Monday, December 31, 2007

Anna's Hummingbird--Calypte anna

Color flashes as a male Anna's turns his head to just the right angle.

The only place to find hummingbirds is in the Americas. North America, Central America, and South America. Many have even more restricted ranges. In the early 1900s, Anna's Hummingbirds were a California Hummingbird restricted to the California coast and Baja California. However, expanded food sources have allowed them to expand their range at least as far north as the State of Washington. Hummingbirds in general are beautiful due to their iridescent colors and are often referred to as "jewels of the garden." Anna's Hummingbirds are feisty and flashy. The males have rose-colored iridescent gorgets. It is like a hood of iridescent rose over their heads. The females often have rose-colored specks under their chins.

From behind--iridescent green.

Take a look at the beautiful video showing the colors of an Anna's Hummingbird below from Ventura photographer Don DesJardin:

Anna's Hummingbird from You-Tube flashing its rose-colored gorget. Posted on You-Tube by photographer and birder Don DesJardin.

The color of all hummingbirds is refractive color. That means that the color is not pigment--not part of their feathers--but light that is reflected back to our eyes from the structure of the feathers. What this means is that we have to be at a particular angle to get the great color reflected back to us. Otherwise, all we see is black. So when you watch a hummingbird you see black areas on the hummer. Then as it turns, you see a flash of color as the light reflects the color back to your eye.

What is often visible when observing an Anna's Hummingbird. Note the white spot behind the eye.

Anna's is the most abundant hummingbird in this area. Almost anywhere you go that has flowers has hummingbirds in Orange County, and many of them will be Anna's Hummingbirds. Other hummers you might see are Allen's, Black-chinned, and Rufous Hummingbirds (rare but frequently sighted.) Anything else would be rare. See below for a list of rare hummingbirds spotted in Orange County.

Anna's Hummingbird at a feeder in Morongo.

The Anna's Hummingbirds is the largest hummingbird resident hummingbird in Orange County and in California. Though other hummingbirds may show up on the rare bird alert, this is the largest resident hummingbird that you will usually see.

You Tube Video that discusses and shows male Anna's Hummingbird display.

One morning as I lay in bed, I heard a loud pop or chirp periodically. It was nearby and loud. I got up to see what it was and discovered a male Anna's diving down toward a female in the hibiscus bush not far from our bedroom window. As he reached the bottom of his dive, he made the loud popping sound.

Anna's Hummingbird from courtship through young fledgling and leaving nest. From Encyclopedia Britannica.

Anna's Hummingbirds live an average of 8.5 years. The older the female Anna's is the more rose colored spots she may have under her chin.

Anna's Hummingbird in Morongo

Hummingbirds eat nectar, tree sap, small spiders, and insects. Anna's consume more insects than many other hummingbirds. Like flycatchers, they fly out and capture insects flying through the air. In fact, you will often see them sitting on top of a favorite bush or tree where they get a good view of the insects that are flying by. If you pass a shrub that an Anna's is perched on top of like a sentinel, but it flies away, be patient. Wait and it will most likely return with its meal. Anna's Hummingbirds will also drink the tree sap that leaks out of holes drilled by woodpeckers. They visit the drilled holes for both sap and the insects attracted to the sap.

Anna's Male Hummingbird drinking nectar from a bird feeder.

Anna's Hummingbirds, as are all hummingbirds, extremely territorial. I know people who have actually removed hummingbird feeders because they became upset that the hummingbirds fought over the feeder. Hummingbirds will vigorously defend a flowering shrub, or tree or feeder. Because of their fast wing beats and speed, they have an extremely fast metabolism, and they use a tremendous amount of fuel. Since their lives depend on a steady supply of readily available food, they don't have time to be nice. If they don't defend a food source, they could die.

I recommend this type of feeder over fancy or bottle-type feeders. It is easy to clean and the distance between ports allows more hummers to feed at the same time. I use this kind of feeder and threw out my other bottle-type feeders. Check out the good reviews on Amazon.

