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Birds of Kern County, California - Checklist

The current county tally of birds is 446 native species (NIB) plus 10 accepted introduced species (and 9 additional unaccepted introduced species), (+1 more if you count California Condor as introduced) bringing the official total to 456* accepted species. The list is current with The AOS (American Ornithological Society) Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition, (August  2022 supplement) listing order and nomenclature. The list represents records of resident, migrant, visitant, and vagrant species. Habitats are extremely varied within the county and include: great basin, wetland, desert, montane, riparian, chaparral, and grassland habitats. Very few species have been recorded in every habitat. What is extremely common in one county location may be unheard of or exceptional in another. These birds have been documented over the past 150 years. EBird records 442 species including several non-countable introduced birds. (*If the Glossy Ibis is found to be a hybrid, the list will revert to 445 native species.)


Click here for a simple checklist to print and use in the field.


The 446th species Curve-billed Thrasher, snuck by me and was discovered on eBird while updating this checklist, it would actually be the 444th native species as it was discovered at Mojave Park on July 13, 2018 by Simon Kiesι. The 445th native species, Marsh Sandpiper, was observed by William Rockey on March 29, 2020 at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge. The 444th native bird, Glossy Ibis, was observed by John Sterling on the Kern Water Bank on April 23, 2019, it is being recirculated as a potential hybrid, stay tuned to see if it is tossed out. The 443rd native addition a Violet-crowned Hummingbird was observed by John Stanek on the Kern River Preserve on July 7, 2018. The 442nd native addition is a specialty resident of post-fire forest, the Cedar Fire in the Greenhorn Mountains created habitat for a small population of Black-backed Woodpecker found on July 18, 2017. Wendy Rannals of the Forest Service mentioned to Alison Sheehey that she had heard a bird and Alison confirmed this new county record species. The 441st county record was heard hooting "who cooks for you?" on June 2, 2017 by Jenna and John Stanek in the Greenhorn Mountains. The Barred Owl has long been feared to enter the territory of the dwindling California Spotted Owl, a week later Elias Elias recorded the bird and disturbingly the video shows a "Sparred Owl" with a Barred Owl hoot. An armchair record for Kern County brought the 440th native species with the AOU split of Western Scrub-jay into California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay.  Cordilleran Flycatcher, Empidonax occidentalis was recorded at Galileo Hill on 1 June 2016 by Curtis Marantz (I had heard this bird a day earlier but was unable to convince anyone to corroborate it,) making this the 439th native species recorded in Kern County. The 438th native species was found by Nick and Mary Freeman on 15 May 2016, a Buff-breasted Flycatcher was photographed and identified post-birding. A Neotropic Cormorant was discovered at Lake Ming on May 11, 2015 by George Griffeth making it the 437th native species. Pine Warbler is Kern's 436th native species discovered by Pine Warbler found by Tom Benson, Matt Grube, David Rankin, and Brad Singer on 8 November 2014 at Desert Memorial Park in Ridgecrest. Ken & Brenda Kyle discovered the 435th native species for Kern a Red-faced Warbler on 7 October 2014 at Galileo Hill. The 434th native species was found by Susan Steele on May 2, 2014, she observed a Gull-billed Tern at the highly restricted southern evaporation ponds just north of the Kern National Wildlife Refuge. The potential 434th species was removed after being revealed it was only seen in Ventura County so a sighting of a Green Violetear photographed by Steven W. Cardiff between July 30 and August 1, 1977 was re-reviewed by the CBRC and accepted in 2005 after a photograph was produced but not in Kern County. The AOU provided Kern with its 433rd native species by splitting the Sage Sparrow into two species. Sage Sparrow becomes Bell's Sparrow - Artemisiospiza belli which breeds in Kern and Sagebrush Sparrow - Artemisiospiza nevadensis which migrates through and possibly winters in Kern County. On May 5, 2013, Bob Barnes found Kern's 432nd species with the sighting of Grace's Warbler at Cerro Coso College in Ridgecrest. On May 7, 2011, Susan Steele discovered the 431st NIB bird with a female Pyrrhuloxia in the Kern desert. In the summer of 2009, Jon Feenstra's pair of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers breeding southeastern Kern made the 430th NIB county record. Susan Steele found a Lesser Black-backed Gull, the 429th species on December 21st, 2008, at Buena Vista Lake. Susan & Bob Steele found the 428th county bird, Common Black Hawk, at Galileo Hill on 27 April 2008. Bill Foster observed the 427th NIB species, Crested Caracara, in March 2008. Susan and Bob Steele's discovery of an Arctic Warbler in September 2007 and a Hudsonian Godwit in June 2007 and Wood Sandpiper in May 2007 added the 426th, 425th, and 424th NIB species respectively to the list. Ryan Terrill's sighting of an Upland Sandpiper* added the 423rd and Tom Wurster's sighting of a Yellow-footed Gull added the 422nd NIB species to the list. The split of Canada Goose and Cackling Goose added the 421st NIB species to the list in July 2004.


