The Fullerton Arboretum is a rare and special place.

Within 26 acres you’ll find different habitats, including woodlands, ponds, chaparral, desert, meadow, orchard, and a farm. Among all this, there’s a wonderful variety of cacti, flowers, and trees.

And, of course, you’ll find birds.

If you live near Fullerton, CA, please visit.

While you’re there, notice the birds.

Here’s an introduction of what to look for.

Note: The Fullerton Arboretum Birds are grouped by type. I took all these photos at the Fullerton Arboretum.


Bushtit


Bushtit, Female

Bushtit, Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Bushtit, Female

Description: 4.5-inches (11.4-cm) long. Small bird with a long tail. These acrobatic birds move quickly and erratically, from branch to branch. When they leave, they fly one by one, in a thread to the next tree. Both male and female look the same, except the female has a white eye, the male has a brown eye.

Where Found: Almost everywhere in shrubs and trees. Listen for a high-pitched call and look for frenetic activity in the branches.

When: Year round resident.


Coots


American Coot

American Coot, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

American Coot

Description: 15 to 16-inches (40-cm) long. Medium-sized black bird with a white bill and a red eye.

Where Found: Either pond. This bird feeds on plants in the water or on plants (such as grass) near water. They have lobed feet, which helps them swim.

When: Generally fall through spring.


Crows and Jays


American Crow

American Crow, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

American Crow

Description: 17-inches (44-cm) long.

Where Found: Almost everywhere in trees and flying by. The American Crow has adapted well to urban environments. So they live everywhere, including in nearby neighborhoods.

When: Year round visitor.


Western Scrub-Jay

Western Scrub-Jay, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Western Scrub-Jay

Description: 11.5-inches (29-cm) long. This bird looks like a small, blue crow.

Where Found: Almost everywhere in shrubs and trees, and sometimes on the ground. Western Scrub-Jays often hide food by burying it. This bird tolerates people more than most, so it’s easier to see.

When: Year round, and most visible during fall through spring. Although they’re a resident, they hide during their breeding season.


Ducks


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Important: People food is bad for ducks.

It makes them sick and prevents them from eating the food they need.

Please do not feed ducks.
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American Wigeon, Male

American Wigeon, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

American Wigeon, Male

Description: 20-inches (51-cm) long. The male has a distinctive white strip on its head. The female is most easily identified when she accompanies a male.

Where Found: Usually the South Pond, although possibly in either pond. This bird usually stays in the water.

When: Fall and winter visitor.


Mallards, Female and Male

Mallards, Female (Lt) and Male (Rt), (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Mallards, Female (Lt) and Male (Rt)

Description: 23-inches (58-cm) long.

Where Found: Either pond. This bird feeds on invertebrates in the water or on plants near water. During late spring, there will often be a female with chicks, usually in the north pond.

When: All year resident.


Wood Duck, Male

Wood Duck, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Wood Duck, Male

Description: 19-inches (48-cm) long.

Where Found: Either pond, although most often in the North Pond.

When: Occasional visitor.


Herons and Egrets


Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Great Blue Heron

Description: 46-inches (117-cm) long. Large blue, gray bird with a large bill.

Where Found: Either pond, usually in the water near the shore and sometimes in trees overlooking the water. This bird feeds on fish and other small prey.

When: All year, occasional visitor.


Great Egret

Great Egret, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Great Egret

Description: 39-inches (100-cm) long. Large white bird with a yellow-orange bill and black feet.

Where Found: Either pond, usually in the water near the shore and sometimes in trees overlooking the water. This bird feeds on fish and other small prey. It has also been seen in the cactus garden catching lizards.

When: All year, occasional.


Green Heron

Green Heron, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Green Heron

Description: 18-inches (46-cm) long. Medium-sized bird that can easily blend in with the green plants that grow around a pond.

Where Found: Either pond, usually on the west shore. During spring and early summer, one usually perches in the Cyprus on the west side of the north pond. In past years, Green Herons have built nests in the reeds that grow around both ponds. During mid summer juvenile Green Herons can be seen perched on the shore or on the Cyprus at the first pond.

