The Golden State of California is well known for its warm climate, stunning beaches, and welcoming nature. It is the third largest state in the U.S.,, and the geography varies. The coastline alone runs for 840 miles from Mexico in the south and Oregon in the north. In the east of California is the Sierra Nevada mountain range, one of several mountain ranges in the state. In the center of California is the Central Valley, a lush area where many crops are grown. South of the Sierra Nevada range is the Mojave Desert, the site of the famous Death Valley. To the north of the state begins the Cascade Mountain Range, which runs up to Canada.
California is one of the best places in North America to see birds. It is number one on the eBird list for the United States, with a reported 705 different birds. In this article, we will find information on a range of bird groupings. They are:
- Common and rare
- Inland and shore
- Strange and misunderstood
- Water and sea
- Large and small
- Plain and beautiful
- Camouflaged and ostentatious
Our Bird Picks
We hope you enjoy our list, and we start with the California State Bird – the California Quail.
California Quail (Callipepla californica)
The female California Quail is a mid-brown color with some white streaks on the breast. Spots on the neck and small streaks under the eye are completed with a small crest. The male is magnificent in bright breeding colors (seen below on the left). Overall, he is gray but has white scales on the breast that are overshadowed by a brilliant bronze sheen. His throat is black, bordered by a white ring. The cap is brown with a black and white front. His crest is larger and black with pale brown fluff underneath.
This quail has been very successful (as seen on the range map below), more so in introduced populations outside of California. It is a ground dwelling bird but can fly short distances with the customary quail pattern flight. Usually seen in groups as they forage for food, the birds eat seeds, fruits, leaves and flowers. California Quail are easily startled but if seen from a distance and approached quietly, you can get reasonably close to them.
Length: 9.4 – 10.6 inches
Wingspan: 12.6 – 14.6 inches
Weight: 4.9 -8.1 ounces
California Quail Facts
The crest or plume of this quail is not actually a single feather as it appears. It is a collection of up to 6.
While California Quail birds are seen in familial groups, they also band together in bigger numbers.
The male California Quail can often be seen perched higher up, watching out for the safety of the other birds as they feed.
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
In non-breeding periods, this grebe is a warm brown color. This is darker when breeding and then the bill is pale with a distinct black ring around it. Because of these features, it is easy to spot on the water.
The Pied-billed Grebe is one of the most common birds in California and could possibly be seen in any suitable habitat. Its range is extensive throughout North and South America making it one of the most common grebes in the world.
Length: 11.8 – 15.0 inches
Wingspan: 17.7 – 24.4 inches
Weight: 8.9 – 20.0 ounces
Pied-billed Grebe Facts
This grebe is an opportunistic feeder and will dive or hunt to find anything from insects, crustaceans and fish.
All grebes have powerful feet, specifically for diving and propelling themselves through the water. Consequently they are very awkward on land.
The Pied-billed Grebe doesn’t usually fly away from danger, preferring to crash dive into the water at great speed. It may then wait just above the surface until it is sure the potential danger has passed.
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)
These vireo are well camouflaged and found in dense thickets. The bird is pale underneath with yellow sides and it blends into gray under the throat. A large, dark bill has a black and yellow stripe to the eye, which is dark with a white ring. The bird’s wings are olive green with black patches and white bars.
The White-eyed Vireo is more commonly found in eastern parts of the United States. It is rare to see these birds in California and as they are migratory, they will only be present during the breeding months and so are a target for summer checklists.
Length: 4.3 – 5.1 inches
Wingspan: 6.7 inches
Weight: 0.3 – 0.5 ounces
White-eyed Vireo Facts
This active and at times aggressive small bird has an extensive repertoire of songs. They are also complex and intricate.
Foraging in dense foliage, the vireo can be difficult to find. It is often heard more than seen, especially in California.
The White-eyed Vireo feeds mainly on insects, pulling them from the vegetation in the shrubbery.
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a rare visitor to the shores of California. As they are migratory, it is likely that sightings are of birds that are a little off course. In non-breeding plumage, this godwit is a plain brown on top and cream underneath. The bars on their tails are still seen. When it is in breeding plumage it develops a stunning red brown glow all over it. The back patterns are sharpened and vivid, almost looking gold. The sexes are alike but the female is larger and has a noticeably larger bill. In the photos below, the male is the image on the left and the female on the right.
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a migratory shorebird and will only be seen on the beaches and coastlines of California. Any inland sightings are abberations.
