Orange County residents can spot the changing seasons when temperatures start to drop and leaves change color, but there are more traces of fall that often go unnoticed – birds! Many regions in the United States begin collecting blankets of snow this time of year, driving some species to hibernate. However, a variety of bird species travel south to warmer weather, bringing our local habitat to life in the winter season. This gives nature lovers the perfect opportunity to spot migratory birds during activities on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.
Volunteers on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are continuously working to restore the lands throughout the open spaces, planting native plant life and removing invasive species – and ultimately making the Landmarks a more attractive place for migratory birds and an amazing location for birding!
Amateur bird-watchers and well-seasoned birders looking to refresh their skills can learn how to identify birds by sight and sound during the Better Birding Basics – Birding by Ear on Friday, November 24 from 8-11 a.m. in OC Parks’ Round Canyon, located in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. As birds are often hidden from sight, birders will search through the beautiful oaks woodlands and coastal sage scrub of Round Canyon to identify the migratory birds using their ears and binoculars.
On Friday, December 15 from 8-11 a.m. explorers can join the Birds of Irvine Mesa program in OC Parks’ Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park to learn and identify the many different species of birds that call Black Star Canyon home. Birders will slowly hike 2.5 miles to spot birds like the California Gnatcatcher, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Greater Roadrunner, California Scrub Jay, California Towhee, Red-tailed Hawk, California Thrasher and many others.
During these birding programs, it’s important for birders to arrive prepared with sturdy shoes suitable for hiking, along with sun protection like a hat and sunscreen. Visitors are encouraged to bring their binoculars if they have them, though some will be available for use. These programs are free with required registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to the event. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more details on these activities or to register, click the programs above or visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.