California Gnatcatcher (courtesy Jo Quinn)

Volunteering to verify our winged residents and visitors. 
Approximately 40% of all North American bird species have been observed in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. This magnificent wetland also hosts our migrating visitors each winter as birds fly from as far as Canada and Chile along the Pacific Flyway.
Our coastal sand dunes host some of California’s threatened avian species: California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover. Light-footed Clapper Rails were reintroduced in the East Basin and are surviving. Other endangered species in the reserve include California Gnatcatcher, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, and Least Bell’s Vireo. These rare birds and many others will be observed.
All levels of experience are welcome, and teams are led by expert birders. If you have never birded before, the monthly bird monitors will certainly help you to learn. The reserve is divided into nine sections, where every bird seen or heard is documented by the team. Birders meet back at the Nature Center to compile notes and data, and gather for lunch (self-provided).
Our data is made public by submission to eBird, a global database of bird counts, developed by Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy was invited in 2010 to participate in this prestigious database accessed by conservation biologists and birders worldwide. 




Birders (Photo: J. Walker)


View previous years bird counts
Robert Patton
birds [at] sanelijo [dot] org
Avian biologist Robert Patton began the monthly counts in 1986 as the county's supervising Park Ranger at San Elijo Lagoon. After leaving his post, he continued as a volunteer, coordinating expansion of the survey to lagoon-wide monthly bird counts with the assistance of conservancy volunteers.


San Elijo Lagoon Animal Guide

Avifauna Checklist

Birds of San Elijo Lagoon (PPT)
A President's Council publication

Bird Images Slideshow
Global Bird Database by Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society

Western Snowy Plover