Jesse Broadt: Contributor
Filled with salt marshes, natural ponds, and a deep, unspoiled maritime forest, vacationers can easily spend a day or more birdwatching in Huntington Beach State Park and only scratch the surface of the number of opportunities that exist within its boundaries.
For purposes of seeking out one’s feathered friends, visitors should think of the preserve as having three sections, which are the Causeway, the Jetty, and the Beach. Although birds also reside in the maritime forest in abundance, it is difficult to actually view birds in this section of the Park, with the exception of woodpeckers and hawks. However, the outstanding avian chorus one will hear is well worth a walk through the trees. Below is a guide for birdwatching at Huntington Beach State Park that will help all visitors make the most of their experience:
Located at the northern end of the Park, the Jetty is a hotspot for birding, although it is quite a long hike from the Park’s entrance. However, it is worth it for diehard birdwatchers, as the rewards are great. The Jetty is one of the few man-made areas of the Park, and is a replica of a rocky coastline to which several species of birds flock each year. Some of the unique and unusual avian life found in this section of Huntington include puffins, black guillemots, razor bills, and red throated loons. Fortunately, the Jetty is paved at the top, and therefore guests can walk across the breakers for an outstanding view of the waters just off the beach. From this vantage point, if one closely views the rocks and is still and quiet, purple sandpipers and delicate horned grebes may be viewed in their natural habitats.
Beautiful red wing blackbird
Those who keep their eyes on the skies have a good chance of spotting the American Bald Eagle in the Causeway section of Huntington. These birds have made a tremendous comeback after becoming an endangered species in the past. Because American Bald Eagles breed during winter rather than spring, colder seasons are a great time for Eagle viewing at Huntington. Visitors may also get lucky enough to see eagles pirate fish from the ospreys over Mullet Pond, which is also located in the Causeway section. Falcons and Hawks abound in this area of Huntington Park as well and they are a sight to behold.
Falcon zeroes in on prey
Huntington Beach State Park is also home to an impressive number of waterfowl species, all of which are fairly abundant. Green winged and blue winged Teal, ring-necked ducks, ruddy-necked ducks, canvasbacks, and wigeons feed at the nearby marshes and can be easily viewed from the beach. The tide waters of the salt marshes are the perfect environment for red breasted and shooded mergansers, which frequently capture fish with their saw-toothed bills. Those who are lucky enough to watch them in action will never forget their outstanding fishing abilities.
Also found in the marshes closest to the beach are buffleheads, which from a distance resemble hooded mergansers, but have a distinct white waterline. When making their way along the Huntington beaches, visitors should keep an eye out for other coastline birds, such as the piping plover, which is a nationally recognized endangered species.
Loon stretches its wings in the water
There is no specific time of year for birdwatching in Huntington, as hundreds of birds make their home in the Park. In fact, winter can be just as fun as summer, if one’s primary reason for visiting is to bird watch.
Below is a list of the many other bird species guests can observe in Huntington Beach State Park, depending on how lucky they are when visiting this magnificent Grand Strand landmark: