Pelagic Birding

Copyrighted photo courtesy of Dan Burk
Brown Pelican: Symbol of the Central Coast Birding Trail

Pink-footed Shearwater
Copyrighted Photo courtesy of:  
Don Des Jardin

Central Coast Pelagics 

 There are twenty-one pelagic specialty birds of the Pacific Rim that may be encountered on the regularly scheduled trips from Ventura, Santa Barbara and Monterey. Additional trips are occasionally organized out of Morro Bay. Trips out of both Ventura and Santa Barbara most often ply the waters around the Channel Islands, a national park and marine sanctuary. [Note to County listers: Wherever you depart from for the Channel Islands, Anacapa Island is in Ventura Co. while Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel are in Santa Barbara Co.] Occasional deepwater trips are made beyond the islands to Arguello Canyon and the Santa Lucia Escarpment or toward the Cherry, Tanner and Cortez Banks. Monterey trips most often explore the nearshore waters of the Monterey Submarine Canyon, a deepwater chasm that is very rich in the nutrients that attract numerous species of seabirds and mammals. Occasional deepwater trips are made from Monterey to the Davidson Seamount.

Tufted Puffin
Copyrighted Photo courtesy of:
  Peter La Tourrette

Pelagic Trip Outfitters

Condor Cruises

Island Packers

Monterey Seabirds

Truth Aquatics

Shearwater Journeys

More Pelagic Birding Information

Mitch's Miscellaneous Matters 

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

More on Monterey Bay


Laysan Albatross
Copyrighted Photo courtesy of: Peter La Tourrette

Black-footed Albatross
Photo credit: USFWS

Central Coast Pelagic Specialty List 

The Pelagic Specialty birds in the following table may be seen offshore in the central coast counties, as indicated.  The best way to find them is to schedule a pelagic trip, which you may do with one of our local trip outfitters.  Lots of information is available online.  A few good links are provided to help you start your search.

Pelagic Bird & Link to Photo from Mike Danziger's incredible Bird Photography website Web Links for 
Information and More Photos
Laysan Albatross 
Phoebastria immutabilis

[Deepwater in winter, more easily found on trips from Monterey]  



Black-footed Albatross 
Phoebastria nigripes

[May-July are the best months from Monterey, deepwater from Ventura and Santa Barbara]

Murphy's Petrel 
Pterodroma ultima

[Deepwater in spring (rare)]  
Cook's Petrel 
Pterodroma cookii

[Deepwater during spring and summer, closer to its territorial waters from Ventura and Santa Barbara (rare)] 
Pink-footed Shearwater  
Puffinus creatopus

[April - November from Ventura & Santa Barbara, August - November from Monterey] 

Flesh-footed Shearwater 
Puffinus carneipes

[Uncommon from Monterey, August - November; rare from Ventura & Santa Barbara]

Bullerís Shearwater 
Puffinus bulleri

[August - October from Monterey, September - October from Ventura & Santa Barbara]

Short-tailed Shearwater  
Puffinus tenuirostris


Black-vented Shearwater 
Puffinus opisthomelas 

[Late fall & winter, frequently seen from shore]

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 
Oceanodroma furcata

[Deepwater from Monterey in winter, accidental from Ventura & Santa Barbara]

Ashy Storm-Petrel 
Oceanodroma homochroa

[April - November from Ventura & Santa Barbara, August - November from Monterey]

Black Storm-Petrel  
Oceanodroma melania 

[April - November from Ventura & Santa Barbara, August - October from Monterey]

Least Storm-Petrel 
Oceanodroma microsoma

[August - October from Ventura & Santa Barbara, September [during warmer water years] from Monterey]

Red-billed Tropicbird
Phaethon aethereus 

[July - September from Ventura & Santa Barbara, less likely seen from Monterey]

Marbled Murrelet 
Brachyramphus marmoratus

[Year round but scarce in fall & winter from Monterey, accidental from Ventura & Santa Barbara]

Xantus's Murrelet 
Synthliboramphus hypoleucus 

[February - August from Ventura & Santa Barbara, late summer & fall from Monterey]

Craveri's Murrelet 
Synthliboramphus craveri

[Late summer & fall from Ventura & Santa Barbara, fall (during warmer water years) from Monterey]

Ancient Murrelet 
Synthliboramphus antiquus

[Winter (rare from Ventura & Santa Barbara)]

Cassin's Auklet 
Ptychoramphus aleuticus

[Fall - spring from Ventura & Santa Barbara, fall from Monterey]

Rhinoceros Auklet 
Cerorhinca monocerata

[Fall & winter]

Tufted Puffin 
Fratercula cirrhata

[Any season, but scarce from Monterey, accidental and well offshore from Ventura & Santa Barbara]




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Most recently updated: 30 June 2004 .