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sbcoBIRDING Santa Barbara County Birding

County Reporting List

In an effort to solicit accurate information special attention should be given to the following birds reported to the local listserve or submitted to eBird from Santa Barbara County. This includes offshore waters and the Channel Islands. Taking field notes is good practice in general, but asterisked (*) species below are those that are truly rare region wide, and checklists should include comments, written descriptions and photos or video if possible. Birders should consult the California Bird Records Committee Review List >> for CA review species (*), and read Paul Lehman’s, The Birds of Santa Barbara County, California >> for current, vetted status and distribution information.

eBird was launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society and has become one of the fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence. It is perhaps the greatest advancement in the avocation of birding in generations. Since its creation eBird has grown to include new features and functionality to appeal to a wide variety of users. It is used by recreational and professional bird watchers alike, and this mix of amateur and expert is eBird’s greatest strength, and arguably its greatest weakness, as inaccuracies and inconsistencies can enter the database. It is the purpose of checklist filters to catch possible errors and to prompt for additional information when unusual species or high counts are entered. Filtered observations are then reviewed by volunteers familiar with local bird distribution. Birders can make valuable contributions by providing accurate detail for all species caught by these filters.

Consider some of the following guidelines when submitting eBird checklists: Use Hotspots >> whenever possible; Accurately plot locations on maps (personal spots); Avoid long traveling counts and county level checklists; Record species in appropriate habitat; Report subspecies only when an attempt has been made to differentiate type, not merely because it is “expected” in the area; Add comments for “continuing” species; Explain how you estimated high counts, i.e. “counted twice” or, “counted by tens” etc. Finally, read the guidelines on reporting rarities in eBird here >> . You can learn about eBird’s Review and Data Quality Process here >>

Fulvous Whistling-Duck*

Any (wild) goose except Canada

Trumpeter Swan*

Tundra Swan

Eurasian Wigeon

Common (Eurasian) Teal*


Tufted Duck*

Long-tailed Duck

Black Scoter

White-winged Scoter (s. county)

Harlequin Duck*


Yellow-billed Loon*

Red-necked Grebe*

albatross (any, BF in SB channel)

petrel* (any Pterodroma sp.)

Flesh-footed Shearwater*

Short-tailed Shearwater

Manx Shearwater*

Wilson's Storm-Petrel*

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel*

Least Storm-Petrel*

tropicbird (any)*

booby (any)*

Magnificent Frigatebird*

American Bittern

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron*

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron*

Wood Stork*

White Ibis*

Roseate Spoonbill*

Black Vulture*

California Condor*

Mississippi Kite*

Northern Goshawk*

Bald Eagle

Broad-winged Hawk*

Swainson's Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk*

Rough-legged Hawk*

Yellow*/Black*/Clapper Rail

Sandhill Crane

Mountain Plover

Pacific Golden-Plover

American Golden-Plover*

Wilson’s Plover*

Piping Plover*

American Oystercatcher*

Bar-tailed Godwit*

Red Knot

Curlew Sandpiper*


Sharp-tailed Sandpiper*

Stilt Sandpiper*

Red-necked Stint*

Buff-breasted Sandpiper*

South Polar Skua

Long-tailed Jaeger

Little Gull*

Black-headed Gull*

Laughing Gull*

Franklin's Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull*

Glaucous Gull*

Common Tern

Arctic Tern

Gull-billed Tern*

Guadalupe Murrelet

Marbled Murrelet

Craveri's Murrelet

Ancient Murrelet

Parakeet Auklet*

Horned/Tufted Puffin*

White-winged Dove

Ruddy Ground-Dove*

Yellow-billed Cuckoo*

Grove-billed Ani*

Any owl other than Barn, Great Horned and Western Screech-Owl

Common Nighthawk*


Chimney Swift*

Broad-billed Hummingbird*

Broad-tailed Hummingbird*

Calliope Hummingbird

Red-headed Woodpecker*

Williamson's Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker

Crested Caracara*

Greater Pewee*

Least Flycatcher*

Gray Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe*

Vermilion Flycatcher

Dusky-capped Flycatcher*

Great Crested Flycatcher*

Brown-crested Flycatcher*

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher*

Tropical Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird*

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher*

All vireos except Hutton's, Warbling and Cassin's

Pinyon Jay*

Clark’s Nutcracker*

Bank Swallow

Winter Wren*

Wood Thrush*

Varied Thrush

Gray Catbird*

Sage Thrasher

Brown Thrasher*

Bendire's Thrasher*

wagtail* (any)

