North American Birds - Inyo County

Subregional editors, Tom and Jo Heindel

Guidelines for Submitting Inyo County Sightings to North American Birds

The list of Inyo County Birds (below), in the new 2017 taxonomic order, is posted here in an effort to inform observers of the species found in Inyo County. Those casual or rare enough to require a description are underlined, and those on the California Bird Records Committee Review List are underlined and bold.

Those species underlined fall into the following categories: vagrants, casual species recorded fewer than seven years per decade for each season(s) in which they occur, very rare species that are not recorded every year but are presumed to occur here annually, rare species that have similar look-alike species that are more expected (e.g., Greater Scaup), species experiencing a decline in numbers in the county (e.g., Cassin’s Kingbird), species that have a history of being misidentified (e.g., Gray Vireo), hybrids, and rare species present in very small numbers.

Few species require lengthy descriptions, but the more rare the species, or the more unexpected the species due to the date, location, or number seen, the more detailed and convincing the description needs to be.

For example, even for species not underlined, if they are found out of season and/or out of known geographic distribution, they do require a description. Jon L. Dunn wrote up a Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler because he found it at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley in late June. Steve N.G. Howell wrote a short description and a sketch of a Barn Swallow because he found it in the Owens Valley in late December. Both observers did so without being asked. Why? Because they recognized how unexpected the event was. If famous birders such as these can write descriptions of common species seen at uncommon times or in unexpected locations, so can the rest of us. If we hear of unusual sightings, we will send requests for more information on species not underlined that are reported away from known locations, outside known temporal limits, or in numbers that are near or exceed the highest count.

Minimally, we need date, location, distance between bird and birder, amount of time viewing the bird(s), whether through binoculars or a telescope, and a description of the relevant aspects of plumage, structure, vocalizations and behavior. Often it takes two to three sentences for a totally convincing write-up; occasionally, as many paragraphs might be necessary. And remember that a picture is worth a thousand words!

Numerous sightings of Inyo County birds (up to 30,000 sightings in one season!), posted on the Internet without any descriptions, are not included in the Inyo County Seasonal Report to North American Birds or the county database. Eastern Sierra Birds posts that contained adequate descriptions and/or photographs are included in both the report and the database. If you enter your sightings into eBird and want them submitted for publication in North American Birds, we request that you send us a copy of your documentation, written and/or photographic, so that we can add your records to the county archives.

The seasons are Spring – 1 March to 31 May, Summer – 1 June to 31 July, Fall – 1 August to 30 November, Winter – 1 December to 28 February. We must have reports by the tenth day following the end of each season and the species need to be in taxonomic order to facilitate collating all the reports. Please send them to

We are providing this information so observers know what is expected in order to turn a personal sighting into a county record that will stand the test of time. We cannot respond to observer’s requests that we let them know which of their sightings need descriptions since we often have over fifty observers submitting reports. We ask that you send us all you have when you submit your sightings!

Thanks to all who have met and exceeded our requests in archiving a reliable database for Inyo County.

New 2017 Taxon - available as a PDF here: Inyo County 2017 Taxonomic Order

PDF Version of this list, with the above instructions, is available for printing here: Guidelines2017InyoList.pdf

A checklist only, in 2017 taxonomic order, is available here:

A trifold brochure-style list is available to print (double-sided) here (not updated to 2017 taxon):


The new 2017 Taxon is also available as a PDF here: Inyo County 2017 Taxonomic Order

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