Though many of the birds you may see in the Baldwin Hills are reliant on their habitat to maintain healthy populations, such as the coastal scrub obligates, some birds are more adaptable to urbanization and habitat degradation. These are the birds that we most commonly see in landscaped parks, in our backyards, and developed areas. As habitat specific species are declining in number in the Baldwin Hills, the birds that are able to survive and thrive in urban areas are actually increasing in population size. Researchers estimate that while 200 bird species breed within Los Angeles county, only about 30 of them breed in the urbanized lowland areas, which highlights Baldwin Hill’s significance as a habitat island.
Within the Baldwin Hills, the urban dwelling birds can be found in areas of large, open lawn, with irrigation and exotic trees and shrubs. This type of habitat can be found in Kenneth Hahn Park and Culver City Park, as well as along the channelized Ballona Creek.
COMMON URBAN DWELLING BIRD SPECIES:
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Crows, despite their ominous reputation, are a common sight in Los Angeles. These highly intelligent birds are often seen pecking through trash in parking lots or in open parks and athletic fields. These birds are common in all parts of the Baldwin Hills area but are often seen where they can go through our left behind trash. As social creatures, American Crows are often spotted in groups making their distinctive and harsh cawing noises.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
If you live in an urban area, you’ve almost certainly seen a House Sparrow. These plump birds are usually a mottled brown-grey color and while they may resemble our native sparrows, they were not introduced to North America until 1851. You will find this sparrow most places in the Baldwin Hills, particularly where it’s landscaped and where there are people (Kenneth Hahn and Culver City Park). The House Sparrow has been known to be aggressive, attacking our native birds and stealing their food, which can be problematic for establishing healthy native bird populations in the Baldwin Hills. Nonetheless, these are fun and easy birds to spot and observe in this area and all of Los Angeles County.
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
This beautiful species of hummingbird displays a shiny red head on males with iridescent green and gray bodies. Though it can be found in a variety of habitats, Anna’s Hummingbirds are attracted to exotic flowering plants, especially Eucalyptus trees. In the early 1900s, these birds were only found breeding in California and Baja California, but with the increase in backyard food sources like hummingbird feeders and Eucalyptus trees, Anna’s Hummingbirds have spread all the way up the continental coast. Observe these birds in Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area or Culver City Park, but look quickly–these birds are fast!
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
The Black Phoebe is a flycatcher and can often be spotted swooping down from its perch to catch insects near water. According to the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, this bird is one of our most urban adapted native birds and can often be found in parks, backyards, and near water sources. These black and white-bellied birds have been documented as breeding in the Baldwin Hills area, with their mud nests often built against man-made structures like walls and culverts.
For a full checklist of birds observed in the Baldwin Hills, visit our iNaturalist Bird Guide!
And for more information about sightings and citizen observations in different areas of the Baldwin Hills, check out eBird’s species checklists:
- Baldwin Hill’s Scenic Overlook
- Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
- Kenneth Hahn Gwen Moore Lake
- Culver City Park
- Ballona Creek
For more information:
- Birds of the Baldwin Hills – Kimball L. Garrett (2001)
- Baldwin Hills Animal Life – Dave Marqua (1978)