Favorite Birding Spots in Inland Southern California

Favorite Birding Spots in Inland Southern California

In my previous post, For the Love of Hummingbirds, I mentioned Kurt Leuschner shared his favorite birding places in the Inland Empire and desert areas east of Los Angeles. Leuschner is a professor of natural resources at College of the Desert in Palm Desert and leads many birding and nature walks.  Here they are:

San Bernardino/San Jacinto Mountain areas:

Kurt Leuschner birding (in Costa Rica) Photo courtesy Steve Myers

Kurt Leuschner birding (in Costa Rica) Photo courtesy Steve Myers


  • Santa Rosa and the San Jacinto Mountains National Monument – This large area encompasses forest service land, BLM land and two wilderness areas. I like its informative visitor center.
  • Mount Jacinto State Park – You can access this either from a long hike from Idyllwild or the easy but more expensive way is taking the tram up Palm Springs. It’s another world up at the 10,800 foot top, including migrating birds. This is where you can see the Calliope Hummingbird during migration.

    Calliope Hummingbird can be seen in the San Bernardino mountains (photo courtesy Steve Myers)

    Calliope Hummingbird can be seen in the San Bernardino mountains (photo courtesy Steve Myers)

Palm Springs:

  • The Living Desert – This is a great natural park and museum, and members can come early before it opens to when birdwatching is the best. Make sure you check their plant nursery, which has a great selection of native plants, and other water-wise plants that attract birds and other wildlife.
  •  Indian Canyons–  I haven’t visited here. Leuschner says it’s a good place to see the rufous hummingbird in migration

Desert Areas: (all close to Redlands and Palm Springs):

  • Whitewater Canyon Preserve– Run by The Wildlands Conservancy, this place offers plenty of hiking, a running creek, a trout pond, free camping , and a place to see bighorn sheep – Click here for my Whitewater write-up as a favorite hiking area

    Whitewater River looking upstream

    Whitewater River looking upstream

  • Big Morongo Canyon Preserve – Check out the free bird walks on Wednesdays and most Saturdays. See the bird list on their website.
  • Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center has 60-70 species of birds drawn by their wetlands.  Free bird walk first Saturday of each month. They also rehab sick birds.
  • Coachella Valley Preserve –  I did a write-up on one popular hike in this area noted for its beautiful  palm groves – Coachella Valley’s McCallum Trail

    The dunes of the Coachella Valley's McCallum oasis

    The dunes of the Coachella Valley’s McCallum oasis

  • Joshua Tree National Park – go here in the spring to see migrating Rufous hummingbirds on the  blooming ocotillos (maybe not this year with our drought…)
  • The Salton Sea has 400 species of birds. Go at dusk and you’ll be amazed!
  • Anza Borrego Desert State Park – further south from the Salton Sea, this state park is especially good for bird-watching (and wildflowers) in the spring.

Enjoy – I know I have some exploring to do….

About Linda Richards

My goal is to educate about the science of nature in layperson speak, through my writing, science and education background. I grew up in the Chicago area, loved living in Minneapolis before gravitating to the West, which is now home.


  1. looked good but no birds of any kind inland from San Diego. some on coast but say in Poway nothing not even pigeons doves sparrows crows. A ton of marvelous trees, but no birds any where. The quietest morning ever. I’m from Albuquerque and if you park your car under a tree. well you know we have all kinds of birds.

    • hoping it was in the heat of the day when they hunker down? If you don’t hear birds early morning and in the evening, that is concerning….? We have lots of birds (including he ones you mention) on our half acre property here in Redlands and in walks around our town…

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