Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Ruby Valley, Nevada
Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938. It encompasses 37,632 acres at the south end of Ruby Valley. This land was once covered by a 200 foot deep, 300,800 acre lake known as Franklin Lake. Today 12,000 acres of marsh remain on the refuge. Just north of the refuge, a 15,000 acre seasonal wetland is now referred to as Franklin Lake.
The refuge, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, consists of an extensive bulrush marsh interspersed with pockets of open water. Fish are abundant. Islands scattered throughout provide good nesting habitat for many bird species.
Over 200 springs flow into the marsh along its west border creating riparian habitat which is used by many songbirds, snipe, rail and small mammals. They also provide a water source for larger mammals. With slight increases in elevation, wet meadows gradate into grasslands and sagebrush-rabbitbrush habitat.
Pinon Pines and juniper cover the slopes of the Ruby Mountains that rise to 11,000 feet along the west side of the refuge. Canyons provide habitat for a variety of wildife. Rock cliffs provide raptors with nesting and perching sites. A mountainside of dead trees, home for cavity dwelling birds, was the result of a 1979 fire.
Viewing wildlife is best done during morning and evening hours. Binoculars or a spotting scope greatly assist in identifying wildlife and observing their behavior. Best wildlife viewing from a car can be done by taking the Bressman Cabin Loop passing Unit 10, the North and East Sumps, and Unit 13 and/or by taking the Brown Dike-Short Dike Loop around Unit 21. For a unique opportunity to see the marsh wildlife up-close, the South Sump is open during part of the year for canoeing and electric motors.
The following bird list includes 207 species observed on or near the refuge. In addition, 22 species are listed as accidentals because they have only been observed once or twice in the area. Species known to nest locally (*) are identified.
Bird life can be seen through all the habitat types from the valley floor to the mountain peaks. The refuge is a significant waterfowl area in Nevada, providing an important feeding and resting stop in the Pacific Flyway.
During the summer, the marshes provide excellent habitat for nesting canvasbacks and redheads along with several colonial nesters - the white-faced ibis, the great blue heron and the black-crowned night-heron. Greater sandhill cranes nest along the marsh's edge. Trumpeter swans were introduced into the valley from Montana resulting in several pairs nesting on the refuge each year. Prairie falcons nest locally and forage on the refuge.
Common names and taxonomic order follow the 6th edition of the "A.O.U. Checklist of North American Birds" (1983).
a - abundant: likely to be seen in large numbers
c - common: usually seen in proper habitat
u - uncommon: seen regularly in small numbers
o - occasional: irregular occurrence
r - rare: rarely seen
The following symbols are used to indicate in which habitats each wildlife species would most likely be found. It is important to remember that use of an area depends on the season and an animal's activity, especially for birds that are highly mobile.
1 - Marsh
2 - Riparian
3 - Flowing Water/Collection Ditch
4 - Wet Meadows
5 - Grasslands
6 - Sagebrush/Rabbitbrush
7 - Pinon/Juniper
8 - Canyons
9 - Rocky Areas/Cliffs
10 - Caves
11 - Buildings
12 - Widespread
# - Threatened/endangered species
+ - Introduced species
* - Bird species known to nest locally
LOONS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Common Loon 1 r - r -
GREBES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* 1 c c c u ___ Horned Grebe 1 o - o - ___ Eared Grebe* 1 c c c u ___ Western Grebe* 1 r r u - ___ Clark's Grebe 1 u u - -
PELICANS & CORMORANTS Habitat Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican 1 o u u - ___ Double-crested Cormorant* 1 u u u -
BITTERNS, HERONS & EGRETS Habitat Sp S F W ___ American Bittern* 1 c c c - ___ Great Blue Heron* 1 c c c c ___ Great Egret 1 r o r - ___ Snowy Egret* 1 c c u - ___ Cattle Egret 5 r r - - ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* 1 c c c o ___ Green Heron 1,2 r r - -
IBIS & SPOONBILLS Habitat Sp S F W ___ White-faced Ibis* 1,4 c a c -
