SLO CO Listers

Image of Painted Bunting
©Maggie Smith

Most birders have lists--life lists, yard lists, county lists, and more. This is a list of birders highlighting those that have 400 or more birds on their San Luis Obispo County list. Considering the fact that 467 species have ever been seen in the county, it's a major effort over many years of birding. The birders below keep a personal county list and have submitted the numbers to me. 

If you would like to be included here, at any stage in your quest to 400, please send information in the format below to Mike Stiles.

SLO County Bird List (compiled by Tom Edell) 

Total Species on SLO County Bird List = 467 (459 NIB)

Note: NIB = No Introduced Birds (Chukar, Wild Turkey, European Starling, Rock Pigeon, House Sparrow, Eurasian Collared Dove, Scaly-breasted Munia, California Condor) Some birders do not count introduced species. It is your choice how you want your list included here. Just let me know.

Recent additions to SLO County Bird List:

Field Sparrow - 20 Nov 2020
Streak-backed Oriole - 04 Nov 2020
Common Ringed Plover  - 01 Oct 2020
White-eyed Vireo - 01 Jun 2018
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron - 13 Sep 2017
Winter Wren - 08 Dec 2015 
Wedge-rumped Storm Petrel - 2015 
Blue-winged Warbler - 18 Oct 2013 
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 12 Oct 2013 
Gull-billed Tern - 07 May 2013 
Black Vulture - 09 Feb 2013 
Lesser Black-Backed Gull - 16 Mar 2012
Ivory Gull - 05 Nov 2010
Bar-tailed Godwit - 27 Aug 2010
Parakeet Auklet - 17 Jan 2009
Cassin's Sparrow - 12 May 2008
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 19 Oct 2006
White-headed Woodpecker - 20 Sep 2006

San Luis Obispo County Listers - Most recent update - 28 July 2022

Brad Schram--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 442 NIB (443 - including Eastern Wood Pewee--not accepted by CBRC)
400th Bird: Brown Booby- July 1996
Comments: My best county bird seen is Ivory Gull and best bird found is probably Trumpeter Swan (1973--second So. Cal record) and Arctic Warbler--found by a group of us at Oceano--would be a close second. I'm still waiting for Greater Pewee, Bendire's Thrasher, and Hepatic Tanager.
Editor's note: Brad also has 463 birds for Santa Barbara County!

Tom Edell--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 438 NIB (439 - including Eastern Wood Pewee--not accepted by CBRC)
400th Bird: Brown Booby- July 1996
Comments: My best finds in the county are, Arctic Loon (7 Dec 1991), Yellow Wagtail (Sep 1981), King Eider (Oct 1985), Garganey (with Jim Royer in Oct 1991), Yellow-billed Loon (with Curtis Marantz in Dec 1990) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (Mar 2010). Painful misses are Tricolored Heron, and Wood Stork. Still waiting for Trumpeter Swan, Chimney Swift, Pinyon Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Bendire's Thrasher, Bohemian Waxwing, Hepatic Tanager, and American Tree Sparrow. 

Jim Royer--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 433 NIB
400th Bird:
Comments: My best county finds were Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Grackle, Zone-tailed Hawk, Little Gull, Tricolored Heron, Red-necked Stint, Golden-winged Warbler, and Yellow-throated, Yellow-green, Blue-headed and Bell's Vireos. My worst miss was the Arctic Warbler - I was birding in Mexico. Editors note: Jim has found two county first record birds in 2020--Streak-backed Oriole and Field Sparrow.

Greg Smith--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 433 NIB 
400th Bird: Pinyon Jay- 05 Dec 1995. Found on Red Hill Road off Highway 58. 
Comments: My best county bird was the first definite record of White Wagtail (Motacila alba) for the State of California, 05 Oct 1984. I'm still looking for Yellow-billed Loon, Least Storm Petrel, and Laysan Albatross. 
Greg's photos

Curtis Marantz--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 430 NIB (431 including Eastern Wood Pewee and Mexican Duck)
400th Bird: Horned Puffin- 16 July 2007  
Comments: My best bird is the Piping Plover. Because of its declining status it may not be seen again. Easiest misses are Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Least Flycatcher, and Mourning Warbler.

