Photo courtesy of Tom and Jo Heindel



of the Owens Lake

This checklist contains the names of 241 species that have been found in the Owens Lake area. The boundaries are Hwy 395 on the west, Hwy 190 on the south, and Hwy 136 on the north and east. This includes the towns, desert scrub, riparian patches, marshes, and Owens River from the lake to these highways. The taxonomy and nomenclature used follow that of The American Ornithologists' Union Checklist of North American Birds, 7th edition (1998). 

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Migrants are recorded in the season they are primarily moving and so, if found slightly out of the expected time, should be considered normal. Those species known or suspected to breed in the area are noted with an asterisk (*) while others are summer visitors only and are not known to breed. The following seasonal divisions are those used by North American Birds:
Sp = Spring (1 Mar to 30 May)
Su = Summer (1 June to 30 July)
F = Fall (1 Aug to 30 Nov)
W = Winter (1 Dec to 28 Feb)

Abundance codes are not standardized and, therefore, an explanation of their usage in this checklist is necessary. The choices are a reflection of a century of data but with emphasis on the last decade, during which time coverage has been the most extensive. 
C = Common: indicates that the chances of seeing that species during that season after a day in proper habitat, which is extensive, is excellent. The species is usually found in large numbers and is obvious enough that missing it is very unlikely and no special techniques are needed to locate it. 
F = Fairly Common: indicates that the chances of seeing that species during that season after a day in proper habitat, which is moderately extensive, is good. The species is usually found in small to sometimes moderate numbers and usually is obvious enough that missing it is very unlikely. Usually no special techiques are needed but knowledge of vocalizations could help with those species that are found regularly but in smaller numbers. 
U = Uncommon: indicates that the chance of seeing that species during that season after a day in proper habitat is fair. The species is usually found in small numbers reflecting the limited availability of proper habitat. Utilizing special techniques or knowing the vocalizations will improve your chances of seeing these birds. They are almost always found by experienced birders and often missed by beginners.
R = Rare: indicates that the chance of seeing that species during that season after a day in proper habitat is very poor. The species is not only found in usually very small numbers but may only be recorded a few times during the season when it is expected. Special techniques and vocalization knowledge will help but this species is often not in the area.
Ca = Casual: indicates that the chance of seeing that species during that season after a day in proper habitat is very poor. This species is not reported every year nor is it believed that they are in the area every year. 
A = Accidental: indicates that the chance of seeing that species during that season after a day in proper habitat is very unlikely. Only 1-2 records of that species exist for the area.

Species listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern are noted in parenthesis after the common name. Because State and Federal governments have different lists each is identified by government. SE = State Endangered, ST = State Threatened, SS = State Species of Special Concern, FE = Federally Endangered, and FT = Federally Threatened.

Most of the data used in this checklist were gathered by Tom & Jo Heindel, Mike Prather, Judy Wickman, and Bob Hudson. Any species considered rare, casual or accidental requires extensive documentation. Please submit to Tom and Jo Heindel, Box 400, Big Pine, CA 93513.

