall at the head of the garden’s stream.