CBRC species that are accepted such as Chukar (which is bred and released for hunters regularly) and others that are not accepted as in Rose-ringed Parakeet makes the whole idea of accepting some introduced species and not others which fulfill every criteria a bothersome quandary. Scaly-breasted Munia are on the list as of 2017 as they are being documented across the county. Another new but not accepted on the CBRC checklist is the Northern Red Bishop discovered by Dan Cooper on 7 Sep 2018 at Galileo Hill. European Goldfinch have been seen sporadically in Kern County for years, Mickey Dyke recorded one in Rosemond on 6 Apr 2017. I include species that are subject to verification as to their origin and introduced species that do not appear on the Western Field Ornithologists' official California list (eg. psittacids) because these records are important in tracking origins of potentially naturalized species. Some rarities found are reviewed by the California Bird Records Committee (CBRC). All birds appearing in bold italics with an asterisk * are California Review Species by the CBRC. Italicized birds with an asterisk * are exceptional rare visitants or vagrants (this was originally done with John Wilson's and Mike Feighner's assistance), any corrections from KC birders or CBRC reviewers are welcome.


Any birds not appearing on this list or that have an asterisk need to be documented and sent to the CBRC and to Kelli Levinson Kern County's compiler for American Birds. Although, I have been lambasted by elitist birders for including "not credible" species, I made an executive decision to add certain species that are most assuredly captive escapes/releases but deserve mention to give readers an understanding of how such a species could occur, eg. Harris's Hawk. The Trumpeter Swan is provisional, Grinnell & Miller list it in the Birds of California, but it is a weak sighting, a possible sighting in Dec. 2003 had me put it on the list. All young swans should be carefully documented as range expansion for this sensitive species is occurring.


Susan Steele, Bob Barnes, and Ken & Brenda Kyle are key to finding and publicizing new and rare species, without their keen observations this list would languish. The original list is a compilation of many birders list's. Information was compiled using David Blue's list from March of 1997, Rick Saval's Kern County Birds, Birds of the Kern River Parkway, Birds of Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Birds of the Kern River Valley, and Birds of Indian Wells Valley. Updates are found by reviewing the AOU supplements, from John Wilson's Field Notes for American Birds, information provided to me by area birders: Bob Barnes, Mike Feighner, Gary File, Barbara Mansfield, Michael McQuerrey RIP, Bob & Susan Steele, John Sterling, Mary Beth Stowe, John Wilson and others, from information gleaned from eBird, CalBird, Kern County Birding, and from my own field notes.


Exceptionally devoted birders can reach 300 birds and up. No county birder has seen all of the listed species within the borders of Kern County (although Susan Steele comes darn close!). Enjoy birding Kern County. 


All thumbnails except those cited otherwise are taken by Alison Sheehey © (available as larger images), if there is not an image it generally means that would be a life bird for me or life photograph, email me if you see something in the field that I need to photograph. These images are taken all over the country, but each bird has been documented in Kern. For fantastic bird and butterfly photos of most of these species check out Bob Steele's website. http://www.bobsteelephoto.com.

bold italics with asterisk * = CBRC review species

ITALICS WITH ASTERISK * = exceptional, rare visitants or vagrants

(E) = endangered species; (T) = threatened species; (FP) = Fully Protected by CDFG; (SSC)(BCC) = species (bird) of special (conservation) concern; sensitive = listed as sensitive with USFS or BLM; (W) = watch list; (I) = introduced

  Name Scientific status Notes
Anseriformes - Screamers, Swans, Geese, and Ducks
Anatidae - Ducks, Geese, and Swans
    Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis * 19 June 1938 Buena Vista Lake One record only: sexes look similar (monomorphic)
  Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor *SSC (SSC) California City 1986-05-16 Tom Edell - occasional records from KNWR hunts
    Snow Goose Anser caerulescens   winters in Kern Desert in large numbers
  Ross's Goose Anser rossii   wintering Kern desert with occasional found in other areas
    Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons   winters in the Central Valley - found at KNWR
    Brant Branta bernicla SSC (SSC) rare with desert and valley records in spring and late fall and one in summer
    Cackling Goose Branta hutchinsii W winter throughout county - occasional lingering bird
    Canada Goose Branta canadensis   resident populations at lakes - winter at remote areas
    Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus   rare in Kern County - typically pass through in Dec-Jan
    Wood Duck

Aix sponsa   resident population in Hart Park
    Garganey Spatula querquedula * 30 Sep 1990, 28 Sep–01 Oct 1995 Cantil
    Blue-winged Teal

Spatula discors   winter throughout county - one or two may linger into late spring
    Cinnamon Teal

Spatula cyanoptera   resident breeder
   Northern Shoveler - drake Northern Shoveler

Spatula clypeata   resident breeder

Mareca strepera   resident breeder
    Eurasian Wigeon

Mareca penelope   rare visitor in winter generally only one or two
    American Wigeon Mareca americana   common in winter at lakes and golf courses
  Mallard Anas platyrhynchos   resident breeder - many domestic
    Northern Pintail

Anas acuta   fairly common in winter through spring
    Green-winged Teal

Anas crecca   fairly common fall through spring some summer records

Aythya valisineria W uncommon fall through spring

Aythya americana SSC (SSC) uncommon resident breeder
    Ring-necked Duck

Aythya collaris   common fall through spring
    Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula   15 Jan 1980 Cuddy Valley, 17–19 Jan 1992 Isabella Reservoir
    Greater Scaup

