Consult our Events Calendar for walks conducted by SFVAS
- Bette Davis Picnic Area
- Chatsworth Reservoir
- Descanso Gardens
- Franklin Canyon Reservoir
- Hansen Dam
- Malibu Creek State Park
- O’Melveny Park
- Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve
- Towsley Canyon/Ed Davis Park
- Van Norman Reservoir
- Veterans’ Park
- Locations outside the San Fernando Valley
Bette Davis Picnic Area (Glendale)
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 (Chatsworth/Northridge)
Chatsworth Reservoir is a DWP property which has not held water since the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. We hope some day it will be refilled and birds will once again be able to rest here during migration and local species can set up housekeeping again. In the meantime, SFVAS has suspended all walks to the Reservoir.
Descanso Gardens (La Canada/Flintridge/Pasadena)
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 (Beverly Hills)
Franklin Canyon Reservoir is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. The habitat is riparian and chaparral. Wood Ducks are resident. This is a delightful park, with lakes and mountain hiking trails — and lots of great SoCal birds.
Paula Orlovich leads a walk at Franklin on the second Sunday of every month. Check the events calendar for details.
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”. Be sure to come to a full stop at all stop signs — they are monitored by cameras and “rolling stops” are prosecuted without mercy.
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. Likewise, be sure to come to a full stop at all stop signs — they are monitored by cameras and “rolling stops” are prosecuted without mercy.
Hansen Dam (Pacoima/Lake View Terrace)
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. Patricia Bates leads regular walks here on the fourth Saturday of the month. Watch our calendar for confirmation and details.
Hansen Dam has an undeserved, out-of-date reputation of being unsafe. If you exercise the same sensible precautions you would at any outdoor Los Angeles location, birding here should be incident-free. For more information, contact Pat Bates at (818) 425-0962.
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 (Granada Hills)
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 (Van Nuys/Encino)
The Sepulveda Basin bird list reached 200 species at the beginning of 1996. Work continues on improving the habitat here. 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, American Coots, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Cliff Swallows, Double-crested Cormorants and Blue Grosbeaks breed. SFVAS has regular bird walks on the first Sunday of each month.
Nature tours emphasizing birds and their habitats are available for groups by reservation. Go to THIS PAGE for more information.
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.
Towsley Canyon/Ed Davis Park (Newhall)
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 (Granada Hills)
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. (Image needed — anyone?)
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.
Veterans’ Park (Sylmar)
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. (Image needed — anyone?)
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)