The Sierra Nevada has both migrant and year round residents birds.  During spring and fall, large numbers of  birds migrate to these mountains from lower elevations and latitudes to feast on insects, seeds, berries, and small animals. These migrants include neotropical birds such as warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and tanagers. The migratory bird species that are present change with the seasons.

But other birds stay throughout the year, through both summer heat and winter snow.  Among these year-round residents are two protected species of owls: the great gray owl (Strix nebulosa) and the California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis). The great gray owl has an incredibly deep hoot and looks enormous; however, most of this size is due to its fluffy feathers. The spotted owl is an occupant of old-growth forests that often returns to the same nesting territory each year with the same mate. The locations of both the great gray and spotted owl are kept secret for their protection, though the locations of most other birds are not.

Ask bird watchers what they have seen recently, and keep your eyes and ears open as you hike. In addition, join some incredible bird enthusiasts and experts for the annual Christmas Bird Count at Yosemite ( On this trip you will undoubtedly see some representatives of the 262 bird species that have been documented in Yosemite.




More Information:

Point Blue- Pocket Guides (includes Pocket Guide to Birds of the Sierra Nevada Foothills):

Grinnell, J., 1915. "A Distributional List of the Birds of California." Pacific Coast Avifauna, No. 11, 217 pp., pls. I-III. (Published by Cooper Ornithological Club, Berkeley, Calif.) Available:

National Park Service- Annual Christmas Bird Count at Yosemite:

National Park Service- Bird Checklist: (To print on 8.5x11-inch paper, click on "Properties" to select "2 Sided Print, Flip on Short Edge" and scale page to "Shrink to Printable Area.")

National Park Service- Yosemite birds:

National Park Service: Sequoia Kings Canyon birds:

National Park Service- Great Gray Owl:

National Park Service- Special Status Bird Species:

Sierra Forest Legacy- California Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis):