This recently passed breeding season has been very successful for the birds of Inyo County. This success can probably be attributed to the heavy rainfall of the past winter and spring and its positive effect on the vegetation.
Of the dozen or so breeding surveys conducted in the county for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service each year, the majority established records for most species and most individuals ever recorded.
Some species that normally nest at higher elevations such as Sage Thrasher were able to take advantage of the lush vegetation and nest on the floor of the Owens Valley.
Andrew Kirk of Independence continued his three year study of Least Bittern nests at Billy Lake and was able to locate and study seven different nests producing at least eleven young.
Wood Ducks once again this summer nested in the Bishop area and successfully fledged many young.
Osprey did not do well. While in past years they were able to raise young at Tinemaha Reservoir, this summer the parents, for unknown reasons, deserted their nest on 29 June.
Swainson’s Hawks had a successful nesting season in the Owens Valley and at Deep Springs.
An unbanded adult Peregrine Falcon was found at Cottonwood Marsh, on Owens Lake, on 22 June. This is an endangered species and one wonders if wild birds could be breeding locally.
Dr. Steve Laymon, Research Director of the Kern Preserve and his staff spent weeks working the Owens Valley under contract with CA Dept. of Fish & Game. They discovered mated pairs of Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Willow Flycatchers, both state endangered birds, at various locations throughout the valley.
Burrowing Owls have become increasingly rare for the last two decades. Two family groups were located this summer. One near Ballarat in Panamint Valley found by Denise Racine of CA Dept. of Fish & Game, and another east of the Last Chance Range.
Long-eared Owls and Saw-whet Owls were plentiful and many juvenile Long-eareds were found throughout the county.
Richard Webster, of San Diego, located large numbers of Lesser Nighthawks with 100 at Cartago and 75 near Bishop being all-time records. He also discovered nesting Williamson’s Sapsuckers in the Inyo Mountains the first time reported away from the Sierra Nevada.
Bank Swallows once again returned to attempt nesting at various gravel pits in the Bishop area. This was good news for this state threatened bird.
Western Bluebirds were found nesting in the Panamint Mountains in pinon forest near Mahogany Flats and confirms Ro Wauer’s reports of 1964.
American Pipits were discovered by Richard Webster during late June on top of Telescope Peak. They were previously unknown in the mountain range. Richard also discovered Bell’s Vireo on territory near Scotty’s Castle. Jan Tarble also had several pairs of this endangered species near Tecopa.
A Red-eyed Vireo near Big Pine in early July was trying to find a mate. This bird is normally found in the eastern U.S. The same is true for a Magnolia Warbler and a Kentucky Warbler, found by Webster, on territory during mid-July in Wyman Canyon.
Yellow-breasted Chats, species of special concern to the state, were on territory at Tecopa, Furnace Creek Ranch, near Lone Pine, Big Pine, and Wyman Canyon and brought off many young.
Summer Tanagers and Indigo Buntings again spent the summer near Big Pine brightening up the breeding season.Tags: duck, falcon, flycatcher, hawk, osprey, owl, thrasher, vireo, warbler