Birding Hotspots: Salton Sea, California

Updated: Apr. 24, 2020

The Salton Sea is one of the top birding hotspots in all of California.

There are many incredible birding hotspots in California but the Salton Sea in the southern part of the state is one of the best and most famous. This area attracts a huge number of birds during migration and is one of the only spots in the US to find Yellow-footed Gulls. The Salton Sea covers a huge area and there are many places to bird from but one of the easiest and best places is the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is a wonderful place to view huge numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl during both winter and migration times. This is also the nicest time to visit the area as it is extremely hot during the summer months. You can view a full list of all species ever reported to eBird from the Salton Sea here.

Birding Hotspots: Salton Sea, CaliforniaRob Ripma
Rob Ripma Hundreds of Red-necked Phalaropes can be found at the Salton Sea during some of the year.

Interestingly, the creation of the Salton Sea was an accident made in 1905 by the California Development Company. Water flowed into the area for two years before the accident was remedied. Now, the lake is now feed by rivers as well as significant agricultural runoff.

Birding Hotspots: Salton Sea, CaliforniaRob Ripma
Rob Ripma Burrowing Owls are another common species to see while driving around the Salton Sea.

Have you ever birded at the Salton Sea?