• Scenic View from Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island ©timhaufphotography.com

    Channel Islands

    National Park California

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  • Santa Barbara Island Closed Due to Storm Damage

    Santa Barbara Island is currently closed to public access due to damage from the high surf associated with Hurricane Marie. More »

  • San Miguel Island Closure

    In the interest of public safety, the U.S. Navy is closing San Miguel Island until further notice due to recent concerns of possible unexploded ordnance. More »

Bird Watching

Paul Collins

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Bird Check List for Channel Islands National Park (566 kb)

The Channel Islands support arich variety of birds, distinct in many ways from the birds of the adjacent mainland. The islands offer protected habitat in an increasingly disturbed southern California environment.

Viewing Seabirds and Shorebirds
The islands are particularly important for seabirds, offering critical nesting habitat. The particular association of northern and southern species found here is not duplicated anywhere else in the world. The islands support large numbers of western gulls, Cassin's auklets, Brandt's cormorants, and the only nesting population of California brown pelicans along the West Coast of the United States. Also, the islands support the world's largest population of Scripps's murrelets.

While some seabird species may be viewed from the islands, park boat concessioners will search for seabirds on boat trips out to the islands. Be sure to tell a boat crew member that you are interested in seabirds and they will often assist in finding and identifying birds. In addition, local chapters of the Audubon Society occasionally sponsor boats trips around the islands to view seabirds. Due to limited beach access on some islands, shorebird viewing is best done on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel Islands.

Viewing Landbirds
The landbirds are also a distinctive group-they represent a unique selection of the birds that live on the California mainland. Ten of the 40 landbird species that commonly nest on the park islands are represented by endemic species or subspecies-forms that occur only on the islands and nowhere else. Of this group, the island scrub-jay (found on Santa Cruz Island) is the only bird that is endemic at the species level.

The larger islands of Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa offer more types of habitats and, therefore, more variety of landbirds. Many birders visit Prisoners Harbor (easiest viewing opportunity) or Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island to view the island scrub-jay.

For more information about specific birding location, please visit Places To Go and read the the "Things To Do" section for each individual island.

Did You Know?

Painted Cave, Santa Cruz Island

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island is one of the world’s largest known sea caves. The cave measures 1215 feet in length (the size of more than four football fields), has a 160 foot entrance, and is almost 100 feet wide.