The species lists below include all of the birds in California broken down by protected status. Species with multiple designations are listed more than once, and will appear in each category that is suitable. However, species with multiple designations will have a “-” after the latin name and a series of letters that describes all of the designations. The “key” is as follows:

FE = Federal Endangered          FT = Federal Threatened

SE = State Endangered              ST = State Threatened

FP = Fully Protected                   SC = State Candidate

SSC = California Species of Special Concern

Taxonomic Reference:

Federal Listed Birds

There are 16 federal listed birds in California.

Federal Endangered Birds (9 species)

Federal Threatened Birds (7 species)

  • Western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) – FT, SSC
  • Marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) – FT, SE
  • Western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus occidentalis) – FT, SE
  • Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) – FT, ST
  • Coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) – FT, SSC
  • Inyo California towhee (Melozone crissalis eremophilus) – FT, SE [proposed for federal Delisting]
  • San Clemente sage sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli clementeae) – FT, SSC

State Listed Birds

There are 24 state listed birds in California. Of those birds, 10 are also federal listed species.

State Endangered Birds (16 species)

State Threatened Birds (8 species)

  • Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
  • California black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus) – ST, FP
  • Yuma Ridgway’s rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) – FE, ST, FP
  • Greater sandhill crane (Grus canadensis tabida) – ST, FP
  • Scripps’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi)
  • Guadalupe murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus)
  • Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) – FT, ST
  • Bank swallow (Riparia riparia)

State Candidate Bird

  • Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) – SC, SSC

Fully Protected Birds

There are 12 Fully Protected birds in California.

Species of Special Concern

A Species of Special Concern (SSC) is a species, subspecies, or distinct population of an animal native to California that currently satisfies one or more of the following (not necessarily mutually exclusive) criteria**:

  • is extirpated from the State or, in the case of birds, is extirpated in its primary season or breeding role;
  • is listed as Federally-, but not State-, threatened or endangered; meets the State definition of threatened or endangered but has not formally been listed;
  • is experiencing, or formerly experienced, serious (noncyclical) population declines or range retractions (not reversed) that, if continued or resumed, could qualify it for State threatened or endangered status;
  • has naturally small populations exhibiting high susceptibility to risk from any factor(s), that if realized, could lead to declines that would qualify it for State threatened or endangered status.

*for the purposes of this discussion, “animal” means fish, amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal

**criteria for fishes are similar except that Federally listed taxa are not defined as SSCs

There are 71 birds in California that are Species of Special Concern. Of those birds, 5 are also federal listed species.