Red-throated Pipit*

Sprague's Pipit*

Bohemian Waxwing*

Any longspur*

Any "eastern" wood-warbler (e.g., Black-and-white, American Redstart)

Any "southwestern" wood-warbler (e.g., Lucy's, Virginia’s, Grace's*)


Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting

Painted Bunting*

Cassin's Sparrow*

American Tree Sparrow*

Clay-colored Sparrow

"Red" Fox Sparrow*

Lark Bunting*

"Large-billed" Savannah Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow*

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow*

Hepatic*, Summer, and Scarlet* tanagers



Rusty Blackbird*

Common Grackle*

Orchard Oriole*

Baltimore Oriole*

Scott’s Oriole

Red Crossbill

Evening Grosbeak*

Species Detail: Provide details for the following species within the parameters listed. Also see the comments at the bottom of the page for species requiring documentation from the Channel Islands.

Brant: All non-coastal records, and all records outside the March-April migration window.

Wood Duck: All records away from areas with resident populations.

Dabbling Ducks (Anas): Breeding records of all species except Gadwall and Mallard. All records of over-summering (May-July) birds except Mallard, Gadwall, and Cinnamon Teal. Late summer/fall arrival of all species except Mallard, Gadwall and Cinnamon Teal. High Counts. All records of Eurasian Wigeon. Records of hybrids. Records of birds on the ocean.

Diving Ducks: Records for any species (except Ruddy Duck) between 1 May and 30 September; breeding records for any species; records of Redhead away from the south county; Greater Scaup; Common Goldeneye (away from Cachuma Lake), Hooded Merganser (away from Santa Ynez River, Cachuma Lake and other regular wintering areas), Common Merganser on coastal slope, including the ocean; Red-breasted Merganser and scoters away from the ocean.

Quail: All records of Mountain Quail away from the San Rafael and Santa Ynez Mountains and from below approximately 1500 feet.

Loons: Summer records (15 June - 31 Aug.); counts of migrants (i.e., birds/unit time); records away from the ocean or flying overland; arrival dates of fall migrants. (note: only Common Loon is expected away from the coast).

Grebes: All breeding records and counts of nests except Pied-billed Grebe. Pied-billed Grebe on the ocean. Arrival and departure dates for Horned, Eared, Western (for both breeding and non breeding birds) and Clark's Grebes (for both breeding and non breeding birds); records of Horned Grebes away from the ocean; records of Horned and Eared Grebes between 1 June and 15 Sept. High counts of flocks/"rafts" of Aechmophorus grebes.

Northern Fulmar: High counts, sightings from shore, and all records between 1 June and 31 Aug.

Shearwaters: High counts of all species and all counts from shore. All winter records of Pink-footed and Sooty shearwaters (1 Nov. - 31 Mar.); spring records of Black-vented Shearwater (1 Mar. - 31 July).

Storm-Petrels: All records from shore, and all records 1 Nov. - 10 Apr. Subspecies identity of Leach's Storm-petrel.

Pelicans: All records of American White Pelican away from Cachuma Lake and away from Santa Maria River estuary in late summer/fall. Brown Pelican: high counts at roosting locations, age ratios, sightings away from the ocean and coastal lagoons/river channels, any nesting evidence.

Cormorants: Any nesting records; all summer counts. Brandt's/Pelagic cormorants away from the immediate coast.

Bitterns: All records of Least Bittern; any nesting records

Herons and Egrets: All breeding records (any species), including nest counts. Counts from roosts of over 40 of an individual species. High counts of White-faced Ibis, records of inland birds, records in summer or winter.

Vultures: All suspected breeding records of Turkey Vulture; roosts/ any counts of more than 50 birds.

Osprey: Any nesting evidence.