Aythya marila   rare inland in winter
    Lesser Scaup

Aythya affinis   common in all except summer
    Surf Scoter

Melanitta perspicillata   Kern River County Park - Dec 8 2007; Rancho de Nada - May 4 1989; California City Central Park - Oct 25 2016, Oct 19 2007, Oct 17 2007; Tehachapi-Brite Dam Rd - Nov 1 2017; Galileo Hill - Oct 10 2012; China Lake NAWS--Sewage Ponds - Oct 25 2012, Oct 29 through Nov-12, 2011, Nov 6 2009, Oct 29 2009, Nov 5 2007, Nov 2 2006, May 26 2000, Nov 3 1999, OCt 5 1991, Oct 28 1989
    White-winged Scoter

Melanitta deglandi   Edwards AFB--south evaporation ponds - 1988-11-26; Lake Isabella--South Fork Rec Area - 2011-11-03; China Lake NAWS--Sewage Ponds - 2010-12-12, 2010-12-11, 2009-11-06
    Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis   Dec 1990, 1-28 Nov 1991 China Lake, 27 Dec 1994 Isabella, 25 Mar 2003 Cantil, 14-25 March 2015 KNWR

Bucephala albeola   common except in summer
    Common Goldeneye

Bucephala clangula   fairly common along waterways except in summer
    Barrow's Goldeneye

Bucephala islandica SSC (SSC) 1 Jan-1Feb 2012 Isabella Reservoir Alison Sheehey, 16 Dec 2015 Kern River Bakersfield Bob Barnes, 19-20 Dec 2016 Hart Park
    Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus   occasional along the Kern River and Hart Park fall-spring
    Common Merganser

Mergus merganser   very common in winter but extremely rare in summer
    Red-breasted Merganser

Mergus serrator   rare but expected at lakes around the county fall-spring
    Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis   breeds on quiet water throughout county
Galliformes - Gallinaceous Birds
Odontophoridae - New World Quail
  Mountain Quail Oreortyx pictus   (W) breeds in conifer forests in county mountains, relatively common heard often but seldom seen.
  California Quail

Callipepla californica   California's state bird is common in its habitat. Listen for its "Chi- CA-go" call. common in valleys but population is crashing because of feral cats.
  Gambel's Quail


Callipepla gambelii   native on restricted China Lake NAWS  (I) the rest of county
Phasianidae - Partridges, Grouse, Turkeys, and Old World Quail
  Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo I (I) in Greenhorn Mtns and South Fork Kern
  Sooty Grouse

Sooty Grouse

Dendragapus fuliginosus SSC (SSC) (W) Greenhorn Mountains - Sunday to Shirley Peak
  Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus I (I) found in grasslands near water. introductions of these Chinese birds began in 1889 by fish & game. there are some good size flocks around the county where hunting is restricted
  Chukar Alectoris chukar I (I) uncommon in desert mountains. Introduced from Calcutta, India in 1932. Continuous restocking make this species a tough one to count, as a wild bird.
Podicipediformes - Grebes
Podicipedidae - Grebes
  Pied-billed Grebe

Podilymbus podiceps   common in lakes and marshes breeds in county

winter and summer plumage differ

  Horned Grebe

Podiceps auritus   rare fall thru spring

winter and summer plumage differ

  Red-necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena   very rare Oct-Jan in lakes around county


13-19 Nov 1993, Lake Isabella

26 Nov 1994, Lake Isabella, Jan 2007

Buena Vista Lake

  Eared Grebe Eared Grebe

Podiceps nigricollis   most common in winter with less found during migration

winter and summer plumage differ

  Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis   breeds on Isabella Reservoir
  Clark's Grebe Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii   (W) Breeds on Isabella Reservoir
Columbiformes - Pigeons and Doves
Columbidae - Pigeons and Doves
  Rock Pigeon Columba livia I (I) feral populations found near humans around countyIntroduced with European colonization of county.
  Band-tailed Pigeon Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata   oak woodlands to mixed conifer

breeds in mountains near oaks

  Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto I (I) First recorded in Ridgecrest on 13 May 2001
  Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis I (I) very rare and dwindling in Bakersfield(I) Species first reported in Los Angeles prior to 1917. Unknown when establish in Kern, suspect early 60's. Uncommon and declining in Bakersfield
  Inca Dove Columbina inca   one individual Ridgecrest Apr 2001-Dec 2002
  Common Ground Dove Columbina passerina   Very secretive in orange orchards and occasionally near wetlands. resident breeder

sexes look slightly different (dimorphic)

    Ruddy Ground Dove Columbina talpacoti * 30 Sep 1990, 21 Sep 1991, 17–18 Oct 1991 Cantil 3 Feb–4 Apr 1992 Ridgecrest 6–15 Nov 1996 Ridgecrest 20–22 Oct 2001Galileo Hill
  White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica   Small population in Ridgecrest breeds - vagrant in rest of county
  Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura   Breeding but numbers dwindling since Eurasian Collared-Dove arrived
Cuculiformes - Cuckoos and Allies
Cuculidae - Cuckoos, Roadrunners, and Anis
  Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris * 14–15 Oct 1988 Galileo Hill
  Greater Roadrunner Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus   In deserts and grasslands around county
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus FT, SE (SE) Breeds along South Fork Kern River - numbers keep dropping due to habitat flooding by Corps of Engineers
Caprimulgiformes - Nightjars
Caprimulgidae - Nightjars
  Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis   summer resident in valleys, canyons, and desert. Uncommon mid April through mid October.
  Common Nighthawk Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor   rare migrant, may nest in mountains