Length: 14.5 – 15.3 inches
Wingspan: 24.4 – 29.5 inches
Weight: 8.8 – 15.8 ounces
Bar-tailed Godwit Facts
The migration of this godwit is an unbelievable physical feat. They fly from breeding grounds in the Arctic to as far south as Australia and South Africa. It is common for them to fly around 15,000 miles in a year.
The diet of the Bar-tailed Godwits is mainly invertebrates. When they complete their migraton journey, they can feed voraciously.
Watching these attractive birds is always interesting. Firstly, they are bigger than most of the other birds on the beach. Secondly, they commonly rest on one leg and when disturbed by incoming tides or possible danger, they will first hop around on that leg until they are sure that they need to move faster.
Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)
This finch is very large and very distinctive. The female (on the right) is plainer with buff and gray tones with black and white markings on the tail. The male is a vivid yellow with solid black and white wing markings. The head is black with a thick yellow eyebrow. The Evening Grosbeak is one of the most beautiful birds in California.
The Evening Grosbeak is found in forested areas, usually at some elevation. While there may be sightings across California, they are more likely to be found in the hinterland of California. The exception to this is when the birds are on migration and move south in large numbers. These grosbeak may not be traditional ‘backyard birds’ but may visit occasionally.
Length: 6.3 – 7.1 inches
Wingspan: 11.8 – 14.2 inches
Weight: 1.9 – 2.6 ounces
The Evening Grosbeak’s call is not very melodic, rather a series of chips and peeps.
The migration of the Evening Grosbeak to and from California is irregular and unpredictable. This is known as irruptive.
The breeding patterns of this grosbeak are largely unknown because it is very secretive during nesting and its lack of song and this makes it difficult for scientific study.
Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii)
The female (photo on the left) is a not unattractive blend of brown and cream tones. The streaky breast blends into a darker back. The male has a cleaner buff breast and dark, plainer back. Its face has a pink wash and the fluffy crown is vivid pinky red.
The Cassin’s Finch is resident in the more mountainous areas of California, particularly the Sierra Nevadas. It descends to lower elevations during the winter and may visit feeders. That is a great way to attract birds like this.
Length: 6.3 inches
Wingspan: 9.8 – 10.6 inches
Weight: 0.8 – 1.2 ounces
The Cassin’s Finch are sociable birds and can often be found within groups of other finches, crossbill and grosbeaks.
The male eats particular berries that contain carotenoids, which are responsible for its dark pink hues.
This finch has a peculiar salt craving and eats mineral rich soil to obtain it.
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
A larger shorebird with obvious and distinctive upturned bill. Adults in breeding plumage have a pale brown neck and head. The body is a combination of black and white that form a beautiful pattern when seen in flight.
This stunning, large shorebird is often seen in small or large flocks. It breeds in California, typically along the coastline. It can be found, however, at any suitable water habitat across the region.
Length: 16.9 – 18.5 inches
Wingspan: 28 inches
Weight: 9.7 – 12.3 ounces
Surprisingly, American Avocets are brood parasites. On rare occasions, they will lay their eggs in the nests of other avocets.
As they are ground nesters, the young birds of the American Avocet will be able to walk and leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching.
These avocets wade in shallow water to hunt but will also do so while swimming. They will eat aquatic and land based invertebrates, small fish and even seeds.
Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)
The Black Oystercatcher is a heavy, squat bird with short pale pink legs. The plumage is dark brown or black and the eye and bill vivid red. It is unlikely to be mistaken for other birds in California.
The Black Oystercatcher is a resident of Californian shores. Indeed, it can be found along the entire west coast.
Length: 15 – 19 inches
Weight: 19 ounces
The combination of brown and black plumage varies depending on how far north or south the population is.
Although they are distinctive, the Black Oystercatcher is fairly well camouflaged against rocks. This enables it to build nests in relative safety.
The name oystercatcher is a misnomer. They rarely eat oysters, feeding mostly on invertebrates.
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx california)
Made famous by the cartoon, the roadrunner is even more strange when you see them in real life and it is certainly one of the strangest birds in California. The well camouflaged plumage is a mix of dark brown, light brown and buff. However, it also has flashed of orange under the rump, a red-tipped blue streak behind the eye and purple and green wing marks. All of this is topped off by a long tail.
Northern California is the furthest range of the Greater Roadrunner. The birds can be seen throughout the year and across the state in dry areas where it runs on the ground.
