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Where to Go Birding in Orange County, CA

Birds are everywhere, if we just know where to look.  We can find birds along the beach, at the ocean, in the hills, in neighborhood parks, and even in our backyard.  There are over 500 species of birds just waiting for us to watch and enjoy in diverse Orange County, California. When you Click for the Location List! you will discover a list and information about some of the many places in Orange County where you can find birds that are resident, breeding, wintering, or migrating. Just grab a pair of binoculars and check them out! You will find specific details for over 30 prime birding sites including location, parking, site description, bird species highlights, and birders’ quotes, click the button to download the file.

We suggest that you check the websites for each location for current fees for parking and annual parking passes plus any closures. Note that wilderness parks may have mountain lion activity so be sure to review safety precautions before your trip. It’s best to go with a birding buddy!

We also recommend using eBird to learn more about birds at specific birding hotspots. On eBird, you will find the most recent sightings, seasonal bar graphs, photographs, and sounds of specific bird species.

Birding should be for everyone.  For those with disabilities or other health concerns who want to get outside, we invite you to visit the Sea and Sage Accessible Birding page where you will find information about a U.S. map hosted by National Audubon that provides accessibility information for birding sites across the nation, including more than 50 in Orange County.

Wetlands and Ocean Shore

Changing tide, shifting sand, ocean breezes, or calm water are characteristics of Orange County beaches and wetlands.  Expect to see many different kinds of shorebirds, ducks (dabblers and divers), gulls, terns, pelicans, cormorants, egrets and herons. We suggest Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, and Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach for greatest diversity.


Coastal Sage Scrub, Oak Woodland, and Riparian Woodland

From cool shady oaks to arid slopes with small-leaved plants, these Orange County habitats attract birds. Look for many species of resident and migratory songbirds, raptors, quail, sparrows, woodpeckers, and more. We suggest Casper’s Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano, Irvine Regional Park in Orange, and Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange.

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Urban Parks and Fishing Lakes

With an emphasis on recreation, urban areas offer rolling green slopes, sparkling lakes, and shade trees while you can enjoy a picnic or fishing or even birding!  Look for ducks, songbirds, woodpeckers, owls and more. We suggest Huntington Beach Central Park East in Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel Regional Park in Laguna Niguel, Mason Regional Park in Irvine, and Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley.


Birding is an adventure!

Prepared by Trude Hurd with Bruce Aird, Samuel Bressler, Laura Cohen, Martin Fee, Lena Hayashi, Brian Leatherman, Vic Leipzig, Amy Litton, Cheryl Overend, Rick Schaffer, Mark Singer, and Catherine & Robert Waters. Photographs by Trude Hurd unless indicated otherwise and all are used with permission and may not be reproduced.