Bird Watching in San Diego
If you enjoy walking and hiking, you should try bird watching; it is a surprisingly calm and rewarding experience. [shown: White Crowned Sparrow]
At first, you won't notice the birds since they are small and tend to camouflaged with their environment. But if you take the time to stop, listen, and look, you will find a large variety of migratory and resident birds.
Tips for Seeing Birds
If you've never been bird watching, it's best to go with a friend so s/he can name the birds that you see. You can also try to find a local interest group or join bird watching with the San Diego Audubon Society. Try to divide up into small groups of 4 people or less. Larger groups tend to be noisy with whisperings and footsteps which scare away birds. Here's more tips:
- Be quiet.
- Go slow.
- Listen (often you hear them before you see them).
- Look for movement and then look for birds themselves.
- Use binoculars.
- Bring a note book and/or a camera.
- Bring a bird guide if you have one.
- Relax and enjoy. [shown: Rufous Hummingbird]
If you find that you love seeking birds, considering attending the San Diego Bird Festival. Year after year, members spot close to 250 species of birds. Here are some bird watching hot-spots:
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- Rose Canyon
- Tijuana Estuary
- Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach
- Dairy Mart Ponds Ecological Reserve
- North 7th Street, Imerial Beach
- South Bay Biological Study Area, Coronado
- J Street Tidal Flats, Chula Vista
- Chula Vista Nature Center (Sweetwater Marsh)
- Shelter Island, North SD Bay
- Cabrillo National Monument.
- Famosa Slough
- SD River Flood Control Channel, Robb Field
- Northern Wildlife Preserve, Mission Bay
- Telocate Canyon Natural Park
- La Jolla rocky shores area
- Marian Bear Memorial Natural Park, Clairemont Mesa
- Torrey Pines State Reserve
- Mission Trails Regional Park
- Otay Sweetwater national Wildlife Refuge, Rancho San Diego
- Lower Otay Reservoir, east of Chula Vista
- Sweetwater River Regional Park, chula Vista
- Rice Canyon, Rancho Del Rey
I've never thought of myself as a bird watcher but one day I decided to give it a try. I went to Rose Canyon with a local San Diego group and within one hour I saw:
a black & white warbler
a gray warbler
[shown: Brown Thrasher]
a white crowned sparrow
a European starling
a hooded bullet oriole
The highlight of the day was that we saw two ravens diving and pecking at a red tailed hawk. Hawks and ravens are both carnivorous and are known to raid each other's nests. It's no wonder they want to chase each other away.
[shown: Red Tailed Hawk]
In addition to seeing a lot of birds, I learned a lot in my first bird watching session:
- Humming birds eat gnats too: they rely on more than just nectar. You can sometimes see them flitting around somewhat erratically. They are not being cute, rather, they are actually catching bugs - a process called gnatting.
- The kind of bird you see will depend on where you look. Orioles nest high in the trees, so look for them there. Warblers eat bugs so they will be lower on the horizon.
- Bird watchers will describe a birds' location using the face of a clock as orientation:
12 o'clock is right in front of you;
3 o'clock is to your right approx 90 degrees;
9 o'clock means to look about 90 degrees to the left.
- Crows and ravens look very similar but ravens are slightly bigger. When they are flying, crows have a flat-edge tail while ravens have a wedge-shaped tail.
- Often birds can be seen as a slight movement in a bush or tree. Look carefully and when the bird moves again, you will see it more clearly.
- There are over 480 species of birds in San Diego county
- The Pacific Flyway is the route that migratory birds use to fly up and down the Pacific Coast.
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