Shorebirds of San Diego County Tours

Discover shorebirds in San Diego County as our feathered friends from the north
join our year-round resident birds. 

A Willet usually forages in solitude, probing the mudflats and beaches for crabs, worms and tidbits with the sensitive tip of its bill. Photo by Chris Mayne

Winter is an excellent time to go birding when the total number of birds, as well as diversity, are at their peakThrough this 3-part series, longtime birder and photographer Steve Brad will guide you to some of the most densely populated and diverse shorebird sites in San Diego.


  • Saturday, January 12: Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve

As much as 70% of the Tijuana Estuary National Estuarine Research Reserve is made up of wetland area. This wetland contains a variety of unique habitats, including dune, salt panne, salt marsh, mudflat, brackish pond, riparian, coastal sage scrub and vernal pool. This is a wetland of international importance and a birders' paradise.

  • Saturday, February 23: Smiley Lagoon in Ocean Beach

​At the east end of Dog Beach is Smiley Lagoon. Common birds spotted along the estuary include wintering shorebirds and ducks, Osprey, Snowy Egrets, Cormorants and Great Blue Herons, to name a few. A host of native plants will always show a bloom in any season, including Pickleweed, evening primrose and alkali-heath.​

  • Saturday, March 9: Cardiff State Beach in Encinitas

Enjoy a gently sloping sandy beach with tide pool discoveries. Wintering shorebirds and ducks frequent this coast, named Best Restored Beach on the West Coast this year by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, part of the Reviving Your Wetlands San Elijo Lagoon Restoration beach replenishment projected, guided by San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.

Join Us for One, Two & All Three Tours!

  • Each tour will begin at 8 am and last approximately 2 hours
  • Registered participants will be emailed meetup information and directions
  • Single Tours: Conservancy Members $20 per tour | Public $30 per tour
  • Ages 12+ welcome
  • Please note: If there is inclement weather and we cancel the tour you will contacted via email the Friday before the tour. The tour will not be rescheduled, we will credit your registration fee.