Great Basin Naturalist


This paper quantifies the distribution and abundance of birds in the White Mountains, Inyo and Mono counties, California, during spring–summer 1989–91, to establish a baseline for monitoring the area's avifauna. Overall 58 species were encountered in the single-leaf pinyon–Utah juniper (Pinus monophylla–Juniperus osteosperma) zone, and 61 species in the bristlecone–limber pine (P. longaeva–P. flexilis) zone. The bristlecone–limber pine zone had a significantly greater overall bird abundance relative to the pinyon–juniper. Both zones were characterized by few very abundant species, a few moderately abundant species, and numerous rare species. The Black-throated Gray Warbler (scientific names in tables), Gray Flycatcher, and Pinyon Jay were the most abundant species in the pinyon–juniper whereas the Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, and Cassin's Finch were the most abundant species in the bristlecone–limber pine. There were few ecological or taxonomic replacements of species between zones, with the differences in distribution and abundance related primarily to the interaction between elevation and vegetation. Significant inter-year variation in abundance was found for about 20 species in each zone—more species showed declining rather than increasing trends. The Mountain Chickadee and White-breasted Nuthatch declined, whereas the Gray Flycatcher and Rock Wren increased across years in both zones. Reasons for declines in some species might be the severe drought that continued throughout this study.