Bill Bouton--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 426 NIB
400th Bird: Red Crossbill- 07 October 2012
Comments: I consider some of my best finds in SLO County to be Blue-winged Warbler, Red-necked Stint, Yellow-billed Loon, Brown Booby, Yellow Rail, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Grace's Warbler, and Cape May Warbler. My worst miss is what I believe was an "Old World Warbler" that got away without being identified in the Arroyo de la Cruz wetland.

Maggie Smith--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 412 NIB
400th Bird: Zone-tailed Hawk
Comments: My 300th bird was the Northern Pygmy Owl, 9/1/05. My best find is the Yellow-green Vireo that I found at Oceano. I feel fortunate that my wish list is still quite long: Tufted Puffin, Least Flycatcher, and Tufted Duck. Like Mike I want to find a first county record. I also enjoy "everyday" birding and the joy of seeing a male Yellow-headed Blackbird shining in the fog at Oso Flaco Lake is the epitome of birding your patch. 
Maggie's Photos

Mike Stiles--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 410 NIB
400th Bird: Lesser Black-backed Gull- 07 Aug 2018
Comments: I've been birding in the county since 1974. I consider my best finds to be Painted Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, and Yellow-throated Warbler. The year 2020 was an amazing one, with Emperor Goose, Common-ringed Plover, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Great-crested Flycatcher, Streak-backed Oriole, Little Gull, Field Sparrow and Zone-tailed Hawk added to my county list.  Still waiting for Tufted Puffin and Tufted Duck, Garganey, Least and Dusky Flycatchers, and Broad-winged Hawk, to name a few "easy" ones, and I REALLY want to find a county first someday. My contribution to county birding is the formation of SLOCOBIRDING, an email rare bird alert, and the creation and upkeep of this page. I also have 243 birds seen while walking, no fossil fuels used.

Karen Havlena--400 Club Member
Total Birds: 409 NIB
400th Bird: Brown Thrasher- 19 April 1999
Comments: My best county bird (that I found personally) was Dickcissel. It was also a "yardbird" for me, 7-10 Sep 1991. My two worst misses are Cape May Warbler and Wood Stork. I would love to add Wood Thrush to the county list.

John Luther
Total Birds: 398 NIB
Comments: I have never lived in San Luis Obispo County, but have relatives living in Los Osos, Templeton and Paso Robles so I keep getting back there. Best birds I have seen include Reddish Egret, Golden-winged Warbler, Painted Redstart, and the recent Dickcissel.

Nancy Mann
Total Birds: 384 NIB
Comments: Favorite Best Birds: Magnificent Frigatebird the first month I lived in the County (in 1979), Brown Thrasher, Mountain Chickadee, Pinyon Jay, Arctic Warbler, and Ivory Gull. The logistics of Brown Booby off Diablo Canyon with Ben Stephens is one of my favorite birding memories. Most Painful Missed County Bird: California Condor pre 1987. I'm still waiting for the CBRC to accept Flamingo for Morro Bay.

Tom Slater 
Total Birds:375 NIB
Comments:On October 27, 2011 I couldn't name three birds. Then I walked into a theater and watched The Big Year and when I walked out my life was changed forever. In three days I had binoculars and a Sibley's field guide and my first bird, a Yellow-rumped Warbler that I found in my backyard. Better than that, my seven-year-old son Owen asked... "Dad, what are you doing?" To which I replied, "Birding." He wasted no time, "Can I do it too?" Off we went on the adventure together. Over 300 county birds in less than three years while working two jobs, raising two small kids, and staying married. No big records or discoveries. It's just about the birds. My favorites in SLO county are: my first flock of Cedar Waxwings (50+); Indigo Bunting on Turri in the flowers; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (AG); Crested Caracara (LOVR); Blue-footed Booby (MB); Long-eared Owl & Scott's Orioles (both male & female- Carrizo); and a male summer plumage Bobolink I found out at Oso Flaco. Thanks Maggie, Tom, and other avid SLOCO birders who have mentored us. Bird on!  

