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Bird Checklists of the United States

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Los Banos, California

Welcome to the San Luis National Widlife Refuge Complex

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex is well known for its diverse population of bird life. October through May represents the optimum viewing period. During the winter, the refuges will support several hundred thousand waterfowl, highlighted by large concentrations of mallards and green-winged teal. Birds of prey are common, drawn to an abundance of waterfowl, ground squirrels, meadow voles and rabbits. The wooded slough channels provide a haven for both migratory and resident songbirds.

San Luis Refuge consists of 15,322 acres of permanent and seasonal marshes, wooded sloughs and grasslands. The seasonal marshes are flooded during the fall, winter and spring, and provide habitat for thousands of migrating ducks and geese, sandhill cranes and shorebirds. The meandering, wooded sloughs represent examples of ancient San Joaquin River channels and are especially important for songbirds and wading birds. The uplands support remnants of native grasslands and provide important habitat for a variety of raptors.

The 4,572 acre Merced Refuge consists of marshes, uplands and farm fields. The marshes produce an abundance of natural foods for migrating waterfowl, cranes and shorebirds. The farm fields are planted with corn, small grain crops, and green browse and are heavily utilized by geese and cranes.

The Grasslands Wildlife Management Area encompasses over 80,000 acres of privately owned wetlands and uplands. Through the Service's conservation easement program, over 61,000 acres have been perpetually protected. Many of the species on this list can be seen from county roads which bisect the wetlands.

Enjoying the Refuge's Birdlife

The study of wild bird species in their natural habitats is becoming an increasingly popular pastime fw many people. Viewing refuge birdlife is best accomplished on the self-guided auto tour route system available at the San Luis and Merced Refuges. Your viewing pleasure can be greatly enhanced if you have binoculars or a spotting scope. This equipment enables the birds to be observed from a distance, thus minimizing disturbance. Because birds are most active during the early morning and late afternoon periods, refuge visitors should schedule their trips accordingly.

The following bird list contains 209 species that have been observed on or near the refuges. In addition, 31 species are listed as accidental (seen only once or twice). The list's common names and taxonomic order are categorized into family and sub-family groups and are in accordance with the 6th edition (1983) of the A.O.U. Checklist of North American Birds.


Sp - Spring: March through May
S - Summer: June through August
F - Fall: September through November
W - Winter: December through February

Season Abundance

a - abundant: a common species which is very numerous
c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present, but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen only a few times during a season
r - rare: known to be present, but not every year
* - birds known to nest on refuge complex
# - Federally threatened or endangered species
+ - State threatened or endangered species

Refuge Codes

The following location key is used in the event that a species is more apt to be observed on a particular refuge or refuges:
SL - San Luis NWR
M - Merced NWR

