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24 Anacapa Island Birds You Need To Know

Anacapa Island is a small island that lies off the coast of Southern California, and is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. Among the many species that call this island home, birds are perhaps the most fascinating.

Whether it’s the elegant Western Gulls, the adorable Cassin’s Auklets, or the elusive Xantus’s Murrelets, there’s something special about the birds of Anacapa Island. With its rich history and unique ecosystem, this island is an ideal destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

In this article, we will explore the marvelous world of the birds of Anacapa Island, and discover why they are so important to this breathtaking natural sanctuary.

1. Bald Eagle

Bald eagle

The majestic Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America and recognized as the national symbol of the United States.

With its distinctive white head, brown body and striking yellow beak, this sea eagle has two known subspecies that form a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle.

It inhabits much of Canada, Alaska all states in the US contiguous area and Northern Mexico near large bodies of water where they feed mainly on fish.

These birds have an impressive wingspan ranging from 1.8 to 2 meters depending on their size making them one of nature’s most magnificent creatures.Scientific classification:

SpeciesH. leucocephalus

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2. Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine falcon

The Peregrine Falcon is a majestic bird of prey belonging to the family Falconidae. It has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts and black head making it easily recognizable.

This intelligent raptor is known for its incredible speed reaching over 320 km/h (200 mph) during hunting dives – one of the fastest animals in existence.

The peregrine falcon can be found around the world from Arctic tundra to tropical rainforests thriving with humans or in high alpine mountains far away from civilization.

With their beauty, power and adaptability they are an impressive species that have earned respect among many cultures throughout history as symbols of strength and endurance.Scientific classification:

SpeciesF. peregrinus

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3. Common Starling

Common starling

The Common Starling is a medium-sized passerine bird that belongs to the starling family. It has glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, and in certain times of year it can be speckled with white.

The bill and legs are typically pink or black depending on the season, while its length measures about 8 inches long.

Its diet consists mainly of insects but also includes small fruits and seeds as well as some human food waste.

They live in large flocks which provides protection against predators, although they can become quite aggressive when defending their nesting sites during breeding seasons.

Overall, this species is highly adaptable and widely distributed across many parts of Europe making them one of the most successful birds in the region today.Scientific classification:

SpeciesS. vulgaris

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4. Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna s hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbird is a beautiful species of bird belonging to the Trochilidae family. Native to western coastal regions of North America, it was named after Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli.

In the early 20th century, these birds bred only in northern Baja California and southern California but due to ornamental plant transplanting they can now be found across much of Pacific Coast region.

They are medium-sized with bright emerald green feathers on their back and crowns as well as rose-red patches at the throat for males which makes them quite distinguishable from other birds.

Their diet consists mainly nectar from flowers although they will occasionally feed on insects or spiders too making them important pollinators that help maintain healthy ecosystems.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. anna

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5. Hummingbirds


Hummingbirds are tiny birds found throughout the Americas, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Most species measure between 3-5 inches in length and weigh less than an ounce.

The smallest hummingbird is only 2 inches long. Hummingbirds have a unique ability of hovering by rapidly flapping their wings up to 80 times per second.

They feed on nectar and insects, with some species even able to drink sap or eat pollen directly off flowers.

Their vibrant colors make them instantly recognizable as they dart through gardens in search of food and mates.

Hummingbirds truly bring joy into our lives as they remind us that nature’s beauty can be seen around every corner if we take the time to look for it.Scientific classification:

FamilyTrochilidae Vigors, 1825

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6. Osprey


The Osprey is a majestic bird of prey with an incredibly wide habitat range. It has distinctive brown upperparts and greyish head and underparts, making it easily identifiable in the skies above many regions across the world.

With a wingspan of up to 180cm (71in) and body length reaching 60cm (24in), this large raptor specializes in hunting for fish, soaring high over rivers as well as coasts searching for its next meal.

Despite living near water sources, they can also be found inhabiting mountainsides or even woodlands, proving their incredible adaptability. An impressive species that truly deserves admiration.Scientific classification:

SpeciesP. haliaetus

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7. Red-Billed Tropicbird

Red-billed tropicbird

The Red-billed Tropicbird is a beautiful seabird found in tropical oceans. It has mainly white plumage, with black markings on its wings and back, along with a black mask and red bill.