Eric Wier
Total Birds: 370 NIB
Comments: My 300th bird was a male Calliope hummingbird, observed in my back yard in April 2014. My rarest County bird was the beautiful Ivory Gull enjoyed by many in November 2010. My most exciting "find" was first hearing, then seeing a White-eyed Vireo in May, 2020 while birding in my back yard.

Al Schmierer
Total Birds: 363 NIB
Comments: Maybe the best birds that I have found would be the (first county record) Reddish Egret and several Pinyon Jays in 2003. The most beautiful of the rarer birds on my list would have to be the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, followed by a male Scarlet Tanager as a distant second. In a way, a Least Bittern up close in the open in the sun in my scope was one of the most satisfying birds!

Jim Lomax
Total Birds: 361 NIB
Comments: Never lived here. I do bird all 58 counties and like San Luis Obispo (and the birders who do live here) a lot more than some counties. I have seen my share of rarities in the county and my favorite is the Ivory Gull from November of 2010, still the only one I have ever seen and was a beautiful bird. The Cerulean Warbler from October 2008 comes in high on the list too. 

Brian Daniels
Total Birds: 359 NIB
Comments: My best birds for SLO would be Piping Plover, Arctic Warbler, and White Wagtail. Although I live in Los Angeles County, I've managed to see 34 warbler species in SLO including Cerulean Warbler and Connecticut Warbler.

John Sterling 
Total Birds: 359 NIB 
Comments: I have never lived in San Luis Obispo County but I have birded there a bit over the past 25 years. Best find was 3 Blackburnian Warblers in one day--a day before the Grace's Warbler was found! birds include Piping Plover, Arctic Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Ivory Gull, and Cassin's Sparrow. I hope to contribute by finding a first county record someday. 

Jeff Miller
Total Birds: 357 NIB 
CommentsI've been in SLO County since 2018 and spend a lot of time looking for new county birds. My best county bird finds so far are Magnolia Warbler and Gray Catbird.

Jon L. Dunn
Total Birds: 356 NIB
Comments: Best birds include Tufted Duck, King Eider, Piping Plover, Rock Sandpiper, Black Swift, Least Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher (2), Arctic Warbler, White Wagtail, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Connecticut Warbler (2), and Painted Redstart. Worst misses are Magnolia and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Bobolink, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting. And, am looking forward to seeing a Le Conte's Thrasher. I used to bird in SLO rather frequently in the 1980s when I lived in Santa Barbara. I enjoyed birding there again recently in connection with the WFO meetings in Santa Maria and look forward to spending more time there again. I suppose that 1979 Stejneger's Petrel on the Davidson Seamount trip has now been taken by Monterey County (not included in my total).

Petra Clayton 
Total Birds: 350 NIB 
Comments: My husband Jack and I are amateur "photo birders," interested in learning about birds by capturing appearance and behavior through stills and videos. Our best finds have all been in October: Philadelphia Vireo along the Bob Jones Trail (October 2016), Lapland Longspur at the Morro Creek mouth (October 2017) and Black-throated Blue Warbler at Laguna Lake Park (October 2018).
Petra's Photos 

Jamie Chavez
Total Birds: 346 NIB
Comments: Personal highlights are Pine Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, two Scarlet Tanagers, Painted Redstart, Laughing Gull, Yellow-throated Vireo and Mountain Chickadee. I feel fortunate to have seen the Arctic Warbler and the Golden-winged Warbler. There are several missing birds on my list including some owls and pelagic species. These will come in time. If I knew exactly where the county line is at the Santa Maria River estuary I might add Little Curlew and Red-necked Stint to my total. I only count these on my Santa Barbara County list. I would like to find a county first Dusky Warbler one day!

Regena Orr
Total Birds: 324 NIB
Comments: I do live in San Luis Obispo County and thought I would make Mike feel better by joining the County Listers. My best county bird was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo that I banded in San Simeon.

