San Diego's great outdoors beckons bird watchers from around the globe. The region's beautiful and diverse landscape, from 70 miles of oceanfront beaches and bayfront tidelands to inland foothills, canyons, mountains and deserts, provides a permanent or migratory home to some of nature's most notable feathered friends. San Diego County is one of those rare and exciting destinations where a birder can enjoy four distinct bird habitats all in the space of one day.
More than 480 species of birds have been observed in San Diego County—more than any other county in the United States. It is a bird haven along the Pacific Flyway—the diverse migratory route along the west coast of the United States—where many birds make their winter homes or nest. San Diego offers some of the most exciting winter birding in the nation.
San Diego is also a birder's delight due to its year-round near-idyllic climate. Most days are sunny and warm with an average daily temperature of 70 degrees, and visitors have an opportunity to view birds in a comfortable outdoor setting almost any day of the year.
The Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly the Chula Vista Nature Center), one of San Diego's most popular birding sites, lists most of the best birding locations, plus birds by season.
The San Diego Natural History Museum also posts a comprehensive San Diego County Bird Atlas on their website. For regular updates of rare bird sightings in San Diego County and their locations, call the San Diego Rare Bird Alert line at (619) NUT-BIRD (688-2473).
Birders planning on visiting San Diego may wish to obtain the Port of San Diego's informative free brochure entitled "Birding Hot Spots of San Diego." The brochure is also available in San Diego at the Port Administration Building (3165 Pacific Highway), as well as at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla.
The San Diego Audubon Society is another great source of information on bird watching in San Diego and scheduled field trips throughout the county.
Check out a schedule of upcoming guided bird walks and tours at San Diego's National Wildlife Refuges.
Each year, birders "flock" together for the San Diego Bird Festival in February. Festival highlights include a kick-off mixer with a special guest speaker, classes, field trips, an exhibit fair with conservation organizations, and vendors selling bird-related items.
International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated every year on the second Saturday in May. The event focuses attention on the hundreds of species of birds that migrate between nesting sites in North America and non-breeding grounds in the south.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sponsors the annual National Wildlife Refuge System Week celebration every October; features include local bird walks, nature walks, wildlife speakers and children's activities.
Annual Christmas bird counts are held over a two-week period in December in several areas of San Diego County. For more information, contact the San Diego Audubon Society at (619) 682-7200 or the San Diego Natural History Museum.