Eagles: All records of Bald Eagle away from Cachuma Lake or Channel Islands in winter, any nesting evidence.

White-tailed Kite: Breeding records, high counts and location of roosts.

Northern Harrier: All records from 1 May - 31 Aug., and all records from montane areas.

Accipiter: Records of Sharp-shinned Hawk from 15 Apr. - 20 Sept. Records of migratory movement involving multiple birds.

Buteo: All records of Ferruginous Hawk away from Santa Maria, Lompoc, Santa Ynez Valleys, and arrival/departure dates. Records of Red-shouldered Hawk from montane areas.

Falcons: All Prairie Falcon records away from the Cuyama Valley or Santa Ynez Valley. All records of Merlin from 20 Apr. - 15 Sept. and all records of non-columbarius subspecies.

Rails: All breeding records, and records from 1 May - 31 July, except of American Coot.

Plovers: Arrival and departure dates for adults and juvenile Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, records of summering birds (including all June records; indicate plumage and condition, age if possible). High (>50) counts, and all inland records of Snowy Plover; all records after 30 Mar. and of potentially breeding birds.

Black Oystercatcher: All breeding records.

Stilts/Avocets: High counts of Black-necked Stilt; All breeding records; over-wintering records of American Avocet; any inland records.

Sandpipers: Arrival and departure dates for adults and juveniles (indicate plumage and condition, age if possible). Local high counts of birds from areas where shorebird migration is familiar to the observer. Spotted Sandpiper records between 15 May - 30 July from potential breeding habitat (lakes/streams). All records of Solitary, Baird's and Pectoral sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs and Wilson's Phalarope aside from late summer records. Records of Wandering Tattler, Dunlin, Sanderling, Surfbird, Turnstone (either), Whimbrel. Records of phalaropes away from immediate coast; counts of phalaropes inshore in excess of 100 birds. Red Phalarope away from open ocean, and all records between 15 April - 15 Sept. Winter records of Short-billed Dowitcher.

Jaegers/Skuas: All inland and from-shore records. Counts of more than 10 individuals; migration counts including duration of observations, all records 1 Nov. - 31 Mar., and 1 June - 31 July.

2-year Gulls: Arrival and departure records of Bonaparte's Gulls, counts of flocks >200 birds. Onshore and summer records of Black-legged Kittiwake; all records of Sabine's Gull onshore and outside of spring/fall migration periods (include age with reports, if possible).

3-year Gulls: Records of Mew Gull away from coast, and all records from 1 May - 30 Sept. Heermann's Gull records away from the immediate coast, high counts (>200) during migration and winter. Include age with reports.

4-year Gulls: All records of inland Western, Glaucous-winged Gull and Iceland (Thayer's) Gull except in Santa Maria, Lompoc Valleys. Inland Herring Gulls away from Cachuma Lake, and all records from 1 May - 30 Sept. Arrival and departure dates of all species (except Western). Include age with reports.

Terns: Breeding records of all species (except Least Tern at known breeding locations). Inland records of all species except Forster's and Caspian. High counts and summer records of Forster's and Royal Tern (15 Apr. - 31 Aug.). Winter records of Elegant Tern (1 Nov. - 15 Feb.) and concentrations of >200 birds. Black Skimmer away from the south coast.

Alcids: Any alcid seen from shore except for Common Murre in winter and spring. Pigeon Guillemot records away from the Channel Islands or Vandenberg AFB, and all records 1 Oct. - 29 Feb. Counts of Cassin's Auklet >20; Non-winter records of Rhinoceros Auklets (15 Apr. - 31 Sept.), and counts >10.

Doves: All records of Spotted Dove. Band-tailed Pigeon records along the north coast. All records of Eurasian Collared-Dove from the interior mountains. All breeding records of Common Ground Dove, and sightings away from the south coast. Concentrations of 200+ doves or pigeons (aside from Rock Pigeon).

Cuckoos: Any record of Greater Roadrunner in suburban areas. All breeding records.

Owls: Any record of Flammulated Owl away from Big Pine Mtn.; Breeding records of Burrowing Owl; Breeding records of Spotted Owl and sightings away from the interior mountains and canyons; Any indication of migratory movement (any species).

