Birding is best in the early morning. If you are going to cut your birding day short, it is highly recommended that you do so at the end of your birding day rather than at the beginning. The most successful birding in the Kern River Valley and vicinity requires an early start (30-45 minutes before sunrise). Spend the mornings in the valley and desert areas and the afternoons in themountains. If you are able to spend several days birding this area, try to visit the mountains before noon for the best bird experience (in the afternoon on a summer's day find many species of butterflies).

Kern River Preserve Headquarters Year-Round Birds 

Nuttall's Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, American Goldfinch, 50-100 California Quail, 50-75 Mourning Dove, Lark Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco, Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, and House Finch.

Also Within 400 meters/yards of Headquarters: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Killdeer, Western Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, Black Phoebe,Common Raven, Bushtit, Bewick's Wren, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, Western Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, and Lesser Goldfinch.

Winter Residents

List courtesy of Bob Barnes

Wild Turkey 
California Quail 
American White Pelican 
Great Blue Heron 
Northern Harrier 
Cooper’s Hawk 
Red-shouldered Hawk 
Red-tailed Hawk 
Ferruginous Hawk 
Golden Eagle 
American Kestrel 
Prairie Falcon 
American Coot 
Wilson’s Snipe 
Ring-billed Gull 
California Gull 
Eurasian Collared Dove
Mourning Dove 
Greater Roadrunner 
Barn Owl 
Great Horned Owl 
White-throated Swift 
Anna’s Hummingbird 
Red-breasted Sapsucker 
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 
Downy Woodpecker 
Hairy Woodpecker 
Northern Flicker 
Black Phoebe 
Say’s Phoebe 
Loggerhead Shrike 
Western Scrub-Jay 
Common Raven 
Oak Titmouse 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
Rock Wren 
Bewick’s Wren 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Western Bluebird 
Mountain Bluebird 
American Robin 
Northern Mockingbird 
European Starling 
Audubon's Warbler 
Spotted Towhee 
Lark Sparrow 
Savannah Sparrow 
Song Sparrow 
Lincoln’s Sparrow 
White-crowned Sparrow 
Dark-eyed Junco 
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird 
Western Meadowlark 
Brewer’s Blackbird 
House Finch 
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Recommended Winter Birding Areas: include Scodie Park in Onyx, Tillie Creek Campground in Wofford Heights, Main Dam Campground below Isabella Reservoir, all around Isabella Reservoir and its other campgrounds, the Greenhorn Mountains via snow-cleared State Highway 155, and Canebrake Ecological Reserve (a mixed flock of 1200 blackbirds including 800+ Tricolored Blackbirds.

Other Places to Bird

Isabella Reservoir - (Engineers' Point between two dams, trees around Greenhorn Ranger District headquarters, Main Dam Campground, French Gulch Marina area, Tillie Creek Campground/North Fork Marina area, Lakeside Park in Wofford Heights, Riverside Park in Kernville, Camp 9 off Sierra Way, pullouts along Sierra Way, Stine Cove & Hanning Flat off Sierra Way, Kissack Cove off Hwy. 178 in Wofford Heights, birding from road below auxiliary dam). Allow a very full day.

Wofford Heights - Isabella Reservoir access, Live Oak Campground, North Fork Marina, Tillie Creek Campground, & Wofford Heights Park. Excellent combination of side-by-side areas to spend two hours to a full morning searching for species including: grebes, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, herons & egrets, waterfowl, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, California Quail, gulls, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Western Scrub Jay, Oak Titmouse, Western Bluebird, California Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Phainopepla, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped (Audubon's Warbler), Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Lark Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco, Blackbirds (Red-winged, Tricolored, Brewer's), Purple Finch, and Lesser Goldfinch.

Weldon Valley - Twelve Mile Long Hwy. 178, Kelso Valley Road, Kelso Creek Road road triangle (Kern River Preserve Headquarters & vicinity, Kelso Valley Road, Kelso Creek wash, Kelso Creek Road, Hwy. 178). Allow a very full day for both or 1/2 day for Weldon Valley.

South Fork Valley - Canebrake Ecological Reserve, Fay Ranch Road, Hwy. 178 corridor, Kelso Creek Road, Kelso Valley Road, Kern River Preserve, Onyx, Prince's Pond, Sierra Way,...

Greenhorn Mountains - (Hwy. 155 from Wofford Heights to 6104' Greenhorn Summit, Alta Sierra roads, Greenhorn Mtn. Park, Old State Road if snow free). Alta Sierra, Greenhorn Summit, Hwy. 155 corridor, Old State Road, Rancheria Road south to Shirley Meadows Ski Area, Sawmill Road, ... to search for montane and chaparral species including: Northern Goshawk, Mountain Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, Spotted Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Steller's Jay, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper. Golden-crowned Kinglet, Townsend's Solitaire, Wrentit, California Thrasher, Phainopepla, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco, Purple Finch, and Cassin's Finch. Allow a very full day.

Access for the different abled

Universal access varies depending on time of year. Feeders at the Kern River Preserve may be viewed from vehicles displaying handicapped placards in the handicapped parking area, all others should park in the parking lot and sit at the picnic tables for ease of viewing feeder birds.Canebrake Ecological Reserve has a wheelchair accessible trail but the gate to the parking area requires an able bodied person to open. There are many pullouts and vehicle access points all the way around Isabella Reservoir and most of the campgrounds around the lake have paved interior roads that wheelchairs can move easily onTillie Creek Campground is an amazing birding area and except on busy holiday weekends has many closed roads that provide a leisurely birding experience. The Trail of 100 Giants is closed in winter as well as most mountain roads.

Canebrake Ecological Reserve is a great birding spot owned and managed by the California Dept. of Fish & Game.

Some of the Birds at the Preserve

Summer Tanager

Latin:  Piranga rubra

Illustration for Summer Tanager

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Latin:  Dryobates nuttallii

Illustration for Nuttall's Woodpecker

Tricolored Blackbird

Latin:  Agelaius tricolor

Illustration for Tricolored Blackbird

White-breasted Nuthatch

Latin:  Sitta carolinensis

Illustration for White-breasted Nuthatch

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Latin:  Corthylio calendula

Illustration for Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Turkey Vulture

Latin:  Cathartes aura

Illustration for Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Latin:  Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Illustration for Bald Eagle

Western Screech-Owl

Latin:  Megascops kennicottii

Illustration for Western Screech-Owl

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