Featured Species


Mammals of the general Bitter Creek area include tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannodes), mule deer, pronghorn (also known as American antelope; Antilocapra americana), American badger (Taxidea taxus), raccoon (Procyon lotor), striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), western spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius), coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion. Other mammals include blacktailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii), long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and several species of bats. Several rodent species have been observed, including Heermann’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys heermanni), Botta’s pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae), pinyon mouse (Peromyscus truei), and California mouse (Peromyscus californicus). Tule elk originally dispersed from the privately owned Wind Wolves Preserve to the east of the refuge. The elk were part of two herds reintroduced at the Wind Wolves Preserve in 1998 and 2005. 


Some of the more common resident birds of the area include California quail, common raven (Corvus corax), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris), lark sparrow (Chondestes grammacus), and western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta). The American pipit (Anthus rubescens), and white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) are winter visitors. The area also supports many Neotropical migratory songbirds, including the olive-sided flycatcher (Contopus borealis), western tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), and Bullock’s oriole (Icterus bullockii). Aside from the California condor, common raptors include the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), barn owl (Tyto alba), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), American kestrel (Falco sparverius), prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus), and Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii). 

Reptiles & Amphibians

Two species of amphibian have been documented on Bitter Creek NWR, including Baja California treefrog (Pseudacris hypochondriaca) and southern California toad (Anaxyrus boreas halophilus). At least 12 species of reptiles have been found on the refuge, including tiger whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris, pictured), Pacific gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer), California mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata), Blainville’s night snake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha), and western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus).

Threatened & Endangered Species

Besides the condor, populations of other endangered and threatened species and species of special concern known to occur in the area have been adversely affected by habitat loss and conversion and invasion of exotic species.  

Listed plants include: Typical Horn’s mildvetch, California jewelflower, Lemmon’s jewelflower, Kern mallow, Southern mountain buckwheat, Temblor buckwheat, Tehachapi monardella, San Joaquin woollythreads.

The federally-listed wildlife species that may occur at Bitter Creek are: the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens), blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila), Buena Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus), San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii; formerly Rana auroradraytonii), and Kern primrose sphinx moth (Euproserpinus euterpe).

Two of the federally-listed wildlife species are known to occur on Bitter Creek NWR: California condor and San Joaquin kit fox. Habitat for the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard and giant kangaroo rat, and threatened Kern primrose sphinx moth exists on the refuge. Surveys would be needed to determine if these species are present on the refuge.

A full list of species found on the refuge is included in Appendix E of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan. 

A California condor perched on a branch. It has a white wing tag with the number 80.

The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), with a wingspan of 9.5 feet and weighing up to 25 pounds, is the largest land bird in North America. These majestic creatures historically ranged from California to Florida and Western Canada to Northern Mexico. By the mid-20th century, condor...

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