Length: 20.5 – 21.3 inches
Wingspan: 19.3 inches
Weight: 7.8 – 19.0 ounces
The Greater Roadrunner is actually a ground-dwelling cuckoo.
This roadrunner is well suited to its desert environment of California, where it can kill snakes, lizards and mice.
The Greater Roadrunner can run faster than an average human!
Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
Also known as the Horned Lark, for obvious reasons, this bird is easy to identify by the bizarre horns. The female is a muted brown and looks like a typical lark. The male has a dark patch below the throat and black stripes running down from the eyes. A small patch of black on the cap sits underneath the horns and the tail has black bars running down it.
The Shore Lark is widespread across California and the continental United States. It prefers open habitat and may be seen in flocks with other birds.
Length: 6.3 – 7.9 inches
Wingspan: 11.8 – 13.4 inches
Weight: 1.0 – 1.7 ounces
These are adaptable little birds and are found from mountains to coast and desert to tundra.
The Shore Lark is well camouflaged in the open fields it prefers and is easily overlooked. It can be found in large, loose flocks including other bird species. Within a flock of mixed birds, it should be identifiable as there are no similar birds in California.
With a huge range, the plumage of these birds varies dramatically depending on the region.
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
An easy gull to identify with typical plumage on the body of gray and white. The head is entirely gray with white, broken white eye rings and vivid red bill.
The Laughing Gull can be found mostly along the coast of California. While it is the most common gull of the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico, it is less seen on the west coast.
Length: 15.3 – 18.1 inches
Wingspan: 36.2 – 47.2 inches
Weight: 7.2 – 13.1 ounces
Gull species are often referred generically as seagulls. This is not true. There is no such bird as a seagull. There are lots of gull species and most of them, while preferring coastal habitats, can be found inland. Large lakes and manmade attractions like rubbish dumps will bring in all sorts of gulls.
While often regarded as a pest species and particularly annoying at the beach, gulls are a product of human behavior. It is us that has taught them to scavenge, us that has encouraged them to seek scraps from an inhabited area and us that creates the garbage that attracts them.
The Laughing Gull is diurnal, meaning it will look for food during the day and during the night.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
The Turkey Vulture is a large, dark and spooky looking bird. While it looks black, it is actually a dark brown with a bald, red head. In flight the wing tips are much paler.
The Turkey Vulture can be found across the state of California with concentrations around metropolitan areas. In open country, they can be seen circling roads looking for roadkill.
Length: 25.2 – 31.9 inches
Wingspan: 66.9 – 70.1 inches
Weight: 70.5 ounces
Turkey Vulture Facts
When out driving in rural California and looking for raptors, if you see a large, dark bird then look for the wing shape. If it has a V shape, it is likely to be a Turkey Vulture.
While vultures are seen to be scavengers, they are actually raptors. While carrion like road kill provide them with an easy meal (and who doesn’t like that?), they will hunt and take smaller birds, rodents and amphibians.
If you view vultures with some disgust as they are digging out the entrails of a dead animal on the road, think about the alternative. These birds clean up the roads and remove rotting carcasses that we then do not have to deal with.
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
The Northern Shoveler is easy to identify even in dull plumage. The bill is huge and long and separates these birds from all others. The female (on the right) is a rather dull blend of browns and white. The breeding male, however, is stunning with an iridescent green head and bright yellow eye. Blue and green flashes are on the wings. the body is chestnut brown on the lower half and white up to the neck.
A shy duck that is instantly identifiable but often hides away. It can be seen throughout California at any body of water but is less frequent during the summer months.
Length: 17.3 – 20.1 inches
Wingspan: 27.2 – 33.1 inches
Weight: 14.1 – 28.9 ounces
This unique duck uses that incredible bill to sift through the water for crustaceans.
This duck is success story with populations across Europe, Asia and America. It is less often seen in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Northern Shoveler is a dabbling duck. This means they inhabit shallow bodies of water and generally feed along or just below the surface. They are freshwater birds.
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
An unmistakable and iconic waterbird with so many distinctive features. Looking pure white when on the water, black wing tips are visible in flight. The bright orange bill is matched with similar webbed feet. The bill has a large pouch underneath and the bright breeding colors are matched with a horn on top of the bill. Finally, stiff plumes rise from the back of the head. It is one of the most iconic birds in California.
The American White Pelican is widespread across California, as well the entire country and may be present in any open body of water. For obvious reasons, it is not generally reported in arid, desert areas.
