We’ve been backyard birdwatching now for quite some time, thanks to our birdbath and the bird feeders we really need to replenish. We’ve enjoyed becoming more familiar with our regulars – the crows, hummingbirds and finches we see so frequently.
But I’ve wanted to step up our birding game for a while now, so when I learned of a free, guided program for birdwatching with kids at Malibu Lagoon State Beach offered by the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society, I was all over it. What better way to learn more than with experts to help?
Binoculars were provided and each of our two guides also had a spotting scope, allowing the kids to get up-close views of birds usually too far away for little eyes to spot.
The guides also brought their guidebooks, allowing us to see colorful pictures of the birds we discovered. They shared tips for identifying birds (like looking at beak and foot color) as well as cool facts (like how Anna’s Hummingbirds are the most common in our area).
Our 1-½ hour long birdwatching adventure led us across two foot bridges overlooking the wetlands and out onto the sandy beach area of the lagoon. In total, we spotted more than 15 different types of birds, including a great blue heron catching and devouring lunch!
Malibu Lagoon State Beach is a rarity in Los Angeles – it remains a somewhat hidden gem amongst a sea of more popular, often overcrowded beachside hot spots.
In addition to birdwatching, Malibu Lagoon State Beach offers a whole lot more in the way of nature activities. Guided tours of the wetlands and other natural elements such as grunion, the monarch butterfly, tidepools and the gray whale are scheduled seasonally. Malibu Lagoon beach features wetlands, flower gardens and a sandy beach, which is popular with novice and seasoned surfers alike.
It’s also a great spot for families to just enjoy the sun and sand. Bring along a towel, some beach toys and a picnic, and make a morning or afternoon of it!
Tips for Birdwatching With Kids
- Start in your own backyard. Set out a bird feeder or a birdbath to encourage avian visitors.
- Explore nearby nature with a guide or a group. Popular birding areas often provide free guided tours – some of which are geared toward families.
- Get equipped. If you discover you enjoy birdwatching, invest in a kid-friendly pair of binoculars and a field guide to birds in your area.
- Make identifying a game. The kids loved being asked to spot the color of the birds’ beaks and feet. Little did they know these were key features in identifying what they saw. You can even try going on a bird watching scavenger hunt.
- Don’t look into the sun! Something I never would have remembered to tell The Big Explorer, but very important!
- The Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society family walks at Malibu Lagoon are offered every fourth Sunday of the month at 10 a.m., rain or shine (check the most recent schedule here)
- Walks begin at the first footbridge on the main trail to the beach and last about an hour
- Walks are FREE and kids and parents are provided with binoculars
- Experienced, kid-friendly guides are patient & eager to share their love of birds with little ones
- Parking at Malibu Lagoon State Beach is $12 or free if you have a California State Parks pass. You may also park either along PCH north of Cross Creek Road or on Cross Creek Road itself, but be careful – some parts of PCH are off-limits (read the signs carefully). Lagoon parking in the shopping center lot is not permitted.
- Kids under age 3 might be bored (which is why dad stayed home with the little explorer)
- Trails are narrow and not stroller friendly, not to mention all routes head to the sandy beach
- Portable toilets only at the entrance to the Lagoon
- Picnic tables available adjacent to the parking lot
More Helpful Resources
- Read more blog about supporting California’s State Parks on Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursday: State Parks Edition
- The Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society website provides info on upcoming birding events at Malibu Lagoon State Beach and other local birding activities
- Directions to Malibu Lagoon