Ducks, Geese, and Swans (Anatidae)
  • Tule greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons elgasi) – wintering
  • Redhead (Aythya americana) – nesting
  • Brant (Branta bernicla) – wintering and staging
  • Barrow’s goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) – nesting
  • Fulvous whistling-duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) – nesting
  • Harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) – nesting
Grouse and Ptarmigans (Phasianidae)
  • Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) – nesting and leks
  • Mount Pinos sooty grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus howardi)
  • Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus)
Partridge and Quail (Odontophoridae)
  • Catalina California quail (Callipepla californica catalinensis)
Loons (Gaviidae)
  • Common loon (Gavia immer) – nesting
Albatross (Diomedeidae)
  • Short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) – FE, SSC
Storm Petrels (Hydrobatidae)
  • Fork-tailed storm-petrel (Oceanodroma furcata) – nesting colony
  • Ashy storm-petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa) – nesting colony
  • Black storm-petrel (Oceanodroma melania) – nesting colony
Pelicans (Pelecaniidae)
  • American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – nesting colony
Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns (Ardeidae)
  • Least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) – nesting
Storks (Ciconiidae)
  • Wood stork (Mycteria americana)
Hawks, Kites, Harriers, and Eagles (Accipitridae)
  • Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) – nesting
  • Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) – nesting
Rails, Coots, and Gallinules (Rallidae)
  • Yellow rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)
Cranes (Gruidae)
  • Lesser sandhill crane (Grus canadensis canadensis) – wintering
Plovers and Relatives (Charadriidae)
  • Western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) – FT, SSC, nesting
  • Mountain plover (Charadrius montanus) – wintering
Gulls and Terns (Laridae)
  • Black tern (Chlidonias niger) – nesting colony
  • Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) – nesting colony
  • Black skimmer (Rynchops niger) – nesting colony
Auklets, Puffins, and Relatives (Alcidae)
  • Tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) – nesting colony
  • Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) – nesting colony
Owls (Strigidae)
  • Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) – nesting
  • Long-eared owl (Asio otus) – nesting
  • Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) – burrow sites and some wintering sites
  • California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis)
Swifts (Apodidae)
  • Vaux’s swift (Chaetura vauxi) – nesting
  • Black swift (Cypseloides niger) – nesting
Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae)
  • Olive-sided flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) – nesting
  • Vermillion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – nesting
Shrikes (Laniidae)
  • Loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) – nesting
  • Island loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus anthonyi)
  • San Clemente loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus mearnsi) – FE, SSC
Vireos (Vireonidae)
  • Catalina Hutton’s vireo (Vireo huttoni unitti)
  • Gray vireo (Vireo vicinior) – nesting
Swallows (Hirundinidae)
  • Purple martin (Progne subis) – nesting
Wrens (Troglodytidae)
  • Coastal cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus sandiegensis) – San Diego and Orange Counties only
  • Clark’s marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris clarkae)
  • San Clemente Bewick’s wren (Thryomanes bewickii leucophrys)
Gnatcatchers (Polioptilidae)
  • Coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) – FT, SSC
Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae)
  • Bendire’s thrasher (Toxostoma bendirei)
  • Crissal thrasher (Toxostoma crissale)
  • Le Conte’s thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei)
Wood-Warblers (Parulidae)
  • Saltmarsh common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas sinuosa)
  • Yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens) – nesting
  • Lucy’s warbler (Oreothlypis luciae) – nesting
  • Yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia) – nesting
  • Sonoran yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia sonorana) – nesting
Sparrows, Buntings, Warblers, and Relatives (Emberizidae)
  • Santa Cruz Island rufous-crowned sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps obscura)
  • Grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) – nesting
  • San Clemente sage sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli clementeae) – FT, SSC
  • Song sparrow [“Modesto” population] (Melospiza melodia)
  • Channel Island song sparrow (Melospiza melodia graminea)
  • Suisun song sparrow (Melospiza melodia maxillaris)
  • Alameda song sparrow (Melospiza melodia pusillula)
  • San Pable song sparrow (Melospiza melodia samuelis)
  • Bryant’s savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis alaudinus)
  • Large-billed savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis rostratus) – wintering
  • San Clemente spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus clementae)
  • Summer tanager (Piranga rubra) – nesting
  • Oregon vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis) – wintering
Blackbirds (Icteridae)
  • Kern red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus aciculatus)
  • Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) – SC, SSC, nesting colony
  • Yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) – nesting

CDFW Watchlist Birds

There are 26 birds that are on the CDFW Watchlist.

  • Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus)
  • Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) – nesting colony
  • White-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi) – nesting colony
  • Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) – nesting
  • Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus) – nesting
  • Ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) – wintering
  • Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) – nesting
  • Harris’ hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) – nesting
  • Merlin (Falco columbarius) – wintering
  • Prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus) – nesting
  • Long-billed curlew (Numenius americanus) – nesting
  • California gull (Larus californicus) – nesting colony
  • Laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) – nesting colony
  • Elegant tern (Thalasseus elegans) – nesting colony
  • Rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) – nesting colony
  • Brown-crested flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – nesting
  • Eagle Mountain scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica cana)
  • California horned lark (Eremophila alpestris actia)
  • Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
  • Black-tailed gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura)
  • Virginia’s warbler (Oreothlypis virginiae)
  • Southern California rufous-crowned sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps canescens)
  • Bell’s sage sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli belli)
  • Gray-headed junco (Junco hyemalis caniceps) – nesting
  • Hepatic tanager (Piranga flava) – nesting
  • Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

All Birds of California