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Backbone Trail Trek
Birds in the Santa Monica Mountains

The Santa Monica Mountains, along with the nearby shoreline, contain diverse habitats that attract a large variety of birds. Many birds make the area their year-round home, while others are migratory. Over 380 species of birds can be seen in the Santa Monica Mountains, with about a third of them being year-round residents.

While you are hiking the Backbone Trail, you may not always see birds, but you can almost always hear them. Thrashers, Wrentits and Spotted Towhees constantly call from the dense brush, and woodpeckers chatter in the treetops. Each morning, the birds serve as a gentle alarm clock as they gradually get louder and louder as the sun comes up.

On the 2009 Trek, most of the birds were identified through casual observation as we walked down the trail or relaxed in camp. If we had taken the time to really concentrate and focus on birding, I'm sure we could have identified at least a dozen additional species.

Here are a couple of links that may be of interest: a bird checklist for the Santa Monica Mountains NRA (NPS website - pdf file), and a website that helps you identify birds you see.

A list of the birds identified on the Backbone Trek 2009 follows. By default it is sorted by the order the bird was first encountered on the Trek. You may also sort by name by selecting the option and choosing "Re-Sort List".

May 2 - 9, 2009

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Sorted by:          

SequenceBird Name*
1-SundayBrown Pelican
2-SundayEnglish Sparrow
3-SundaySong Sparrow
4-SundayNuttals Woodpecker
5-SundaySpotted Towhee
6-SundayCalifornia Towhee
7-SundayHouse Finch
9-SundayHooded Oriole
10-SundayBullocks Oriole
11-SundayRed-Tailed Hawk
12-SundayTurkey Vulture
13-SundayBlack Hooded Parakeet
14-SundayBlack-headed Grosbeak
15-SundayMorning Dove
16-SundayLesser Goldfinch
17-SundayCommon Yellowthroat
19-SundayDark-eyed Junco
20-SundayWestern Bluebird
21-SundayEuropean Starling
22-SundayAcorn Woodpecker
23-SundayCalifornia Quail
24-SundayRed-shafted Flicker
25-SundayPacific Slope Flycatcher
26-SundayHouse Wren
27-SundayScrub Jay
28-SundayCalifornia Thrasher
29-SundayAnna's Hummingbird
30-SundayAmerican Crow
32-SundayAmerican Kestrel
33-SundayOak Titmouse
34-MondayBarn Owl*
35-MondayGreat Horned Owl*
36-MondayViolet-green Swallow
37-MondayBlack Phoebe
39-WednesdayCanyon Wren*
40-WednesdayRed-shouldered Hawk
41-FridayAmerican Robin
42-FridayRed-winged Blackbird
43-SaturdayAllen's Hummingbird

* Identified by sound
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