These birds have distinctive long tail streamers that are twice their body length which they use to help them soar above the ocean surface while searching for food.

They primarily feed off squid, fish and crustaceans that inhabit coral reefs or deep sea areas where they can dive up to 30 meters below the water’s surface.

The Red-billed Tropicbird was once thought of as an omen of bad luck but now it serves as a reminder of how delicate our marine ecosystems are when faced with human activity such as overfishing.Scientific classification:

SpeciesP. aethereus

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8. Cuckoos


Cuckoos are fascinating birds belonging to the Cuculidae family, which is the only taxon in the order of Cuculiformes.

There are many different species within this family such as common or European cuckoo, roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas and anis.

Some of these species may even be identified as separate families – Centropodidae and Crotophagidae respectively.

These birds have been known for their unique features such as loud calls heard consistently during certain times of day and night.

They also exhibit behavior like brood parasitism where they lay eggs in other nests so that their chicks can get more food from host parents than its own.

All these traits make them one-of-a-kind creatures worth admiring.Scientific classification:

OrderCuculiformes Wagler, 1830
FamilyCuculidae Leach, 1820

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9. Pied-Billed Grebe

Pied-billed grebe

The Pied-billed Grebe is a water bird found in ponds throughout the Americas. It has earned many nicknames, including American dabchick, rail, and Carolina grebe.

This species of grebe can be recognized by its distinctive bill which is pied or mottled with black and white markings.

Its brownish body is also covered in dark spots as well as having long legs for swimming underwater to catch food such as aquatic insects and crustaceans.

The Pied-billed Grebes are monogamous birds that pair up during breeding season from spring to summer where they build their nests together on vegetation near the shoreline of lakes or slow moving rivers.

These birds are solitary outside of mating season but will form small flocks when migrating south for winter months.Scientific classification:

SpeciesP. podiceps

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10. Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent frigatebird

The Magnificent Frigatebird is the largest species of frigatebird, measuring between 89 and 114 cm in length and having a wingspan of 7-8 ft.

It can be found over tropical waters off America from northern Mexico to Peru on the Pacific coast, as well as Florida down south.

Its diet consists mainly of fish they take from other seabirds or snatch directly from the ocean surface while flying low above it.

They also feed on crustaceans and squid when available too.

This impressive bird has an unmistakable silhouette with its long pointed wings, forked tail feathers and male’s red gular pouch which inflates during courtship displays.Scientific classification:

SpeciesF. magnificens

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11. Pelagic Cormorant

Pelagic cormorant

The pelagic cormorant, also known as Baird’s cormorant or violet-green cormorant, is a small member of the Phalacrocoracidae family and is often referred to as the Pelagic Shag.

It inhabits coastal areas and open oceans throughout Northern Pacific regions. These birds are relatively small in size with a dark greyish body and bright blue eyes which can be seen from far away distances.

Their wingspan extends up to two feet wide allowing them to glide through air currents at rapid speeds while they hunt fish for food.

They have an impressive diving ability that allows them to plunge underwater depths reaching 30 meters deep.

The pelagic cormorants are quite social creatures who live together in large flocks during both summer and winter months providing safety in numbers when hunting prey beneath the waves of their ocean home.Scientific classification:

SpeciesU. pelagicus

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12. Great Blue Heron

Great blue heron

The Great Blue Heron is a majestic wading bird found in many parts of North America, Central America, the Caribbean and even as far away as the Galapagos Islands.

It has an impressive wingspan which can reach up to six feet wide. Its feathers are mainly bluish-gray with brownish streaks on both its neck and chest while its head displays white plumes.

The adult herons can also be identified by their yellow bill and legs.

They live near bodies of water such as lakes, marshes or rivers where they feed on fish using a spear like motion with their sharp bills.

An all-white population exists only in south Florida and the Florida Keys making it quite unique.Scientific classification:

SpeciesA. herodias

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13. Oystercatchers


Oystercatchers are a family of waders forming the Haematopodidae, with one genus; Haematopus.

They live in coastal regions around the world excluding both polar and some tropical areas of Africa & South East Asia.

