Everywhere and every article you read tells how great birding is in Mammoth. But where are the birds? They arrive in spring and depart when the weather gets cold. Birds are migratory and like the saying goes, fly south for the winter. But come the nice weather, Mono and Inyo counties are home to some great species. When you plan your day trips, don't forget your binoculars, camera, and sunscreen, and if you get some dynamite close-ups, send us a copy.
Mono Lake area
The Mono Lake area is home to the famous annual Bird Chautauqua which is an adult educational get together to study the flying species. Bodie State Historic Park - The ghost town is home to the highest density of Sage Grouse in the state. It is said they are often in the ghost town at dawn. Try walking in the sage in the area, this might produce good numbers of Sage Thrasher and Green-tailed Towhee. Also try Murphy Spring, located along H-270 to Bodie, 300 yards before the road turns to gravel. Good for the sage birds, including nevadensis Sage Sparrow
Mono Lake County Park
Situated in the NW corner off H-395 provides a good introduction to Mono Lake, as the birds aren't as close as they will be! An excellent muddy shoreline at the end of the broadwalk produced Semipalmated Sandpiper and Black Brant. A scan across the lake will reveal Eared Grebe and R-N Phalarope in unbelievable numbers.
There is a small parking lot just to the north of the visitor center. Here you can get within feet of hundreds of Wilson's Phalaropes as they feed on the billions of flies, no the mud isn't black!
South Tufa area
On the south side off H-120 is an excellent site. Sage Thrashers feed along the shoreline and the swallows perch on the Tufa, which are inhabited by Rock Wrens. This is said to be a good site for Grey Flycatcher.
The next parking lot on, this was the only site where Red-necked Phalaropes were feet away from the shoreline. Good site for Brewer's Sparrow.
This Lake has a good numbers of birds. Early in the morning may reveal Sage Grouse.
Tollhouse Spring - A great little spot, several empidonax flycatchers have been seen as well as a Juniper Titmouse. Turn left on to H-168 at Big Pine and Tollhouse Spring is on your left after 8 miles.
Cedar Flat Campground
5 miles on from Tollhouse spring on the right-hand side. Juniper Titmouse have been seen. Listen for their distinctive 'rattle' call; also you might find were Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Chipping Sparrow and Grey Flycatcher.
Rreached by taking the road off to the left, opposite Cedar Flat, and it is 5-6 miles on from here. Black-throated Grey Warblers are fairly common here, Juniper Titmouse, B-G Gnatcatcher have been seen feeding on the ground, along with Red Crossbill.
Bird Species Found in or around Mammoth Lakes
There are several varieties that are indigenous to the Eastern Sierras. Get a guidebook to help you identify some of these. And don't forget to send us some of your close-up photos. Happy Birding!
Eared Grebe (a.k.a Black-necked Grebe) Podiceps nigricollis
Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Brant (a.k.a Black Brant) Branta bernicla nigricans
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus
Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus
California Quail Callipepla californica
Virginia Rail Rallus limicola
American Coot Fulica americana
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipe
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus
Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii
Dusky Flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri
Black-billed Magpie Pica pica
Horned Lark (a.k.a Shorelark) Eremophila alpestris
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina
Bank Swallow (a.k.a Sand Martin) Riparia riparia
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Juniper Titmouse Baeolophus griseus
Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
(We would love photos of these if you have some nice ones.)