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Wildlife in the Kern River Valley - Checklist of wildlife on the Kern River Preserve

Mammals    Birds     Reptiles     Amphibians      Fish    Insects   Spiders     Dragonflies     Grasshoppers     Butterflies     Crayfish

NOTE: There is no collecting, fishing, or hunting on the preserve. If you see any animal or plant on the preserve, please take only pictures and memories. Do not disturb nesting birds. Do not go off trail.

Wildlife resources in the Kern River Watershed are among the most diverse in North America, north of Mexico. On the Kern River Preserve alone 261 birds (108 nesting), 49 species of mammals, 24 reptiles, 3 amphibians, 19 fish, 45 butterflies, 12 grasshoppers, 21 dragonflies, and 8 damselfly species have been recorded. Find the full checklist here.

Each year volunteers and professional researchers conduct surveys of birds and butterflies on the Kern River Preserve. Recently the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley resurveyed Joseph Grinnell’s transects from 1911, which included most of the Kern River Preserve. Their findings confirmed several suspected species of reptiles and mammals.

Several sensitive species are found on the preserve, although one is now extirpated as its range is suffering serious contraction. The foothill yellow-legged frog was recorded along Fay Creek but needs clear running water for tadpoles to survive; recent upstream damming of the watercourse may have contributed to this species absence from the lower reaches.

Sensitive vertebrate species found on or adjacent to the Kern River Preserve.
Common Name                      Scientific Name                   Status State - Federal    Location
Foothill Yellow-legged Frog        Rana boylii                             CFP   FSS                          extirpated Fay Canyon
Southern Pacific Pond Turtle      Actinemys marmorata pallida  CP  CFP FSS                      uncommon South Fork
Coast Horned Lizard                 Phrynosoma coronatum          CP  CSSC FSS                   rare Sandy soils
California Legless Lizard           Anniella pulchra                      CP CSSC  FC FSS              rare Grasslands
Bald Eagle                               Haliaectus leucocephalus         CFP CE CDFS FT                winter rare South Fork
Peregrine Falcon                      Falco peregrinus                     CE CFP CDFS FSS              rare Migrant Corner
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii extimus        CE   FE                             rare Riparian Forest

Status Abbreviations: CP=California Protected, CSSC=California Species of Special Concern, CDFS=California Department of Forestry Sensitive, CFP=California Fully Protected, CE=California Endangered, FSS=USFS Sensitive, FT=Federal Threatened, FE=Federal Endangered, FC=Candidate for Federal Listing

The Southern Pacific Pond Turtle is found throughout the preserve’s wetlands. In 2006, a headstart project was started with a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Foundation and is being conducted by Kern River Preserve staff and volunteers with promising results. In 2007, five eggs hatched and are being reared in artificial ponds on the Sprague Ranch. In 2008, twenty eggs hatched and are now in the artificial ponds. In 2009, another 8 eggs hatched. Once hatchlings reach a size of 90mm or greater, they will be released into the wild.

A mixture of native and introduced fish species inhabit the South Fork Kern River. Only two native species has been found recently, the Sacramento pikeminnow (squawfish) and the Sacramento sucker, which typically dominates undisturbed western Sierra Nevada streams. In addition to native species, the fish fauna includes several introduced warm water fish species including carp, channel catfish, green sunfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, mosquito fish, and white crappie.

Interest in a wide variety of wildlife is growing and many traditional birdwatchers have expanded their interests to include dragonflies, butterflies, and other vertebrate groups.

About Audubon Kern River Preserve

The Kern River Preserve is managed by Audubon California for the preservation of one of California’s largest contiguous cottonwood-willow riparian forests and the wildlife it supports.

Audubon Kern River Preserve supporters provide financial and volunteer support for Preserve outreach, education, wildlife habitat protection & stewardship.

Since 1905 Audubon has been protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

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This site was created on October 21, 1998. Please Email to make comments or offer suggestions.