Spring Birding in San Diego County
As far as native plants are concerned, “spring” comes to SoCal in winter. The cooler, wetter winter prompts these natives to green up and bloom. But from a bird’s perspective, spring and breeding season begin more traditionally, in March. Males sing loudly to defend territories and attract mates. By April courtship and breeding activities abound: males vying for attention; females working on nests; parents feeding noisy, begging youngsters. Spring in the coastal areas and inland valleys wraps up in June with the last straggling migrants moving through. In the mountains, though, spring—blooming wildflowers, new growth, nesting birds—can continue to August.
Spring brings migration as well. Wintering ducks and shorebirds depart for northern breeding grounds. Migrating thrushes and sparrows check out the sage scrub, chaparral, and grasslands. By late March, warblers, vireos, grosbeaks, and orioles are stopping by riparian and oak woodlands to rest and refuel—and some, to set up housekeeping. April and May often bring large flocks of swallows and swifts swirling overhead. By late May, passerine migration slows down and most birds have settled into the serious business of raising this year’s families.
Since spring means movement, you never know what might show up. Join San Diego Region Birding (operated by the San Diego Field Ornithologists) to stay abreast of the latest sightings. For instance, a Pied Crow (an African species) flew over the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas in early March. Snow and White-fronted Geese as well as an early-arriving Bullock’s Oriole were reported at Guajome Regional Park in early March as well. And if you have individual species that you’re interested in, don’t forget about the “explore a region” link on eBird (Type in “San Diego” to see sightings for the whole county). Good birding!
About the Author
After birding for a quarter-century in Colorado, Tina and her family recently moved to Oceanside, where she’ll probably spend the next quarter-century trying to remember that the mountains now lie to the east. Tina is a guest blog contributor that will be sharing her insights and discoveries as she explores Southern California with her binoculars, scope, and field guide.
To learn more about regional birding opportunities, contact the Buena Vista Audubon Society and Nature Center.