California hosts an amazing diversity of birds
Brown Pelican soars over California. Photo: John D. Anderson
California is famous for the spirit of its people, farms that feed millions, innovation that transforms the world, our magnificent coastlines, and Hollywood, to name a few. Audubon California would add our abundant bird life to that list. The more than 600 bird species that have been spotted in California make up about two-thirds of all birds species in North America, including the tiny Calliope Hummingbird, the elegant Black Phoebe, and the great California Condor.
More commonly seen California birds total around 450 species, making our state one of the country’s most diverse. The natural habitats that draw millions of breeding, migrating, and resting birds to California – the shorelines, wetlands, oak woodlands, deserts, and forests– include 175 places most important to birds (Audubon calls them Important Bird Areas), the most of any state in the Lower 48.
Birds are crucial components of healthy natural systems, serving as pollinators, predators, scavengers, seed dispersers, and engineers in riparian, wetland, and coastal habitats. Birds are indicators of broader ecosystem function and environmental health because they respond rapidly to climatic and other changes, and are relatively easy to see and study. Birds and humans need the same things – clean air, water, and land – so the future health of birds and that of humans is inextricably linked.
California is key link along the Pacific Flyway, the migratory route traveled by millions of birds every year. California wetlands, beaches, and other areas provide important habitat, stop over, feeding, and nesting sites for birds that travel from the Arctic to spots over 7,000 miles away in Chile, sustaining species that can be found throughout the Flyway.
Birds are important to us in ways we are only beginning to understand. Here are just a few ways that birds matter -- not just to us, but to the world.
The Allen's Hummingbird is one of California's most popular birds.
The Black Oystercatcher is a dynamic resident of California's shorelines.
The Black-necked Stilt is one of many shorebirds that needs our help.
The Brown Pelican is one of California's most distinctive birds, and it very nearly disappeared altogether.
The Yellow Warbler's sunny presence is a delight for even the most novice birder.
The California Condor is among the rarest and most imperiled birds in the world.
The Golden Eagle is one of the largest and most agile raptors in the world.
The Greater Sage-Grouse has become a lightning rod for conservation.
Standing more than a foot tall, the Long-billed Curlew is North America's largest shorebird.
California supports a large population of wintering Sandhill Cranes in its Central Valley and northeastern corner.
Named for their propensity to forage in ocean surf, Surf Scoters are best known for the drake’s spectacular multicolored bill
This rare California bird needs our help to survive.
The Western Grebe, a regular sight in California waterways, needs our help to survive.
California is a focal point for the conservation of this threatened shorebird.
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