Program: Southern California’s Other Avifauna: Trends, Traits, and Troubles of Our Naturalized Bird Species with Kimball Garrett

Date & Time

Thursday, May 2, 2024
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Fleischmann Auditorium,
Santa Barbara Museum Of Natural History
2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA


Having lived in the “outdoor aviary” of Los Angeles County nearly all his life, Kimball Garrett learned early on that non-native (“exotic”) bird species were a real and growing part of the region’s avifauna. Much of his field work since the early 1990s has been dedicated to learning more about these novel components of our birdlife.

The California Bird Records Committee has admitted 17 non-native bird species to the official California state bird list, and several other exotics are waiting in the wings. Many birders express disdain for such species, and conservation biologists are justifiably concerned about their actual or potential negative impacts on native species and natural habitats. But they are undeniably part of our avifauna and deserve our attention and monitoring, if not our approval.

Pin-tailed Whydah Photo by Kimball Garrett

From familiar and abundant House Sparrows to European Starlings, from Egyptian Geese and Mute Swans to numerous parrot species, and from white-eyes and bulbuls to parasitic Pin-tailed Whydahs and their Scaly-breasted Munia hosts, these birds exhibit a variety of ecological roles. They also show a close connection to us humans, not in the sense that naturalization of non-native birds is analogous to human immigration, but because the human pet trade is at the core of how most of these species have become established in distant regions.

This talk will focus on a broad selection of California’s naturalized bird species and explore their origins, trends, attributes, and, yes, even their beauty.

Swinhoe’s White-eye Photo by Kimball Garrett

Nanday Parakeet Photo by Kimball Garrett

Kimball Garrett received his undergraduate degree from U. C. Berkeley and did graduate work at UCLA before being hired as Ornithology Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in 1982, a position he held until his retirement in 2022.

Kimball Garrett – photo by Mel Senac

Garrett is a charter member and Past President of Western Field Ornithologists and a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society. He is a member of the California Bird Records Committee and past member of the American Birding Association’s Checklist Committee; he also serves as Regional co-editor (with Guy McCaskie) for Southern California for North American Birds and an eBird reviewer for Los Angeles County.

He has authored or co-authored some 65 scientific publications and was co-author with Jon Dunn of Birds of Southern California, Status and Distribution (1981) and Field Guide to Warblers of North America (1997), and with Jon Dunn and Brian Small of Birds of Southern California (2012; new edition due in 2024). He was also co-author of the Los Angeles County Breeding Bird Atlas (2016).

Scaly-breasted Munia Photo Kimball Garrett