An 87-acre former landfill south of Los Angeles where birders have recorded more than 300 species, including many rarities.
By Steve Wolfe | Published: 2/12/2016
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.
Red-shouldered Hawk, Spotted Towhee, Western Scrub-Jay, Hutton’s Vireo, Bushtit, and Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds are among the residents. My favorite times of year at the garden are spring and fall, when seemingly any migrant can drop in — Yellow, Wilson’s, Townsend’s and Yellow-rumped Warblers (both Audubon’s and Myrtle), and Olive-sided and Ash-throated Flycatchers. I’ve seen male and female Common Yellowthroats collecting insects to feed their nestlings and a Black Phoebe nest along a creek. Scaly-breasted Munia (formerly Nutmeg Mannikin), countable in southern California since 2013, frequents the creek’s reeds. — Steve Wolfe
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
More than 2,500 species of blooming trees, shrubs, and flowers, small manmade lake, streambed.
Paved road around the perimeter; dirt paths throughout interior contain steep sections. This is a pedestrian garden; no motorized devices allowed. Most wheelchair access limited to the 10 acres surrounding the administration buildings at the entrance.
More than 300 species. Spotted and California Towhees, Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles, Northern Mockingbird, Black Phoebe, Bushtit, Red-shouldered Hawk, Western Scrub-Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Downy Woodpecker, Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds, Orange-crowned, Townsend’s, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Song Sparrow, Scaly-breasted Munia, Purple Finch, Great Horned Owl, Lesser Goldfinch.
When to go
Year-round. Best during spring, fall, and winter.
Visitor center, docent-led tours, bird walks led by Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society on select Sundays and Wednesdays. Shaded areas and benches plentiful. Restrooms at the entrance and along the perimeter road.
Municipal garden. Open year-round 9-5, except Christmas Day. Fees: adults $9, seniors $6, children 5-12 $4; last ticket sale is at 4:30 p.m. On the third Tuesday of each month, admission is free. Ample parking. Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit’s Green Line and routes 225/226 stop near the garden.
Water is available only at the entrance, so bring a water bottle.
For more info
George F Canyon Preserve
Two miles from the garden, at Palos Verdes Dr. North and Palos Verdes Dr. East. A canyon walk along a dirt path. Towhees, warblers, and other birds.
Point Vicente Park
About seven miles southwest of garden, on the coast in Rancho Palos Verdes. An excellent place to watch seabirds, gulls, and terns.