LOONS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Common Loon SL - - - r
GREBES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c c c c ___ Horned Grebe r - r r ___ Eared Grebe* u o o u ___ Western Grebe* o r o o ___ Clark's Grebe* o r r o
PELICANS AND CORMORANTS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican c u c c ___ Double-crested Cormorant u r u u
BITTERNS, HERONS AND EGRETS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ American Bittern* c u c c ___ Least Bittern r r - - ___ Great Blue Heron* c c c c ___ Great Egret* c c c c ___ Snowy Egret* c c c c ___ Cattle Egret u u u u ___ Green Heron r r r r ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* u u u u
IBIS AND SPOONBILLS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ White-faced Ibis* u u u u
WATERFOWL REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan - - o u ___ Greater White-fronted Goose M c - c c ___ Snow Goose M u - c a ___ Ross' Goose M c - c a ___ Canada Goose M c - u a ___ Wood Duck* SL u u u u ___ Green-winged Teal* c o a a ___ Mallard* a c a a ___ Northern Pintail* c c a a ___ Blue-winged Teal* u r r u ___ Cinnamon Teal* a c c u ___ Northern Shoveler* c u c a ___ Gadwall* c c c c ___ Eurasian Wigeon r - r r ___ American Wigeon c o c c ___ Canvasback* o r o u ___ Redhead* o o o o ___ Ring-necked Duck* SL u u a a ___ Greater Scaup SL - - r r ___ Lesser Scaup o - o u ___ Common Goldeneye r - r r ___ Bufflehead o - o o ___ Hooded Merganser r - r o ___ Common Merganser u - o u ___ Ruddy Duck* c u c c
VULTURES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture u u u o
OSPREY, KITES, EAGLES AND HAWKS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Osprey r - r r ___ White-tailed Kite u u c c ___ Bald Eagle#+ - - - u ___ Northern Harrier* c c c a ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk SL,M - - o o ___ Cooper's Hawk SL,M o - o u ___ Red-shouldered Hawk SL,M o r o u ___ Swainson's Hawk*+ u u - r ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c a a ___ Ferruginous Hawk o - o o ___ Rough-legged Hawk u - u u ___ Golden Eagle o r o o
FALCONS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ American Kestrel* c u c c ___ Merlin - - r r ___ Peregrine Falcon#+ r - r r ___ Prairie Falcon o r o o
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Ring-necked Pheasant* c c c c ___ California Quail* SL u u u u
RAILS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Virginia Rail* u u u u ___ Sora* u u u u ___ Common Moorhen* SL,M c u c c ___ American Coot* a c a a
CRANES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane M u - a a
PLOVERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover a - u c ___ Snowy Plover* M r - - r ___ Semipalmated Plover u r o r ___ Killdeer* c c c c ___ Mountain Plover M - - - o ___ American Golden Plover - r - -
STILTS AND AVOCETS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Black-necked Stilt* c c c c ___ American Avocet* c u c c
SHOREBIRDS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Greater Yellowlegs c u c c ___ Lesser Yellowlegs u - o o ___ Solitary Sandpiper - - r r ___ Willet r - o r ___ Spotted Sandpiper r - r - ___ Whimbrel u - o - ___ Long-billed Curlew c u c c ___ Marbled Godwit r r r r ___ Western Sandpiper a o u u ___ Least Sandpiper c u c c ___ Baird's Sandpiper - - r - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper - - r r ___ Dunlin c - u c ___ Ruff r - - r ___ Short-billed Dowitcher r r - r ___ Long-billed Dowitcher a o a a
SNIPE REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Common Snipe u - c c
PHALAROPES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Wilson's Phalarope* u o o - ___ Red-necked Phalarope u o o -
GULLS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Bonaparte's Gull u r o o ___ Ring-billed Gull u u u u ___ California Gull u o u u ___ Herring Gull u - u u ___ Glaucous-winged Gull - - - r ___ Caspian Tern u o o - ___ Forster's Tern* o o o - ___ Black Tern o o - -
DOVES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove u u u u ___ Mourning Dove* c a a c
OWLS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Barn Owl* u u u u ___ Western Screech-Owl* SL,M o o o o ___ Great Horned Owl* u u u u ___ Burrowing Owl* u u u u ___ Long-eared Owl* SL r r r r ___ Short-eared Owl* r r r r
GOATSUCKERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Lesser Nighthawk* SL u u o -
SWIFTS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Vaux's Swift* o - - -
HUMMINGBIRDS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird SL,M o o - - ___ Anna's Hummingbird* SL,M u u o o ___ Rufous Hummingbird o - - -
KINGFISHERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher SL u u u u
WOODPECKERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Lewis' Woodpecker r - r r ___ Acorn Woodpecker SL r - r - ___ Nuttall's Woodpecker* SL u o u u ___ Downy Woodpecker* SL o - o o ___ Northern Flicker* u u u u
FLYCATCHERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Western Wood-Pewee o - o - ___ Willow Flycatcher+ u - o - ___ Hammond's Flycatcher u - - - ___ Dusky Flycatcher o - - - ___ Pacific Slope Flycatcher u - - - ___ Black Phoebe* u u u u ___ Say's Phoebe* o - o u ___ Ash-throated Flycatcher* SL,M u c o - ___ Cassin's Kingbird SL o - - - ___ Western Kingbird* c c u -
