To most of us, the zip code 90210 doesn’t sound like a birding hotspot. But nestled in Beverly Hills is Franklin Canyon Park, a beautiful patch of California chaparral and riparian oak forest. Its birdwatching opportunities are excellent year-round.
In the summer, common chaparral breeders include California Quail, California Thrasher, Bewick’s Wren, and the skulking Wrentit. Oak Titmice, Pacific-slope Flycatchers, and Acorn Woodpeckers reside in riparian areas. Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir is a precious water source in the dry hills, and waterfowl often can be seen feeding on the lake.
At the pond near the the William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom, you can watch Wood Ducks from just feet away, but please obey the signs and don’t feed the ducks. Spring migrants include White-throated Swift, Phainopepla, and Western Tanager. Arrive when the park opens at dawn, and you might encounter a coyote or bobcat on the winding entrance road. Stay a bit longer, and you could spot your favorite Hollywood star walking the dog or pushing a stroller. — Neil Losin
California chaparral, manmade ponds, and oak-riparian woodlands.
Well-maintained trails circle Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir and reach into the surrounding hills. Road around reservoir flat and paved; some trails rough and steep. Wheelchair-accessible trail around William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom Pond.
Chaparral areas: Western Scrub-Jay, Wrentit, California Thrasher, Spotted and California Towhees, and California Quail. Oak-dominated riparian forest: Acorn and Nuttall’s Woodpeckers, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, and Great Horned Owl. Reservoirs and ponds: Wood, Ruddy, and Ring-necked Ducks. Spring and fall migrants: Costa’s and Rufous Hummingbirds, Yellow, Townsend’s, Orange-crowned, and Wilson’s Warblers, Phainopepla and other flycatchers, vireos, Loggerhead Shrike, Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles, and Western Tanager.
When to go
Bird walks led by Los Angeles Audubon on the second Sunday of each month. Checklist on website. Sooky Goldman Nature Center offers exhibits on the park’s natural and cultural history. Restrooms in nature center, at William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom Pond, and at Doheny Ranch in Lower Franklin Canyon.
Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority park. Open year-round, sunrise to sunset. No entrance or parking fees.
Wear layers. Temperature often chilly at dawn; can get hot by late morning at any time of year.