If you think you can deal with the hummer fights, you can put out a feeder. Don't bother with the commercial food for feeders. Use 1 part sugar, and 4 parts water. Boil until the granules melt. Let it cool, and fill a clean feeder and wait for the hummingbirds to find you. Honey is not good for hummingbirds, so don't put any in your feeder. Red dye is unnecessary and perhaps harmful. The red on the feeder is enough to attract hummingbirds. (I wore a red blouse into the yard one day and attracted a hummingbird while I was watering the lawn. It hovered right in front of me and made sure I wasn't a flower before it moved on.)

Anna's Hummingbird ready to fly.

Anna's hummingbirds, like all hummingbirds, are master fliers. They can fly forward, backward and up and down. Their wings move so fast that they make a whirring or buzzing sound.

Male Anna's at Newport Back Bay. Color appears black instead of rose because it is refracted color that requires light reflect off the feathers at the right angle for color to appear.

Unlike many hummers who depart for tropical climates, Anna's Hummingbirds do not migrate. They live and breed right here in Orange County, California. They lay two tiny eggs in a small, stretchy nest made of lichen, soft materials and spider webs.

Same Hummingbird at a better angle, you see more of the rose color.

If you go birding in Orange County, you are bound to see an Anna's Hummingbird. In fact, just put out a feeder or plant a red flower and you will have hummingbirds visiting you. Birding at home is easy with Anna's hummingbirds. You put out the nectar, and they will come.

Sizes of hummingbirds

Regularly Seen Hummingbirds

Anna's Hummingbird 4 Inches (largest resident)

Black-chinned Hummingbird 3 3/4 Inches

Allen's Hummingbird 3 3/4 Inches

Unusual or Rare Hummingbirds

Rufous Hummingbird 3 3/4 Inches
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 4 Inches (same size as Anna's, but rare)
Calliope Hummingbird 3 1/4 Inches (smallest)
Costa's Hummingbird 3 1/2 Inches
Magnificent Hummingbird 5 1/4 Inches (largest, rare)

Male Anna's sipping sugar water in Morongo.

Hummingbirds that Have Shown up on the Rare Bird Alert

Costa's Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Magnificent Hummingbird (San Diego Only)

Anna's watching its territory for insects and intruders.

Injured Hummingbirds

North Orange County


South Orange County

(949) 831-1178

OC Birder Girl Links

Allen's Hummingbird---Selasphorus sasin

External Links and Resources

All About Birds: Anna's Hummingbird

Detailed Page about Anna's Hummingbirds. Maps, Cool Facts, Description, Similar Species, Sound, Range, Habitat, Food, Behavior, Reproduction, Conservation Status, and more.

Animal Diversity Web: Anna's Hummingbird

Very detailed page about Anna's Hummingbirds includes Geographic Range, Habitat, Physical Description, Reproduction, Lifespan/Longevity, Diet, Predation, Conservation Status, and more.

Birdweb: Anna's Hummingbird

Detailed article on Anna's Hummingbirds by the Seattle Audubon Society.'s Hummingbird

Short, but informative article about Anna's Hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds Chirp with Tail Feathers When Diving

Good article with sound and video of a displaying male Anna'a Hummingbird.

Displays and Morphology of an Anna x Allen Hybrid

From the SORA. A journal article from the Wilson Bulletin.

Internet Bird Collection: Anna's Hummingbird

Videos of Anna's Hummingbirds both male and female and nestlings.

Birds and Blooms: Anna's Hummingbird

Good short article with a great sound bite of the squeaky male Anna's Hummingbird song.

Creating a Haven for Hummingbirds

Article tells how to attract hummingbirds to your backyard.

Nature Mapping: Anna's Hummingbird Fact Sheet

Detailed fact sheet with photos from the University of Washington.

