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WINTER BIRD SPOTTING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Here are some of our picks of wintering birds to look out for in Southern California

On December 21st, Winter Solstice officially marks the beginning of our chilliest season here in Southern California.   Southern California winters are, however, pleasantly mild by comparison with most other regions.  These mild winters  make for an ideal wintering ground for a multitude of bird species.  Here are a few species to look out for:


Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). Wintering range encompasses much of the United States.

Canada Goose 

Often seen in parks and on golf courses, Canada Geese have become more numerous in urban and suburban areas in recent years.  Look for these geese flying in V-shaped formations or in pairs.


Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). Wintering range encompasses much of the United States.



Northern Pintail 

Northern Pintails  nest in seasonal wetlands of open country throughout Canada and the Northern United States.  During winter, look for them in estuaries, marshes, and tidal lagoons in Southern California.  They are easily distinguished by their elongated neck sand pointed tails.

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta). Winters throughout much of the U.S. and Central America.


Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata). Wintering range encompasses much of the Southern U.S., Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America.

Northern Shoveler

With its distinct spoon-shaped bill and iridescent green head, the Northern Shoveler is a very striking and recognizable duck.  In wintertime, look for Northern Shovelers in freshwater and brackish coastal marshes and ponds.

Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata). Wintering range encompasses much of the Southern U.S., Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America.


Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres).

Black and Ruddy Turnstones

These two species of turnstone are similar in physical build but can be differentiated by their plumage.  As its name describes, the Ruddy Turnstone has a reddish coloration.  It is vividly  patterned with black and has a white head and underparts.  In the wintertime, many shorebirds lose their brighter breeding plumage and display duller grays and browns .  The Ruddy Turnstone loses its red, and begins to resemble the more cryptically colored Black  

Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)

Turnstone.  Look for these two species along rocky coasts and shores.  The Ruddy Turnstone can also be found on sandy beaches and mudflats.







Whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus).

Whimbrel

A very widespread bird, the Whimbrel winters along the California coast, the Gulf coast, and the East coast, as well as coasts of Africa, South America, Australia, and southern Asia.  Whimbrels are large shorebirds characterized by their down-curved bills.  Look for Whimbrels along shorelines and on tidal flats.



Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum). Wintering range encompasses much of the Southern U.S. and Central America.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwings are some of the only frugivorous birds of North America.  Although they can survive on only fruit for several months, Cedar Waxwings do supplement their diet with insects when available.  They are now becoming more commonplace in suburban areas due to the increase in landscaping with ornamental berry trees.  Other places to look for Cedar Waxwings include open woodlands and forest edges.

Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum). Wintering range encompasses much of the Southern U.S. and Central America.


Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi).

Townsend’s Warbler

These striking colorful little birds winter in two distinct areas: a narrow strip along the Pacific coast of the U.S., and throughout Mexico and Central America.  Townsends Warblers will hybridize with Hermit Warblers where their ranges overlap in Oregon and Washington.  Look for Townsend’s Warblers in  chaparral, mature forest, and as close to home as your own garden.

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi).

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