All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bird Watching

Dear Marie,
A while back, you wrote an article about Modjeska Canyon and the bird sanctuary up there. I paid a visit and got very interested in birds after that. Now that it's spring, I’ve been noticing wild birds everywhere that I’ve never seen before. It may just be that I’m more observant, but I think it’s very cool. I went out and bought myself a bird identification book and now I am hooked. Aside from Modjeska Canyon, where are some good places in the O.C. where a newby bird-watcher can find some interesting birds.
Huntington Beach

Dear Sharon,
I am so glad you had a chance to visit the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon. It’s a wonderful place to go bird-watching, as you discovered. And I am happy to report that there are many other locations here in Orange County that also provide homes for a wide variety of birds.First, in Huntington Beach, one of my favorite bird-watching spots is the Wetlands at Bolsa Chica. Believe it or not, over the past ten years, about 300 different species have been spotted in and around the preserve – and there are only 420 species known to pass through Orange County! So this is definitely a place to frequent with your binoculars, bird book, and camera.

If you need a little help spotting some of the wildlife, you should plan on taking a free tour. On the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., docents from Amigos de Bolsa Chica gather at the south lot of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, on Pacific Coast Highway, just southeast of Warner. Tours (first come first served) begin on the footbridge and begin every 15 minutes. Be sure to wear good walking shoes.

After you’ve visited Bolsa Chica, your next stop should be Upper Newport Bay. Here, where salt water and fresh water meet, you’ll find thousands of birds and lots of fellow bird watchers too! Keep an eye out for their big Earth Day celebration; but if you miss it, there are always many great, educational activities at the Interpretive Center, which is located at 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660 and open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM-4PM.

If you have a chance, I would recommend signing up for one of the tours offered at the Starr Ranch. This is a wonderful Audubon Sanctuary that has many different educational programs. If you enjoy seeing hawks and other birds of prey, this is the place for you. For more information about the sanctuary, visit

Huntington Central Park, Mile Square Park, and all of the County Regional parks have an abundance of wildlife and are great places to spend the day picnicking and watching nature.There are lots of other wonderful locations for bird-watching in Orange County. I’ve found unusual birds in places that you wouldn't normally think of, for example flood control channels. I have seen a variety of herons, white-faced ibises, egrets, ducks, and even cormorants in these little concrete waterways between neighborhoods. It’s remarkable to say the least. Bird-watching is a wonderful hobby. I hope you have the opportunity to spend a lot of time developing your new skills at locations you've never visited before. And the best part is you
don’t have to go far to enjoy nature – it’s practically in your backyard!

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