Are you looking for great places to bird watch in Orange County? You have come to the right place. Birding in Orange County, California is a great adventure because Orange County has many habitats from wetlands to mountains to forest. It abounds in Ecological Reserves, Nature Centers, State Beaches, Regional Parks and natural areas--all filled with great birding opportunities. Orange County is also right in the middle of the Pacific Flyway where birds migrate in Spring and Fall. The chance of seeing a great variety of birds and seeing rare birds is very high. Orange County, California is a birder's delight. So, if you are wondering where to go birding in Orange County, check out the links below.
Orange County is blessed to have multiple wetlands and wildlife areas. Three major area are Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Upper Newport Bay, and the restricted Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. Others include smaller wetlands like San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary which is part of the San Joaquin Marsh and Talbert Nature Preserve. Wetlands and wildlife areas are the perfect place for birds to rest or to winter over. If you want to see shore birds, herons, egrets, loons, grebes, terns, and lots of wintering ducks, stop by one of wetland areas in winter and you will be amazed at how great birding can be in Orange County. No hunting allowed at these locations.
Wetlands, Wildlife Reserves, and Sanctuaries
North of Bolsa Chica. This is actually the same as Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
The absolute crown jewel of Huntington Beach. An awesomely restored wetlands with an interpretive center and cool, picturesque foot bridge. There are thousands of birds here every year with lots of breeding and wintering birds. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a major stop on the migration route of many species. An amazing place to go birding. Bird watching is easy and varied here. From Osprey to herons and hummingbirds, this is a great place to bird. A great place to add to your life list. Stand on the foot bridge or hike back onto the mesa or by the Winterberg Channel. Birding is awesome at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary
Twelve-acre wildlife preserve run by Cal State Fullerton in Modjeska Canyon. Out far into the boonies of Orange County. Adjacent to Cleveland National Forest. Watching birds near their feeding station is fun.
With Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Upper Newport Bay is home and rest spot to thousands of birds every year. A bird watcher's paradise. Also has a wonderful interpretive center--The Muth Interpretive Center . You can drive through one side, but there are also many places to walk and bird watch. You can see Red-tailed Hawks and Osprey, shore birds, herons, egrets, loons, grebes, wintering ducks. From October to March the Upper Newport Bay aka Newport Back Bay is alive with wintering birds. Periodic bird walks. See my blog on the Upper Newport Bay by clicking here.
"4,000 acres of wilderness and natural open space land" is how their website describes it. A designated wildlife sanctuary. Meandering streams, mature trees.
Regional parks are large parks that offer many amenities such as natural areas and recreation like fishing or sports or family barbecues. They also offer great habitats for resident and migrant birds. Many have trees, grassy areas, and lakes stocked with fish. It has everything a bird could want. That is why when you are birding in Orange County, you should check out some of our regional parks.
Park encompasses 124 acres. It includes 10 acres of redwoods.
This park is 105 acres and has a lake stocked with fish. It is located in Buena Park.
Stream meandering through Craig Regional Park.
According to the Orange County website "Featherly Regional Park is a natural riparian wilderness area." Access is restricted.
Park with a more natural look. It is 354 acres of nature. The park has a reservoir where many waterfowl can be found.
Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park
Is currently a four-acre park with plans to develop to 106 acres. It stands strategically between Huntington Central Park and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and appears on birding sites with some interesting sitings including raptors, warblers, and sparrows. Eventually trails will run from Huntington Central Park to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve through Harriet Wieder Regional Park.
This park covers 175 acres and is adjacent to the Santa Ana River. Great place to bird. Yorba Regional Park is a long, narrow park that parallels Santa Ana River and the 55 Freeway. There are trails and lots of trees. It does have a lot of freeway noise. However, there is good birding there and several small lakes.
Chino Hills State Park
Crystal Cove State Park
Harriet Wieder Park
One of the jewels of Huntington Beach. This huge park has two sides and boasts two lakes (one very seasonal) small wetlands area, two outdoor-indoor restaurants, a huge library, theatre, outdoor stage, a world-famous nature center (Shipley), equestrian center, Frisbee golf, a dog park, and more. A birder's delight. Frequently on the Rare Bird Alert. Don't miss Shipley Nature Center located in the park's west side. A must for birders. A place for great birding from herons and egrets to hawks and Turkey Vultures to hummingbirds. Don't miss this birding hotspot. Great birding all year long.
Laguna Lake Park in Fullerton
Located in Fullerton, not Laguna. Equestrian Center. The lake is stocked with fish.
Pelanconi Park in Anaheim
A 27-acre park. Has a picnic area, nature trails, and streams.
Tri-Cities Park in Placentia
Appears often in the Orange County Rare Bird Alert. Eight-acre stocked lake. Picnic areas. Concerts in the park.
Irvine Open Space Preserve Nature Center
Nestled in Turtlerock Park, this little Nature Center is very near the Irvine Open Space Preserve. It has many habitats and many different kinds of birds.
Nix Nature Center
OC Newest Nature Center. Headquarters of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Oak Canyon Nature Center
This little gem is located in Anaheim Hills among the houses. You get lost in the oaks, paths, and streams. Home to many animals and birds.
Located in Huntington Central Park, this nature center was reclaimed by volunteers and re-opened. This modest nature center is world famous and has been featured on Huell Howser.
The Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona Del Mar--Orange County
Small garden in Corona Del Mar. Very nice.
Orange County/San Diego--Cleveland National Forest
Forest stretches from Orange County south deep into San Diego County.
The Great Park
The Great Park
The former El Toro Marine Base is being developed into an amazing park. The park will encompass 1,347 acres. Hence the name, The Great Park. It will be one of the largest metropolitan parks in the United States. It will link existing wildlife areas into one large area from the Cleveland National Forest to Crystal Cove State Park and the Pacific Ocean. Great for wildlife. There will be wildlife areas, a botanical garden, and lots of sports and cultural events. It is a very political hot potato, but promises to give much to Orange County. We have had few gardens, so a botanical garden of this scale will be a great addition to Orange County as well as the wildlife areas.
Orange County Beaches
The OC is famous for its beaches and surfing. The shorebirds love our beaches, too as do terns, gulls, cormorants, Brown Pelicans, and lots of other birds. Bird watch at these great Orange County Beaches.
Bolsa Chica State Beach
Corona Del Mar State Beach
Crescent Bay Beach, Laguna Beach
Crystal Cove State Park
Doheny State Beach
Heisler Park/Picnic Beach
Huntington City Beach
Huntington Dog Park Beach
Huntington State Beach
Little Corona/Tide pools
Salt Creek Beach
San Clemente State Beach
Orange County, California is a great place to bird. Don't miss it.
OC Birder Girl Links
Rules at Bolsa Chica
Wall of Glass
The Birds of Bolsa Chica Versus Brightwater's Wall...
Walking the Wall 12/23/2008
Carr Park in Huntington Beach
Central Park in Huntington Beach
Shipley Nature Center
A Walk in Huntington Central Park East
A Walk in Huntington Central Park West 10/15/2007
A Walk Among the Fall Leaves at Huntington Central...
Central Park after the Rain
Environmental Nature Center
Irvine Open Space Preserve Nature Center
Mason Regional Park
Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay
Muth Interpretive Center at Upper Newport Bay
San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
Tewinkle Park -- Costa Mesa