Nightjars: Records of migrants; records of Lesser Nighthawks away from the Cuyama Valley, and all records between 20 Sept. - 15 Apr. All records of Common Poorwill from 1 Nov. - 15 Apr.

Swifts: All records of Black Swift between 20 May - 10 Aug. All records of Vaux's Swift from 15 May - 15 Aug., and all concentrations greater than 500 birds.

Hummingbirds: All records of Calliope Hummingbird in spring. Black-chinned Hummingbird records 15 Sept. - 31 Mar. All records of Costa's Hummingbird in winter. All records of Rufous Hummingbird from 15 Apr. - 20 June and 1 Sept. - 31 Dec., and all breeding records of Allen's Hummingbird away from the immediate coast and Channel Islands. December breeding records of Anna’s Hummingbird.

Kingfisher: All breeding records and all records from 1 May - 15 July.

Woodpeckers: All records of Acorn Woodpecker from the Santa Maria Valley. All records of Williamson's Sapsucker. Records of Red-breasted Sapsucker from 15 May - 31 Aug. below c. 3500' elevation, and arrival and departure dates from the lowlands. Records of Red-naped Sapsucker. Photos of hybrid sapsuckers. All records of White-headed Woodpecker from lowlands in winter.

Flycatchers: Arrival and departure dates for regular species; records of Olive-sided Flycatcher and Western Wood-Pewee from 1 Oct. - 20 Apr. and all records below 2000' between 15 June - 30 July. Any Empidonax records from October 15 - March 20, and Willow Flycatcher records outside the migration period (spring: 15 May - 15 June; fall: 10 August - 31 Sept.), including breeding behavior. All records of Hammond’s Flycatcher (include identifying characteristics). All records of Dusky Flycatcher except on Big Pine Mtn. Area. All breeding records of Say's Phoebes away from Cuyama Valley and Santa Maria River. All winter records of Ash-throated Flycatcher and Western Kingbird (20 Sept. - 15 Mar.) Counts of Cassin's Kingbirds in excess of 20 birds.

Shrikes: All breeding evidence of Loggerhead Shrike. Early “fall” arrival dates (June - July).

Vireos: All breeding records of Warbling and Cassin's Vireo, and winter records (October 10 - March 10). All records including breeding evidence of Bell's Vireo.

Corvids: All records of Clark's Nutcracker. All records of Steller's Jay in lowlands and away from known breeding habitat. All American Crows in the Cuyama Valley or on the Channel Islands. Counts of >200 Common Ravens away from Cuyama Valley or multiples along the coast. Records of Yellow-billed Magpie away from inland valleys and known areas of occurrence.

Swallows: Arrival dates for the usual species including Purple Martin; records of any species except Tree Swallows from 1 Oct. to 15 Feb.; All records of of Bank Swallow including summer (June/July) and counts of multiple birds; winter counts of Barn Swallow and more than 10 Tree; Cliff and No. Rough-winged Swallow breeding records from natural substrates (i.e., cliffs).

Chickadees: Summer records of Mountain Chickadee below 3000' and winter records in lowlands. Documenting the expansion of Chestnut-backed Chickadee away from known areas on the south coast or along Santa Ynez River.

Nuthatches: Records of Red-breasted Nuthatch below 4000’ from 1 Apr. - 31 Aug., and all records along the coast. All records of Pygmy Nuthatch and Brown Creeper below 4000'. Records of White-breasted Nuthatch away from known breeding habitat (identify to subspecies if possible).

Wrens: Records of Canyon and Rock Wren away from known breeding sites; Any indication of migratory movement or breeding records of Pacific Wren; All summer records of Marsh Wren from 1 June - 31 July on the south coast.

Dipper: All records.

Kinglets/Gnatcatchers: All breeding activity of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Arrival and departure dates for Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and all kinglet records 10 May - 15 Sept. All Golden-crowned Kinglet records away from Big Pine Mtn. between 15 Apr. - 1 Oct.

Thrushes: All records of Mountain Bluebird away from the Cuyama Valley or Santa Ynez Valley. All records of Townsend's Solitaire below 2000' or in summer in interior mountains. Records of fall-migrant Swainson's Thrush. Arrival and departure dates of Hermit and Swainson's Thrush, and any indication of breeding activity. High counts of American Robin; All records of Varied Thrush.

