Birds to Watch in San Diego

If you love going for walks, make them more interesting by doing some bird watching! San Diego is home to many diverse and beautiful species of birds. You never know what you might see during your favorite local walk! 

We’re living right on top of what has traditionally been a “biodiversity hotspot.” Multiple ecosystems are converging to create a unique blend of flora and fauna that often can’t be seen anywhere else. 

This local biodiversity includes shorebirds on the beach and in lagoons, year-round locals above the canyons or in the chaparral, and dozens of migrating visitors that stop over here every year. 

What Birds Are There to Watch in San Diego?

In the course of a year, over 200 species of birds will call San Diego home. Some are permanent residents, others are just passing through. 

Some birds—such as seagulls, pigeons, and sparrows—might seem common and unspectacular, but with a watchful eye, you’re very likely to catch a sight of some unique and beautiful birds. 

Soaring Raptors

Look up in the sky over any canyon and you’ll likely see one of many species of local hawks circling as they look for lunch. Some of the more common species are red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and Cooper’s hawks

Ospreys can be another exciting find. They primarily feed on fish and are most common in coastal areas or near large bodies of water. Look for their distinctive “turn and dive” move when they see a meal swimming in the water below. They’re one of the few birds that will fully submerge themselves when diving for food. 

Birds in Your Neighborhood

No matter where in San Diego you live, you’re probably sharing your neighborhood with over a dozen different species of birds. 

Have you ever been walking by a bush or tree alive with chirping sounds, only to have the noise stop as soon as you get close? You’ve probably stumbled upon a congregation of finches. The most colorful local variety is house finches with their distinctive red bellies. 

San Diego is also home to at least four different species of hummingbirds. They can be a special sight, especially if you catch one sitting still long enough to admire their beautiful iridescent feathers. 

Colorful Visitors

Of the many birds that pass through San Diego during their annual migration, keep an eye out for beautiful hooded and Bullock’s orioles, which have bright yellow and orange feathers, respectively. 

Western bluebirds can also be a common sight in our neighborhoods, especially in the springtime. They have distinctive bright blue feathers with orange bellies. 

If you’re lucky you may also see a Western tanager with their yellow bodies and cute red heads. They are one of the more colorful birds to occasionally call San Diego home.  

Bird Watching is for Everyone

One of the greatest things about bird watching is that anybody can do it. Grandparents can connect with their grandchildren over the bird sightings they both enjoy. You can go bird watching with a friend, romantic partner, or even by yourself. 

It can be an exhilarating experience to see and identify a bird that isn’t always a common sight. It’s a great way to reconnect with nature and develop a better understanding of the natural flow of the world around us. 

If you need more inspiration, check out our article on where to go bird watching in San Diego! What are you waiting for? Grab your binoculars and go!

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