Late May through August vagrant

  Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttallii   uncommon resident

rocky areas, conifer forests, canyons, and woodlands

non-migratory. Experiences torpor during colder days. resident in foothills and mountains
Apodiformes - Swifts and Hummingbirds
Apodidae - Swifts
    Black Swift Cypseloides niger SSC (SSC) rare migrant, nests under waterfalls
    Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica  

11 May 1990, Cantil

5 Jun 1993, Cantil

25 May 1997, California City

California City Central Park - 2011-05-29; China Lake NAWS sewage ponds - 2007-05-23

  Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi SSC (SSC) common migrant in spring and fall
  White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis   nesting resident found in rocky cliffs and along rivers
Trochilidae - Hummingbirds
  Black-chinned Hummingbird Black-chinned Hummingbird

Archilochus alexandri   nesting summer resident
  Anna's Hummingbird

Calypte anna   resident
  Costa's Hummingbird

Calypte costae W (BCC) resident in desert
  Calliope Hummingbird Selasphorus calliope   summer nests in mountains
  Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus W (BCC) common migrant
  Allen's Hummingbird

Selasphorus sasin   Rare spring and fall migrant
  Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Selasphorus platycercus   Ridgecrest - May 7 2006; Cerro Coso Community College - Aug 24 2012, Aug 21 2012, May 27 2007, Sep 7 2002, May 15 2002; Inyokern - Apr 26 2007-04-26, Apr 16-May 15 2006, May 2-5 2002; California City Central Park - Sep 8 1991; Mill Potrero Park - Aug 23 1998
  Broad-billed Hummingbird Broad-billed Hummingbird Cynanthus latirostris * 18 Apr 1982 Short Canyon, 1–4 Oct 1997 Weldon, 26-31 Oct 2005 Inyokern
  Violet-crowned Hummingbird Ramosomyia violiceps * KRP 7 July - 2 Aug 2018
Gruiformes - Rails, Cranes, and Allies
Rallidae - Rails, Gallinules, and Coots
  Virginia Rail Rallus limicola   marshland desert, kern valley, central valley
  Sora Porzana carolina   marshland desert, kern valley, central valley
  Common Moorhen Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata   resident breeder

marshland desert, central valley

  American Coot Fulica americana   resident breeder

marsh and lake desert, kern valley, central valley

Gruidae - Cranes
  Sandhill Crane Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis


Lesser Sandhill Crane - state species of concern

A. c. canadensis


Greater Sandhill Crane - state threatened species

A. (Grus) c. tabida


ST (ST-Greater) (FP)(SSC) rare and local in winter. Just to the north in Tulare County at Pixley Refuge, thousands can easily be seen from November through February.
Charadriiformes - Shorebirds, Gulls, Auks, and Allies
Recurvirostridae - Stilts and Avocets
  Black-necked Stilt Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus   resident breeder
  American Avocet

Recurvirostra americana   resident breeder
Charadriidae - Lapwings and Plovers
  Black-bellied Plover

Pluvialis squatarola   migrant winter
  American Golden-Plover Pluvialis dominica   China Lake NAWS--Sewage Ponds - Oct 27 2012, Apr 28-30 2007, May 20-21 2006, Oct 12 1991, Sep 21 1991; TLDD Evaporation Ponds - Oct 5 1985; Edwards AFB--south evaporation ponds - Oct 19 2005,  Nov 4 2003, Nov 4 2003, Oct 6 1984
  Pacific Golden-Plover

Pluvialis fulva   rare migrant
  Killdeer Charadrius vociferus   resident breeder

marshes, wetlands, grasslands, lawns

common throughout county
  Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus   spring and fall migrant
  Mountain Plover Charadrius montanus SSC (SSC)(BCC)(W)

marshes, wetlands, short grasslands

  Snowy Plover

Charadrius nivosus FT (FT) (SSC)(W)rare in wetlands. Breed at China Lake and Central Valley
Scolopacidae - Sandpipers, Phalaropes, and Allies
  Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda * 4-8 Jun 2006 Galileo Hill, 9 June 2016, Cerro Coso, Andrew Howe, Sept 2019 Galileo
  Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus   uncommon spring through fall
  Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus W (BCC)(W) uncommon
    Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica * (W) 7-8 Jun 2007 China Lake, Susan Steele
  Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa   uncommon migrant

(W) winter

  Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres  

28 Apr-12 May (9 records)

14 July to 8 Sept (16 fall records)


  Black Turnstone Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala   (W) exceptional

29 May 1988, China Lake

1-2 Sept 1996, Edwards AFB. TLDD Sept 2017

  Red Knot Red Knot Calidris canutus   very rare
  Ruff Calidris pugnax   Edwards AFB--south evaporation ponds - Sep 25 2002; TLDD South Evaporation Ponds - Jul 30 1994, Aug 21 1988, Jan 17 1987, Sep 10 2017, Aug 21-27 2017, Aug 5 2017, Feb 22 1987; Riverside Park area Bike Path - Jan 1-27 1990; Tumblen Lake/Goose Lake - Mar 23 1986; Goose Lake Evap Ponds/Carmel Ranch Ponds - Sep 3 1989, Aug 6, 26 1989, Jul 28 1989, Aug 12-13 1987, Apr 5 1986, Jan 26-28 1986; Rancho de Nada - May 5 2009; China Lake NAWS--Sewage Ponds - Sep 30 2014, Sep 24-27 2012, Sep 17 2007, May 16-22 2006, Sep 25 2004, May 11-12 1991, Nov 22 1990
    Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata   exceptional
    Stilt Sandpiper Calidris himantopus   exceptional
    Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea * 24 Jul 2001 Edwards Air Force Base; 22 Jul 2018 TLDD
    Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis * 13 Jun 2005 China Lake, Susan Steele
  Sanderling Calidris alba   rare winter
  Dunlin Dunlin Calidris alpina   winter
  Baird's Sandpiper Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii   fall migrant
  Least Sandpiper

