Take a two-hour tour of nearby hotspots such as Malibu Lagoon, Sepulveda Basin, or Temescal Canyon. Have a meeting at 10? We'll pick you up early and drop you off two hours later. $150
See dozens of bird species at this natural estuary, including Elegant Tern, Heermann's Gull, Snowy Plover, and Cinnamon Teal. Landbirds include guaranteed Allen's Hummingbird, plus oak woodland birds nearby.
Oak woodland and chaparral birds are common, such as California Quail, Acorn and Nuttall's woodpeckers, Wrentit, and other Pacific-coast endemics.
Rocky-shore sandpipers like Black Oystercatcher, Surfbird, and Black Turnstone are common nearly year-round, as are Brown Pelican. In winter, we'll see a variety of grebes, scoters, and gulls. Expect Elegant and Least terns and a variety of shorebirds in summer.
American White Pelican and Tricolored Blackbird in winter and a variety of herons and egrets year-round, plus great looks at western woodland species like the Black-chinned Hummingbird, Cassin's Kingbird and Bullock's Oriole.
Some of the best southwestern riparian habitat in the area is here, only a few minutes east of downtown L.A. This is home to the rare Least Bell's Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Grosbeak, and others. Year-round diversity is very high, especially in late fall and winter.
L.A., along with Miami, Florida, is home to a wide variety of naturalized bird species from around the world, including parrots (mainly from Latin America), weavers (Africa) and finches (southeast Asia). Maybe you just need the Spotted Dove for your lifelist? We'll find them.
Enjoy a half-day in the San Gabriel Mountains, Antelope Valley, Oxnard Plain, or other destinations a little farther afield. We can get an early start and be back by lunch, or arrange an afternoon getaway. $250
Guaranteed California Gnatcatcher, as well as year-round pelagic birding (from shore!) for Black-vented Shearwater, Parasitic Jaeger, and who knows what else.
White-headed Woodpecker, Sapsuckers, Mountain Quail, and many western mountain species like Pygmy Nuthatch, Black-chinned Sparrow and Hermit Warbler in the summer.
Winter raptors like the Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon, waterfowl at Quail Lake, and in spring, amazing wildflower displays. Desert species like Le Conte's Thrasher and Scott's Oriole in season.
The last agricultural area near Los Angeles, with Pacific Golden-plover in fall, White-faced Ibis, Tricolored Blackbird, nesting colonies of Snowy Plover and Least Tern, and other species long-gone from the L.A. Basin.
Have a full day? Spend it exploring some of the world-famous natural areas a few hours away, such as the Salton Sea, the Santa Ynez Valley, the or the southern Sierra Nevada. $400 ($300 if multiple consecutive days are booked, includes lunch)
Overnight/multi-day: I charge the half-day rate for each day of travel/birding (including any portion of a day), plus all lodging/meals. I charge an additional $50/day for fuel for all full-day and multi-day tours.
We'll seek out the Yellow-billed Magpie, California's famous endemic corvid, in the oak savannah of this picturesque wine and ranching area. Other species of interest include White-tailed Kite, Lewis's Woodpecker in fall and winter, and a full compliment of oak woodland birds.
One of the best birding areas in the U.S., the only place to find the rare Blue-footed Booby and Yellow-Footed Gull, and a western outpost of species like the Gull-billed Tern, Inca Dove, Burrowing Owl, and many others. A list 100+ species by noon is practically guaranteed!
Three hours north of town, 5 major bioregions converge at the Kern River Valley, which also features one of the finest riparian woodland ecosystems in the west. Famous for supporting the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Brown-crested Flycatcher, and Summer Tanager, we may also seek out the Pinyon Jay in fall and winter, Pileated Woodpecker, and Sage Sparrow.
Need to fill in gaps in your ABA area list, or just want to enjoy some time in nature? Below are some of the species that are readily seen in and around Los Angeles.
You can also download a list of Los Angeles specialties, birds that are sought-after by visiting birders.
Resident along the Los Angeles River (soft-bottomed stretches) and at constructed wetlands, including Ballona Freshwater Marsh.
Common along the immediate coast.
Winter resident in agricultural areas, generally about an hour away.
Resident along cement-lined areas of the Los Angeles River.
Most common in April and August, but possible much of year along rocky coastlines.
Common along coast from March to November.
Resident in declining numbers in neighborhoods southeast of downtown, especially the Huntington Park/Bell area.
Resident in agricultural areas of the Antelope Valley, about an hour northeast of LAX.
Resident; our most common hummingbird.
Resident in mountain pine forests above around 5000'.
Resident in dense, native chaparral in foothills and mountains; most vocal during spring and summer.
Local resident in native coastal sage scrub at several sites on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and in the San Gabriel Valley east of Pasadena.
Winter resident in chaparral and woodland of foothills.
Dan Cooper is an authority on the birds of the Los Angeles area. He's the author of Important Bird Areas of California (2004), has compiled annotated checklists for the Ballona Wetlands and Malibu Lagoon, and wrote the "Birds of the Season" column for the L.A. Audubon Society newsletter for several years. Dan has led birding trips around southern California for a wide variety of clients for more than 20 years, including large group outings and multi-day, one-on-one tours. He's a native of the Pasadena area and holds degrees from the University of California, Riverside and Harvard University.
“A very big thank you for a great mornings birding. So much seen in so short a time and such great places. I will certainly visit again if I come back to LA. Your knowledge of both the birds and the locations are second to none, many many thanks again and all the very best for the future.”
“THANK YOU for such a thorough day of birding and all-around good company! Of all the species on the list, there were 33 brand new species to me… Magpie is unforgettable because it brought tears to my eyes! Again, thank you for sharing your expertise.”
“Dan knows all of the birds by both sight & sound! He would drive down the roads with his window open and hear a bird… if it was one we hadn't seen yet Dan would pull over! Dan is an awesome birding guide!”
“Thanks again for a really great day out! Anyway, I have counted 114 species in the whole of which 40 were new to me, so I call that a good success!”
“Thanks so much Dan, My birding buddies… have all been complimentary of your ability to find a Spotted Dove—one friend said ‘that is HUGE’! So thanks again for the LA experience.”
“We added lots of nice stuff to my North America list. I had a great time out that day. I'll call you next time I'm in LA.”
“Thanks for a great job with bird guiding in the LA area. I thought the mountains were superb and could have spent another day or two up there if I had the time. I'll try and get back up there if I ever do another Southern Cal pelagic!”