Owen Slater
Total Birds: 320 NIB
Comments: I am 14 and have seen over 300 county birds, despite being on so many sports teams. I really like the excitement of chasing a new bird in a forest, across a field, or on a beach. I enjoy the awesomeness of finding a new life bird. I also like hanging out with and learning from other birders like Maggie, Tristan, Brad, and Jamie. My favorite birds in SLO are: Black-footed Albatross, Blue-footed Booby, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Le Conte's Thrasher, Summer Tanager, and my most favorite of all the Loggerhead Shrike. Someday I want to be in the 400 club and beat my dad. 

Jim Lomax
Total Birds: 316 NIB
Comments: No comments yet.

Mark Brown
Total Birds: 311 NIB 
Comments: I used to live in San Luis Obispo and currently live just a few miles south of the San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara County line. I was first taken birding by Mike Stiles in January 1979. (The Carter Administration children) We saw Bald Eagles at Lopez Lake, my first county bird! So, I really have no excuse why my county list is so low!! I am missing some embarrassingly common birds. But I have seen good birds including: Tufted Duck,Scarlet Tanager, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Canada Warbler, Common Grackle, Glaucous Gull, Laughing Gull, & Gray Catbird. I have found "Mark Brown's Myiarchus" at Oso Flaco, the Cal Poly Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (helped by Adonis Tate), I cofound with Kyle Braunager the Laguna Lake Franklin's Gull, also Red-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, White-winged Dove and Broad-winged Hawk. I have seen Black Terns at Oso Flaco for the last three Mother's days, a favorite birding memory. I have really enjoyed birding with the SLO County boyos and Maggie these last few years.

Mike San Miguel
Total Birds: 260 NIB
Comments: Is there a more stunningly beautiful place in S California than the north coast of the County or the remote eastern plains? I think not and the reason I don't have a larger SLO list is the long drive from my home in Arcadia. During a calm, chilly dusk in March 1964 I was birding with my mentor Dave DeSante at a remote ranch in the Carizzo Plains when we found an adult California Condor sitting on a stump. It struggled to take flight in an attempt to get away but without the thermals it must have for flight it became exhausted and eventually give up. Seeming to trust that we meant it no harm it sat calmly on the ground as we approached. I had the best looks I knew I would ever have at such a magnificent creature. That experience, among many in those formative days, began my intense love of birds that continues to this day. I count Reddish Egret, Little Curlew, Arctic Warbler and Painted Redstart among the best birds I have seen in SLO but none of those tops my experience with the Condor all those years ago.
Editor's note: Mike died doing what he loved best, birding. I keep his name here in memoriam.

Gjon Hazard
Total Birds: 238 NIB
Comments: Gotta be one of the state's best counties, wish I could get there more often. Best find: Painted Bunting (2nd County Record) September 29, 1988, Montana de Oro.

Steve Rovell
Total Birds: 230 NIB
Comments: Just like John Sterling and Don Roberson, I too, live outside SLO County. I don't visit often, usually just when something rare shows up and my teaching and family schedules allow it. In my few visits, I have managed to see a few rarities, including Golden-winged Warbler, Painted Redstart and Arctic Warbler. My best find is a Least Flycatcher. I don't like seeing the "1" in front of my county total, so expect me to contact some of you for tips on where to go and maybe even to go birding. I'm still waiting for one of your Royal Terns to make its way up to Monterey County. That would be something!
Editor's note: Steve also has 417 birds for Monterey County!

Don Roberson
Total Birds: 204 NIB
Comments: I've never lived in SLO and have only rarely visited, yet have had the good luck to find or co-find two great SLO birds: Short-tailed Albatross and Red-tailed Tropicbird. Incidentally, had I seen Wild Turkey in SLO, I would included that on my NIB list. The evidence supports the proposition that Wild Turkey was once native in northern & central California's oak forests, and is thus a re-introduced native bird (more like Peregrine than like all the clearly non-native IBs). See this page on my website for more details. Editor's note: Don also has 451 birds for Monterey County!