When: Mostly spring and summer, occasional fall and winter.


Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Snowy Egret

Description: 24-inches (61-cm) long. Medium-large white bird with a black bill and yellow feet.

Where Found: Either pond, usually in the water near the shore and sometimes in trees overlooking the water. This bird feeds on fish.

When: All year, occasional.


Hummingbirds


Allen’s Hummingbird, Male

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male

Allen’s Hummingbird, Female

Allen’s Hummingbird, Female, Flying, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Allen’s Hummingbird, Female

Description: 3.75-inches (9.5-cm) long.

Where Found: Generally near flowers, which bloom at different times in different places. This includes the flowers near the gift shop, the cactus garden, the thorn forest, and the heritage garden. Sometimes you might see one taking a bath on the waterfall at the entrance, as shown in the photo.

When: All year, resident


Anna’s Hummingbird, Female

Anna’s Hummingbird, Female, Flying, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Anna’s Hummingbird, Female

Description: 4-inches (10.2-cm) long

Where Found: Generally near flowers, which bloom at different times in different places. This includes the flowers near the gift shop, the cactus garden, the thorn forest, and the heritage garden.

When: All year, resident


Blackbirds and Orioles


Hooded Oriole, Male

Hooded Oriole, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Hooded Oriole, Male

Hooded Oriole, Female

Hooded Oriole, Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Hooded Oriole, Female

Description: 8-inches (20-cm) long. Males are a vivid yellow with a black throat and wings. Females are a dull yellow with brown wings.

Where Found: Generally near the cactus garden. They build nests in the palm trees just south of the children’s garden and then feed on flowers (and insects) in that area. Both can be relatively easy to find because of their yellow color. They are often found perched in branches near flowers or in the trees near the Heritage Farm.

When: Late spring until mid summer. The males leave about a month before the females to claim their territory for the winter.


Red-winged Blackbird, Male

Red-winged Blackbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Red-winged Blackbird, Male

Red-winged Blackbird, Female

Red-winged Blackbird, Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Red-winged Blackbird, Female

Description: 8.75-inches (22-cm) long; Males are black with a red patch on their shoulders. Female are brown and tan. The males spend most of their time calling and displaying in the spring and summer.

Where Found: In the reeds at both ponds, and more often by the North Pond. They frequently walk on the grass near these ponds foraging for bugs.

When: Fall to spring, when they build nests and raise young. The males are especially active in the winter, calling and displaying their red wing patches.


Finches


House Finch, Male

House Finch, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

House Finch, Male

House Finch, Female

house Finch Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

house Finch Female

Description: 6-inches (15-cm) long; Small brown bird with a strong, seed-eating bill. The male can have colors ranging from yellow to orange to red on its head and chest. The female is brown and white.

Where Found: Almost everywhere. They perch everywhere and walk on the ground foraging for seeds. They also feed on fruit, such as berries on the trees near the administration building, persimmons near the Children’s Garden, cactus fruit in the Cactus Garden, and the fig tree in the Children’s Garden.

When: Year round resident.


Lesser Goldfinch, Male

Lesser Goldfinch, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Lesser Goldfinch, Male

Description: 4.5-inches (11.4-cm) long; Small yellow bird with dark (brown to black) wings. Its colors can vary some depending upon the season. Females have duller colors without a black cap.

Where Found: Almost everywhere, especially on flowers that have gone to seed (e.g., in the meadow, around the Heritage House, near the public gardens, and in the chaparral garden). They also feed on the amaranth in the Heritage Farm.

When: Year round resident.


Scaly-breasted Munia, Adult

Scaly-breasted Munia (formerly Nutmeg Mannikin), (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Scaly-breasted Munia (formerly Nutmeg Mannikin)

Scaly-breasted Munia, Juvenile

Scaly-breasted Munia Juvenile, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Scaly-breasted Munia Juvenile

Description: 4-inches (10-cm) long. Small brown bird that often travels in flocks. Juveniles have a tan underside, adults have the white and black pattern shown in the photo. This bird has been called a Nutmeg Mannikin and a Spice Finch.