WATERFOWL Habitat Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan 1 u - c c ___ Trumpeter Swan* 1 u u u u ___ Greater White-fronted Goose 1 o - - o ___ Snow Goose 1 - - - o ___ Canada Goose* 1,4 c c c c ___ Wood Duck 3,2 - - u - ___ Green-winged Teal 1 c r a c ___ Mallard* 1 a a a c ___ Northern Pintail* 1 c u a c ___ Blue-winged Teal* 1 u u u - ___ Cinnamon Teal* 1 a a c u ___ Northern Shoveler* 1 c c c u ___ Gadwall* 1 a a a c ___ American Wigeon* 1 c u c c ___ Canvasback* 1 a a a u ___ Redhead* 1 a a a u ___ Ring-necked Duck* 1 c u u c ___ Lesser Scaup* 1 c c c c ___ Common Goldeneye 1 u - u c ___ Barrow's Goldeneye 1 - - r r ___ Bufflehead 1 u - c c ___ Hooded Merganser 1 o - o o ___ Common Merganser 1 u - u u ___ Red-breasted Merganser 1 r - r r ___ Ruddy Duck* 1 c c c u
VULTURES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture* 5 c c u -
OSPREY, KITES, EAGLES & HAWKS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Osprey 1 r - r - ___ Bald Eagle# 12 - - o o ___ Northern Harrier* 12 c c c c ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk* 2 o o o - ___ Cooper's Hawk* 2 o o o - ___ Northern Goshawk 2 o - - - ___ Swainson's Hawk* 5,6 o o o o ___ Red-tailed Hawk* 12 c c c o ___ Ferruginous Hawk* 5,6 o o o o ___ Rough-legged Hawk 5,6 c o c c ___ Golden Eagle* 5,9 u u u o
FALCONS Habitat Sp S F W ___ American Kestrel* 5 c c c - ___ Peregrine Falcon#+ 8,9 r - r r ___ Prairie Falcon* 5,9 u u r r
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Gray Partridge* 5 r r r r ___ Chukar* 8 r r r r ___ Blue Grouse* 7 - r u u ___ Sage Grouse* 5,6 c c c c ___ California Quail* 8 r r r r
RAILS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Virginia Rail* 1 u u u r ___ Sora* 1 u u r - ___ Common Moorhen* 1 r r - - ___ American Coot* 1 a a a c
CRANES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane 4,5 c c u -
PLOVERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover 1 r - - - ___ Killdeer* 4,5 c c c r
STILTS & AVOCETS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Black-necked Stilt* 1 o c u - ___ American Avocet* 1 o c u -
SHOREBIRDS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Greater Yellowlegs 1 o - o - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs 1 - u u - ___ Solitary Sandpiper 1 c - c - ___ Willet* 4,5 c c u - ___ Spotted Sandpiper* 1 c c c - ___ Long-billed Curlew* 4,5 c c - - ___ Least Sandpiper 1 c c c - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher 1 o u o - ___ Western Sandpiper 1 r - r - ___ Marbled Godwit 1,4 r - - -
SNIPE Habitat Sp S F W ___ Common Snipe* 1,2 u c u u
PHALAROPES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Wilson's Phalarope* 1 o o o - ___ Red-necked Phalarope 1 o - o -
GULLS & TERNS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Franklin's Gull 1 o o o - ___ Ring-billed Gull 1 o o u - ___ California Gull 1 o o o - ___ Caspian Tern 1 o u o - ___ Forster's Tern* 1 c c u - ___ Black Tern* 1 c c u -
DOVES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove 11 o - - - ___ Mourning Dove* 7,5 a c a o
OWLS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Great Horned Owl* 2 c c c c ___ Burrowing Owl* 5,6 u u u - ___ Long-eared Owl* 7,2 u u u u ___ Short-eared Owl* 5,6 c c c u ___ Northern Saw-whet Owl* 7 u u u u
GOATSUCKERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Common Nighthawk* 12 c c u - ___ Common Poorwill* 7,6 u u u -
SWIFTS Habitat Sp S F W ___ White-throated Swift* 8,9 u u u -
HUMMINGBIRDS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird* 8,5 u u u - ___ Calliope Hummingbird* 2,8 u u u - ___ Broad-tailed Hummingbird* 2,5 u u u - ___ Rufous Hummingbird 2,5 u c c -
KINGFISHERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher* 2 u u u u
WOODPECKERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Lewis' Woodpecker* 7,8 u c u - ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2 o o o - ___ Downy Woodpecker* 2,7 u u u u ___ Hairy Woodpecker* 2,7 u u u u ___ Northern Flicker* 5,7 c c c u
FLYCATCHERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher* 2,7 - u - - ___ Western Wood-Pewee* 2 u u - - ___ Willow Flycatcher* 2,8 - c - - ___ Hammond's Flycatcher* 7 u - - - ___ Dusky Flycatcher* 6,2 c c c - ___ Gray Flycatcher* 7,6 u u u - ___ Cordilleran Flycatcher* 2,8 u u - - ___ Say's Phoebe* 8,9 c c c - ___ Ash-throated Flycatcher* 5,6 u u u - ___ Western Kingbird* 5,6 c c c -
LARKS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* 5 c c c c
SWALLOWS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow* 2,7 c a a - ___ Violet-green Swallow* 7,9 c a a - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* 11,9 c c c - ___ Bank Swallow 11,6 c c c - ___ Cliff Swallow* 11,9 a a a - ___ Barn Swallow* 11 c c c -
JAYS, MAGPIES & CROWS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Scrub Jay* 7 - u u u ___ Pinyon Jay* 7 u u u c ___ Clark's Nutcracker* 7 o o o o ___ Black-billed Magpie* 12 c c c c ___ American Crow* 12 o u u o ___ Common Raven* 12 c c c c
CHICKADEES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee 8,2 - - - o ___ Mountain Chickadee* 2,8 u u u c ___ Plain Titmouse* 7 c c c c
