Bird Watching in California

Despite having fuddy-duddy connotations, I was surprised to discover that the pastime we call bird watching isn’t actually that old – or at least the term isn’t. Bird watching is popularly thought of as the sort of thing dweeby old guys do to get away from the Missus. The twitcher’s standard kit of waterproofs and binoculars may also suggest philandering – hands up who thought this post was something to do with beaches, bikinis and Baywatch? But when I was growing up, bird watching was an activity pursued by children – prompted by their I-Spy books.

I can’t claim to have ever gone out with the intention of twitching, but I’m always totally charmed when pretty little birds hop onto my terrace to entertain me for a few moments before they flit back to their scruffily feathered nests. However, I’m afraid these romantic visions of birdlife are rare – and regular visits from enormous crows (which I suspect may actually be rooks), cackling magpies and fat urban pigeons are the norm.

I wasn’t looking out for birds on my trip to San Francisco, but I noticed that California has crows too…  In fact Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, was shot in San Francisco and Bodega Bay, just 50 miles up the coast. For the next remake, may I suggest seagulls, which seem to be in more plentiful supply – especially around the outdoor eating areas of Fisherman’s Wharf – and they are certainly more vicious.

Nevertheless, Californians seem to be quite fond of birds. At one vineyard I visited, they had a small aviary stocked mainly with hens, which I thought was a little unusual as I don’t think eggs are used in the winemaking process?

Anyway, the San Francisco bay area is full of bird watching possibilities, what with the many parks, and open water being never far away. I love the quirky hand painted signs by the marshland walk in Sausalito, illustrating the varieties of local birdlife.

I also spotted one especially beautiful blue bird (see below), which perhaps an expert Dabbler, like Nige, can help me to identify?

If you happen to be in California, do check out the birds.

Share This Post

About Author Profile: Susan Muncey

Trend consultant Susan Muncey, is Editor of Visuology Magazine. In 2008, she founded online curiosity shop, She writes on style and trends for several blogs, including, and The Dabbler. She previously owned cult West London boutique, Fashion Gallery, one of the first concept stores in the world. Susan graduated in geography from Cambridge University and is also an Associate Member of the CFA Institute. She lives in London with her husband.

7 thoughts on “Bird Watching in California

    November 10, 2012 at 09:17

    The bird in the final photo looks like a scrub jay.

      November 11, 2012 at 15:26

      Thanks Helen! Being that beautiful blue colour, I thought it must be something a little more rare and exotic, like a variety of Kingfisher…

  2. Worm
    November 10, 2012 at 15:48

    What a plain name for such a pretty bird, Helen!

    Weirdly Susan, egg whites are one of the most common ways of fining organic and home made wines!! Not sure if that’s the case with those chickens there though!

    I think seagulls are definitely the most sinister birds, they have such cold black eyes

    November 11, 2012 at 15:38

    Appreciate your Dabbleresque knowledge of wine fining too, Worm.

    Yes, seagulls eyes are rather strange – but imagine what it must be like to have a bird’s eye view of the world.

  4. Brit
    November 12, 2012 at 16:42

    There’s no escaping those ‘orrible gulls, is there? Is there any scientific basis to my feeling that they get bigger and cockier every year?

    November 18, 2012 at 22:24

    That lovely blue one is a Western Scrub Jay. Devilishly smart as are most corvids.

Comments are closed.