Wrentit: All records from urbanized areas and away from areas of normal residence. Any evidence from Cuyama Valley

Thrashers: Records of Northern Mockingbird from the mountains. Records of California Thrasher in urbanized or high elevation areas. All records of Sage Thrasher

Pipits: Arrival and departure dates for migrants and the wintering flocks of American Pipit. Records after first week of May. All records of the Japonicus subspecies or otherwise unusual-looking American Pipit.

Waxwings/Phainopepla: High counts (>300) of Cedar Waxwing, all late spring records (after June 15) and all summer records. Phainopepla at higher elevations, in urbanized areas or along the north coast.

Wood-Warblers: All summer (1 June - 30 July) records of any wood-warbler other than Orange-crowned, Yellow and Common Yellowthroat. All summer records of Yellow-rumped Warbler below 4000' (20 May - 30 Aug.). All potential breeding records of the Orange-crowned Warbler subspecies sordida except on the Channel Islands. Breeding records of Northern Parula and MacGillivray’s Warbler. Arrival and departure dates for all species (except Orange-crowned). Records from 1 Sept. - 20 Mar. for any species except Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray and Townsend's Warblers and Common Yellowthroat. Any indication of migratory movement or breeding record of Yellow-breasted Chat.

Tanagers: Arrival dates of Western Tanager, records away from breeding areas (San Rafael and Santa Ynez Mountains) 1 June - 10 Aug., and all winter records.

Sparrows: Arrival and departure dates for all species; summer records of all 'winter' sparrows. Records of juncos other than “Oregon” and "Slate-colored". Records of Brewer's Sparrow away from Cuyama Valley in winter/migration. All records of Black-chinned Sparrow below 3000', and all records outside breeding season (20 Mar. - 15 Aug.). Records of Black-throated Sparrow away from Cuyama Valley, and all records 1 Sept. - 10 Mar. Records of Bell’s Sparrow away from north coast, interior mountains and Cuyama Valley. Any suspected Sagebrush Sparrow. Summer records of Savannah Sparrow (20 May - 20 July), except at coastal breeding locations. Records of "Belding's" Savannah Sparrow away from south coast wetlands. Winter records of Grasshopper Sparrow. Records of Green-tailed Towhee away from breeding areas in mtns. All records of Vesper Sparrow along the coast. All records of “Nuttall’s” White-crowned Sparrow away from the north coast or breeding habitat.

Grosbeaks/Buntings: Records of Rose-breasted and Black-headed Grosbeak 15 Oct - 20 Mar. Records of Blue Grosbeak breeding activity. Records of Lazuli Bunting in winter (1 Nov. - 15 Mar.). All records of Indigo Bunting and territorial birds. Arrival/departure dates for migrants.

Blackbirds/Meadowlark: All records of 'Bicolored' subspecies of Red-winged blackbirds. High counts and records of Great-tailed Grackles away from breeding areas or in the mountains. Yellow-headed Blackbird outside the April/May migration window. Counts of unusually large concentrations of any species.

Orioles: All records of Scott's Oriole away from the Cuyama Valley during spring and summer. Arrival and departure dates of breeding species, and late fall/winter records of any species.

Finches: All records of Lawrence's Goldfinch in winter, along the immediate coast, plus large concentrations (>20). All records of Cassin's Finches. Records of Pine Siskin 1 May - 31 Sept.

Channel Islands: See the Channel Islands Bird Checklist >> (pdf) for the birds recorded on the Channel Islands. This checklist includes accidental species which should be accompanied with documentation on eBird checklists. It is not uncommon for birders unfamiliar with the islands to make assumptions about the common birds of the mainland and apply several of these to eBird checklists because the habitat may look similar. However, birders may be surprised to learn that there are no confirmed sightings of several “common” mainland bird species on the islands despite extensive surveys. Many eBird checklists have included erroneous information with multiple counts, no written descriptions or photographs to support these sightings. Examples include, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, Wrentit, California Thrasher, California Towhee.