Where To Bird In And Near The San Fernando Valley
- Bette Davis Picnic Area
- Chatsworth Reservoir
- Descanso Gardens
- Franklin Canyon Reservoir
- Hansen Dam
- Malibu Creek State Park
- O'Melveny Park
- Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve
- Towsely Canyon/Ed Davis Park
- Van Norman Reservoir
- Veterans' Park
- Locations outside the San Fernando Valley
Bette Davis Picnic Area
Bette Davis Picnic Area is a small area in the NW corner of Griffith Park in Glendale, at the corner of Victory Blvd. and Riverside Drive. Birds found here include ducks, shorebirds, raptors, doves, sapsuckers, corvids, warblers, sparrows, blackbirds and tanagers. SFVAS does not conduct regular bird walks here.
The habitat is oak, sycamore and eucalyptus trees in the park area and willows in the Los Angeles River, which borders Bette Davis on the south.
To reach Bette Davis Picnic Area:
From 134 eastbound
- Exit at Victory Blvd. Turn left onto Victory, left onto Riverside, left onto Buberta and right onto Rancho.
- From 134 westbound or I-5 northbound
- Take the Zoo Drive exit and turn right onto Zoo Drive. Turn right again onto Victory Blvd. and follow the directions above.
- From I-5 southbound
- Exit Western Ave. south. Turn right onto Western. Go to Victory Blvd and turn left. Turn right onto Riverside and join the directions above.
Chatsworth Reservoir is a DWP property which has not held water since the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. The birdlist for this area is very long. Mule deer, coyotes and bobcats may be seen as well. Chatsworth Reservoir is not open to the public, so if you want to get in, it is best to come on our field trips, which are held in the spring and fall, DWP access allowing. Check the calendar in this month's Phainopepla for trip availability and start time. Please be early as we carpool and lock the gate behind us.
- Please meet at 7:00 AM at the Plummer/Valley Circle gate, approximately 1.5 miles west of Topanga Canyon Blvd on Plummer, NOT at the Fallbrook Ave. gate.
Descanso Gardens is a beautiful botanical delight which is excellent for seeing birds, plants and butterflies. The bird list here has 170 species. Descanso Gardens Guild sponsers bird walks year around at 8:00 am on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is open to Descanso Gardens members only. SFVAS provides a docent at the bird observation station from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
- 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada. Take SR-2 north from I-5 or SR-134 to Verdugo Blvd. exit. Turn right. Turn right again on Descanso Drive. Meet inside entrance.
Franklin Canyon Reservoir
Franklin Canyon Reservoir is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. There are bird walks here on the evening of the second Saturday and the morning of the fourth Saturday each month except November, when there is no morning walk and December, when the morning walk is on the last Saturday. All morning walks start at 8:00 AM. Evening walks vary with the time of sunset. Contact Steve Botts at 310-858-3090 for evening starting time, or pick up a quarterly calendar. The walks are conducted by the William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom.
The habitat is riparian and chaparral. Wood Ducks are resident.
- Meet in the parking lot of Sooky Goldman Nature Center on Franklin Canyon Drive at 6:30 pm and bird until 8:30 pm.
From US-101 in the San Fernando Valley, take Coldwater Canyon Ave. south to the intersection with Mulholland Drive. Turn right into the intersection and then cross Mulholland onto Franklin Canyon Drive which is marked "ROAD ENDS 800 FT SUNSET TO SUNRISE" and "NOT A THROUGH STREET".
From Sunset Blvd in Beverly Hills take either Rexford or Beverly Drive to Coldwater Canyon Ave. Turn left on Beverly Drive and then right on Franklin Canyon Drive.
Over 280 species have been seen at Hansen Dam, which holds the record for most species seen in a day in the San Fernando Valley at 120. It is a huge area with lots of varied habitat. There have been occasional bird walks or field trips here. Watch our calendar for forthcoming trips. Hansen Dam has an undeserved reputation of being unsafe. There should be no problem if you are in a group, but women should probably not bird here alone. For more information, contact Jim Hardesty at 818-346-6712.
- The western and northern portions, which consist of park areas, a willow forest, a vernal pond and a large pond (Hansen Lake), is on Osborne Street between I-5 and I-210, accessed from the Dronfield Street entrance or from the Hansen Dam Recreation Area parking lot near the I-210 overpass. The southeastern portion is on Wentworth Street, which is reached by exiting either I-5 or CA-170 on Sheldon Street and going northeast. Enter at the steel pipe gate on the left side of Wentworth. There is parking space for 2 cars at this gate, and no on-street parking.
