This birding guide can be printed and folded to use on a self guided trip at Cabrillo. It was created through the support of the Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy. It was adapted from the http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/.
Text Alternative for the Birding Guide
The core mission of the National Park Service is to protect and preserve natural resources, processes, systems, and values of the parks they manage. Our philosophy is protect, and restore when necessary, native ecosystems and let natural processes play out. Park Rangers and Volunteers document their observations of flora and fauna. Scientists conduct research to try to understand the status and trends of the species and systems they protect. This information is vital to advising park management and philosophy.
Each person can play a role in helping our feathered friends. As you learn more about birding you will find that your actions play a direct part in the welfare of the birds that you see. Remember that birds, while raising their young, want to be left alone. The more silent you are as you move about the more birds you will see. Sometimes the best way to spot birds is to just sit, wait, and listen. You just might be surprised by how many you see
when you do this.
Birding BasicsBeaks/Bills: What is the shape of the bill? Is it thin or thick? Long or short? Flat or hooked?
Body: Try to narrow the size down by comparing to a more common bird: smaller than a crow, but larger than a sparrow. Is it chunky or thin?
Wings: How big is the wingspan? How are the wings shaped? Are they curved or straight?
Tails: Is the tail short or long? Wide or narrow? Straight, rounded or notched?
Field Marks: Most birds have distinct markings that are different from all others. Does the face have an eye-ring or an eye-brow stripe? Does it have a spot on the throat or the back of the head? Are there any wing bars or a different color on its tail? Do certain marks only become obvious when it is in flight?
Behavior: Take a moment to notice how the bird is acting. Is it alone or in a group? Is it stalking, standing still, or flitting about? Is it on the ground or perched high up somewhere? Some birds are easily recognized by their actions alone.
Voice/Calls: Does the bird have a distinct call or make a particular sound? Does it have more than one call?
L 28-34” WS 39-52”
Straight hook tipped bill, long neck, slender body, 4 webbed toes, mostly blackish, seen spreading wings to dry, dive, and swim for fish.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
L 24” WS 41”
Long black bill, long neck, long legs, yellow feet, white body, seen foraging alone for small fish.
L 7.5” WS 15”
Thin long bill, roundish stocky body, medium-long leg, brownish-gray, seen running and bobbing on mud flats, forage on small invertebrates.
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
L 25” WS 58”
Heavy thick-tipped slightly drooping bill, large stocky body, round head, dark back (adults), seen in open coastal habitat, feed on shellfish and fish.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
L 46” WS 72”
Long straight bill, long neck, large body, long legs, grey plumage, seen wading alone in shallow water, feed mostly on fish.
California Brown Pelican (Pelecanus oaccidentalis californicus)
L 51” WS 79”
Large pouched bill, long neck, large body, webbed feet, grey-brown or silvery, seen flying silently in lines or plunge-diving for fish.
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
L 4” WS 5.25”
Long thin bill, tiny body, small wings, broad tail, green-gray above, darker gray-green below, M: red throat and crown, F: can have red spotting on throat. Species seen feeding on nectar, wings make whirring sound.
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)
L 4.5” WS 6”
Stubby bill, rounded wing, tiny round body, long tail, gray-brown, seen in swarming flock on bushes and trees eating aphids and tiny insects.
California Towhee (Pipilo crissalis)
L 10” WS 14”
Short conical bill, medium stocky body, rounded wings, dark brown-gray color, cinnamon under tail, seen alone in the open and brush feeding on seeds, fruit, and insects.
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
L 9” WS 11.5”
Black bill, light eye, medium slender songbird with long tail, adult grayish above and whitish below with two white wingbars. Very vocal.
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)
L 8.5” WS 10.5”
Small, stocky, thin bill, short tail; M: shiny blue above with reddish-brown below, F: mostly gray-buff with hints of blue on wings, tail, and sometimes head.
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
L 7” WS 13.5”
Short conical bill, medium stocky body, round wings, black outer body, red eye, white spots on wing and tail, seen alone in undergrowth feeding on seeds.
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
L 7” WS 11”
Large, grayish, orange-billed sparrow with long tail and peaked crest on head. Adults: black and white stripes on head; Juveniles: brown and gray stripes on head.
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
L 6.75” WS 9”
Short broad flattened bill, slight crest on head, rounded wings, long tail, blackish except for white belly, seen flying from low perch catching flying insects.
Audubon's Warbler (Setophaga auduboni auduboni)
L 5.5” WS 9.25”
Stout dark bill, rounded wing, oval body, short tail, gray-brown with bright yellow-spot on rump usually seen when flying away, see in small perched flocks, quick flight.
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
L 6” WS 9.5”
Short stubby arched bill, round head, short tipped wings, longish square tail, brownish-gray with streaks, M: has orange-red forehead and chest, seen in small flocks.
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)
L 11.5” WS 15.5”
Thick billed, crestless head, sturdy body, broad round wings, long tail, dark to light gray underside, blue above, seen flying tree to tree, feeds on seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects.
California Thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum)
L 12” WS 12.5”
Long curved bill, slightly rounded body, rounded wings, long tail, buff color belly and undertail, dark eye-line, seen foraging (thrashing) on ground for inverts.
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
L 12” WS 18”
Short bill, small head, slender body, narrow pointed wings, long pointed tail, brown-gray with spots on wings, seen resting on wires or foraging on ground for seeds. Call is a sad hoot boo-hoo-hoo.
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
L 17.5” WS 39”
Large straight bill, broad wings, short slightly rounded tail, black, seen flapping wings, extremely diverse diet, clear caw call.
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
L 24” WS 53”
Long slightly hooked bill, shaggy throat, long narrow wings, wedge-shaped tail, black, seen soaring, diverse diet, raspy voice.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
L 16” WS 41”
Short hooked bill, stocky broad body, very pointed wings, shortish tail, sharp talons, dark “mustache”, yellow eye and nose stripe, eats small and medium birds.
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
L 19” WS 49”
Short hooked bill, stocky broad body, rounded wings, A: red on tail top, sharp talons, black edge on underside of wing, seen hunting small mammals from perch.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
L 23” WS 63”
Short hooked bill, stocky body, long crooked wings, striped tail, sharp talons, dark eye stripe and white hood, seen perched on poles, dives into water for fish.
Last updated: June 8, 2023