It’s time to dust off those binoculars. Incredible coastal birding awaits in Malibu, where there are dozens of winding trails, beaches, and piers from which to enjoy an array of exciting wildlife. Each season offers a different cast of birds, and many people find that bird watching near Los Angeles is most exciting during the spring and fall migrations.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, photographer, or simply love wildlife, here are the best spots to see and admire Malibu’s local bird population.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Bird watching a snowy egret bird near Los Angeles
A Snowy Egret flying over Malibu Lagoon. Photo courtesy stevevoght, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach, home to Malibu’s iconic surfing destination Surfrider Beach, has several types of birds that delight avian enthusiasts in every season. Expect to see vagrants, which frequent Malibu year-round, as well as Snow Goose, Yellow Wagtail, Red Phalarope, Black-legged Kittiwake, ducks, Least Tern, killdeer chicks, Northern Wheatear, and shorebirds. Malibu Lagoon is also home to unique ecosystems that attract many bird species, like a saltwater marsh. On the west side of the Malibu Creek Bridge, take a seat at the picnic tables and watch the birds live their daily lives. It’s also not uncommon to see great blue heron or willets lingering within the lagoon.

Backbone Trail

A Spotted Towhee bird perched in a tree in Malibu, California
A California Spotted Towhee in Malibu. Photo courtesy Dave Keffer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Backbone Trail, located within the Santa Monica Mountains, is a designated National Recreation Trail and attracts many birdwatchers. The long-distance trail stretches more than 67 miles and has 12 official trailheads. There’s much to explore, from the deep-wooded canyons to rocky spires and woodlands, marshes, and savannas. Along the trail, you’ll see California towhee, red-tailed hawks, California quail, turkey vultures, Peregrine falcon, and more.

Escondido Falls Trail

A hummingbird perched on a branch
A Black-chinned Hummingbird in Southern California. Photo courtesy Steve Berardi, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia.

This 3.8-mile round-trip trail hike, located within Escondido Canyon Park, is accessed via the Pacific Coast Highway. The trail features the 150-foot Escondido Falls, as well as woodlands, wildflower fields, and streams. Even though it is a popular hiking spot, there are still several quiet spots along the way to sit and enjoy the natural beauty around you. Birds, including Heermann’s gulls, hummingbirds, and California towhee, will chirp along the trail to keep you company.

Solstice Canyon Loop

An Acorn Woodpecker stores acorns in a tree
An Acorn Woodpecker stores acorns in a tree. Photo courtesy Michael Warnock, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

One of Malibu’s most popular hikes is the Solstice Canyon Loop, a beginner-friendly 2.6-mile trail with views of historic properties, like the Roberts Ranch house and the historic Keller hunting mansion. It’s located within the Santa Monica Mountains and home to several wildlife species. Get your cameras ready and prepare to snap photos of acorn woodpeckers and red-tailed hawks.

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve

Bird watching a Western Gull near Los Angeles
A Western Gull at Point Dume in Malibu. Photo courtesy tmastro, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve is a dome-shaped promontory that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. There are several winding trails and outlook points within this area, including a 34-acre State Natural Preserve. The Preserve is home to over 100 types of birds, including brown pelicans, plovers, wrens, roadrunners, owls, falcons, and hawks. The birds can be seen from the beach, promontory, coastal bluffs, grasslands, and other areas within Point Dume. Hike the Point Dume Cove Trail to get a bird’s-eye view of the beach and ocean.

Of course, there are also birds on nearly every beach in Malibu. Pelicans, gulls, terns, plovers, and more can be seen along the vast stretches of sand. Malibu Beach Inn is located on Carbon Beach and is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine while sitting on a lounge chair overlooking the ocean and its flying visitors. Reserve your room now to enjoy this magical location and all the bird watching near Los Angeles.

Featured photo of Malibu Lagoon credit: ellenm1, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.