Whelan Lake Bird Sanctuary
Wood Duck
Green Heron
Cinnamon Teal
Vermilion Flycatcher (young male)
Canada Geese
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal (male)
Blue Grosbeak
Northern Shovelers
Eared Grebe (winter plumage)
Say’s Phoebe (young)
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Welcome To Whelan Lake Bird Sanctuary

Whelan Lake is home for many birds and animals on a yearround basis, as well as temporary home for many migratory birds and animals. The Audubon Society conducts bird counts on a monthly basis at Whelan Lake. More than 190 different bird species have been spotted and identified at Whelan Lake in recent years. The Audubon Society says that Whelan Lake is among the busiest of nearly 500 sites in San Diego County, with 73 different bird species counted at Whelan Lake on one day.

Our Vision

The Sanctuary’s vision, purpose, and mission are to exist and operate as an independent charitable organization that maintains, preserves, and operates the Whelan Lake property as a wildlife and bird sanctuary, in order to fulfill the wishes of Ellen Whelan, who previously owned the property and who donated the property in her will to the Sanctuary when she died in 1985.

Our History

The site of Whelan Lake was part of the Pio Pico (1801-1894) ranch (Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores). Pio Pico was the last Mexican governor of California from 1845-1846.

Whelan Lake was identified on survey maps as early as 1869. Ellen Whelan’s father (John Whelan) and the Whelan family farmed the 440 acres surrounding Whelan Lake commencing in 1911, as tenants from 1911 to 1943, and then as owners from 1943 to 1985. Since Ellen Whelan was a 13 year old girl living at Whelan Lake, she observed the Canada geese which wintered at Whelan Lake; and she developed a fondness for the geese. The size of Whelan Lake was increased by the construction of a small dam in 1946, which was expanded in 1958.

Plan Your Visit

Groups and individuals with an interest in observing the bird, animal, and plant life at Whelan Lake Bird Sanctuary can arrange visits. Since this is private property, permission is required to access the premises. Please reach out to us to schedule a visit to the Bird Sanctuary. Thank you!"

The Whelan Lake Bird Sanctuary is located in the northeastern portion of the City of Oceanside, California, at 3850 North River Road, Oceanside, CA 9205



Check the awe-inspiring gallery section of Whelan Lake Bird Sanctuary. Enjoy the sights of a variety of beautiful birds, from eagles and hawks to ducks and geese. Get up close and personal with these amazing creatures and get lost in the serenity of nature.