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Mono Basin Bird List
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Mono Basin Bird List
A partial list of Mono's Many Avian Visitors

This checklist includes over 325 species of birds known to have occurred at Mono Lake and within the Mono Basin watershed, up to 8000 feet in elevation. The Mono Basin watershed has a variety of habitats, and each supports its own collection of bird species--as well as birds commonly seen throughout the Basin. The most prominent habitat is Mono Lake, a salty, alkaline inland sea home to brine shrimp, alkali flies, and the millions of birds that depend on them. Flowing down from the Sierra Nevada escarpment, freshwater streams create a different habitat where aspens, willows, and cottonwoods grow. And in other locations, one finds Mono Basin habitats such as Jeffrey Pine forests, Pinyon Pine woodlands, vast sagebrush steppe, and freshwater lakes.

Over 118 species are known to breed during the summer months in the Mono Basin. Of special interest are California Gulls, which raise their young on Mono Lake's islands. Other species such as Sage Thrashers, Green-tailed Towhees, and Yellow Warblers can also be frequently found in the spring and summer. It is during the fall migration months of August and September, however, that the greatest number of species may be seen. Migratory shorebirds and other waterbirds, including Eared Grebes and Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes, use Mono Lake as a feeding and resting stop on their southward journeys. Because of this, Mono Lake was designated as a site of international importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN).


Ducks, Geese, & Swans

Snow Goose
Ross’s Goose
Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
American Wigeon
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Barrow’s Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck

New World Quail

Mountain Quail
California Quail

Partridges & Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse
White-tailed Ptarmigan
Sooty Grouse


Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark’s Grebe

Pigeons & Doves

Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove

Cuckoos & Roadrunners

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Greater Roadrunner


Common Nighthawk
Common Poorwill


Black Swift
Chimney Swift
Vaux’s Swift
White-throated Swift


Black-chinned Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird

Rails, Gallinules, & Coots

Yellow Rail
Virginia Rail
Common Gallinule
American Coot

Stilts & Avocets

Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet


Black-bellied Plover
American Golden-Plover
Pacific Golden-Plover
Snowy Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Mountain Plover

Sandpipers & Phalaropes

Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Stilt Sandpiper
Baird’s Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson’s Snipe
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Wandering Tattler
Lesser Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs
Wilson’s Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope
Red Phalarope


Pomarine Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger
Long-tailed Jaeger

Gulls & Terns

Sabine’s Gull
Bonaparte’s Gull
Franklin’s Gull
Heermann’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Common Tern
Forster’s Tern


Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Common Loon


Magnificent Frigatebird


Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant


American White Pelican
Brown Pelican

Bitterns & Herons

American Bittern
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron


White-faced Ibis

New World Vultures

Turkey Vulture



Hawks, Kites, & Eagles

White-tailed Kite
Mississippi Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Golden Eagle

Barn Owls

Barn Owl

Typical Owls

Flammulated Owl
Western Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Burrowing Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl


Belted Kingfisher


Lewis’s Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Williamson’s Sapsucker
Red-naped Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Nuttall’s Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
White-headed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker


American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Prairie Falcon

Tyrant Flycatchers

Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Hammond’s Flycatcher
Gray Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Cordilleran Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe
Say’s Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Loggerhead Shrike
Northern Shrike


Yellow-throated Vireo
Cassin’s Vireo
Plumbeous Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Jays & Crows

Pinyon Jay
Steller’s Jay
Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay
Clark’s Nutcracker
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven


Horned Lark


Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow

Chickadees & Titmice

Mountain Chickadee
Juniper Titmouse




Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch


Brown Creeper


Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
House Wren
Pacific Wren
Marsh Wren
Bewick’s Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


American Dipper


Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Western Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
Townsend’s Solitaire
Swainson’s Thrush
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush

Mockingbirds & Thrashers

Brown Thrasher
Sage Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Bohemian Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing



Old World Sparrows

House Sparrow


American Pipit

Finches & Allies

Evening Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Black Rosy-Finch
House Finch
Purple Finch
Cassin’s Finch
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence’s Goldfinch
American Goldfinch


Lapland Longspur
Chestnut-collared Longspur
McCown’s Longspur

Towhees & Sparrows

Green-tailed Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Cassin’s Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Brewer’s Sparrow
Black-chinned Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Lark Bunting
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Harris’s Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-headed Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Orchard Oriole
Hooded Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Rusty Blackbird
Brewer’s Blackbird
Common Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle


Northern Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Virginia’s Warbler
MacGillivray’s Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Grace’s Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend’s Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler

Tanagers & Allies

Summer Tanager
Western Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Indigo Bunting




How to get
the complete list

This list is not complete. Seasonal abundance has been omitted.

You can also order a complete copy from our bookstore for $1 plus tax.


Where to go Birding

A few of the better places to observe birds in the Mono Basin are: Mono Lake County Park, the Lee Vining Creek Trail, Lee Vining Canyon, the Mono Lake South Tufa Area, the Jeffrey Pine forest on Highway 120 east, and Grant Lake Reservoir near June Lake. For information about these areas, maps, and a list of recent bird sightings, visit the Mono Lake Committee Information Center and Bookstore on Highway 395 in Lee Vining. You may also get information by calling (760) 647-6595.


Data Sources

Data for this checklist was obtained from The Birds of Yosemite and the East Slope by David Gaines, and from other ornithologists familiar with the Mono Basin. For a thorough account of the Mono Basin avifauna The Birds of Yosemite is an indispensable and excellent guide worth investing in (currently out of print).


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