Kern National Wildlife Refuge
California and Nevada Region

 

Birds of the Kern National Wildlife Refuge

This 11,249-acre refuge restores a small segment of extremely valuable waterfowl habitat and plays an important role in the success of avifauna using the Pacific Flyway.

Birding is best on the refuge October through March. Migrating and wintering species provide the greatest numbers and variety of birds. Refuge ponds are usually dry between May and August, mostly to control disease vectors that arise in the heat of the summer. The summer months can be extremely dusty, hot, and dry. Although this results in fewer opportunities to observe wildlife, birding can still prove rewarding.   

The seasons and status of the 226 species listed are coded as follows.

Season Designations

Sp - Spring, March to May
S - Summer, June to August
F - Fall, September to November
W - Winter, December to February

Abundance Symbols

a - abundant species
c - common, certain to be seen in proper habitat
u - uncommon, present but not certain to be seen
o - occasionally seen
r - rarely seen
x - accidental, outside of normal species range
(I)  - species introduced to the region by man

* - species known to nest here

Recent water banking in southern valley has helped a resurgence of nesting White-faced Ibis as is apparent by this juvenile found at the refuge. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

WATERFOWL                            

Sp  S F W
___ Fulvous Whistling-Duck* r r r r
___ Greater White-Fronted Goose o - o o
___ Snow Goose o - o o
___ Ross' Goose - - r r
___ Cackling Goose - - o o
___ Canada Goose - - o o
___ Tundra Swan - - - r
___ Wood Duck r - u r
___ Gadwall* c o c c
___ Eurasian Wigeon x - - r
___ American Wigeon* c o c c
___ Mallard* c o c c
___ Blue-winged Teal* o r r o
___ Cinnamon Teal* c o c c
___ Northern Shoveler* a o a a
___ Northern Pintail* c o a c
___ Green-winged Teal* u r a a
___ Canvasback* o r u u
___ Redhead* c u u u
___ Ring-necked Duck* u r u u
___ Greater Scaup r - r r
___ Lesser Scaup r - o o
___ Bufflehead u - u u
___ Common Goldeneye - - r r
___ Hooded Merganser - - - r
___ Common Merganser o - o o
___ Ruddy Duck* c u c c

GALLINACEOUS BIRDS  

Sp 
___ Ring-necked Pheasant (I)* u u u u
___ California Quail r r r -

GREBES

Sp  S F W
___ Pied-billed Grebe* c c
___ Horned Grebe r - r r
___ Eared Grebe* c r c c
___ Western Grebe* o o u u
___ Clark's Grebe* o o u u