Hummingbird DVD "Hooked on Hummingbirds"

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Carr Park in Huntington Beach

Carr Park Lake with lots of birds including ducks and geese and coots.

Birding in Orange County is made easy by the number of great parks throughout the county. One great birding park is Carr Park is located in Huntington Beach at Springdale and Heil. You will have to park on the street. It is a grassy park with trees. The centerpiece is a lake with an island in the middle. The island makes this an especially attractive place for birds. It is a place to rest undisturbed. It is a great place for birders to look for birds.

Mallards quacking up a storm.

A big problem at this great park is that very kind-hearted, but misguided people dump huge loads of processed foods like bagels, bread, and tortillas on the ground by the lake. They do this to feed the birds. It is extremely tasty, but poor nutrition for wildlife. The birds end up unable to eat their regular food that is nutritious. It would be like stuffing your kids with candy and chips. They would not be the healthiest kids on the block.

Chinese Geese--escapees from somewhere and Mallards .

I am assuming a restaurant in the area thinks they are helping by doing this. Unfortunately, I have seen dead birds and a dead rat here testifying to the fact that birds here are at risk and the food lying around is attracting rodents.

Too much feeding attracts too many birds.

Feeding the ducks is not a good idea. Some people worry that if they don't feed them, the ducks will starve. Don't worry. The ducks don't rely on the food you give them. In fact, if you really want what is best for the ducks, you won't feed them at all. They forage and find their own natural foods. They are very self-reliant. Obey the signs at all parks. Many parks have signs that forbid feeding the birds--especially the ducks. Read this article by Rich Huffnagle, Supervising Park Ranger, County Regional Parks: Killing with Kindness.

Canada Geese finished with foraging in the grass.

If the birds are not fed processed foods they eat natural foods and the birds that can't find enough to eat will naturally move to places that can supply natural foods. There are many areas like that in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. Take a look at the many parks and wilderness areas listed on the right side of this blog. The ducks and geese have plenty of places to get good, nutritious natural food. The populations find their natural level if left to themselves. This is good for the lake, the birds, and the neighborhood.

American Wigeons. A cute little duck.

Besides Mallards and "Park Ducks," you will find American Wigeons. They are numerous in many park lakes, ponds, and in natural areas like San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay , and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve -- except when they leave to head for their breeding grounds. They aren't gone long, and then they are back whistling in our county parks including Carr Park.

Double-crested Cormorant who are here for the fish. You can just see the small crests at either side of the cormorant in the middle.

In addition to ducks, the park has many wilder birds on the island in the middle of the lake. Black-crowned Night Herons, White-faced Ibises, Snow Geese, and more can be found on the island. Look sharp. It is easy to miss birds that blend in like the White-faced Ibis. Many of the birds at Carr Park feed on fish, crustaceans, and plants.

Notice how this White-faced Ibis blends in with the dry foliage behind it.

This well-camouflaged White-faced Ibis was very hard to spot until I scanned slowly with binoculars. Camouflage is one reason I missed some of the White-faced Ibises, but size was another. A small bird, the White-faced Ibisis is very close in size to the ducks. It is definitely not a Great-Heron-sized bird!

White-faced Ibis, blending in with the ducks.

So in a crowd of ducks, don't just scan with your eyes. You can miss it if you dismiss it as one of the similar-sized "park ducks" or other common ducks in the park. You may not think you could miss this bird in a crowd of ducks, but I can. With its head tucked in, surrounded by similar-sized ducks, a quick scan can miss details like well-camouflaged legs.

Winter visit by a flock of American White Pelicans.

Winter this year brought a visit of several days by a flock of American White Pelicans. They fished in formation, bringing a lot of entertainment to the lake.

Snow Goose with a black "grin patch" visits Carr Park.

