On the grounds, I saw a cactus wren perched on an ocotillo; a male and female northern cardinal in the atrium of the cafeteria at lunch; a male Costa's hummingbird nectaring at a red, tubular flower in the desert garden; a wild turkey in an outdoor display area; and in the caged bird area, the crested caracara, turkey vulture, military macaw, white-fronted parrot, greater roadrunner, and ferruginous pygmy-owl.
After visiting the aviary, I spent some time in the pollination garden, which features plants that hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths pollinate; and by the time I left the museum, I felt as if you could spend a week in the place and still just barely scratch the surface.
Mathew Tekulsky writes a regular column about birding in his backyard and neighborhood in Bel Air, California. You can follow his encounters with the birds of the Santa Monica Mountains here on National Geographic News BirdWatcher every fortnight or so.
Previous columns by the Birdman of Bel Air
New Bird-Watching Column: "The Birdman of Bel Air"
The California Towhee, Boldly Bland
At Home With Hooded Orioles
Scrub Jays Go Nuts for Peanuts
Northern Mockingbird is a Wary Neighbor
Christmas With the Pelicans
California-Quail Close Encounter
Yosemite Steller's Jay Encounter
Banding Birds at Devils Postpile
California Condor Close Encounter
California Condor Rebound
Going Nuts With Wilderness Ravens
Hummingbird Chicks Fly the Nest
Mexican Jays' Dogged Pack Mentality
Entering "Hummingbird Heaven"
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