Guest post: The best birding places in L.A. that will make your day by Laura Reese of Clever Adventurer

When I started birding in the L.A. area, I found out that every location has its own species to offer, adding beauty to its already magnificent flora and fauna. Make sure your pen and paper are ready as we start listing these spots that will surely captivate your minds and hearts.

Jackson Lake, Angeles National Forest

The San Gabriel Mountains area  serene yet mind-blowing mountain range that is rich in flying creatures such as Green-tailed Towhee, Clark’s nutcracker, and Large-billed Fox Sparrow. What I was seeking, however, was the Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), one of the only two North American jays, along with blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), that have crests.  It came to drink at a tiny birdbath, allowing a rare chance for a close up photograph. Apart from these birds, the pleasant weather of the San Gabriel Mountains added to the appeal. The weather can be cold, so take appropriate measures to stay warm. Any bird aficionado will surely find pleasure watching these birds roaming around the area. Please take note, however, that adventure pass is a requirement for parking ($5 daily or $30 per year). Lots of people also just come and park along the road.

Steller's Jay
Steller’s Jay (image: Birds of North America)

Point Fermin, Palos Verdes Peninsula

For some, sharing their neighborhood streets with peafowls (Pavo cristatus) might seem odd, but to the residents of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it’s a regular occurrence. Point Fermin is an excellent spot for bird watching because it is one of their natural habitats near water where they can freely nest and reproduce. As one of my fellow hikers said, “Point Fermin can be the secret shelter of many majestic pelicans you have never seen in your life.” Speaking of pelicans, these large water birds accumulate and form their colonies in this park where you can find them flying across the sky during an enchanting sunset, offering an incredibly mesmerizing sight.

Point Fermin, Los Angeles County, CA
Point Fermin (image: City Seeker)

Make sure to come during low tide, so you will have the priceless chance of contemplating your favorite birds at their best. Click  here for tide forecasts for updates. For drivers, please take note that there is no parking lot; however, along Paseo Del Mar, right in front of Point Fermin, street parking is allowed. Observe posted restrictions.

Ballona Wetlands

This 600-acre land area is a home to over 150 diverse bird species. The great blue heron (Ardea herodias), a large wading bird, is a native of the freshwater marsh. I was lucky enough to spot one feeding on small fishes. Other species at Ballona include the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) and the least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis).

Blue heron
Blue heron at Ballona Wetlands (image: L.A. Times blogs)

September through May is the perfect time and season to get the most of your birding experience in Ballona. Its convenient location to the South Bay and the west side of Los Angeles make it a great place for a family outing – or perhaps a date. Parking is free on the south side of Jefferson Boulevard and on Sundays, you can park for free at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).

Malibu Creek State Park

Acorn woodpecker
Acorn woodpecker (Photo:

At times, merely listening to the bird sounds becomes just another thrilling reason to explore the wild as their tweets and chirps are not just mere sounds but often gentle and romantic music that is enough to soothe a tired and troubled mind. That is exactly what I realized the moment I set foot in this mesmerizing birding spot as the inviting voices of countless bird species seemed to welcome me to their homeland.

The first bird that serenaded me was the goldfinch (Spinus tristis), a little migratory bird whose song consists of a series of musical twitters and longer warbles. The acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) is another species that instantly caught my interest but not because of its sound but because of their enthralling behavior. These birds are perhaps the busiest since they spend most of their time in storing acorn (where their name was derived) for winter.

Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Creek (Photo: Perpetual Adventure)

Parking in the main lot is $3 per hour per car with a maximum of $12 per day. The gate opens at 8am. Arrive as early as possible to avoid noisy crowds. There are also several free parking spots along Mulholland Highway including the Grasslands Trail Head and Reagan Ranch. The latter is an access point for Malibu Lake, considered one of the best birding spots in the park.

Did you enjoy my list of birding places in L.A.?

Just thinking about these places makes me feel like I am floating in the air, and if I had wings, I surely would fly from one place to another, and build nests where I could lay not eggs but memories with these adorable creatures that I surely would never forget.

Did I miss your favorite L.A. birding spot? Feel free to list it in the comments below.

Laura is the founder of CleverAdventurer, where she shares her knowledge, tips about hiking, camping, backpacking in the wild.  She wishes to share her experience during the adventure with people who have the same passion.


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