Not long ago, I spotted two Snow Geese (a rare bird in Orange County) at Carr Park. One of them joined in with the ducks as people came to feed them. Carr Park is small neighborhood park with a stocked lake that attracts lots of birds in the winter. You can still see birds at other times of year, but comunity park lakes are most active in fall and winter. It is worth checking from time to time to see what has flown in. In Huntington Beach, it makes a great stop over for the birds and for birders looking for some interesting birding. Check it out.

Domestic Geese settle in for the night as the sun starts to set.

View Larger Map

My Carr Park Bird List

American Coot--Fulica americana


American Wigeon--Anas americana

Canada Geese

Black-crowned Night Heron--Nycticorax nycticorax

Snowy Egret--Egretta thula

White-faced Ibises

Chinese Geese

American White Pelicans

Double-crested Cormorant--Phalacrocorax auritus

American Crows

Ring-billed Gulls

Snow Geese

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Green-winged Teal--Anas crecca

Green-winged Teal at Upper Newport Bay

Like the American Wigeon, the Green-winged Teal has a green stripe through its eye. It is the smallest dabbling duck in Orange County. According to the Natural History of Waterfowl by Frank S. Todd, the word teal may derive from words in medieval English and or Old Dutch meaning "small." It is true that teals are all small birds. The Green-winged Teal's most easily seen field marks are the chestnut head, the iridescent green stripe on on the side of the head, and the vertical, thin, white stripe down the male Green-winged Teal's side, and the dark bill.

Green-winged Teal dabbling at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Green-winged Teals eat a variety of aquatic foods, including aquatic invertebrates, aquatic vegetation, and aquatic plant seeds. They prefer shallow ponds or other shallow bodies of water. They can be found in either fresh or salt water.

Male Green-winged Teal at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve

I have seen Green-winged Teals at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and at San Joaquin Wildlife Reserve. They would also be at other wetlands in the area. I have never seen them at community parks.

Male and female Green-winged Teal

Very few Green-winged Teals breed outside of Canada. The male and female pair up before they migrate to the breeding grounds.

Male and female Green-winged Teal at at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve

The Green-winged Teal population is increasing despite being the second most hunted duck in the United States. Animal Diversity Web believes it is due in part to the inaccessibility of their breeding grounds.

Green-winged Teals at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve in Orange County

Green-winged Teals are very easy to spot. When you are out birding wetlands, or shallow water areas, look for the duck with the rich red-brown head and the bright green stripe on the side of its head. The vertical white stripe on the side is another easy field mark. Enjoy watching the Green-winged Teal in Orange County.

Green-winged Teal from behind. Notice the two green stripes on either side of its head.

Duck Size

Green-winged Teal 14 " long Wingspan 23"

Blue-winged Teal 15.5 " long Wingspan 24"

Cinnamon Teal 16" long Wingspan 22"

Northern Shoveler 19" long Wingspan 30"

American Wigeon 20 " long Wingspan 32"

Northern Pintail 21" long Wingspan 32"

Mallard 23 " long Wingspan 35"

OC Birder Girl Links


The Wild Ducks of Orange County

American Wigeon--Anas americana

Cinnamon Teal--Anas cyanoptera

Mallards--Anas platyrhynchos

Northern Pintail--Anas acuta

Northern Shoveler--Anas clypeata

Places to see Green-winged Teals

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay

External Links

All About Birds: Green-winged Teal

Detailed page about the Green-winged Teal includes Cool Facts, Description, Similar Species, Sound, Range, Reproduction, and Other Names.

Animal Diversity Web: Green-winged Teal

Michigan University's great Animal Diversity Web tackles the Green-winged Teal covering habitat, reproduction, physical description, range, diet, conservation status and more.

BirdWeb: Green-winged Teal

Seattle Audubon site profiles the Green-winged Teal. Includes information on range, behavior, diet, nesting, migration status, conservation status, and more.

USGS: Green-winged Teal

Short, helpful article.

Virtual Bird's Natural History of Waterfowl: The Green-winged Teal

Long and detailed article on the the Green-winged Teal.