LARKS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* u u u u
SWALLOWS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow* c u c u ___ Violet-green Swallow o - o - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* o o o - ___ Bank Swallow r r r - ___ Cliff Swallow* a a u - ___ Barn Swallow* c c c -
JAYS, MAGPIES AND CROWS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Scrub Jay* SL c c c c ___ Yellow-billed Magpie* c c c u ___ American Crow o o o o ___ Common Raven SL r r r r
CHICKADEES AND TITMICE REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Plain Titmouse SL u o u -
BUSHTITS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Bushtit* SL,M u u u u
CREEPERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper - - - r
WRENS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Bewick's Wren* SL u c u u ___ House Wren* u c u u ___ Marsh Wren* c u u c
KINGLETS, BLUEBIRDS AND THRUSHES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet - - r r ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet o - u u ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher r - - - ___ Western Bluebird u - u u ___ Mountain Bluebird SL - - r r ___ Swainson's Thrush u - - - ___ Hermit Thrush u - u o ___ American Robin* c c o u ___ Varied Thrush r - - r
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Northern Mockingbird* c c c c ___ Sage Thrasher* - - r r ___ California Thrasher* r r - r
WAGTAILS AND PIPITS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ American Pipit c - c a
WAXWINGS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing o - o o
SHRIKES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Loggerhead Shrike* c c c c
STARLINGS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ European Starling* c c c c
VIREOS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Solitary Vireo r - - - ___ Warbling Vireo u - o -
WARBLERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Orange-crowned Warbler u - o o ___ Yellow Warbler u - o - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler c - c c ___ Black-throated Gray Warbler u - r - ___ Townsend Warbler u - - - ___ Hermit Warbler o - - - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler o - r - ___ Common Yellowthroat u r o o ___ Wilson's Warbler o - o - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat - r - -
TANAGERS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Western Tanager u - o -
GROSBEAKS AND BUNTINGS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Black-headed Grosbeak* o - o - ___ Blue Grosbeak* u o u - ___ Lazuli Bunting o - - -
TOWHEES AND SPARROWS REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Rufous-sided Towhee* u u u u ___ California Towhee* u u o u ___ Chipping Sparrow o - o - ___ Vesper Sparrow - - r r ___ Lark Sparrow o - o o ___ Sage Sparrow r - r r ___ Savannah Sparrow c - a a ___ Grasshopper Sparrow* r r - - ___ Fox Sparrow o - o o ___ Song Sparrow* c u u u ___ Lincoln's Sparrow u - u u ___ Golden-crowned Sparrow u - u u ___ White-crowned Sparrow a - a a ___ Dark-eyed Junco u - o u
BLACKBIRDS, MEADOWLARKS AND ORIOLES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Red-winged Blackbird* a a a a ___ Tricolored Blackbird* c c a a ___ Western Meadowlark* c c c c ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* c u o u ___ Brewer's Blackbird* c c c a ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c c c u ___ Hooded Oriole r - - - ___ Bullock's Oriole* u u o -
FINCHES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ Purple Finch - - - r ___ House Finch* c c c c ___ Pine Siskin - - - r ___ Lesser Goldfinch o - o o ___ Lawrence's Goldfinch r - r r ___ American Goldfinch* c c u u ___ Evening Grosbeak - - - r
WEAVER FINCHES REFUGE Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* c c c c
ACCIDENTALS Wood Stork Semipalmated Sandpiper Spotted Owl Black-and-white Warbler Surf Scoter Worm-eating Warbler Rock Wren Band-tailed Pigeon Wrentit Brant Sanderling Flammulated Owl Bell's Vireo#+ Hudsonian Godwit Stilt Sandpiper Ruddy Turnstone Thayer's Gull Bohemian Waxwing Swamp Sparrow Northern Shrike White-throated Sparrow Hutton's Vireo Great Roadrunner Mew Gull Fulvous Whistling-Duck Lark Bunting Calliope Hummingbird Yellow-billed Cuckoo+ Olive-sided Flycatcher Trumpeter Swan Red Knot Sprague's Pipit Phainopepla Red Phalarope

For more information, please contact:
                           Refuge Manager
                           San Luis NWR Complex
                           P.O. Box 2176
                           Los Banos, California 93635
                           Phone: 209/826-3508

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1996.  Birds of San Luis, Merced and 
     Kesterson National Wildlife Refuges and Grasslands Wildlife Management 
     Area, California.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1996.  Birds of San Luis, Merced and 
     Kesterson National Wildlife Refuges and Grasslands Wildlife Management 
     Area, California.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 22MAY98).

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