Eurasian, South Island & Magellanic oystercatcher species also breed far inland – breeding grounds being found much deeper than other members of the family.

They have long beaks used to feed on molluscs such as mussels, clams and oysters which they crack open using their strong bills.

Oystercatchers are usually quite vocal birds making various loud calls when disturbed or alarmed.

The males tend to display more brightly coloured plumage compared to females who share similar brown/black hues for camouflage purposes during nesting season.Scientific classification:

FamilyHaematopodidae Bonaparte, 1838
GenusHaematopus Linnaeus, 1758

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14. Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

The Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius) is a small shorebird that can be found across North America and parts of South America.

It has an appealing spotted plumage, predominately brown in colour with white spots on the wings, tail feathers, head and neck.

The Common Sandpiper (A. hypoleucos) is its sister species which takes over geographically when the other moves away; they have been known to hybridize as well when strays settle down among breeders.

This bird was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1766 in his twelfth edition of Systema Naturae as a migratory summer visitor to Europe but it now also occupies many habitats too like beaches, riversides and even grasslands during migration periods or for breeding season itself.

Its diet consists mainly of insects such as air-borne flies plus molluscs from shallow water areas – this makes them quite unique amongst waders.Scientific classification:

SpeciesA. macularius

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15. Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned night heron

The Yellow-crowned night heron is a beautiful and unique species of bird native to the Americas. It has distinctive yellow crowns on its head, making it easy to identify among other herons.

These birds are also larger than most other types of herons, reaching up to 70 cm in length and 850 g in weight.

They usually feed on small fish or crustaceans while wading through shallow waters with their long legs.

The yellow-crowned night heron can be found near marshes or lakes during breeding season when they will build nests made from twigs high above the ground for protection against predators like raccoons and foxes.

This majestic bird is an important part of wetland ecosystems as it helps keep populations of smaller aquatic animals balanced by preying upon them.Scientific classification:

SpeciesN. violacea

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16. Wandering Tattler

Wandering tattler

The Wandering Tattler is a medium-sized wading bird found in coastal areas throughout the world. It has unpatterned, greyish wings and back, as well as a scaly breast pattern that extends onto its belly.

Its closest relative is the Gray-tailed Tattler (Tringa brevipes). The species feeds on insects and crustaceans which they hunt along shorelines. They also take advantage of low tide to feed on exposed mudflats or sandbars.

During migration season these birds can be seen flying long distances over open ocean waters with their characteristic fluttering flight pattern before reaching land again to rest and refuel for another journey ahead.Scientific classification:

SpeciesT. incana

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17. Western Gull

Western gull

The Western Gull is a majestic seabird found on the West Coast of North America, ranging from British Columbia to Baja California. It has a large white head and stands between 22-27 inches in size.

Its upper parts are gray while its underparts range from brownish grey to white depending on age or sex of the bird.

The most distinguishing feature is its yellow feet which set it apart from other gulls in the area such as Larus livens.

These birds feed by scavenging for food including fish, mollusks, crustaceans and even carrion when available.

They also nest near ocean shores with their eggs hatching anywhere within 28 days after being laid. A beautiful sight to behold at any beach; these birds will surely captivate you with their grandeur.Scientific classification:

SpeciesL. occidentalis

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18. Double-Crested Cormorant

Double-crested cormorant

The double-crested cormorant is a majestic bird with an impressive wingspan, found across North America from the Aleutian Islands all the way down to Mexico.

Its black plumage stands out against its bright orange-yellow facial skin and some extended patches of white feathers on each side of its throat.

It measures between 28 – 35 inches in length and has webbed feet that enable it to swim gracefully through rivers and lakes, as well as coastal areas.

These birds are known for their voracious appetite for fish, sometimes diving over 100 ft deep into water looking for food.

Despite this reputation they also feed on crustaceans, amphibians and insects when available.

Cormorants have been part of many cultures throughout history due to their remarkable ability to fly long distances making them valued messengers or companions during fishing expeditions at sea.Scientific classification:

SpeciesN. auritum

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19. Brandt’s Cormorant

Brandt s cormorant

Brandt’s cormorant is a seabird of the Cormorant family that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America.