Species, Age and Sex Identification of Ducks Using Wing Plumage:
Green-winged Teal

From the US Geological Service. A short and well illustrated article about the wings of the Green-winged Teal.

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Great Egret--Ardea alba

Great Egret wading through the water at Bolsa Chica.

I have always liked to watch Great Egrets hunt for fish. They are patient predators. They remind me of a cat or snake as they stay almost motionless and then suddenly strike. The Great Blue Heron is the largest heron or egret in Orange County. The Great Egret comes in a close second. Great Egrets live an average of about 15 years.

Great Egret hunting in the pickleweed at Bolsa Chica.

Although we think of the Great Egret as a water bird, it also hunts on land in marshes and fields near water. Great Egrets eat fish, frogs, crayfish, aquatic and other insects, mice, gophers, and snakes. The Animal Diversity website calls them "opportunistic predators." They will eat what they can.

Great Egret at Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley. Unlike the smaller Snowy Egret, the Great Egret has an orange bill.

Great Egrets are at home in marshes, community parks, regional parks, and anywhere they can find food to eat. Though not that comfortable around people, they will endure them being around if the food source is attractive enough. I have often seen Great Egrets standing on the shore of lakes almost shoulder to shoulder with fishermen. Great Egrets are not above trying to take fish from other birds. No other birds get too aggressive with a Great Egret. In fact the adult Great Egret doesn't have much to fear from nonhuman species. There are many laws that protect the Great Egret and other birds.

Among the reeds at Huntington Central Park.

There was a time when Great Egrets were hunted to near extinction just for ladies' hats and clothing. However, today we are more aware and have laws that protect birds like the Great Egret. Consequently Great Egrets have rebounded. They are graceful and beautiful birds, and we are blessed to have so many in Orange County. Great Egrets are large, white birds with an orange bill and black legs.

Flying away at Bolsa Chica.

Although Great Egrets will eat insects, reptiles, and rodents, these beautiful birds are not usually found far from water. I often see them in Bolsa Chica, Newport Back Bay, Huntington Central Park, and other regional or community parks with stocked lakes and streams. On private property, if you have stocked lakes, ponds, or streams, you will have Great Egrets from time to time.

Great Egret--Reflections

There are many beautiful scenes one can photograph with Great Egrets. They are so still that it is easy to photograph them.

Great Egret, left and the much smaller Snowy Egret on the right. Not mommy and baby, but two different species.

Great Egrets hang out with other Great Egrets, or with Great Blue Herons or Snowy Egrets. On rare occasions I see a Green Heron or a Black-crowned Night Heron nearby, but usually it is the Snowy and the Great Blue Egret. When you are out birding the OC, look for the graceful white bird that strikes its prey faster than you can blink. Then stick around and just watch one of the most beautiful and graceful birds in Orange County, California.

Great Egret Fishing at Bolsa Chica in high breeding plumage.

Average sizes of Herons and Egrets in Orange County--does not include leg length which can make a difference:

Great Blue Heron Length 46" Wing Span 72"

Great Egret Length 39" Wing Span 51"

Snowy Egret Length 24" Wing Span 41"

Cattle Egret Length 20" Wing Span 36"

Green Egret Length 18" Wing Span 26"

Black-Crowned Night Heron Length 25" Wing Span 44"

Great Egret Flying at Bolsa Chica

OC Birder Girl Links of Interest

Herons and Egrets

Black-crowned Night Heron--Nycticorax nycticorax

Great Blue Heron--Ardea herodias

Reddish Egret--A Rare Bird

Snowy Egret--Egretta thula

The Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns of Orange County

Great Egret strutting at Bolsa Chica.

Places to See Egrets

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Central Park in Huntington Beach

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay

Great Egret fishing in high breeding Plumage. Notice the black on the upper part of his beak, and the green lores. This is at Bolsa Chica.

