Six Great Ways to Bird LA

How exactly does one engage in the act of birding in LA? Fortunately, Audubon California and various Audubon societies and centers around Southern California have put together a myriad of ways to guide you through the process of doing it up right, just like a true #birdnerd would.

In celebration of the 2nd Annual Bird LA Day, they’re even distributing a “secret bird map” at the National Park Service office at El Pueblo in Downtown LA, for those interested in embarking on a wild chase to look for swallow nests, raptor roosts, and colonies of Vaux’s Swifts that are hidden in plain view in and around some of LA’s most prominent landmarks. Look for a ranger in a “big flat hat” by the Fire House Museum from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday.

If you prefer a less self-guided experience, here are six of the most intriguing programs from the BirdLA schedule of events.


A great blue heron, one of the largest birds you're likely to see in LA — unless you spot a conodr or white pelican | Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein

Natural History Museum: As part of their ongoing “Citizen Science” series of projects, NHM is hosting two free bird walks to teach aspiring birdwatchers how to use mobile apps and report their observations while birding. Considering some of the fascinating findings of their other biodiversity projects in the series—which have involved butterflies, reptiles, snails, and insects—there’s actually a decent chance that you could make a real scientific contribution to their research. 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. in the Nature Gardens. RSVP required.

Descanso Gardens: Early birds get to take advantage of a special guided birding walk through the gardens, an hour before Descanso’s usual opening hours. Representatives from the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society will also be at the Bird Observation Station at the Oak Woodland to answer questions and share facts about the types of birds that the gardens attract. All levels are welcome, but bring your own binoculars. BirdLA activities are free with regular garden admission. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Ballona Wetlands | Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein

The G2 Gallery: Devoted to nature and wildlife photography, The G2 Gallery in Venice is pulling out all the stops for a particularly artistic experience of BirdLA. They’ve got two bird photography tutorials (at 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.) that meet at the gallery and then proceed to Ballona Wetlands, as well as a BYO mat yoga session set to birdsong on the gallery’s upper level at 9 a.m. In the afternoon, you can tour LACMA’s collection of “ancient bird art of the Americas” from 2-3 p.m. All events free. RSVP to rsvp@theg2gallery.com with the name of the event in the subject line.

Birding at Quail Hollow with Theodore Payne Foundation: If you’ve never been to Quail Hollow, the private native garden in Tujunga where reportedly over 100 species of birds have been sighted, this may be your one and only chance to go. Although Theodore Payne Foundation’s educational programs typically focus on wildflowers and native plant gardening, they can also be an invaluable resource for learning how to plant a garden that will attract bees, butterflies, and, of course, birds. Free. If the 9 a.m. morning session fills up, an afternoon session may be added at 3 p.m. RSVP to programs@theodorepayne.org.


White Point in San Pedro | Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein

Rescue and Rehab: Join International Bird Rescue at White Point – Royal Palms Beach in San Pedro to spot some seabirds and shorebirds and learn what happens to sick, injured, orphaned, and oiled birds of the Pacific Ocean. If one of their rehabilitated birds is ready for release on Saturday, you’ll get the rare opportunity to witness their work first-hand. This is also a fascinating locale not only for birds but also tidepools, mineral springs, the history of Rancho Sepulveda, and feral cats. Free but parking down the hill at the beach can run up to $8/day.

UCLA: Proving that birding doesn’t have to stop after the sun goes down, Bruin Naturalists Club is hosting a BYO binoculars bird walk (and “Bird Bingo”) at the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden at 5 p.m., after which you can head over to the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability for wine, snacks, and a presentation on their 2015 campus bird survey. Free. RSVP required.

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