Calidris minutilla   common peep
    White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis * 25–29 May 2000, 15 Aug 2006, 21-22. 23 May 2007,  24-25 May 2009 China Lake, Susan Steele
    Buff-breasted Sandpiper Calidris subruficollis   5 Sep 1988, 16 Sep 1989, 3–9 Jun 1990, 16 Sep 1990 Edwards Air Force Base
  Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos   uncommon migrant
  Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla   13 May 1979 Kern NWR very rare spring migrant


Western Sandpiper

Calidris mauri   migrant and winter resident
  Short-billed Dowitcher Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus   migrant
  Long-billed Dowitcher

Limnodromus scolopaceus   winter
  Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata   winter
  Spotted Sandpiper

Actitis macularius   migrant-winter
  Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria   uncommon migrant
  Wandering Tattler Tringa incana   China Lake NAWS--Sewage Ponds - 2010-08-27; Edwards AFB--south evaporation ponds - 1998-05-07, 1998-05-06; Kern NWR - 1977-09-14, 4 Jun 1993, China Lake
  Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes   common in low numbers migration
  Willet Tringa semipalmata   uncommon migrant
  Greater Yellowlegs Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca   common winter
    Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola * 22-23 May 2007 China Lake, Susan Steele
    Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis *P 29 Mar 2020, William Rockey, KNWR
  Wilson's Phalarope Wilson's Phalarope

Phalaropus tricolor   migrant
  Red-necked Phalarope

Phalaropus lobatus   migrant
  Red Phalarope

Red Phalarope

Phalaropus fulicarius   rare migrant

spring and fall migration

exceptionally rare inland - records from the desert only

Stercorariidae - Skuas
  Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus   rare

2 Sept 1989, China Lake

  Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus   rare

19-22 Sept 1989, China Lake

  Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus   rare

23-Aug-94 China Lake

Laridae - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers
  Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla   exceptional

11 Dec 1987, Inyokern

Teresa Connell 8 Dec 2021

  Sabine's Gull

Xema sabini   rare migrant
  Bonaparte's Gull

Chroicocephalus philadelphia   uncommon winter

uncommon but the most expected black hooded gull in Kern County.

    Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus  

27 Sept 27, TLDD, Cliff Peterson

4-6 May 1996, China Lake

29 Aug 1997,  China Lake, 19 Apr 1999, China Lake

29 Aug 2011, China Lake, Susan Steele

  Laughing Gull

Leucophaeus atricilla W (W) exceptional 19 July 1997, Edwards AFB
  Franklin's Gull

Leucophaeus pipixcan   spring migrant
  Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni   Edward's Air Force Base 16 June 1990, 10-11 May 1997, 29 October 1994, 7 October 1995 Matt Heindel, China Lake - 5-20, Apr 2004, 14-30, Oct 2003, 6-29, May 2003, Susan Steele, Kissack Cove, Mtn Mesa 13-14 May 2012 Alison Sheehey
  Mew Gull Short-billed Gull Larus brachyrhynchus   very rare winter

rare at inland lakes - records from Cantil, Edwards AFB, Isabella Reservoir, and Buena Vista Lake

  Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis   Winter resident most common in desert and San Joaquin Valley a few individuals interspersed with California Gulls at Isabella Reservoir
  Western Gull Larus occidentalis  

Exceptional visitor to Kern. This common coastal gull is truly a sea gull as it rarely ventures inland.

17 Apr 1988, Edwards, also recorded at Buena Vista Lake.

  Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens   exceptional 

April 2006 Tom Wurster, China Lake

  California Gull Larus californicus W (W) common
  Herring Gull Larus argentatus   uncommon winter
  Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   Thayer's Gull subspecies of Iceland
  Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus   21 Dec 2008 Buena Vista Rec Area, Susan Steele

5 Jan 2014, Isabella Reservoir, Alison Sheehey

  Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens   rare winter

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   very rare winter

19 Dec 1998, Arvin
2011, Arvin

  Least Tern Least Tern Sternula antillarum FE (SE) (FE) (FP) 12 May - 23 Jun, 8 records in Kern desert
  Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica SSC (SSC)  Susan Steele 2 May 2014 S. Evaporation Ponds (restricted access)
  Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia W (BCC) most common tern in county spring through fall
  Black Tern Chlidonias niger SSC (SSC) uncommon migrant from late April to mid May and from August to early September
  Common Tern Sterna hirundo   very rare, one sighting in May and three in October, all the rest in mid-September
    Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea   7 May 1999, 5 records 3-18 June, 5 records 16-30 September China Lake or Edwards AFB
  Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri   uncommon but expected summer
  Black Skimmer Rynchops niger SSC China Lake NAWS--Sewage Ponds - Jul 28 1990; TLDD Evaporation Ponds - Jul 19, 27 Aug 9, 23 1986
Gaviiformes - Loons
Gaviidae - Loons
  Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata  

22 Oct 1995, Edwards AFB

28 Dec 1992 and 20 Nov 2020 at Lake Isabella--Engineer Pt.

  Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica   rare fall through spring
  Common Loon

