Birds 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).



1. Grebes; pelican & cormorant; bitterns, herons, egrets, ibis; vulture
2. Waterfowl
3. Birds of prey; quail; rails; crane
4. Shorebirds
5. Jaegers, gulls, terns; doves & roadrunner; owls
6. Goatsuckers; swifts; hummingbirds; kingfisher; woodpeckers
7. Flycatchers; shrike; vireos; jays, magpie & raven
8. Lark; swallows; wrens; kinglet & gnatcatcher; thrushes
9. Mockingbird & thrashers; starling; pipit; waxwing; Silky-Flycatcher
10. Warblers; tanagers
11. Towhees & sparrows
12. Grosbeaks & buntings; blackbirds & orioles; finches; Old World sparrow

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.

1. Back  to [top] 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
2. Back  to [top] 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


3. Back  to [top] Spring Summer Fall Winter
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
4. Back  to [top] 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


5. Back  to [top] 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
6. Back  to [top] 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


7. Back  to [top] 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
Steller’s Jay A Ca
Western Scrub-Jay A Ca
Black-billed Magpie U U* U U
Common Raven C C* C C
8. Back  to [top] 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


9. Back  to [top] 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
10. Back  to [top] 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


11. Back  to [top] 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
12. Back  to [top] 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