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