External Links

All About Birds: Great Egret Ardea alba

Good Article about the Great Egret. Maps, facts, photographs, and more.

USGS: Great Egret

Good short article.

Animal Diversity Web: Great Egret

Usual excellent article with lots of details about the Great Egret including maps, facts, diet, habits, habitat, conservation, and more.

National Geographic: Great Egret

Good Article, maps, facts, video, sound. Lots of information. Wall paper available.

Nature Works: Great Egret

Pictures, facts, and more.

Great Egret Takes a Stroll Down the Path from OC Birder Girl on Vimeo.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Surf Scoter--Melanitta perspicillata

Male Surf Scoter at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

"He looks like he's wearing clown make-up!" the little boy exclaimed as he watched the Surf Scoter paddle closer and closer to the footbridge at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Birding near children is always entertaining. And the little boy was right. It does look like clown make-up. The male Surf Scoter's bill is big and colorful. He has two large white spots on his head. One on his forehead and one on the back of his head. Rather flashy. He has white eyes which stand out against his black feathers.

Female Scoter at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

The female Surf Scoter is more low-key. She is brown with a large bill and white spots on either side of the bill at the base. There is another smaller white spot behind the eye.

Male Surf Scoter--a flashy fellow.

The Surf Scoter is sturdy sea duck that feeds by diving to get is food. Surf Scoters eat mollusks. crustaceans, aquatic invertebrates, and aquatic plants. Mussels are a large part of their diet. As you may deduce from their name, Surf Scoters dive into the breaking surf or waves looking for food. They often dive or float together in large groups--safety in numbers. However, you can also find them alone, or with a few other Surf Scoters or other species of diving ducks. In addition to the ocean, you will also find them in estuaries and lakes (usually during breeding season).

Female Surf Scoter

These are large ducks, and it takes a running start for them to become airborne, i.e. to fly. The male Surf Scoter's wings have no white on them. They are sturdy, not graceful like the Northern Pintail. Surf Scoters are the only scoters to breed exclusively in the Americas. Female and Male Surf Scoters stay together until the serious brooding starts and then the males leave.

Male Surf Scoter

I have seen Surf Scoters at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and would not be surprised to see them in the open ocean or at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve.

Male Surf Scoter from behind

Once you see the bill, it's a piece of cake, but what if you don't see it? Sometimes the back may be all you see as it is swimming away from you. Sometimes you may just see a black duck with a white patch sleeping in a raft of other ducks. The white patch is diagnostic.

Male and female Surf Scoters at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

When you are out birding, look for the white patch in rafts of sleeping birds. You may be looking at a Surf Scoter. Have a great time birding in Orange County!


All About Birds: Surf Scoter

Detailed page about the Surf Scoter. Maps, photos, range, habits, and more.

BirdWeb: Surf Scoter

From Washington State Audubon a good page on Surf Scoters.

Natural History of Waterfowl: Surf Scoter

From the Virtual Birder a very good and detailed article on the Surf Scoter.

Sea Duck Joint Venture: Surf Scoter

Very good information about the Surf Scoter including articles, photos, conservation status, links, and more.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Migration--The Pacific Flyway and Orange County

Migrating Canada Geese

You hear the honking of the geese overhead or see birds flying in a V formation overhead, and you know it's that time of year. Many animals and insects migrate. Mostly in spring and fall. Birds migrate for several reasons. To find more plentiful food sources, get to appropriate breeding grounds, and to go to a better climate. Some birds breed in one place and winter in another, milder climate. Many birds breed in Alaska and Canada because of the large, flat areas of land on which they can build their nests in large colonies. Huge numbers of birds migrate by flying hundreds and thousands of miles. They cross miles of land and water including oceans to get were they need to be. If you are a bird watcher, you need to know about migration so you will know where to bird in which season, and which birds to look for when you are out birding. Check the local Orange County Bird Checklists to see species that appear in winter or fall. Main rule of thumb is that water birds such as loons, shore birds, ducks, and geese winter in Orange County and begin appearing in the fall. (For example, Eared Grebes appear as early as September and American Wigeons in early October.) In Fall and Spring, Warblers are the main attraction. Successful birders know that to every bird species, there is a season.