Length: 50 – 65 inches
Wingspan: 96 – 114 inches
Weight: 158.7 – 317.5 ounces
American White Pelican Facts
While this pelican looks bulky and an unlikely flyer, it is elegant and obviously capable in the air. Birds are often seen in groups and flying in V shapes and lines, the American White Pelican is stunning in every location.
Pelicans are social birds and are often seen in good numbers. They will use this to fish together by rounding up schools of fish.
The American White Pelican can be mischevious and is known to steal fish from other pelican’s pouches or straight from diving cormorants.
Cook’s Petrel (Pterodroma cookii)
Petrels are very difficult to distinguish between. Most of them are a blue gray color with some kind of darker markings across the wings. This petrel is no exception. Pale underneath with a gray back and distinctive V pattern from the wings down to the tail. Thin, dark lines mark the wings underneath.
Usually found in Southern Hemisphere waters around New Zealand, where they breed. The Cook’s Petrel does have a wide range across the Pacific and occasionally reaches the California coast. Could be seen at any time of the year, but most likely March to August, from an offshore boat.
Length: 9.8 – 13.3 inches
Wingspan: 30 – 32.2 inches
Weight: 3.9 – 10.6 ounces
Cook’s Petrel Facts
The Cook’s Petrel was named after the explorer of the southern oceans, James Cook.
A member of the Gadfly Petrel group, the Cook’s Petrel represents it well. These birds are swift, maneuverable and fly as if evading gadflies. Hence the name.
This petrel feeds almost exclusively on squid.
Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis)
A distinctive and relatively small albatross. It has a white body and dark wings. The bill is a pale pink and it has a dark eyebrow.
The Laysan Albatross breed mainly in Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean is its hunting ground. As part of the Pacific Rim, it is seen off the coast of California at any time of the year.
Length: 31.1 – 31.9 inches
Wingspan: 76.8 – 79.9 inches
Weight: 77.6 – 151 ounces
The Laysan Albatross breeds mainly on the islands of Hawaii and builds rudimentary nests on the ground.
Young Laysan Albatross do not breed until they are 8-9 years old.
These birds are monogamous and pairs will stay together for life. As part of the bonding process, they have an elaborate dancing based courtship.
California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)
This is the largest bird in the U.S. and is listed as Critically Endangered. From a distance, the birds look black but actually they have white under the wings. The head is bald with pink and yellow skin visible. The coast of California is the best place to see them.
The California Condor is mainly seen in Southern California some sightings further north and east in Arizona and Utah. It does not migrate and so locations are predictable.
Length: 46.1 – 52.8 inches
Wingspan: 109.1 inches
Weight: 247 – 349 ounces
There are no vocalizations available on our xeno-canto org source.
California Condor Facts
This is an enormous raptor with a wingspan of nearly 3 meters.
Primarily a scavenger, the condor feeds on carrion, including pigs, cattle and deer. It will even feed on marine animals like whales and seals.
Being an apex predator, the California Condor has few threats from other animals (other than humans of course). However, the Golden Eagle more powerful talons and the condor will cede to it at feeding sites.
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
The Golden Eagle is a very large raptor. Largely a mid-brown with warm tones, the wings are nearly black at the tips. It is slightly paler underneath. On the nape is a golden flash and that is how it gets the name of Golden Eagle. The legs are covered with pale feathers. Plumage is variable across maturity. However, it is unlikely to be mistaken for any other bird in California.
The Golden Eagle can be seen across California and throughout the year, although sightings decrease slightly during summer and the breeding period.
Length: 27.6 – 33.1 inches
Wingspan: 72.2 – 86.6 inches
Weight: 105.8 – 216.1 ounces
Golden Eagle Facts
Golden Eagles hunt in territories where they may scavenge on carrion. When hunting, depsite their size they are likely to take smaller animals like rabbits and prairie dogs.
The wide spread and popularity of the Golden Eagle is reflected in the status it is given across the world. It is the national symbol of countries like Mexico, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and others.
Large birds like the Golden Eagle are in danger from electricty wires. If a bird touches 2 wires at the same time, then they can be electrocuted. Power companies continue to work to widen the gap between the wires and protect the Golden Eagle and other large birds.
California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica)
This is a dark gray gnatcatcher with a long, often cocked tail and the breeding male has a black cap. An indistinct white ring is around the eye. The female lacks the black cap and has browner wings. This species is a wonderful California bird.
This gnatcatcher is seen in Southern California and into Baja California. It is found in arid areas of shrubbery and is more likely to be located by sound rather than vision.