  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Pied-billed Grebe R R* R R
  Horned Grebe Ca   Ca  
  Eared Grebe U R* U R
  Western Grebe R   R  
  Clark's Grebe R   R  
  American White Pelican (SS) C   C  
  Double-crested Cormorant (SS) U   U  
  American Bittern U   U  
  Least Bittern (SS) R U* R  
  Great Blue Heron U   U R
  Great Egret U R U R
  Snowy Egret U R U  
  Cattle Egret R   R  
  Green Heron R   R  
  Black-crowned Night-Heron U   U  
  White-faced Ibis (SS) U R F  
  Turkey Vulture U U U  
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Fulvous Whistling-Duck (SS)     A  
  Greater White-fronted Goose R   U  
  Snow Goose R   F F
  "Blue" Snow Goose     Ca Ca
  Ross's Goose     R R
  Canada Goose U Ca* U U
  Tundra Swan       Ca
  Wood Duck Ca   Ca  
  Gadwall F F* F U
  American Wigeon U   U R
  Mallard C U* C F
  Blue-winged Teal U   U  
  Cinnamon Teal C U* C R
  Northern Shoveler F   F U
  Northern Pintail F R F U
  Green-winged Teal F R F F
  Canvasback R   R  
  Redhead U   U R
  Ring-necked Duck U   U R
  Greater Scaup Ca   Ca  
  Lesser Scaup R   R  
  Bufflehead U   U R
  Common Goldeneye Ca   Ca R
  Hooded Merganser     R  
  Common Merganser Ca   Ca  
  Red-breasted Merganser Ca   Ca  
  Ruddy Duck F U* F F
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  BIRDS OF PREY        
  Osprey (SS) R   R  
  Mississippi Kite A      
  Bald Eagle (SE, FT)     Ca Ca
  Northern Harrier (SS) U U* U U
  Sharp-shinned Hawk (SS) U   U U
  Cooper's Hawk (SS) U   U U
  Red-shouldered Hawk R   R R
  Swainson's Hawk (ST) U U* U  
  Red-tailed Hawk U U* F U
  Ferruginous Hawk R   R R
  Rough-legged Hawk R   R R
  Golden Eagle (SS) R R R R
  American Kestrel U U* F U
  Merlin (SS) R   R R
  Peregrine Falcon (SE) R R R  
  Prairie Falcon (SS) U R U U
  California Quail C C* C C
  Virginia Rail F F* F F
  Sora U U U U
  Common Moorhen Ca   Ca  
  American Coot C C* C C
  Sandhill Crane (ST)     Ca  
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Black-bellied Plover R R R  
  Pacific Golden-Plover     A  
  Snowy Plover F F* F Ca
  Semipalmated Plover F F F  
  Killdeer F F* C U
  Mountain Plover (SS)     Ca Ca
  Black-necked Stilt F U F  
  American Avocet C C* C C
  Greater Yelllowlegs F F F U
  Lesser Yellowlegs U   U  
  Solitary Sandpiper R   U  
  Willet F U U U
  Spotted Sandpiper F U F  
  Whimbrel Ca   Ca  
  Long-billed Curlew (SS) F U* F R
  Marbled Godwit U   U Ca
  Ruddy Turnstone Ca Ca Ca  
  Red Knot   Ca Ca  
  Sanderling R   R Ca
  Semipalmated Sandpiper   Ca R  
  Western Sandpiper C C C U
  Least Sandpiper C C C C
  Baird's Sandpiper     F  
  Pectoral Sandpiper     U  
  Dunlin F Ca C U
  Stilt Sandpiper A      
  Ruff     Ca  
  Short-billed Dowitcher R   U  
  Long-billed Dowitcher F U F U
  Common Snipe F U* F U
  Wilson's Phalarope C F* C  
  Red-necked Phalarope F U C  
  Red Phalarope   Ca Ca  

