Backyard Birds

Los Angeles is home to an amazing variety of bird species.  According to Los Angeles Audubon, 491 species of birds were recorded in Los Angeles County in 2006 including eight well-established non-native species.  The complete list can be found here.  In 2000, the San Pedro Waterfront Project identified 88 different bird species in the small area within the Port of Los Angeles alone during a biological baseline study of San Pedro Bay.

Some of the birds found in Los Angeles aren’t native to the area but have been here for years.  For example, the peacocks on the Palos Verdes Peninsula were introduced in the 1920s and today the thriving peacock population can be found all over the peninsula as well as in parts of San Pedro.   Here is one handsome guy we spotted near Paseo del Mar in San Pedro (click on any of the photos in this article to open a larger image):

In our backyard we have observed red-tailed hawks, owls, doves, crows, Western Scrub-Jays, hummingbirds, finches, sparrows and many others I haven’t identified.  Here are a few that we see on a regular basis:

These birds love to flock to our fig tree and hang out on the power lines behind our yard. Can anyone identify this bird?  Update: A big thank you to Bob Shanman from Wild Birds Unlimited in Torrance.  Mr. Shanman id’d the bird below – it’s a European Starling.  He also identified the other mystery bird in the album above as a Northern Mockingbird.

Backyard Bird

What kind of bird is this?


We also have a pair of house finches that return every spring to raise a new generation in a nest on our back porch.  It’s amazing to watch them flit back and forth between the nest and the yard bringing supplies for their nest and, after the baby birds hatch, food for the birds. Here are the mom and dad:

House Finch - Mom

House Finch – Mom gathering nest materials

House Finch - Dad

House Finch – Dad

House Finch Babies

House Finch Babies

This morning I saw one of the babies flapping around the porch.  He (she?) didn’t seem quite ready to be on his own yet – he couldn’t fly any higher than about 5 feet and then would collapse on the ground.  I scooped him up, took a couple of quick pictures (sorry little one, couldn’t resist) and placed him back in the nest.  The nest is quite high so I can’t be sure how many babies there are but there appear to be three of the little ones.  The adventurous one is the one on the right side of this photo. ==>

And here are the rest of the House Finch Family portraits:

Probably our all-time favorite sighting has been the owl and red-tailed hawk.  Unfortunately it was too dark to capture any photos of the owl but I did manage to get a few of the hawk:

Red-Tailed Hawk

Update: In 2015, a pair of red-tailed hawks nested in the bluffs beneath the Pt. Vicente Lighthouse. I was able to get a few photos of them which you can see here.

South Bay Wildlife Rehab Birds

SBWR Education Birds

One of my favorite local non-profit organizations is the South Bay Wildlife Rehab.  They care for California native wildlife and educate the public about our wildlife and their environment.  We love to visit their booth every year at the Whale of a Day Celebration on the first Saturday of March.  They bring a small selection of non-releasable education birds for the public to admire.  This year the education birds on display included a Red-tailed Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Merline and Kestrel.

If you come across wild birds, the best thing to do is leave them alone.  In rare cases an injured or very young animal may need assistance.  The South Bay Wildlife Rehab has wonderful advice for what to do if you find an injured or very young animal.

What birds have you seen in your backyard?


  1. Barbara Perez says:

    Does anyone know why the small birds are less numerous now? I know that in summer the have more wild food available, but there’s less & less even in winter now. I keep my feeders full, but the finches (especially the lesser goldfinches) and sparrows haven’t been showing up like they used to. Even hummingbirds show up less often, though there’s plenty of flowers in bloom. I live in south Torrance, near the Palos Verdes Peninsula. There used to be LOTS of birds, but now, few come around, which is puzzling me.

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