1. The Weather. Yes, we have some. Usually the weather is mild, on the warm side for anywhere else in the country, and if you don’t like it, you can travel 10 miles in any direction to find the change you wish. Particularly in the inland valley where I live, the winters are mild, we don’t always get frost, and birds can be kept outside without any additional heat source. Sometimes I turn on a light early in the morning so the birds can start eating sooner so they can burn up calories and keep warm. That’s about it. But one does have to make sure the birds have time to acclimate to being outside. Plan to get them out there for the first time in July or August. Then when October rolls around, they will be fine. (http://www.visitcalifornia.com/Travel-Tools/Weather/)
2. So Many Other People Have Birds. I’ve mentioned before that Mike and I can drive a few blocks in any direction and hear birds from other people’s houses or yards. We wear our parrot Hawaiian shirts and make many new acquaintances of people who have birds of their own. I know most of the bird people in the office where I work, out of 160 employees, and have bird sat or traded birds with a number of them. We all speak the same bird language.
3. So many Bird Clubs. And in mutual courtesy, the clubs try to schedule their regular meetings on different days. You can start the month out with San Diego Bird Breeders (https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Diego-Bird-Breeders/151769014845655) on the first Friday, go to North County Aviculturists ( https://sites.google.com/site/ncabirdclub/) on the first Saturday, then there’s Hookbill Hobbyists (http://hookbillhobbyists.org/), Canary Club (http://sandiegocanaryclub.com/), Budgies ( http://bfsdc.org/), Finches (http://www.sandiegofinchandsoftbill.com/), and so on.
4. Magnolia Bird Farm (http://www.magnoliabirdfarms.com/), such a cool store! I repeatedly call it the Disneyland of Bird Lovers. So many birds there for sale, some have been rehomed, some have been raised there. Today they had an Iligears macaw, rarely seen in this area. He (maybe she) was not tame, so definitely a breeder, and sweet enough to keep interacting with us through the cage. They have outside aviaries that are awesome, today there was a hyacinth macaw out on the swing in the aviary walk way, and in warm weather they often put their two huge iguanas out with some of the fast little birds. Magnolia has the best price on seed and many other things like vitamins and dried fruits. They are family owned and operated, and have two locations. Our favorite and the one I talk about above is the location on Magnolia Avenue in Corona. They also board birds and have scheduled surgical sexing available. The staff are friendly, and appreciate good customers. Many people sell or give them cages to sell in their used cage lot. I saw a small aviary there some years ago and wanted it to use as an airlock or safety area to the aviary we already had. They let me put it on layaway, which helped a bunch, and when I came to pick it up, they credited me with more payments than I had actually made. I asked the clerk to be sure to check it, and she discovered whoever had made the original transaction had not recorded it correctly, so it looked like a second payment. She was so pleased that I was honest, she gave me a discount on the cage.
5. Bird Stores besides Magnolia, because driving to Corona, as much as Mike and I love it and have a good time, takes a whole day (we avoid freeways) and wears us out pretty much completely. Luckily, right here in town we have A Bird Haven (no web page, see Feathered Friends for directions) which has birds for sale, seed, dishes, supplements, hand feeding formula, also boards birds, and clips wings and nails. Their sister store, Our Feathered Friends (http://www.ourfeatheredfriends.com/), has the same supplies, just different birds. A new store opened down in Clairmont Mesa, Bird Smart (https://foursquare.com/v/bird-smart/4b799319f964a5208c022fe3/photos), by the folks who ran Bird Crazy until it had to close. Omar’s Exotic Birds opened a store in San Diego (http://omarsexoticbirds.com/babies/). Omar himself is an expert parrot behaviorist, and lectured at North County Aviculturists some months ago. And there is a great place in Vista, Golden Sun Exotic Birds and Plants( http://www.yelp.com/biz/golden-sun-exotic-birds-and-plants-vista) that you will love, especially if you are looking for exotic birds. I’m talking storks and hornbills!
6. Bird Breeders, whom you may find through bird clubs or on kijiji (a Craigslist-like free ad environment that does not flag breeders). ( http://sandiego.ebayclassifieds.com/) Looking for a special species, special mutation, hand raised or parent raised? Breeders should be able to help you find what you are looking for.
7. Zoos, Safari Parks, Private Collections. I hardly need to mention The San Diego Zoo( http://www.sandiegozoo.org/), or the Safari Park (formerly known as The Wild Animal Park) because if you don’t know about them, you need to get out from under your rock more often. And we are not that far away from the Los Angeles Zoo (http://www.lazoo.org/) if we wanted to take a day to go there. I love The San Diego Zoo for the hummingbird aviary, the two other large walk-through aviaries, and the condor conservation program they have been involved with for many years now. I love the Safari Park for the walk-through aviaries there, and the Lorikeet Landing experience. And the flamingos found at both parks. Los Angeles Zoo, when I was last there many, many years ago, grouped their animals by where in the world you would find them, so that you saw wolves with eagles with deer, and so on. I also enjoy Toucan’s Emerald Forest ( http://www.emeraldforestbirds.com/), a wonderful private collection in Fallbrook, which can be toured if arrangements are made in advance. This is a highly scientific and conservation-oriented breeding facility, displaying toucans, macaws, cockatoos, hornbills, and so many more I can hardly remember them all. There are many private collections in the area which are sometimes open to members of conventions or clubs, and are so worth the time it takes to get to them and look around. For parrot lovers, a great place to be any day of the week is Free Flight, a small collection of birds who are outside most days on perches and for a small donation you may move among them. You may get them to step up, and you may fall in love. Many of the birds there are adoptable. Just ask!
8. Native Birds. We are a flight way for many hummingbirds, ducks, songbirds, and so on. Plus we have the shorebirds not that far away, raptors inland, and wetlands birds everywhere. We have California quail, so adorable if you are lucky enough to see a momma running along with her chicks in a line behind her. Road runners, herons, egrets, vultures, owls, woodpeckers, jays, mocking birds, gnatcatchers, western bluebirds, starlings, sparrows, orioles, and redwing blackbirds. Just to name a few! 8)
9. Wild Parrots You might call them feral or naturalized, but the truth is they are living and thriving in the wild in California ( http://www.californiaparrotproject.org/). Amazingly enough, many of the wild parrots are endangered or threatened in the area they originated in, mostly through habitat destruction. So Cal Parrot (http://www.socalparrot.org/) has a facility in Jamul where they take in injured wild parrots, evaluate them for full recovery, and plan to release their flock somewhere in San Diego County. So go out and see these immigrants when you can. The sight is worth your time and travel.
10. Knowledgeable Avian Vets – I always direct people who ask about avian vets to Acacia Animal Health Center (http://www.aahc.us/) if they live inland, or Dr. Stonebreaker’s Animal and Bird Hosptial of Del Mar (http://animalandbirdhospital.com/) if they are on the coast. Plus if you are lucky enough to catch Dr. Scott McDonald (http://www.scottemcdonald.com/) at any club or store, do not miss the opportunity. He’s flying in to California on November 15th, and Magnolia Bird Farm had an announcement on their white board that he would be there to do surgical sexing.
I hope you have enjoyed my list, and that you now have lots of reasons to raise birds in Southern California!