Gavia immer SSC (SSC)

 uncommon Sept. thru May

Ciconiiformes - Storks
Ciconiidae - Storks
  Wood Stork Wood Stork Mycteria americana SSC (SSC) exceptional

11 May 1922, Buena Vista

Suliformes - Frigatebirds, Boobies, Cormorants, Darters, and Allies
Fregatidae - Frigatebirds
  Magnificent Frigatebird Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens   exceptional

5 Aug 1980, Mt Pinos

fall 1977, Lake Isabella

Phalacrocoracidae - Cormorants
  Double-crested Cormorant

Nannopterum auritus W (SSC) resident breeder
  Neotropic Cormorant Nannopterum brasilianus * May 11-23, 2015 - George Griffeth - Lake Ming; Jun 2019 John Schmitt - Isabella Reservoir; 12-13 May 2019 - John Sterling - Kern Water Bank
Pelecaniformes - Pelicans, Herons, Ibises, and Allies
Pelecanidae - Pelicans
  American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos SSC (SSC) resident on Lake Isabella
  Brown Pelican Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis * (FP) very rare
Ardeidae - Herons, Bitterns, and Allies
  American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus W

An uncommon resident in the San Joaquin Valley, Kern Valley and Mojave Desert.

Prefers cattail / tule marshes. Breeding at Kern National Wildlife Refuge and unconfirmed in the Kern Valley.

  Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis SSC (SSC) rare nesting

Formerly bred in the Kern Valley but no recent records.

Extremely shy and very rarely seen.  Prefers cattail / tule marshes in the valleys, few records for the Kern desert but there are breeding records to the north in Inyo County.

  Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias S

A breeding resident throughout the county.

Great Blue Herons nest in trees in communal rookeries. Relatively common in appropriate habitat year round.

  Great Egret Ardea alba S Common along the Kern River especially in winter and spring. Found in varying numbers throughout the county.
  Snowy Egret Egretta thula W

A rare breeder in the San Joaquin Valley.

Frequents open cottonwood/willow forests, and cattail / tule marshes. Fairly common in the Tulare and Kern River Basins. Uncommon to rare in the Kern Valley and the desert.

  Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea   Edwards AFB--south evaporation ponds - 2003-05-24; California City Central Park - 1992-12-21, 1992-12-20; China Lake NAWS--Sewage Ponds - 2010-06-27

Only observed 3X in county

  Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis   A breeding resident in the San Joaquin Valley. Prefers rather stinky places like sewer ponds and feedlots. Very common at landfills and sewer ponds in the Bakersfield area. Less common to rare in rest of the county.
  Green Heron

Butorides virescens   A breeding resident in the San Joaquin Valley, Kern Valley and Mojave Desert. Prefers the edges and underbrush along streams and in marshes. A shy and inconspicuous bird that is uncommon in appropriate habitat in the valleys, and rare in the desert.
  Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax W

A breeding resident in the San Joaquin Valley, Kern Valley and Mojave Desert.

Prefers cattail / tule marshes. Relatively abundant to common in appropriate habitat in the valleys, less common to rare in the desert.

Threskiornithidae - Ibises and Spoonbills
    Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus   Kern Water Bank - John Sterling - 23 April 2019 
  White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi W (W) resident breeder
  Roseate Spoonbill Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja *


24 Sep - 2 Oct 1966, near Buttonwillow

Cathartiformes - New World Vultures
Cathartidae - New World Vultures
  California Condor California Condor Gymnogyps californianus FE (E) (FP) (W) resident breeder
  Turkey Vulture Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura   resident breeder
Accipitriformes - Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies
Pandionidae - Ospreys
  Osprey Pandion haliaetus S (SSC) resident breeder
Accipitridae - Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies
  White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus * (FP) resident breeder
  Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos * (FP) sensitive resident breeder
  Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius SSC (SSC) resident breeder
  Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus W (W) winter resident
  Cooper's Hawk Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii W (W) resident breeder
  Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis SSC (FS) resident breeder
  Bald Eagle Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus SE (SE) (FP) uncommon resident
  Mississippi Kite Ictinia mississippiensis * 5 Jun 1992 Kern River Preserve
  Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus * 27 Apr 2008 Galileo Hill
  Harris's Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus W (W) 5 Mar 2001 California City
  Red-shouldered Hawk Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus   resident breeder
  Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus   2 October 1983, Cantil - Matt Heindel; 8 May 1988, Cantil - Paul Lehman; 24 Sept 1994, Galileo Hill - Matt Heindel
  Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni ST (ST-CA)(W)  resident breeder
  Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus   26 May 1994 California City - Curtis Johnson, 3 Oct 1994 Weldon - Sean Rowe, 27-28 May 2017 California City - 
  Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis   resident breeder
  Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus   rare winter resident Transverse Range
  Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis W (BCC) uncommon winter
Strigiformes - Owls
Tytonidae - Barn Owls
  Barn Owl Tyto alba   resident breeder
Strigidae - Typical Owls
  Flammulated Owl Psiloscops flammeolus   (BCC) summer breeder mountains
  Western Screech Owl Western Screech-Owl Megascops kennicottii   resident breeder
  Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus   resident breeder
  Northern Pygmy-Owl Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium gnoma   resident breeder
  Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia SSC (SSC) resident breeder
  Spotted Owl Strix occidentalis SSC (SSC) resident breeder
  Barred Owl Strix varia   2 Jun 2017 Greenhorn Mountain John & Jenna Stanek, 6 Jun 2017 Elias Elias 
  Long-eared Owl Asio otus SSC (SSC) resident breeder
  Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus SSC (SSC)
    Northern Saw-whet Owl Aegolius acadicus   resident breeder
Coraciiformes - Rollers, Motmots, Kingfishers, and Allies
Alcedinidae - Kingfishers
  Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon   resident breeder
Piciformes - Puffbirds, Jacamars, Toucans, Woodpeckers, and Allies
Picidae - Woodpeckers and Allies
  Lewis's Woodpecker Melanerpes lewis W (BCC) irruptive nesting
  Acorn Woodpecker

