Built, owned,operated, and staffed by members and Volunteers of the Buena Vista Audubon Society chapter, the Nature Center is located adjacent to the Buena Vista lagoon alongside Coast Highway 101 in Oceanside, California.  The Audubon Nature Center is open 6 days a week with trained docents providing guided nature walks and classroom programs.   Local schools and community groups are encouraged to bring groups and classes to better understand our lagoon's own unique environment.  

Starting in early summer 2004, the Nature Center welcomed the local native plant club.  Their work on the gardens is a must see..... classes on low water gardening and drought tolerant native species, with tours of local native plant gardens are just a few of the new things people can look forward to on their visit to Buena Vista Lagoon.

Quick Facts about the Nature Center and the Buena Vista Audubon Society

  • May 10, 1951 BVAS formed with official status as a chapter of National Audubon society
  • September 24, 1988 Nature Center opens
  • 75,000 Visitors welcomed in the first 15 years
  • 30,000 Students enjoy class and Nature Tour in the first 15 years
  • 3,000 Students now visit annually

To see more photos of the Nature Center, click the buttons below:




The exhibit area contains a large collection of native species, bird and beast and fish,  beautifully displayed throughout the center.  These displays have been generously donated by a local taxidermist and Audubon member.  In addition to the display area, the center has a well stocked library with books, films, CD'S containing information on local material, and a conference room for larger meetings, events and/or classes.


2202 S. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054



History of the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center

Cora Wilson’s Dream

Buena Vista Audubon Society’s Nature Center is a part – an outstanding part! – of the decades-long effort to protect Buena Vista Lagoon as a wetland wildlife sanctuary. The effort to conserve the lagoon dates back at least to the 1930s, when the Buena Vista Lagoon Association – now the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation – first persuaded the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to zone 100 acres of the lagoon as a wildlife refuge. Since those early years the lagoon has at times drained and dried up, flooded and silted up. A weir was built across the mouth of the lagoon raising the lagoon level above high tide and transforming the lagoon into a calm, shallow freshwater lake, increasingly choked with silt and tules. About one-fourth of the lagoon was lost in the late 1960s to Plaza Camino Real Shopping Center. Yet much more might have been lost: marinas, amusement parks, trailer parks and housing developments have all been proposed for the lagoon – and prevented. Buena Vista Lagoon, a State Ecological Reserve managed by California Department of Fish and Game since 1968, continues to welcome numerous migratory waterfowl and shorebirds each year. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded on and around the lagoon.

Many of the same individuals who were active in the conservation efforts of the Buena Vista Lagoon Association helped found Buena Vista Audubon Society (BVAS) in 1951. Ironically, it was development alongside the lagoon that helped pave the way for the building of the Nature Center. When the Sandpiper Cove condos were proposed in the 1980s, the builder offered as mitigation land next to the lagoon. That offer set the stage for the realization of a BVAS dream long deferred.

Cora Wilson, a retired Los Angeles schoolteacher, moved to Carlsbad in 1954, and immediately became active in BVAS. It was her dream, one she pressed for years and years, that BVAS would build an interpretive center where children could be educated about nature. Cora’s cause was joined by David Rorick, founding member of BVAS, businessman and lifelong Oceanside resident. His wide circle of connections enabled him to be extremely effective in promoting and realizing Cora’s dream of a nature center.

Dave enlisted the help of Oceanside city officials, State Assemblyman Robert Frazee, and State Senator Bill Craven. The lot on which the Nature Center stands was deeded to the City, which leases it to BVAS for $1.00 a year. The City of Oceanside, with the active assistance of our representatives in Sacramento, obtained $265,000 from the California Vanity License Plate Fund, established to promote environmental protection. BVAS undertook the design and engineering work necessary to create a buildable site. Largely as a result of Dave Rorick’s efforts, $75,000 was raised from members, friends and supporters of BVAS. Bank of America provided a bridging loan of $50,000 to keep the construction going until all the state money came in to finish the job, which cost a total of $325,000.

The Nature Center held a Grand Opening to welcome the public on September 24, 1988. 150 visitors enjoyed the displays, admired the native plant landscaping along the shoreline trail installed by longtime BVAS activist Paul Grigsby, but the Grand Opening was less than a “roaring success”: a mountain lion accompanying the founder of Wildlife Rescue regarded “all the goings-on with a steady stare and occasional low growl”, then stretched out on the floor of the brand new nature center “to catch a few zzzs”.

Today the Nature Center stands anew. Buena Vista Audubon’s Board of Directors is responsible for the overall management of the facility, and enjoys the active support and cooperation of the City of Oceanside and the California Department of Fish and Game. With funds from Prop 12 administered by the city, we have re-roofed, re-painted and re-carpeted. CDFG volunteers occupy an office within the Center. We thank the Metropolitan Water District and the Buena Vista Native Plant Club for our magnificent new water wise native plant garden. With our 1,250 members and our dedicated nature guides, we are now poised to enhance Cora Wilson’s dream: a center superbly equipped to interpret nature in a local, natural setting to thousands of schoolchildren. Currently, 2500 children a year are introduced to nature by BVAS nature guides. How much more they will be able to learn now!

- DennisHuckabay

Webmaster: Larry Spann

The contents of this website are copyrighted by BVAS Audubon
All photos are copyrighted by Suzann and Larry Spann, unless otherwise indicated. Please do not use without permission.