Birds at John Muir National Historic Site

A pair of Dark-Eyed Juncos perch in a tree at John Muir National Historic Site
The Dark-eyed Junco is one of 99 bird species documented at John Muir National Historic Site.

NPS / Jessica Weinberg McClosky

The Question

What bird species are present and breed at john Muir National Historic Site?

As part of national efforts to inventory vertebrates and vascular plants and conduct long-term monitoring of critical natural resources, the National Park Service conducts bird surveys at Mt. Wanda of John Muir National Historic Site. The goal is to develop a comprehensive list of birds present at the park, especially during the peak breeding season, to help inform park management activities.

The Project

Survey birds during the peak breeding season and track their status through long-term monitoring.

Three times each year between May and June, park staff and volunteers conduct bird surveys along 14 point count locations. The stations were established in the spring of 2001 by Point Blue Conservation Science and are spaced every 200 meters along a transect through coast live oak forests, blue oak woodlands, and grasslands of Mt. Wanda. Surveys begin at sunrise and continue for approximately four hours (or as long as weather conditions are favorable) to capture peak bird activity. Each site is surveyed for five minutes, and all bird detections by sight, song, and call are recorded. For all detections, the approximate distance of the bird is categorized as either within a 50-meter radius, or beyond. Researchers then use this information to estimate population density. Any evidence of breeding is also recorded, such as carrying materials for nests and feeding, courtship behavior and copulation, territorial behavior, nests, and presence of juveniles.

Results

Surveys have documented at least 99 species of birds at John Muir National Historic Site including Mt. Wanda.

The count of documented bird species, shown in Table 1, includes flyovers, breeding, and non-breeding species. The 2006 survey found that 41 species were likely breeding (confirmed or probable) on Mt. Wanda. It is likely that additional species were breeding on Mt. Wanda at the time, however documentation was only sufficient to confirm the species listed in Table 1.

This list includes seven breeding birds considered "Species of Continental Importance" in the Pacific Avifaunal Biome by Partners in Flight, including: Oak Titmouse, Band-tailed Pigeon, Allen's Hummingbird, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, California Towhee, Steller's Jay, and Western Scrub Jay.

Table 1. Bird species documented for John Muir National Historic Site as of 2007. Species were categorized by breeding status as follows: NA (no data gathered on breeding); 0 (no evidence of breeding); 1 (possible breeder); 2 (probable breeder); 3 (confirmed breeder on Mt. Wanda). Note: *Species of Continental Importance in the Pacific AvifaunaI Biome by Partners in Flight (National Landbird Conservation Plan 2004).

Common Name

Breeding Status

Double-crested Cormorant

NA

Great Blue Heron

NA

Canada Goose

NA

Mallard

NA

Cooper's Hawk

NA

Sharp-shinned Hawk

NA

Red-tailed Hawk

2

Red-shouldered Hawk

3

Ferruginous Hawk

NA

Northern Harrier

1

American Kestrel

2

White-tailed Kite

3

Osprey

NA

Turkey Vulture

3

Wild Turkey

3

California Quail

1

Rock Pigeon

1

Mourning Dove

2

Band-tailed Pigeon*

1

Barn Owl

NA

Western Screech-owl

3

Great-horned Owl

1

White-throated Swift

NA

Anna's Hummingbird

3

Allen's Hummingbird

1

Rufous Hummingbird

NA

Northern Flicker

0

Acorn Woodpecker

3

Nuttall's Woodpecker

3

Downy Woodpecker

2

Hairy Woodpecker

NA

Red-breasted Sapsucker

NA

Western Wood-pewee

2

Pacific Slope Flycatcher

2

Ash-throated Flycatcher

3

Black Phoebe

3

Olive-sided Flycatcher

NA

Say's Phoebe

NA

Cassin's Vireo

1

Warbling Vireo

2

Hutton's Vireo

2

Western Scrub-Jay*

3

American Crow

2

Steller's Jay*

3

Common Raven

NA

Barn Swallow

0

Cliff Swallow

0

Tree Swallow

0

Violet-green Swallow

3

Wrentit*

NA

Oak Titmouse

3

Chestnut-backed Chickadee*

3

Bushtit

3

White-breasted Nuthatch

3

Brown Creeper

3

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

3

Bewick's Wren

3

House Wren

3

Golden-crowned Kinglet

NA

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

NA

Swainson's Thrush

0

Western Bluebird

3

American Robin

1

Hermit Thrush

NA

Varied Thrush*

NA

Northern Mockingbird

3

European Starling

3

Cedar Waxwing

NA

Orange-crowned Warbler

NA

Wilson's Warbler

1

Black-throated Gray Warbler*

NA

Hermit Warbler*

NA

Yellow Warbler

NA

Yellow-rumped Warbler

NA

Townsend's Warbler

NA

Western Tanager

NA

California Towhee

3

Spotted Towhee

3

Chipping Sparrow

3

Lark Sparrow

NA

Savannah Sparrow

NA

Golden-crowned Sparrow*

NA

White-crowned Sparrow

NA

Fox Sparrow*

NA

Song Sparrow

NA

Dark-eyed Junco

3

Black-headed Grosbeak

2

Lazuli Bunting

NA

Western Meadowlark

NA

Hooded Oriole

3

Bullock's Oriole

NA

Red-winged Blackbird

NA

Pine Siskin

NA

Lawrence's Goldfinch*

NA

American Goldfinch

NA

Lesser Goldfinch

3

House Finch

3

Purple Finch

NA

House Sparrow

1

Acknowledgements

Much of this work would not be possible without Cheryl Abel, Park Ranger, John Muir National Historic Site. Point Blue Conservation Science was also instrumental in establishing the surveys and continuing to support long-term monitoring.

Additional Resources

Contact Information

Links
San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network
Pacific Coast Science & Learning Center
Point Blue Conservation Science
San Francisco Bay Area Network Species Lists - Certified Species lists including residency, abundance, and native/non-native status.

Summary by the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center, January 2007.
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