BUSHTITS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Bushtit* 7 c c c c
NUTHATCHES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch* 7 c c c -
CREEPERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper* 7,2 u u u -
WRENS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Rock Wren* 9 u u u - ___ Canyon Wren* 8,9 u u u r ___ House Wren* 2,4 c c c - ___ Marsh Wren* 1 a a a u
DIPPERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ American Dipper 2,3 o o o o
KINGLETS, BLUEBIRDS & THRUSHES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet 7 u u u - ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet 7,2 u u u - ___ Mountain Bluebird* 5 c u c - ___ Townsend's Solitaire* 7,3 u u u u ___ Veery 8,2 - c - - ___ Swainson's Thrush 2,4 u u u - ___ Hermit Thrush 2,7 o o o - ___ American Robin* 12 c c c o ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 7 r r - -
MOCKINGBIRDS & THRASHERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird 2 o o o - ___ Northern Mockingbird 11,2 - u - - ___ Sage Thrasher* 5,6 u u u -
WAGTAILS & PIPITS Habitat Sp S F W ___ American Pipit 4,5 - r r -
WAXWINGS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing 2 o o o o
SHRIKES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Northern Shrike 7 - - - o ___ Loggerhead Shrike* 5,6 o o o -
STARLINGS & MYNAS Habitat Sp S F W ___ European Starling* 12 c c c o
VIREOS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Solitary Vireo 2 u u u - ___ Warbling Vireo 2 u u u - ___ Red-eyed Vireo 2 - r - -
WARBLERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Orange-crowned Warbler 2 u u u - ___ Virginia'a Warbler* 8,7 u u u - ___ Yellow Warbler* 2 c c c - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler* 2 c c c - ___ Black-throated Gray Warbler* 8,6 u u u - ___ Northern Waterthrush 4,2 r - r - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler* 2 u u u - ___ Common Yellowthroat* 1,2 u c u - ___ Wilson's Warbler* 2 u u u - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat* 2 o o o -
TANAGERS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Western Tanager 7 u u u -
GROSBEAKS & BUNTINGS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Black-headed Grosbeak 2 u u u - ___ Lazuli Bunting* 2 u u u - ___ Indigo Bunting 5,2 r r - -
TOWHEES & SPARROWS Habitat Sp S F W ___ Green-tailed Towhee* 8,6 u u u - ___ Rufous-sided Towhee* 2 u u u - ___ American Tree Sparrow 5,4 - - o o ___ Chipping Sparrow* 5,8 u u u - ___ Brewer's Sparrow* 6 c c c - ___ Vesper Sparrow* 5,6 c c c - ___ Lark Sparrow 5 c c u - ___ Black-throated Sparrow* 6,8 u u u - ___ Sage Sparrow* 6 c c c - ___ Savannah Sparrow* 5 a a a - ___ Grasshopper Sparrow 5 o o o - ___ Fox Sparrow 6,7 - u - - ___ Song Sparrow* 2,1 o o c o ___ Lincoln's Sparrow 2 - - r - ___ White-throated Sparrow 2,6 - - r - ___ Golden-crowned Warbler 2 - - r - ___ White-crowned Sparrow 2,6 c c c - ___ Harris' Sparrow 2,6 r - - r ___ Dark-eyed Junco* 7 c o u c ___ Bobolink* 5,4 o o o -
BLACKBIRDS, MEADOWLARKS & ORIOLES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Red-winged Blackbird* 1,4 u a a u ___ Western Meadowlark* 5 c a a u ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* 1 a a c - ___ Brewer's Blackbird* 12 c c c - ___ Great-tailed Grackle 4,5 r r - - ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* 12 c c c - ___ Bullock's Oriole* 2 u u u -
FINCHES Habitat Sp S F W ___ Rosy Finch 5,6 - - - u ___ Cassin's Finch* 7 u u u - ___ House Finch* 5,6 c c c - ___ Pine Siskin* 7 c c u - ___ Lesser Goldfinch 5,2 o - o - ___ American Goldfinch* 5 u u u - ___ Evening Grosbeak 2,7 o o o -
WEAVER FINCHES Habitat Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* 11 o u o -
ACCIDENTALS Least Bittern Flammulated Owl Ross' Goose Western Screech-Owl Eurasian Wigeon Eastern Kingbird Greater Scaup White-breasted Nuthatch Oldsquaw Bohemian Waxwing Surf Scoter Blackpoll Warbler White-winged Scoter American Redstart Bonaparte's Gull Rose-breasted Grosbeak Band-tailed Pigeon Blue Grosbeak Barn Owl Varied Thrush
A special thank you to L. Ports and M. Ports from Northern Nevada Community College and M. Green from Nevada Department of Wildlife for their help in preparing this list. For further information contact:
Refuge Manager Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge HC 60, Box 860 Ruby Valley, Nevada 89833 Telephone: 702/779-2237This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1992. Wildlife of Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated.This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1992. Wildlife of Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.govrubylake.htm (Version 26MAY98).