PELICANS AND CORMORANTS

Sp  S F W
___ American White Pelican o o
___ Double-crested Cormorant* u o u u

BITTERNS, HERONS AND EGRETS

Sp  S F W
___ American Bittern* o o
___ Least Bittern r r r -
___ Great Blue Heron* c c c c
___ Great Egret c u c u
___ Snowy Egret* c c u u
___ Cattle Egret* u u u u
___ Green Heron o o r r
___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* c c c c
IBIS AND SPOONBILLS                             Sp  S F W
___ White-faced Ibis* c u o
VULTURES  Sp  S F W
___ Turkey Vulture o o r
OSPREY, KITES, EAGLES AND HAWKS  Sp 
___ Osprey r - r r
___ White-tailed Kite* u u u o
___ Bald Eagle - - - r
___ Northern Harrier* a a a a
___ Sharp-shinned Hawk u - u u
___ Cooper's Hawk u r u u
___ Red-shouldered Hawk o - o o
___ Swainson's Hawk r r u r
___ Red-tailed Hawk* c u a a
___ Ferruginous Hawk r - r r
___ Rough-legged Hawk r - r r
___ Golden Eagle o r o o
FALCONS   Sp 
___ American Kestrel* r r u u
___ Merlin r - r r
___ Peregrine Falcon o - o o
___ Prairie Falcon r r o o
RAILS       Sp 
___ Virginia Rail* u u - u
___ Sora* o o - o
___ Common Moorhen* u r u u
___ American Coot* a a a a
CRANES Sp 
___ Sandhill Crane r - r r
PLOVERS    Sp 
___ Black-bellied Plover o - r r
___ Snowy Plover r - - -
___ Semipalmated Plover r - - -
___ Killdeer* a a a a
___ Mountain Plover r - r r
STILTS AND AVOCETS Sp 
___ Black-necked Stilt* c r c c
___ American Avocet* o o r r
SHOREBIRDS  Sp 
___ Greater Yellowlegs u o c u
___ Lesser Yellowlegs r - o r
___ Solitary Sandpiper r - - -
___ Willet r - r -
___ Spotted Sandpiper o r r -
___ Whimbrel o - - -
___ Long-billed Curlew o o u o
___ Marbled Godwit r r r r
___ Ruddy Turnstone x - - -
___ Semipalmated Sandpiper x x - -
___ Western Sandpiper c r u u
___ Least Sandpiper u - u u
___ Baird's Sandpiper r - r -
___ Pectoral Sandpiper - - r -
___ Sharp-tailed Sandpiper x - - -
___ Dunlin u - r u
___ Stilt Sandpiper x - - -
___ Ruff - - x -
___ Long-billed Dowitcher
SNIPE        
___ Wilson's Snipe o r u u
PHALAROPES           
___ Wilson's Phalarope - - o -
___ Red-necked Phalarope r - r -
GULLS AND TERNS        
___ Bonaparte's Gull - - r -
___ Ring-billed Gull o o c c
___ California Gull u o o o
___ Herring Gull r - o o
___ Caspian Tern o o o -
___ Forster's Tern o o o -
___ Black Tern*
DOVES         
___ Rock Pigeon r - - -
___ Mourning Dove* a a a a
___ Common Ground Dove - - x -
CUCKOOS          
___ Greater Roadrunner* o o o o
OWLS         
___ Barn Owl* u u o o
___ Great Horned Owl* u u u u
___ Burrowing Owl* u u u u
___ Long-eared Owl* r r - -
___ Short-eared Owl*
NIGHTHAWKS            
___ Lesser Nighthawk* o o - -
___ Common Poorwill - r - -
SWIFTS          
___ Vaux's Swift o - o -
HUMMINGBIRDS            
___ Black-chinned Hummingbird o o o -
___ Anna's Hummingbird* r r - -
___ Calliope Hummingbird r - - -
___ Rufous Hummingbird o - o -
KINGFISHERS        
___ Belted Kingfisher r - r r
WOODPECKERS           
___ Acorn Woodpecker r - - -
___ Nuttall's Woodpecker* o o o o
___ Northern Flicker o - c u
FLYCATCHERS          
___ Olive-sided Flycatcher r - - -
___ Western Wood-Pewee o - o -
___ Willow Flycatcher o o o -
___ Hammond's Flycatcher r - - -
___ Gray Flycatcher r - - -
___ Dusky Flycatcher r - r -
___ Pacific Slope Flycatcher u - u -
___ Black Phoebe* c c a c
___ Say's Phoebe r - u u
___ Vermilion Flycatcher - - r r
___ Ash-throated Flycatcher o r o -
___ Western Kingbird* c c o -
SHRIKES         
___ Loggerhead Shrike* c o c c
VIREOS           
___ Cassin's Vireo o - - -
___ Warbling Vireo o - r -
CORVIDS          
___ American Crow* u u u u
___ Common Raven* c c c c
LARKS         
___ Horned Lark* o r r o
SWALLOWS          
___ Tree Swallow a o a o
___ Violet-green Swallow r - - -
___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow o - - -
___ Cliff Swallow* a a o -
___ Barn Swallow* u u u o
Chickadees and Titmice        
___ Oak Titmouse - r - -
Bushtits        
___ Bushtit r r r -
Creepers        
___ Brown Creeper - - - r
WRENS         
___ Rock Wren r - r r
___ Bewick's Wren* o o o o
___ House Wren* o o r r
___ Marsh Wren* c c c c
KINGLETS, BLUEBIRDS AND THRUSHES  Sp 
___ Golden-crowned Kinglet - - r -
___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet u - u u
___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher r - r r
___ Western Bluebird r - - r
___ Swainson's Thrush o - - -
___ Hermit Thrush u - o u
___ American Robin u o u o
___ Varied Thrush o - o o
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS Sp 
___ Northern Mockingbird* u u u u
___ Sage Thrasher r - r r
Starlings Sp 
___ European Starling* u u u u
WAGTAILS AND PIPITS Sp 
___ American Pipit u - u c
WAXWINGS        
___ Cedar Waxwing u - u -
WARBLERS          
___ Orange-crowned Warbler u r u r
___ Nashville Warbler o - r -
___ Yellow Warbler u o u -
___ Yellow-rumped Warbler a - a a
___ Black-throated Gray Warbler o - o -
___ Townsend's Warbler o - - -
___ Hermit Warbler r - - -
___ MacGillivray's Warbler r - - -
___ Common Yellowthroat u u u o
___ Wilson's Warbler u - u -
___ Yellow-breasted Chat - r - -
TANAGERS         
___ Western Tanager o o o -
TOWHEES AND SPARROWS           
___ Spotted Towhee o - o o
___ Chipping Sparrow - - r -
___ Vesper Sparrow - - o o
___ Lark Sparrow - - r r
___ Sage Sparrow* o o o o
___ Savannah Sparrow c - c c
___ Fox Sparrow o - o o
___ Song Sparrow* c c c c
___ Lincoln's Sparrow u - u u
___ White-crowned Sparrow a - a a
___ Golden-crowned Sparrow o - o o
___ Dark-eyed Junco r - o o
GROSBEAKS AND BUNTINGS         
___ Black-headed Grosbeak u r r -
___ Blue Grosbeak o o o -
BLACKBIRDS, MEADOWLARKS AND ORIOLES         
___ Red-winged Blackbird* a a a a
___ Tricolored Blackbird* u r o o
___ Western Meadowlark* a a a a
___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* u r r o
___ Brewer's Blackbird* u u u u
___ Great-tailed Grackle* u u u r
___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c c o r
___ Hooded Oriole x - - -
___ Bullock's Oriole* c c - -
FINCHES        
___ House Finch* c c c c
___ Pine Siskin - - r r
___ Lesser Goldfinch r - o -
___ American Goldfinch - - o o
WEAVER FINCHES          
___ House Sparrow (I)* o o o o

 

Cooper's Hawks and other Accipiters are found largely only in winter around the refuge. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Barn Owls are sometimes mistaken by novice birders for Snowy Owls which are extremely unusual in the state of California. These owls emit a haunting screech. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Northern Shovelers can be found year round on the refuge during when there is adequate water. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

American Coots are in the rail family and have really ugly yet cute hatchlings. They are one of the few birds that regularly practice infanticide when resources cannot sustain their brood. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Black-necked Stilts nest on the refuge and become quite protective during nesting season. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Turkey Vultures migrate by the thousands in fall. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Egrets and vultures congregate around small waterholes looking for tasty frogs and dying fish. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Great Egrets are year round residents of the refuge with the greatest numbers seen during spring and fall migration. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Bufflehead are frequently found in canals around the refuge in winter. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Herring Gulls are unusual winter residents in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

American Bitterns frequent the edges of the refuges marshes. They stand perfectly still with their beaks facing skyward in order to blend in with their surroundings. Photo courtesy Steve Laymon.

Last updated: March 2, 2011