Melanerpes formicivorus   resident breeder
  Williamson's Sapsucker Williamson's Sapsucker

Williamson's Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus thyroideus   uncommon resident
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius   rare winter
  Red-naped Sapsucker Sphyrapicus nuchalis   uncommon winter
  Red-breasted Sapsucker Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber W (W) resident breeder
  Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus W (FSS) imperiled in California Greenhorn Mtn. 18 Jul 2017
  Downy Woodpecker - male Downy Woodpecker

Dryobates pubescens   resident breeder
  Nuttall's Woodpecker

Dryobates nuttallii   resident breeder
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Dryobates scalaris   resident breeder
  Hairy Woodpecker Dryobates villosus   resident breeder
  White-headed Woodpecker White-headed Woodpecker Dryobates albolarvatus   resident breeder
  Northern Flicker Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus   resident breeder
  Pileated Woodpecker Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus   rare nesting resident
Falconiformes - Caracaras and Falcons
Falconidae - Caracaras and Falcons
  Crested Caracara Caracara plancus * FT 25-27 Mar 2008 Kern River Preserve, Bill Foster
  American Kestrel Falco sparverius   resident breeder
  Merlin Falco columbarius W (W) winter resident
  Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus * (BCC) resident breeder
  Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus W (BCC) resident breeder
Psittaciformes - Parrots
Psittacidae - African and New World Parrots
  Rose-ringed Parakeet

Psittacula krameri   (I) not on official list  resident breeder
Passeriformes - Passerine Birds
Tyrannidae - Tyrant Flycatchers
  Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens   summer nesting
  Great-crested Flycatcher Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus * 23–27 Sep 1989 Galileo Hill, 4 Oct 1996 California City
  Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus W (W) rare breeding
  Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus   exceptional
  Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans   rare resident
  Western Kingbird Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis   summer nesting
  Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus   exceptional
  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus   7 Aug 1992 China Lake, 6 Sep 1992 Cerro Noroeste
  Olive-sided Flycatcher Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi SSC (BCC) summer breeders
  Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus   summer nesting
  Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens * 10 Jun 1998 Galileo Hill 27 Jun–09 Jul 1998 Kern River Preserve
    Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventris * Galileo Hill 24 Sep 1997 Cantil, 7 Sep 1998, 5 Oct 2002 California City, 27 Sep–01 Oct 1989, 11 Sep 1996, 21 Sep 1997, 3 Oct 2004 Galileo Hill
  Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum * 11 Jul 1991 Kern River Preserve, 30 May 1992 Butterbredt
  Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii FE (SE full species) (FE - extimus)
  Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus   exceptional
  Hammond's Flycatcher Empidonax hammondii   common migrant
  Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii   uncommon migrant
  Dusky Flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri   summer nesting
  Pacific-slope Flycatcher Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis   summer nesting
  Cordilleran Flycatcher Empidonax occidentalis   31 May 2016, Alison Sheehey, Galileo
  Buff-breasted Flycatcher Empidonax fulvifrons * 15 May 2016, Mary & Nick Freeman, Galileo
  Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans   resident breeder
  Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe    rare vagrant
  Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya   resident breeder
  Vermilion Flycatcher

Pyrocephalus rubinus SSC (SSC) rare
Laniidae - Shrikes
  Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus SSC (SSC) resident breeder
  Northern Shrike


Lanius borealis   exceptional
Vireonidae - Vireos
  White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus * 14–17 May 1992, Butterbredt, 24–27 May 1992 Kern River Preserve, 18 May 2008, 25-28 May 2009, 31 May-1 Jun 2012, Galileo Hill
  Bell's Vireo Vireo bellii FE (FE) (SE) resident
    Gray Vireo Vireo vicinior SSC (SSC) exceptional
  Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni   rare nesting
    Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons   7–30 Jul 1994 Weldon, 26 May 1999 Jawbone Canyon, 9 Oct 1999 Galileo Hill, 19–20 May 2001 Jawbone Canyon, 3 Jun 2001Butterbredt Spring, 13 Apr 2002 Galileo Hill, 29-31 May 2004, 14 May 2006 Butterbredt Spring
  Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii   summer nesting
  Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius * 22 Oct 2001 Galileo Hill; 20 Apr 2004, 14 May 2006 Butterbredt Spring
  Plumbeous Vireo Vireo plumbeus   uncommon migrant
    Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus   22 Oct 1983 California City, 19 Oct 1988, 10 Oct 1992, 6–12 Oct 1996 Galileo Hill
  Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus   summer nesting
  Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus   exceptional
    Yellow-green Vireo Vireo flavoviridis   21–27 Sep 1995, 6 Oct 1998, 28–30 Oct 2003 Galileo Hill
Corvidae - Crows and Jays
  Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus   resident breeder
  Steller's Jay Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri   resident breeder
  California Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica   resident breeder
  Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma woodhouseii   rare
  Clark's Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana   rare SW county
  Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia   exceptional only 3 desert records
  Yellow-billed Magpie Pica nuttalli W (BCC) rare NW corner county
  American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos   resident breeder
  Common Raven Corvus corax   resident breeder
Alaudidae - Larks
  Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris W (W) resident breeder
Hirundinidae - Swallows
  Bank Swallow Riparia riparia ST (SSC) uncommon migrant
  Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor   resident breeder
  Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina   summer nesting
  Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis   summer nesting
  Purple Martin Purple Martin


