photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Greg Gillson | profile | all galleries >> Bird Photos >> Field-Friendly Guide to San Diego Birds tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Field-Friendly Guide to San Diego Birds

Where and when to find San Diego's regularly-occurring* birds.

This photographic field guide to the birds features photographs by Greg Gillson exclusively in San Diego County, California. Last updated with photos from April 27, 2017.

* Over 515 species of birds have been recorded in San Diego County. About 300 species are regular, and I have saved a space for each of them, whether I have photos or not. I'll now make an effort to photograph birds not on my list (some very common). I will only list very rare birds when I have photos for them. 347 species covered by this guide (not counting hybrids and subspecies) [300 with at least one photo as of 4/27/2017. Most recent new species photographed: Bullock's Oriole, Least Sandpiper, White Wagtail, Lazuli Bunting, Long-eared Owl].

Field-friendly bird sequence
There are over 10,000 species of birds in the world, divided into over 220 different families. That's too many for beginners. Not only that, the scientific sequence is constantly reshuffled. I have divided North American birds into 13 groups in a "field-friendly" format. This should make it a bit easier for beginners to discover the bird they've just seen, while also allowing more experienced birders to locate birds they know with the latest taxonomic update (ABA 7.9.0 2016).

What is a "field-friendly" bird sequence? Check out this blog post.

The San Diego Field Ornithologists keeps an updated county checklist.

Species accounts are from my Annotated Checklist of the Birds of San Diego County (August 2016 update).

Abundance/frequency terms
Common: Annual, expected in good numbers without special searching.
Uncommon: Annual, often requires searching to find.
Rare (Annual): Very low numbers or restricted range, hard to find even with searching, but expected every year.
Occasional [Casual]: Rare, not annual. Not expected every year, but several times per decade.
Vagrant [Accidental]: Very rare. Not expected more than once per decade, on average.
Extirpated: Former breeder, no longer exists as a wild bird within the county.
Irregular: Numbers vary greatly from year to year.

Occupancy terms
Resident: Individual birds remain in the county all year and breed.
Summer resident: Birds migrate to the county to breed, but do not remain to winter.
Migrant: Birds pass through the county on the way to other breeding or wintering grounds.
Winter visitor: Birds migrate to the county to winter, but do not breed.
Summer visitor: Migrant or wintering birds remain through summer but do not breed.
Visitor: Non-migrant bird wanders to the County.
CBRC: Rarity of statewide importance. California Bird Records Committee.

Major San Diego Bioregions
Offshore: Ocean waters 5-30 miles from shore.
Nearshore: Ocean waters less than 5 miles from shore, especially as observable from shore.
Coastal: Beaches, headlands, bays, estuaries, river mouths, and lagoons. Low elevation residential communities, wetlands, and parks within 3 miles of the ocean.
Lowlands: Much of the county's urban and residential areas, river bottoms, coastal sage scrub remnants, west of the mountains below 1500 feet elevation, and more than 3 miles from the ocean.
Mountains: Oak woodlands and chaparral above 1500 feet elevation, including pine forest islands from 4000-6000 feet.
Desert: Anza-Borrego Desert east of the mountains.
Swimming Waterbirds
:: Swimming Waterbirds ::
Flying Waterbirds
:: Flying Waterbirds ::
Wading Waterbirds
:: Wading Waterbirds ::
Chicken-like Birds
:: Chicken-like Birds ::
Raptors
:: Raptors ::
Miscellaneous Landbirds
:: Miscellaneous Landbirds ::
Aerial Landbirds
:: Aerial Landbirds ::
Flycatcher-like Birds
:: Flycatcher-like Birds ::
Thrush-like Songbirds
:: Thrush-like Songbirds ::
Chickadee & Wren-like Songbirds
:: Chickadee & Wren-like Songbirds ::
Warbler-like Songbirds
:: Warbler-like Songbirds ::
Sparrow and Finch-like Songbirds
:: Sparrow and Finch-like Songbirds ::
Blackbird-like Songbirds
:: Blackbird-like Songbirds ::