BY: ELENA ROCHE
Topanga Canyon Inn is situated in one of the best locations in Los Angeles for bird watching, the Santa Monica Mountains. Three hundred and eighty-four species of birds call these mountains their home, from large birds of prey and small songbirds to large seabirds and wild Peacocks. There are many parks in the Santa Monica Mountains and Topanga State Park is one of them. Not only we are located in the middle of Topanga Canyon but we are also within a short walk of several Topanga State Park hiking trails. But actually, you don’t need to go far to start watching birds. Read on and see photos by Catherine Roche of some of the birds that live right here.
1. Topanga Canyon and Topanga State Park
We are surrounded by a lot of wilderness. You can start your bird watching session right from our windows and balconies. Wild Peacocks often roost in the nearby pine tree. If you don’t see them yet you will definitely hear them soon enough. They are very active from June to September during their mating and nesting season. Our Clark and Carole Room’s patio often harbors a Peahen and her nest because it has a small pond and dense jade plant for shade. After she hatches her babies they stay in the patio for a couple of weeks before they are old enough to go roaming the neighborhood. Finches, Flycatchers, Grosbeaks and Scrub Jays often visit our feeder. Dark Eye Juncos and Towhees love to dig for worms in our shaded flower patch. Doves and Quail come to drink from our little pond. You will often catch some of the birds splashing in our bird bath. During the spring and summer nights, you will hear beautiful songs by a Mockingbird. Hummingbirds can be seen year-round because some flowers are always blooming for them. Woodpeckers visit our oak and palm trees. You can see their hole like cavities all over our trees.
Mockingbirds and Finches often build their nests under our eaves and inside of our hanging lamps. In spring you will notice birds with their beaks full of grubs for their young. And if you don’t see a nest, just wait and you will hear the peeping of baby birds when one of the parents brings in food. Every spring Hooded Orioles come back to our palm trees. It is very interesting to see how they weave their sock shaped nests into a palm frond. You need to really pay attention to spot that nest because it is pretty much hidden from view. A couple of times now, a mother Oriole weaved its nest into our window screen just under our green awnings. That was a real treat to look out the window and witness the young mother hatch her babies, feed them and see them learn to fly.
Even if you are not going bird watching you will most likely hear an owl or two after dark. The Great Horned Owl makes a distinct screeching sound. The Barn Owl produces a classic hooting sound. We also have Night Hawks, which is another species of owl. During dark hours this one will sit quietly on the trail. You will spot it if you shine a mild light, such as a flashlight included with your room key. Its eyes reflect the light. It sits on the trail waiting for an insect. It flies up suddenly to grab it and lands back on the trail. To spot Barn Owls you can sit on our outdoor deck with the lights off and hope one will land nearby or you may head up our private road soon after sunset or just before sunrise. We see them perched on telephone poles and cables as well as on the roofs of neighboring houses. The photo above is of a young fledgling Barn Owl that landed in one of the trees in our neighbor’s property along with his mother and another sibling. Catherine simply walked up to the tree and pointed her camera up. Both youngsters exchanged curious stares for about 15 minutes before this bird family took off.
Red-Tailed Haws and other birds of prey nest in the nearby sandstone cliffs. You will see them catching a thermal in the sky above our inn, hear their calls that sound just like those in the popular Westerns and if you have strong binoculars and take a short hike up the trail in spring you can find them nesting in the cliffs. Their nests blend in with vegetation that grows on edges of cliffs and from a distance it often looks just like a dry old plant among others. If you see a hawk circle around in the sky day after day you know its nest is near. Vultures are often seen circling in the sky and on a rare occasion, you may catch a glimpse of a Golden Eagle.
2. Malibu Lagoon State Beach
If you would like to watch seabirds, take a short drive to Malibu Lagoon State Beach. It’s an easy, twenty-five minute scenic drive from Topanga Canyon Inn and a sure place to spot shorebirds at any time of year. Being the mouth of Malibu Creek that changes with rains and tides, this wetland preserve is populated by local coastal birds like American Coots, Brown Pelicans, White Egrets, Blue Herons, Cormorants, and common Seagulls as well as migratory birds like Canadian Geese, Loons and Mallards. Sandpipers and Curlews are usually running all over the wet sand, while little tiny Snowy Plovers sit still in the sand dunes. Malibu Lagoon is also a nice place to just sit on the sand and relax. We offer complimentary beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas for you. Conveniently located in the heart of Malibu close to many restaurants and shops, Malibu Lagoon makes for a nice day trip.
We hope you enjoyed reading about bird watching near Los Angeles and Topanga Canyon Inn Bed and Breakfast. All photos in this blog post were taken by our young hostess, Catherine Roche, without the use of telephoto lenses. The birds love her and won’t fly away. These and more images are offered for sale at Topanga Canyon Inn and through Catherine’s online Etsy store. If you have more questions about bird watching call us directly (310) 570-3791 and ask for Elena. She is our expert hiker, bird enthusiast, and manager. If you are ready to reserve or to check our availability and BOOK YOUR ROOM NOW.