Into the Field: Birding Hike at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Past Event

Join an expert birder for a bird-watching field trip to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Big Morongo Canyon Preserve has been designated as one of the United States’ Important Bird Areas by the American Bird Conservancy, the American Birding Association, and Watchable Wildlife National Program, and is featured in the National Geographic Guide to Birdwatching Sites. It is just over 28 miles and 30 minutes from Sunnylands Center & Gardens. With flowing water year-round, it is a bird magnet.

Participants will walk on packed dirt trails, boardwalks, in open grassy areas, a mesquite “forest,” a cottonwood and willow riparian area, and a county park. The hike is approximately two miles with minimal elevation gain.

Participants will meet in the overflow parking lot of Sunnylands Center & Gardens at 7:30 am on the day of the hike. The caravan will leave Sunnylands and drive to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. A waiver is required for all off-site activities. The waiver can be found HERE and will be collected when the group meets at Sunnylands Center & Gardens. The walk will conclude at 12 pm.

Close-toed shoes, hat, sunscreen, and water are essential. Binoculars, cameras, and snacks are optional.
Participants may bring a lunch; there are picnic tables at the preserve.

Sunnylands will be closed to the public on the date of this program. No restrooms or facilities will be available.

Fee: $25 per participant. 20 participants max.
Subject to cancellation due to low enrollment (if there are less than 3 guests).
You may purchase tickets HERE.

Reservations for this event will not be accepted after 12/27/2019 at 4:30 pm.

Leading the walk is Frank Sterrett. Frank has been birding for close to 60 years. During that time he has been a college student-curator of ornithology, a college lab assistant in ornithology, a licensed bird bander, and a participant in Breeding Bird Surveys and Christmas Bird Counts. He was an elementary schoolteacher in Rhode Island for 30 years. Before retiring in 2004, and especially since, Sterrett has had the privilege to travel extensively, from Maine to Florida, Alaska to Southern California, as well as Churchill, in Manitoba, Canada, to the Texas coast. An Arctic trip to Norway took him 600 miles from the North Pole. In addition to leading bird walks at Sunnylands, he volunteers and leads walks at The Living Desert, Coachella Valley Preserve, and Whitewater Preserve. Even though he has retired from classroom teaching, Frank cannot contain his enthusiasm for birds and sharing that enthusiasm with everyone around him. His emails always end with the signature, “Have binocs; will travel;” and a quote from Simon Barnes: “I do not go birdwatching. I am [always] birdwatching.”

For information, please contact our education department at or call 760.202.2234