Malibu Creek State Park
Mailbu Creek State Park, former home of M*A*S*H, is in the Santa Monica Mountains (not officially part of the San Fernando Valley). SFVAS has bird walks here at 8:00 AM on the third Sunday of every month.
Habitats here include riparian, chaparral, and oak woodland. Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, White-tailed Kites, and Acorn and Nutall's Woodpeckers are resident. Cliff Swallow nest under the bridge near the ranger's house and Golden Eagles are sometimes seen.
- US 101 to Las Virgenes Rd. south. Park is 1/4 mile south of Mulholland Hwy. on the right. Meet in last parking lot. There is a entrance fee per car.
Download the Malibu Creek State Park Bird List
O'Melveny Park and the trails which begin there into Bee Canyon provide an interesting contrast. The park is home to an orange grove and a Bluebird nestbox trail through sycamores and alders. The Bee Canyon trail is chaparral and riparian area set between high rock walls. The last rest area for birds going north over the Santa Susana Mountains, this is an excellent migrant trap.
- From CA-118 in Granada Hills, take Balboa Blvd. north. Turn left on Sesnon Blvd., and drive to the park entrance just beyond the stop sign.
Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve
The Sepulveda Basin bird list reached 200 species at the beginning of 1996. Work continues on improving the habitat here and there are plans for further expansion. In the winter, the lake in the Wildlife Reserve sees almost every species of waterfowl that visits the county. In the summer, Pied-billed Grebes, Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night-herons, American Coots, Anna's Hummingbirds, Cliff Swallows and Blue Grosbeaks breed. SFVAS has regular bird walks on the first Sunday of each month and beginner's bird walks here on the second Saturday of each month October through March.
For more information about the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, visit sepulvedabasinwildlife.org.
- From I-405 in the San Fernando Valley, exit on Burbank Blvd. Go west to Woodley Ave. and turn right. Go right at the second park entrance, make the first right and go to the Wildlife Reserve parking lot.
Towsely Canyon/Ed Davis Park
Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon is named for former State Senator Ed Davis, who championed the preservation of Towsley Canyon. The park offers visitors a peaceful haven just west of the I-5 between the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys. Trails for walking, hiking, and mountain biking lead visitors through an astonishing variety of habitat types. Notable park features include Towsley Creek, and spectacular water-worn rock formations in Towsley Gorge, as wells as scenic trail viewpoints and oak woodland.
Go north on I-5 through Santa Clarita, exit Calgrove and turn west (left) under the freeway and then left again on the Old Road. Watch for the sign, Ed Davis Park at Towsley Canyon. Turn right and park in the back lot. Meet at the kiosk.
Van Norman Reservoir
Another DWP reservoir with limited access, Van Norman Reservoir can be one of the most productive areas in the Valley. Watch the calendar for irregularly scheduled trips.
Habitats include an ecology pond, settling ponds, a large lake and chaparral.
- Take I-405 to the Rinaldi Avenue exit. Go west 1/4 mile to the reservoir entrance on the right. Be early. We will arrange carpooling at the gate.
Nestled against the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Veterans' Park is comprised of clusters of pines, eucalyptus, olive and oak trees separated by lawns and picnic areas. An area of chaparral is just outside the north fence. This is a place where all the locally occurring sapsuckers have been seen (sometimes in one day) but it is also a good place for migratory birds. Recent rarities have included a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Hepatic Tanager and a Scott's Oriole.
- Go north on the 5 or 405 freeways to the 118 fwy. east. At the end, go north on the 210 (Foothill Freeway) to Hubbard Street. Go north (right) on Hubbard to Gladstone; left on Gladstone to Sayre; right on Sayre to the park. Turn left inside the park and use the first parking lot.
Locations outside the San Fernando Valley
- Joe Morlan's California County Birding Pages Major birding links to every California county.
- Where to Bird in and around Pasadena Maps and directions including Angeles Crest Hwy and The Parrot Place.
- Where to Bird in Orange County Birding locations in Orange County with maps and descriptions. Some descriptions include 360 degree panoramas of the area. (from Sea and Sage Audubon Society)
- The Central Coast Birding Trail The Central Coast is strategically located on the Pacific Flyway and provides habitat to many resident and migratory birds. Maps and descriptions of four birding trails along the central California coast in the counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey. (from Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society)
- Where to Bird in Kern County With all of the ecological regions except the Coastal Redwood Forest found in Kern County - birding is extremely rewarding. (from Kern Audubon Society)
- Eastern Sierra Birding Hot Spots Find some new areas to bird on your way north along US 395. (from Eastern Sierra Audubon Society)