Great Basin Naturalist


The Truckee River in California and Nevada is subject to diverse water regimes and a corresponding variety of flow rates. Original riparian vegetation has been altered by these variable flow rates and by a variety of human uses resulting in loss of native riparian vegetation from its historic extent. We conducted bird surveys along the Truckee River during spring 1993 to (1) determine relationships between birds and the present vegetation; (2) determine the importance of different vegetation types to sensitive bird species that have declined recently in the western United States due to competition from exotic plant species, cowbird (Molothrus ater) parasitism, reduction in nesting habitat, or other unidentified reasons; and (3) establish a monitoring program and collect baseline data for future comparisons. The most frequently detected bird species throughout the study was the Brown-headed Cowbird. The greatest number of bird species (98 of 116) was found in the native mixed willow (Salix spp.) riparian scrub vegetation type. We recommend protecting the remaining native riparian vegetation types for bird habitat along the Truckee River.