Progne subis SSC (ST)  uncommon summer
  Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica   summer nesting
  Cliff Swallow

Petrochelidon pyrrhonota   summer nesting
Paridae - Chickadees and Titmice
  Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli   resident breeder
  Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus W (BCC) resident breeder
  Juniper Titmouse Baeolophus ridgwayi    
Remizidae - Penduline Tits and Verdins
  Verdin Auriparus flaviceps   resident breeder
Aegithalidae - Long-tailed Tits and Bushtits

Psaltriparus minimus   resident breeder
Sittidae - Nuthatches
  Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis   resident breeder
  White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis   resident breeder
  Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea   resident breeder
Certhiidae - Creepers
  Brown Creeper Certhia americana   resident breeder
Troglodytidae - Wrens  
  Rock Wren Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus   resident breeder
  Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus   resident breeder
  Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus   resident breeder
  Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii   resident breeder
  House Wren Troglodytes aedon   resident breeder
  Pacific Wren Troglodytes pacificus   resident breeder
  Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris   resident breeder
Polioptilidae - Gnatcatchers and Gnatwrens
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea   resident breeder
  Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Polioptila melanura W  (W) Summer 2009 - Jon Feenstra
Cinclidae - Dippers
  American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus   resident breeder
Regulidae - Kinglets
  Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa   resident breeder
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Corthylio calendula   resident breeder
Phylloscopidae - Leaf Warblers
    Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus * 4–5 Oct 1997 Cantil
  Arctic/Kamchatka Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealis/examinandus * 6-10 Sept 2007 - B. & S. Steele - Galileo Hill
Sylviidae - Sylviid Warblers
  Wrentit Chamaea fasciata   resident breeder
Mimidae - Mockingbirds and Thrashers
  Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis   5 Jun 1987 Mojave, 1 Jun 1991 Butterbredt Spring, many other sightings Kern Desert, 14 Oct 2004 Kern River Preserve,
    Curve-billed Thrasher Toxostoma curvirostre   13 Jul 2018 - Mojave East Park -Simon Kiesι
  Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum   exceptional
  Bendire's Thrasher Toxostoma bendirei SSC (SSC) exceptional summer
  California Thrasher Toxostoma redivivum   resident breeder
  LeConte's Thrasher Toxostoma lecontei SSC (SSC) resident breeder
  Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus   migrant
  Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos   resident breeder
Sturnidae - Starlings
  European Starling Sturnus vulgaris I (I) resident breeder
Bombycillidae - Waxwings
    Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus   exceptional
  Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum   uncommon 
Ptiliogonatidae - Silky-flycatchers

Phainopepla nitens   resident breeder
Passeridae - Old World Sparrows
  House Sparrow Passer domesticus I (I) resident breeder
Estrildidae - Waxbills and Allies
  Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata I (I) One juvenile seen by Susan Steele and Tom Wurster. 29 October 2016 California City. Kern River Bakersfield, Jake Abel 
Motacillidae - Wagtails and Pipits
  Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus   20 Sep 1991 China Lake, 22 Sep 1991 California City
  American Pipit Anthus rubescens   winter resident
  Sprague's Pipit Anthus spragueii   20–22 Oct 1996 China Lake, 8-9 Oct 2008 Galileo Hill
Fringillidae - Fringilline and Cardueline Finches and Allies
  Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus   rare breeding
  Pine Grosbeak

Pinicola enucleator   exceptional
  Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Leucosticte tephrocotis   exceptional
  House Finch

Haemorhous mexicanus   resident breeder
  Purple Finch Haemorhous purpureus   resident breeder
  Cassin's Finch

Haemorhous cassinii   summer in mountains - winter movement to lowlands  resident breeder
  Red Crossbill

Loxia curvirostra   irruptive -  resident breeder
  Pine Siskin Spinus pinus   irruptive - may be found year-round but mostly winter
  Lesser Goldfinch Spinus psaltria   breeds in county grasslands, riparian areas
  Lawrence's Goldfinch

Spinus lawrencei W (BCC) breeds in county - fiddleneck preferred food resident breeder
  American Goldfinch

Spinus tristis   found in the county fall through spring
Calcariidae - Longspurs and Snow Buntings
  Lapland Longspur Calcarius lapponicus   rare winter
    Chestnut-collared Longspur Calcarius ornatus   uncommon winter
    Smith's Longspur Calcarius pictus * 10 Oct 1996 Galileo Hill
    McCown's Longspur Rhynchophanes mccownii   exceptional
  Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis * 23–27 Dec 1978 Kelso Valley
Emberizidae - Old World Buntings
  Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica * 7–10 Nov 1993 Cantil
Passerellidae - New World Sparrows
  Cassin's Sparrow Peucaea cassinii * 10–13 Jun 2001 Kern River