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Channel Islands National Park - BirdForum Opus

Part of the coast between the two landing spots on Santa Cruz Island.
Photo by NJLarsen.

United States, California


Channel Islands National Park is a group of 5 islands, the San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara situated along the Santa Barbara Channel off the mainland close to Los Angeles.

They boast an array of over 2,000 species of plants and animals, 150 of which are found nowhere else in the world, that have caused it to be nicknamed "North America's Galapagos."

In addition, the Channel is home to an array of species of whales, dolphins, and seals, and other marine life. [1]


Notable Species

With 408 species of birds reported in the park, 6 of those as introduced and 23 globally threatened[3], a picture of the scope of birds and the birding potential here begins to emerge.

A notable species connected to the Park is the Island Scrub Jay, which is endemic to Santa Cruz Island.

Landbird species can change, dependent, in part, on habitat and prevailing conditions both on the islands as well as the mainland.

Seabirds are well represented here both in nesting species and ongoing research on the islands.

Raptor species are seen on Santa Cruz and Santa Rose Islands with certain Hawks and Owls sporadically on other islands in the group. [2]


Some of the species recorded as rare for this area[3] include the Ross's Goose, California Quail, Clark's Grebe, Common Ground Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Common Nighthawk, Calliope Hummingbird, Sandhill Crane, American Avocet, American Golden-Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-tailed Jaeger, Horned Puffin, Laughing Gull, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Least Storm-Petrel, Manx Shearwater, Magnificent Frigatebird, Nazca Booby, American White Pelican, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Red-naped Sapsucker, Prairie Falcon, Eastern Phoebe, Gray Vireo, Clark's Nutcracker, Pygmy Nuthatch,Sedge Wren, American Dipper, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Townsend's Solitaire, Red-throated Pipit, Thick-billed Longspur, Black-chinned Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager

Scorpion landing is to the left in this view of Santa Cruz Island.
Photo by NJLarsen.


Birds you can see here include:

Brant, California Quail, Chukar, Eared Grebe, White-winged Dove, Common Poorwill, White-throated Swift, Anna's Hummingbird, Sora, Black Oystercatcher, Pacific Golden-Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Parasitic Jaeger, Pigeon Guillemot, Short-billed Gull, Red-billed Tropicbird, Pacific Loon, Black Storm-Petrel, Short-tailed Shearwater, Pelagic Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Snowy Egret, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Lewis's Woodpecker, Merlin, Willow Flycatcher, Cassin's Vireo, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, Bushtit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Canyon Wren, American Dipper, Sage Thrasher, Varied Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Phainopepla, Scaly-breasted Munia, House Sparrow, American Pipit, Purple Finch, Chipping Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bobolink, Orange-crowned Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Other Wildlife

Because of the isolation of the islands, there isn't as wide a variety of animals here as might be found back on the mainland. But there are four mammals reported to be native. They are the Island Fox, Island Deer Mouse, Harvest Mouse, and the Spotted Skunk. It's been said, the Fox and Deer Mouse have evolved into separate sub-species giving the Channel Islands with eight species only found there. [2]

Site Information

History and Use

When it comes to history, the area of the present-day Channel Islands National Park in California rises up near the top.

It was on Santa Rosa Island that a fragment of human bone found by an archaeological researcher in 1959 was ultimately found to date back to 13,000 years ago. This puts that discovery on a par with only one other find that old, a child burial, at an archaeological site in Montana called the Anzick Site. This find on Santa Rosa is now referred to as Arlington Man, or Arlington Springs Man.

There have been other documented people inhabiting these islands since approximately 8-11,000 years ago. The Chumash people, in particular were the main inhabitants. Their last presence on the islands is thought to have been around the 1820s when they were removed to the mainland where modern-day Chumash remain today. [2]

Areas of Interest

Do some research before you go and you will find, in addition to great birding, archaeological research, caves, marine life, and so much more. The only problem will be deciding what of it you have time to take in.

Access and Facilities

The closest commercial air service to the Park area is through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

However, transportation to the islands, from the mainland, is dependent on Park concessionaires. There is no transportation once on the islands.

Consult a trusted travel professional for specific, up-to-date information about the park and current access to it.

Contact Details

Channel Islands National Park

Mailing Address: 1901 Spinnaker Drive Ventura, CA 93001

Phone: (805) 658-5730


  1. Visit Ventura - https://visitventuraca.com/channel-islands-national-park-overview/
  2. Channel Islands National Park Official Site - https://www.nps.gov/chis/index.htm
  3. Lepage D. (2020) Channel Islands National Park Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Retrieved 1 September 2020

Recommended Citation

External Links

  1. Channel Islands National Park Guide