Where Found: Almost everywhere, especially on flowers that have gone to seed and on reeds near the ponds.

When: Year round resident.


Falcons


American Kestrel

American Kestrel, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

American Kestrel

Description: 9-inches (23-cm) long. Small raptor with typical pointed falcon wings. Males have brown spots on their underside, females have brown streaks. Will bob its tail when perched.

Where Found: Mostly on tall trees on the east side.

When: Year round occasional visitor.


Flycatchers


Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Black Phoebe

Description: 7-inches (17.8-cm) long. Black bird with a white underside. Will chirp and wag its tail while perched.

Where Found: Almost everywhere, usually perched on low branches. They will fly off to catch a bug in the air and then (often) return to the same branch. Sometimes they can be found on the ground. They are tolerant of people, so it’s usually easy to see them.

When: Year round resident.


Hawks


Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Red-shouldered Hawk

Description: 17-inches (43-cm) long. Compact appearing raptor, usually with rufus shoulders.

Where Found: Generally flying high overhead or perched high in a tree. Also may be anywhere, such as this one, which was perched on a low branch in the middle Woodlands.

When: Year round, occasional visitor.


Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk Flying, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Red-tailed Hawk

Description: 19-inches (48-cm) long. Strong, powerful raptor. Although slightly larger than the Red-shouldered Hawk (above) this bird weighs almost twice as much. Note the brown belly band.

Where Found: Generally flying high overhead or perched high in a tree. May also be anywhere, such as on the ground, perched on the roof of the dorm overlooking the Heritage Garden, or perched on a relatively low branch, such as this one in the Cactus Garden.

When: Year round, occasional visitor.


Pigeons and Doves


Band-tailed Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Band-tailed Pigeon

Description: 14.5-inches (37-cm) long. Large pigeon with a white band and green patch on the back of its neck. Also note the yellow bill with a black tip.

Where Found: Generally on the taller trees near the entrance. Often seen in pairs.

When: Year round, infrequent visitor.


Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Mourning Dove

Description: 12-inches (30-cm) long. Pale gray/brown bird that often travels with its mate (if it has one).

Where Found: Almost everywhere, and especially in the Cactus Garden and in the Woodlands. They perch generally on open branches and forage on the ground.

When: Year round resident.


Mockingbirds and Thrashers


California Thrasher

California Thrasher, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

California Thrasher

Description: 12-inches (30-cm) long. Large brown bird with a long curved bill.

Where Found: Usually, in or across the path from the Children’s Garden, either perched on top of a tree or foraging on the ground. It uses its bill to sweep leaf litter aside, searching for bugs. Also seen at the far south end plucking berries.

When: Resident.


Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Northern Mockingbird

Description: 10-inches (25-cm) long. Gray bird that learns as many as 200 sounds and songs.

Where Found: Almost everywhere, most often perched on a prominent place, especially in the cactus garden.

When: Year round resident.


Sparrows


California Towhee

California Towhee, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

California Towhee

Description: 9-inches (23-cm) long. Large, brown sparrow. If it has a mate, they often travel together and call back and forth to each other.

Where Found: Almost everywhere, usually foraging on the ground.

When: Year round resident.


Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Song Sparrow

Description: 6.25-inches (16-cm) long. Brown sparrow with a dark brown spot in the middle of its chest.

Where Found: Generally perched on a branch or foraging on the ground. During spring and summer this bird will sing from an exposed branch.

When: Mostly late winter through early summer, and rarely during late summer to early winter.


White-crowned Sparrow, Adult

White-crowned Sparrow, Adult, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

White-crowned Sparrow, Adult

White-crowned Sparrow, Juvenile

White-crowned Sparrow, Juvenile, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

White-crowned Sparrow, Juvenile

Description: 7-inches (17.8-cm) long. Adults have the characteristic black and white stripes on their head (above photo). Juveniles have brown and tan stripes (as shown in this photo).

Where Found: Either perched on a branch or foraging on the ground.

When: Fall through winter resident.


