Birds of California

Discover the Birds of California with Stan Tekiela’s Field Guide

Millions of people have discovered bird-feeding. It’s a simple and enjoyable way to bring the beauty of birds closer to your home. Watching birds at your feeder often leads to a lifetime pursuit of bird identification. The Birds of California Field Guide by Stan Tekiela is for those who want to identify the common birds of California.

There are more than 1,100 bird species in North America. In California alone there have been over 510 different kinds of birds recorded throughout the years.

Birds of California
California Scrub-Jay

These bird sightings have been documented by hundreds of bird-watchers and have become a part of the official state record. From these valuable records, Stan Tekiela has chosen 177 of the most common birds of California to include in this field guide.

Bird-watching, or birding, is one of the most popular activities in America. Its appeal in California is due, in part, to an unusually rich and abundant birdlife.

Birds of California
Greater Roadrunner

Why are there so many birds? One reason is open space. California is the third largest state, with more than 163,000 square miles (422,168 sq. km) and about 39.5 million people. On average, that is only 242 people per square mile (93 per sq. km).

Open space is not the only reason there is such an abundance of birds. It’s also the diversity of habitat. California can be broken into four distinctive habitats—the Pacific Border Province, Sierra-Cascade Province, Basin and Range Province, and Lower California Province—each of which supports different groups of birds. 

Water also plays a big part in California’s bird populations. There are 840 miles (1,352 km) of coastline, with a total of 3,427 miles (5,517 km) of coast, including all the inlets and islands.

Birds of California
Ruddy Turnstone

The coast is a great place to see many gull species such as California Gull or Heermann’s Gull. California also has over 2,675 square miles (6,950 sq. km) of freshwater surface. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are the largest, and several drain the entire state. There are also several thousand small lakes. Salton Sea and Lake Tahoe are the largest and are home to birds such as American Avocets and American White Pelicans. It’s always worth the time to investigate bodies of water in California for the presence of birds. 

Varying habitats in California also mean variations in weather. California has the highest and lowest elevations in the lower 48 states, rising from 282 feet (86 m) below sea level in Death Valley to 14,494 feet (4,419 m) at Mount Whitney. Northern parts of California are cooler and wetter than southern California. The Mojave Desert is the hottest region in California and in the US in the summer, while winters in the mountains are cold and snowy with many snowcapped peaks year-round.

Birds of California
Brewer’s Blackbird

No matter if you’re in the hot, arid deserts or in the cool, moist mountains of California, there are birds to watch in each season. Whether witnessing hawks migrating in autumn or welcoming back hummingbirds in spring, there is variety and excitement in birding in the Golden State.

About the author: Naturalist, wildlife photographer, and writer Stan Tekiela is the author of more than 175 field guides, nature books, children’s books, wildlife audio CDs, puzzles, and playing cards, presenting many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, trees, wildflowers, and cacti in the United States. 

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural History from the University of Minnesota and as an active professional naturalist for more than 25 years, Stan studies and photographs wildlife throughout the United States and Canada. He has received various national and regional awards for his books and photographs. 

Also a well-known columnist and radio personality, Stan’s syndicated column appears in more than 25 newspapers, and his wildlife programs are broadcast on a number of Midwest radio stations. Stan can be followed on Facebook and Twitter. He can be contacted via

You can follow Stan on Facebook and Twitteror contact him via his web page. Stan’s nationally syndicated NatureSmart Column appears in more than 25 cities spanning 5 states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania) and is circulated to more than 750,000 readers.

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Liliane Opsomer
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