  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Parasitic Jaeger     Ca  
  Long-tailed Jaeger     Ca  
  Franklin's Gull R   R  
  Bonaparte's Gull U   U U
  Ring-billed Gull F F F F
  California Gull (SS) C C C U
  Herring Gull A      
  Western Gull     A  
  Sabine's Gull A   R  
  Caspian Tern U   U  
  Common Tern     R  
  Forster's Tern R   R  
  Least Tern (SE, FE) A      
  Black Tern U   U  
  White-winged Dove     A  
  Mourning Dove F U* F R
  Common Ground-Dove     A  
  Greater Roadrunner U U* U U
  Barn Owl U U* U U
  Great Horned Owl U U* U U
  Burrowing Owl (SS) R R* R  
  Long-eared Owl (SS) R   R R
  Short-eared Owl (SS)     Ca  
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Lesser Nighthawk F C* F  
  Common Nighthawk   F U  
  Common Poorwill     R  
  Black Swift (SS)   R    
  Vaux's Swift (SS) U   R  
  White-throated Swift U U U Ca
  Black-chinned Hummingbird R   R  
  Anna's Hummingbird R R* R  
  Costa's Hummingbird U U* R  
  Calliope Hummingbird  R   R  
  Rufous Hummingbird U   U  
  Belted Kingfisher U U U U
  Lewis's Woodpecker R   R  
  Red-naped Sapsucker R   R  
  Red-breasted Sapsucker R   R  
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker     R  
  Nuttall's Woodpecker U U* U U
  Downy Woodpecker R R R R
  Northern Flicker U U* U U
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Olive-sided Flycatcher U   U  
  Western Wood-Pewee F   U  
  Willow Flycatcher (SE) U   U  
  Hammond's Flycatcher U   R  
  Dusky Flycatcher U   R  
  Gray Flycatcher U   R  
  Pacific-slope Flycatcher U   R  
  Black Phoebe U U* U U
  Say's Phoebe U U* U U
  Vermilion Flycatcher   A    
  Ash-throated Flycatcher U   R  
  Western Kingbird F U* F  
  Eastern Kingbird   A    
  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher   A    
  Loggerhead Shrike (SS) U U* U U
  Cassin's Vireo U   U  
  Warbling Vireo F   U  
  JAYS, MAGPIE & RAVEN        
  Steller's Jay   A   Ca
  Western Scrub-Jay   A   Ca
  Black-billed Magpie U U* U U
  Common Raven C C* C C
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Horned Lark F F* C F
  Tree Swallow C F C R
  Violet-green Swallow F U F  
  North Rough-winged Swallow F U* F  
  Bank Swallow (ST) U U F  
  Cliff Swallow F U F  
  Barn Swallow C F* C  
  Rock Wren     R  
  Bewick's Wren F F* F F
  House Wren F   F  
  Marsh Wren F U* F F
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet U   U R
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher U   U  
  Mountain Bluebird F   F U
  Swainson's Thrush R      
  Hermit Thrush R   R  
  American Robin U   U R
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Northern Mockingbird U U* U R
  Sage Thrasher U U* U Ca
  Le Conte's Thrasher (SS) U U* U U
  European Starling F F* C F
  American Pipit F   F F
  Cedar Waxwing U   U  
  Phainopepla R   R  
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Orange-crowned Warbler F   F  
  Nashville Warbler R   R  
  Northern Parula A      
  Yellow Warbler (SS) F   F  
  Yellow-rumped Warbler F   F U
  Black-throated Gray Warbler U   U  
  Townsend's Warbler U   R  
  Hermit Warbler R      
  Palm Warbler     A  
  Black-and-white Warbler Ca   Ca  
  American Redstart Ca   Ca  
  Northern Waterthrush Ca   Ca  
  MacGillivray's Warbler U   U  
  Common Yellowthroat F F* F  
  Wilson's Warbler F   U  
  Yellow-breasted Chat (SS) U   U  
  Summer Tanager Ca   Ca  
  Western Tanager U   U  
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Green-tailed Towhee R   R  
  Spotted Towhee U U* U U
  Chipping Sparrow U   U  
  Clay-colored Sparrow     A  
  Brewer's Sparrow F U F  
  Vesper Sparrow U   U  
  Lark Sparrow R   R  
  Black-throated Sparrow F F* F  
  Sage Sparrow F F* F F
  Savannah Sparrow F F* F U
  Fox Sparrow U   U  
  Song Sparrow F F* F F
  Lincoln's Sparrow U   U R
  Swamp Sparrow     Ca  
  White-throated Sparrow R   R R
  Golden-crowned Sparrow R   R R
  White-crowned Sparrow C   C C
  Harris's Sparrow R   R R
  Dark-eyed Junco U   U U
  Lapland Longspur     A  
  Spring Summer Fall Winter
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak Ca   Ca  
  Black-headed Grosbeak U   U  
  Blue Grosbeak U U* U  
  Lazuli Bunting U   U  
  Indigo Bunting R   R  
  Red-winged Blackbird C C* C C
  Western Meadowlark U U* F U
  Yellow-headed Blackbird C C* C  
  Brewer's Blackbird C C* C F
  Great-tailed Grackle U U U  
  Brown-headed Cowbird F U* F U
  Hooded Oriole U      
  Bullock's Oriole F U* F  
  Cassin's Finch       R
  House Finch F C* C F
  Lesser Goldfinch F U* F U
  American Goldfinch U   U U
  House Sparrow C C* C C