Migration is the movement of animals or insects to wintering or breeding grounds. Many birds move from one place to the other in search of food or the most comfortable temperature. There are routes that birds follow that are the same every year.

Atlantic Flyway

The route up the Atlantic coast in which birds fly from Spring breeding grounds to Wintering grounds.

Pacific Flyway

The route up the Pacific coast in which birds fly from Spring breeding grounds in the North to Wintering grounds in the South.


California as well as other states in the West are in the Pacific Flyway.

Orange County

Orange County is smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Flyway. Migrants stop any place--including backyards that have food, water, and shelter.

Places that attract Migrants

In addition to Birding Hot Spots in Orange County, California, migrating birds are attracted to places they can rest, water, shelter, food. Just about any place on the Pacific or Atlantic Flyway that provides that will get some migrants from time to time. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve are two areas that get thousands of migrants each year during the fall and winter months. In fact, in addition to being great stop overs for some migrating birds, these two places are locations that some birds spend the winter. For Fall and Spring migrants, Huntington Central Park in Huntington Beach is a good place to go.

How you can help.

If you have a backyard that provides water, shelter, and food, you will provide a place for native and migrating birds.

Hazards to Migration

Hazards to Migrating birds include glass buildings, power lines, large glass areas such as glass walls, wind turbines in migration routes. Check out this International Migratory Bird Day page for more detailed information.

Wendy Paulson Discusses Neotropical Migratory Birds 1 of 2 International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF)

Wendy Paulson Discusses Neotropical Migratory Birds 2 of 2 International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF)

External Links and Resources

California Animal Migration

Pacific Flyway and bird migration video.

Bird Migration

A book on migration published on the web by USGS and originated in the US Fish and Wildlife Service. View it all online for free.

California's Wetlands

About California's Wetlands and their importance in migration.

How and Why Do Birds Get Lost? Fog Plays a Role in Migration Errors by Dan Guthrie

Article from Pomona Audubon reprinted on Sea and Sage Audubon's website.

Migration of Birds: Routes of Migration

Recently started celebration of world bird migration.

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

Great site with lots of articles, fact sheets, research, education, videos, photos and even games. Play the Migration Game. Answer questions about migration and help Wanda the Woodthrush migrate.

Movements of Bird Populations from Cornell Lab



Pacific Flyway Council

Government agency that monitors and regulates the Pacific Flyway. Coordinates agencies among states in the Pacific Flyway.

Rest Stops for the Weary

From Audubon Magazine. How to make your backyard and attractive rest stop for migrating birds.

US Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management

A Guide to the Laws and Treaties of the United States for Protecting Migratory Birds

Links to laws of the United States about the protection of Migratory Birds.

Great video about migration and wetlands. About 30 Minutes long. Lots of questions and answers about migration. Page down to see the video until you get to this title.

Pacific Flyway Map from the US Department of the Interior

National Geographic: Sandhill Crane Migration

Short video on the migration of the Sandhill Crane to Arizona and why they now come here.

Environmental Nature Center

A pool and waterfall that attracts many birds including hummingbirds.

The Environmental Nature Center was the place that I first saw a Black-headed Grosbeak on 05/20/1984. My friend Gloria and I went to bird there. I don't even remember how we first heard about the Environmental Nature Center. Word of mouth through Sea and Sage Audubon, I think. This nature center has a very interesting history. It began in early 1970s when students and faculty at Newport-Harbor High School began to think that a junk-filled gully might be transformed into nature center for the school and for the community. When we first visited, I don't remember there being a gate or a fence. It has both now. Hard to believe that when we went, it had been around for about 10 years already.

