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Last week, I decided to visit my brother in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving. While the main purpose of the trip was to spend the holidays with someone I hardly ever get to see, I couldn’t help but bust out the binoculars for some West Coast birding. It had been 7 years since my last visit to Southern California (or ‘SoCal’ if you’re cool like that), and I was not a birder at the time. I was super excited to bird in LA because I had never birded out West before, and essentially every other bird I saw was a lifer for me! Granted, I did not have much time on the trip to get in some quality birding (I guess people like to eat food and catch up on Thanksgiving instead of looking at birds. What gives?), but nevertheless I picked up a solid number of new species for my life list. None of the birds were spectacular rarities, and most if not all were extremely common California birds. But if you ask me, nothing beats visiting a brand new environment and soaking in the foreign sights and sounds. Plus, birdwatching in a new place also presents new I.D. challenges, where even the most common bird deserve a longer look to be sure you got those field marks down. All in all, it was a stellar trip, both for birding and for reconnecting with some family. Second best part about Southern California? ‘In-N-Out Burger’ and legitimate fish tacos. Nothing beats staring down your lifer Cassin’s Kingbird while eating a ‘Double-Double, Animal Style.’ Your arteries will be angry, but you can always walk it off with a trip to the park to look for birds! Below are pictures of some of my favorite birds from the West Coast.