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sbcoBIRDING Santa Barbara County Birding

A Birder’s Guide to Santa Barbara County

Where the birds are...

From mountainous backcountry and semi-desert scrub, to coastal wetlands and rocky coastline, Santa Barbara County boasts a rich diversity of birdlife throughout. Positioned along the Pacific Flyway migration route, a large number of land and seabirds migrate through this portion of western North America each spring and fall. Endemic birds unique to the continent are also found here, and seasonal rarities are annually seen at several coastal migrant traps and in offshore waters.


This online bird finding guide generally follows the four “ornithological districts" published in Paul Lehman's, "The Birds of Santa Barbara County, California" (UCSB, 1994) (BOSBC >>). These districts align with the geographic topography of Santa Barbara County and include: Coastal Plain (divided North and South), Interior Lowlands and Mountains, and the Cuyama Valley. Also included in this online guide is a page on pelagic birding and access to the Channel Islands.


This guide follows a north to south, west to east layout and includes directions with map links. US 101 and exit numbers are listed as a point of reference when directions are given. You will find many of the better sites known to local birders in this guide along with a short list of some of the expected and more unusual birds that have been found at each.


Recent features added to eBird are the Hotspot Explorer tool and the Explore a Location portal. Hotspot Explorer is for locating the most popular birding spots in the county as submitted by eBird users (link >>). Hot Spot links have been added to many of the sites listed in this guide.


Explore a Location is the eBird search portal where you can see local birding activity, plan a trip or view regional rankings and eBirder stats. Visit the Explore a Location portal at the following link (link >>) and type the name of the city or county in the search window.


There are many more places to explore within the county. Places yet to be discovered. You can make contributions to this guide by sharing information about other great birding sites. Additions or updates are requested as conditions and access changes over time. Please send any updates to the webmaster.

Guide Pages:

Hotspot Explorer map

Explore a Location Portal