Bushes filled with berries that attract birds and animals.

The plants in the ENC attract many birds, insects, and animals by providing food and shelter and nesting material. They also give the hawks a great vantage point.

A place to learn.

The Environmental Nature Center (ENC) in Newport Beach is a small 3.5 strip of land that used to be a gully. It varies in width from about the size of a house lot to some grass and a path. The amazing thing is that the school and volunteers have filled the gully with native plants, trees, streams, ponds, logs and benches and transformed it into an area that is extremely appealing to birds. Why? Because it has the things birds need: 1) Water 2) Food and 3) Shelter.

Paths through the trees.

The ENC is near the Newport Back Bay and not far from San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, and it is visited by at least 130 species. The Orange County Rare Bird Alert lists 39 rare bird sightings over the years. ENC has 15 different plant communities. It has insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals that moved in when the native plants took hold. Their website states that at one time a coyote lived there for a while. A staff member told me they have raccoons visit.

The new facility in progress heading for the platinum.

They are building a new facility to replace their trailer. They are going, not for the gold, but for the LEED platinum rating which means that their new learning center will be environmentally friendly and healthy at the highest level. Their new facility is a registered LEED project. They are striving for the best and hope to be the premier center for natural science education in the area. Quite a high goal for a lowly little gully.

Strange plant in the desert habitat area.

This is a place for children to learn about nature. There are programs galore here to teach children about the environment and nature. There are walks, classes, nature camps, teacher workshops,, and more. In May 2008, the annual Butterfly house is open again for the Spring and Summer seasons. There are plants to sell and butterflies to watch. The only one in the OC. Come and take a look.

Ferns, trees, and kids.

The Environmental Nature Center is the result of dreams, values, and hard work. It is amazing what people can do with a little determination. It is a wonderful place. Stop by when you are in the area birding or running errands. A great place to rest and eat lunch or walk. The birds you find here in this little 3.5 acre Nature Center just may surprise you. They might even make your life list.


Coming from the North, take the 55 Freeway to 17th go east to Dover. Turn right on Dover, right on 16th. The Environmental Nature Center is on the left. You may need to park on the first side street to your right. Some of the parking in front of the ENC is a no parking zone.

Coming from the South. From PCH take Dover north, turn left on 16th Street/Westcliff. Park on the first side street on the right.

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Rare Birds Seen in the Environmental Nature Center

American Redstart January 2007

American Redstart December 2006

Brown Creeper December 2006

Yellow Warbler possible December 2006

American Redstart November 2006

American Redstart October 2006

Black-chinned Sparrow May 2006

American Redstart imm April 2006

American Redstart imm February 2006

American Redstart imm January 2006

Winter Wren January 2006

Winter Wren December 2005

Lucy's Warbler October 2005

Gray Flycatcher May 2005

Summer Tanager (heard) February 2005

Summer Tanager January 2005

Summer Tanager November 2004

Brewer's Sparrow November 2004

Gray Flycatcher April 2004

Summer Tanager November 2003

Summer Tanager October 2003

Scarlet Tanager October 2003

Common Poorwill October 2003

Blackpoll Warbler October 2003

Canada Warbler October 2003

Canada Warbler September 2003

Yellow-throated Vireo June 2003

Yellow-throated Vireo May 2003

Common Poorwill (Possible) October 2002

Black-and-white Warbler October 2002

Black-and-white Warbler September 2002

Hammond's Flycatcher September 2002

Red-eyed Vireo September 2002

American Redstart September 2002

Red-eyed Vireo August 2002
American Redstart August 2002

MacGillivary's Warbler June 2002

Black-chinned Sparrow May 2002

Gray Flycatcher May 2002

Black-and-white Warbler January 2002

A path through the pines.


Environmental Nature Center

Check out their website for more information and current programs and events.

Lots of paths to choose.

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