Length: 4.3 inches
Wingspan: 5.5 inches
Weight: 0.2 – 0.3 ounces
California Gnatcatcher Facts
Even though it is a very small bird, the California Gnatcatcher is fiesty, taking on bigger birds and banding together to see off predators.
This gnatcatcher eats insects and local species of seeds.
It might take some looking for if you want to spot the California Gnatcatcher. It tends to stay hidden in the dense scrub.
Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope)
This is one of the smallest species of hummingbird. The female has a plain front and irridescent green bronze back. The male (pictured below) is the same but has an irregular pattern of bright red/purple feathers on the throat.
The Calliope Hummingbird is migratory and not one for the winter checklists. It is only seen in the summer months in western parts of the United States. In California, it is seen widely but not in very dry areas.
Length: 3.1 – 3.5 inches
Wingspan: 4.1 – 4.3 inches
Weight: 0.1 ounces
Calliope Hummingbird Facts
If you put out hummingbird feeders with sugar water and fruit and they begin to visit, keep doing it. Hummingbirds have a great memory and will return to reliable sources year after year.
Look at the measurements of the hummingbird. To put it into perspective, it is as long as three paperclips and at 0.1oz weighs as much as one crust of a slice of bread.
The tiny feet of the hummingbird are capable of clinging tightly onto branches but are not able to support the bird in walking.
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)
The towhee is actually a species of sparrow and a large one at that. This particular Towhee is a gray brown bird with some rusty red coloring under the tail.The males and females look alike.
This sparrow can be seen in California all year round. It habits rough, shrubby areas and suburban gardens.
Length: 8.3 – 9.8 inches
Wingspan: 11.4 inches
Weight: 1.3 – 2.4 ounces
California Towhee Facts
This large sparrow loves poison oak and it is an important factor in their diet.
California Towhee are renowned for arguing with their own reflection.
The California, Canyon, Abert’s and White-throated Towhee are so closely related it has been argued they are the same bird.
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
The Common (or Northern) Raven is a large corvid but entirely black. In certain lights it appears glossy and even tinged with blue. When identifying this raven, look for the heavy black bill.
The Common Raven, is exactly that. It is a widespread species, not just in California or the United States but across the Northern Hemisphere. It will be seen in a wide range of habitats and often heard before it is seen.
Length: 22.1 – 27.2 inches
Wingspan: 45.7 – 46.5 inches
Weight: 24.3 – 57.3 ounces
Common Raven Facts
Ravens are birds with a lot of interesting characteristics. They are often comical and can be seen playing in the air and involved in all sorts of acrobatics.
Ravens, like other corvids, are very intelligent. They have great memories, can recognize faces and problem solve. These skills are usually put to use in obtaining food.
Perhaps because of their antics, appearance and wailing calls, Common Ravens are sometimes viewed with suspicion. There is also a history of them being negative characters in mythology.
Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)
What other bird has coloring like this? With bright blue feet and bill, coupled with a bright pale eye it is so striking and beautiful. The rest of the body is white and the wings are dark. It cannot be argued that these birds are not beautiful.
The Blue-footed Booby breeds on islands off the Pacific coast. It can be seen at times from the California shoreline, possibly any time of the year.
Length: 31.9 inches
Wingspan: 66.2 inches
Weight: 52.9 – 77.6 ounces
The Blue-footed Booby is one of the most comical as well as beautiful birds seen around California. It dances for its partner during courtship. When discovered by scientists, this is why they named them boobies.
As ever, color plays a big part in partner selection. Birds with bright blue feet tend to be more successful.
The nests of this booby (and like other booby species), are nothing more than a depression in the ground. The birds lay eggs onto bare earth.
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Unlike other plainer raptors like hawks and harriers, the American Kestrel is stunning. Much smaller than other birds of prey, it has a grey head and rufous body fading to buff. Strong black and white streaks on the face make it unmistakable.
The American Kestrel is a hovering raptor and as such can be seen in open parks and fields searching for prey. However, it will also be present in more populus areas. It is common and widespread across California.
Length: 8.7 – 12.2 inches
Wingspan: 20.1 – 24 inches
Weight: 2.8 – 5.8 ounces
American Kestrel Facts
Although the American Kestrel is agile and can be aggressive, it is also prey for larger raptors like the Sharp-shinned Hawk.
These kestrels can see ultraviolet light which means they can see urine traces which helps lead them to their prey.
