The birdlife on Santa Catalina Island is an interesting mix of familiar mainland species, unique in just such a way to make the island surprisingly different from anywhere else, yet at first you wouldn’t quite notice much out of the ordinary. For instance, the Allen’s Hummingbird is Catalina’s most common hummingbird while the Anna’s Hummingbird is much less common on the island. Over on the mainland it is just the opposite, with Anna’s being the more abundant species of the two. Another example is the Orange-crowned Warbler, which reaches its highest densities on Catalina and more frequently “double brood,” raising two sets of young in a year. Additionally, certain species which are commonly observed elsewhere in southern California are rarely seen on Catalina, such as the Turkey Vulture and Bushtit. Other familiar mainland birds such as the California Towhee, Oak Titmouse, and Scrub Jay have never been documented on the island.
Below are just a few of the species that reside on Catalina:
CATALINA CALIFORNIA QUAIL
The Catalina California quail (Callipepla californica catalinensis) is a subspecies that is endemic to Catalina Island and is listed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a Bird Species of Special Concern. It is abundant on Catalina and has also been introduced to Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.
The Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) breeds widely over western and northern North America, and east across Canada. There are four recognized subspecies of this warbler. One of them, the O. c. sordida subspecies, is endemic to the Channel Islands, Los Coronados and Todos Santos in Baja California, and the southern California coast from Palos Verdes Penninsula to San Diego, and reaches its highest density on Santa Catalina Island. While it is common to encounter warblers of other various species on Catalina, the Orange-crowned Warbler is the only warbler that resides year-round on the island.
ISLAND LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE
The Island Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus anthonyi) is a small predatory bird that hunts from perches. It focuses on a wide variety of prey items from arthropods up to small mammals and even other birds. Shrikes have an interesting habit of impaling their prey items on sharp objects such as spines on vegetation or barbed wire. The island subspecies is endemic to the Channel Islands and is a state Species of Special Concern.