In summer, it can be found from Alaska to Gulf of California but its population northwards migrate south during winter season.

Its name Penicillatus originates from Latin which means painter’s brush referring to its white plumes on head and neck.

It feeds mainly on small fish like herring, anchovy etc., diving up to 30 m deep for food catch in cold water near shorelines or at sea around offshore islands or continental shelfs.

They breed along rocky shoresline building nests out of seaweed and sticks close together in colonies numbering into hundreds while producing two eggs per year with incubation period lasting 25-35 days before chicks fledge after seven weeks post hatching.

Brandt’s cormorants are considered an important species as they help maintain balance between marine predators and prey by controlling populations through their diet habits .Scientific classification:

SpeciesU. penicillatus

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20. Willet


The Willet is a large and robust bird of the Scolopacidae family. It belongs to genus Tringa and it is much larger than its closest relative – lesser yellowlegs, which can be easily distinguished by its fine neck pattern.

The willet has brown upperparts with white patches on wings along with grey underparts. Its bill is thick, long and straight in shape having black coloration at tip while legs are also long but greenish-grey in colour.

They feed mainly on insects, worms or crustaceans that they find near coastal waters or wetlands as well as grains or seeds when available during winters.Scientific classification:

SpeciesT. semipalmata

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21. Brown Pelican

Brown pelican

The majestic brown pelican is a dive-feeding bird that belongs to the pelican family. It is one of the three pelican species found in the Americas and is known to dive into water to catch its prey.

From the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey to the mouth of the Amazon River, and along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to northern Chile, including the Galapagos Islands, this bird can be found.

Its scientific name is Pelecanus occidentalis, and it has a colored brown plumage, which is its distinct characteristic.

The brown pelican belongs to the largest bird species that exist today, with a wingspan that can stretch up to seven feet long.

This bird helps maintain a balance in the ecosystem by eating smaller fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic prey.Scientific classification:

SpeciesP. occidentalis

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22. Northern Flicker

Northern flicker

The Northern flicker is a woodpecker species found in North America, Central America, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands. This medium-sized bird is known for its unique migration behavior.

Over 100 common names are used to refer to the Northern flicker, one of them being “yellowhammer”. It is a beautiful bird with distinctive markings and a colorful plumage.

The Northern flicker is an important species in its ecosystem and plays a key role in maintaining a healthy balance in the environment.

Despite being a woodpecker, the Northern flicker has a diverse diet that includes insects, fruits, and seeds.

It is fascinating to observe this bird as it pecks at trees in search of food, communicates with its unique vocalizations and performs its incredible aerial displays.

The Northern flicker is truly a remarkable bird species that is worthy of our admiration and protection.Scientific classification:

SpeciesC. auratus

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23. Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary sandpiper

The Solitary sandpiper is a small shorebird that belongs to the Tringa genus. Its scientific name is Tringa solitaria, which means “solitary” in Latin. It measures 18-23 cm in length and has a distinct white-rumped tail.

The name Tringa comes from Ancient Greek trungas, which refers to a thrush-sized wading bird.

The Solitary sandpiper is named so because it is often found alone. It is a migratory bird that breeds in North America and winters in South America.

Its diet consists of insects, crustaceans, and small fish, which it picks up using its long, thin bill. Despite its name, this bird is not entirely solitary and has been known to feed and roost with other shorebirds.

The Solitary sandpiper is a unique and fascinating species that can be found in wetland habitats across North and South America.Scientific classification:

SpeciesT. solitaria

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24. Island Scrub Jay

Island scrub jay

The island scrub jay is a unique bird species that can only be found on Santa Cruz Island off the coast of Southern California. It is an insular endemic landbird, which means that it is the only one of its kind in the continental U.S. and Canada.

These jays are closely related to the California scrub jay. They are also known as Santa Cruz jays and have a range of distinct calls and behaviors. These birds are omnivores and feed on a variety of insects, fruits, and seeds.

They are known to be curious and will investigate shiny objects. The island scrub jay population has experienced significant declines due to habitat loss and predation from introduced species, such as feral cats.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect this unique and important bird species.Scientific classification:

SpeciesA. insularis

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