Thrushes


Western Bluebird, Male

Western Bluebird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Western Bluebird, Male

Western Bluebird, Female

Western Bluebird, Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Western Bluebird, Female

Description: 7-inches (17.8-cm) long. Both birds are blue with rufus undersides, although the female appears more gray.

Where Found: Generally near the nest boxes (one in the Sycamore at the North pond, one in the Children’s Garden, and one in the tree just north of the South Pond). They either perch in trees or forage on the grass.

When: Mostly spring through summer, and occasionally during fall and winter.


Warblers


Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler, Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Black-and-white Warbler, Female

Description: 5.25-inches (13.3-cm) long. Black and white warbler .

Where Found: On trees with rough bark (as shown). They often move downward, like a nuthatch, searching for bugs in the bark.

When: Winter visitor.


Black-throated Gray Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Description: 5-inches (12.7-cm) long. Black and white warbler with a yellow spot in front of its eye.

Where Found: In the Woodlands, generally deep in trees. They move about quickly and erratically. They also drink and bathe in the stream just after the entrance.

When: Winter visitor.


Common Yellowthroat, Male

Common Yellowthroat, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Common Yellowthroat, Male

Description: 5-inches (12.7-cm) long. The male is a yellow bird with a black mask (as shown). The female is entirely the dark yellow color shown on the male’s back.

Where Found: In the reeds around the ponds. They sing often (so you can hear them). They appear occasionally in the neighboring habitats.

When: Year round resident.


Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Orange-crowned Warbler

Description: 5-inches (12.7-cm) long. Dull, olive warbler.

Where Found: In the Woodlands, generally high in trees. They move about quickly and erratically. They also drink and bathe in the stream just after the entrance.

When: Fall to winter, common visitor.


Townsend’s Warbler

Townsend's Warbler, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Townsend’s Warbler, Male

Description: 5-inches (12.7-cm) long. Warbler with black and yellow marks.

Where Found: In the Woodlands, generally high in trees. They move about quickly and erratically. They also drink and bathe in the stream just after the entrance.

When: Winter visitor.


Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-Romped Warbler, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Description: 5.5-inches (14-cm) long. This bird has five yellow patches – on its throat, sides, head, and rump. Depending upon how the bird holds its feathers, you may see all or none of them.

Where Found: Everywhere, in trees and on the ground. They also drink and bathe in the stream just after the entrance.

When: Late fall through early spring, common visitor.


Wilson’s Warbler, Male

Wilson’s Warbler, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Wilson’s Warbler, Male

Description: 4.75-inches (12-cm) long. Small, yellow warbler. Males have a shiny black cap as shown in the photo. Females have a faint hint of a black cap.

Where Found: In the Woodlands, generally high in trees. They move about quickly and erratically.

When: Late summer to winter, occasional visitor.


Wrens


Bewick’s Wren

Bewick’s Wren, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Bewick’s Wren

Description: 5.5-inches (13.3-cm) long. Small, active, brown wren with a white stripe above its eye. Note the characteristic curved bill and the tail held up.

Where Found: Almost anywhere, in trees and on the ground around the edges of dense shrubs. This shy bird will quickly run under a shrub or disappear into a tree when approached.

When: Year round resident.


There’s More


This article shows birds commonly found at the Fullerton Arboretum.

I’ve also seen an American Robin, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Belted Kingfisher, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Black-headed Grosbeak, Cassin’s Kingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Cooper’s Hawk, Double-crested Cormorant, Egyptian Goose, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-shafted Northern Flicker, Red-Whiskered Bulbul, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Western Tanager.

So be alert while you’re there.

You may find a bird that flew in for a visit.


Final Thought


Places like the Fullerton Arboretum depend upon friends. I encourage you to visit, participate in their many activities, and become a member.

Learn more about them at: Fullerton Arboretum.


Nature Photography Classes


If you’d like to learn how to take beautiful photos of nature, please consider my classes on Nature Photography at the Fullerton Arboretum. Find what’s covered at: Nature Photography Class.


Talks About Birds


If you know about a group that might consider an entertaining inspirational talk about How Birds Change Lives, please ask the program chair to call me. Contact Steve Kaye