American Kestrels cache food for later use. They might store it in grass, cavities or even tree roots.
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)
A very cryptic bird of woodlands in California. Most like to be spotted when it is on the side of a tree. Dark and lighter brown speckles on the back contrast with a pale front. It has a reasonably large bill for digging out bugs. Males and females are alike.
This little songbird prefers woodlands with conifer trees. Found in most suitable areas of California but less so in the dry areas of the south-east.
Length: 4.7 – 5.5 inches
Wingspan: 6.7 – 7.9 inches
Weight: 0.2 – 0.3 ounces
Brown Creeper Facts
Although this is a natural woodland bird, it can be found in parks and more urban areas especially during the winter months. It is probably more common than we think.
The Brown Creeper eats insects but will supplement its diet with suet and seeds from a bird feeder.
The only treecreeper in the United States, the Brown Creeper works trees like other treecreepers spiralling up and digging in the bark for bugs.
Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa)
This is a rare owl and possibly missed by birders because of its spectacular camouflaged plumage. It has a large, round head with deep set but bright yellow eyes.
The Great Grey Owl is found in the northern parts of California in traditional owl territory of forests but also out in open meadows. While it is present all year round, sightings are relatively low.
Length: 24 – 33.1 inches
Wingspan: 53.9 – 60.2 inches
Weight: 24.7 – 60 ounces
Great Grey Owl Facts
Conside the weight of this owl. An average loaf of bread weighs around 30 ounces. For a large bird, the weight is low. It obviously has a lot of feathers bulking it up.
The Great Grey Owl must eat very regularly and its preference are voles. During the colder months, it needs between 5-7 a day.
Northern California is one of the furthest southern areas that is home to the Great Grey Owl. Further north, it is spread across Alaska and Russia.
Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)
Well, this bird certainly is bright! It is almost too much too look at with vivid blue, orange, red and yellow patches of color. The males are pictured here. The females are a yellow green that would be very pretty if not sat next to this guy! It definitely qualifies as an ostentatious bird of California.
More common in central and eastern parts of continental America, they are winter birds in California. Preferring dense foliage and despite its colors, this bird can be tricky to find.
Length: 4.75 inches
Weight: 0.5 ounces
Painted Bunting Facts
The painted bunting’s French moniker is nonpareil, meaning unrivalled. No jokes!
Western and eastern populations have different molting patterns and they also differ during maturation. I guess with colors like that, it takes quite a bit of work.
Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)
This stunning member of the setophaga family is like a blend of the other black and yellow migratory warblers. The females (on the left) are olive and yellow colored with darker wings and white wing bars. The males (on the right) are much brighter and vivid yellow and black stripes on the head. The wing bars are more pronounced and the yellow extends to the breast.
A western species of warbler, it moves south from northwestern America to the Pacific coast and further south to breed. Birds present in California could be residents or migratory birds.
Length: 4.7 – 5.0 inches
Wingspan: 7.5 – 8.3 inches
Weight: 0.3 – 0.4 ounces
Townsend’s Warbler Facts
During the winter, these very small birds may venture out of the forest and visit backyard feeders in California.
The Townsend’s Warbler may join larger flocks of mixed species in California and their breeding grounds futher south.
Similar to the Hermit Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler, it is possible that they are hybridizing.
Well, there is our list of different kinds of birds in California. I tried to choose a wide and slightly different range of species and categories.
California is such a fabulous place to go birding with something for everyone – from searching for gnatcatchers in the south to climbing mountains for grosbeak. My favorite is the humble California Quail. I never tire of seeing them, not only for their stunning plumage but also to watch them interact in their little groups.
Thanks for reading our bird choices for California. We hope you enjoyed it.
How do I attract birds to my garden in California?
You might think that birds in California have everything they need, food wise. But you can always do things to support them. Attract common backyard birds like finches with sunflower seeds. Hummingbirds are wonderful to see and the feeders are easy to maintain. If you don’t want to put food out in feeders, then try a simple bird bath.
What birds will I see in the desert?
Common birds in the south-eastern dry areas of California are: roadrunners, quail, sparrows and if you are lucky, the Burrowing Owl.
Is it worth going on a boat to see birds off the coast?
Absolutely, there are some incredible birds just out into the ocean. You might see petrels, guillemot, albatross or cormorants. There are also marine animals like dolphins and seals too.
What are the big black birds in California?
Across California, big black birds are likely to be the Great-tailed Grackle. It is a common bird full of character and very loud.