I came from Appalachian New Jersey, but have lived in the Los Angeles area for over 20 years now. I've got a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, but opted to be outside doing things for nature both for pay and for play. Some of that paying stuff is bird guiding, both as a free-lance guide and as a senior leader for WINGS Birding Tours.
Want to bail on the family trip to Disneyland and see the real SoCal instead? The Los Angeles area has good access to specialties such as Mountain Quail, Le Conte's Thrasher, Lawrence's Goldfinch, and Bell's Sparrow. Of course, the city itself is also home to Spotted Doves, Red-crowned Parrots, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Scaly-breasted Munias, and many other exotics.
The pelagic waters off of Southern California have a wonderful diversity of seabirds and getting out there on the right trip can get you close to local specialties like Townsend's Storm-Petrel and Scripps's Murrelet.
Ecuador and beyond
I spend a few months a year leading bird tours in Ecuador, but I've traveled extensively and been birding through parts of east Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. If I can't give you specifics, I can at least point you in the right direction for your next adventure.
Now, go birding...
For SoCal birding, my email address is at the bottom of this page. If you're interested in one of my Ecuador tours, you gotta check out my dates and itineraries on the WINGS Birding Tours website. Push that button on the right.