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 19: Imperial Beach
    *This event was rescheduled to Jan. 19 due to rain. A few spaces remain!

Discover a wetland of international importance and a birders' paradise. 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. 

  • Saturday, February 23: Ocean Beach

​At the east end of Dog Beach is Smiley Lagoon. Smiley Lagoon is a landing for migratory birds in the spring and fall as well as many resident birds. This is where the San Diego River joins the ocean, an estuary of life with a constant mix of salt and fresh water. Common birds spotted along the estuary include wintering shorebirds and ducks, Osprey, Snowy Egrets, Cormorants and Great Blue Herons, to name a few. In addition to birds, we may spot crabs, snails, and limpets, mammals and reptiles. There is always something in bloom as a host of native plants, adapted to salty or drier environments, include pickleweed, evening primrose and alkali-heath.​

  • Saturday, March 9: Cardiff State Beach 

A gently sloping and protected sandy beach is popular with walkers, surfers and campers. At extreme low tides, the reef reveals tide pools, where plants and sea creatures are revealed for an up-close look. Wintering Willets, Whimbrels, sandpipers and more frequent this coast, named 2018 Best Restored Beach on the West Coast.

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.