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Wildlife Monitoring (Prairie City SVRA)

Annual wildlife surveys are performed to determine overall species diversity and richness, as well as overall population density. Annual wildlife surveys completed in 2008 at Prairie City SVRA revealed several species throughout the Park. During the mammal monitoring, deer mice, coyote, black-tailed jack rabbits, Audubon's cottontail, deer, and bobcats were seen.

The bird species list totaled more than 100 birds and included Canada geese, horned larks, red-tailed hawks, and western bluebirds.

Two amphibian species, including bullfrogs and Pacific chorus frogs, were identified during the amphibian monitoring period. Reptiles observed include the northern Pacific rattlesnake, Pacific gopher snake, and the western fence lizard.

Cottontail Photo Frog Photo


Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias): Largest of the North American herons with long legs, a sinuous neck, and thick, daggerlike bill. Head, chest, and wing plumes give a shaggy appearance. In flight, the Great Blue Heron curls its neck into a tight "S" shape; its wings are broad and rounded and its legs trail well beyond the tail. Hunting Great Blue Herons wade slowly or stand statue-like, stalking fish and other prey in shallow water or open fields. Watch for the lightning-fast thrust of the neck and head as they stab with their strong bills. Their very slow wingbeats, tucked-in neck and trailing legs create an unmistakable image in flight. Great Blue Herons have specialized feathers on their chest that continually grow and fray. The herons comb this "powder down" with a fringed claw on their middle toes, using the down like a washcloth to remove fish slime and other oils from their feathers as they preen. Applying the powder to their underparts protects their feathers against the slime and oils of swamps. Blue Heron Photo
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous): Killdeer have the characteristic large, round head, large eye, and short bill of all plovers. They are especially slender and lanky, with a long, pointed tail and long wings. Killdeer spend their time walking along the ground or running ahead a few steps, stopping to look around, and running on again. When disturbed they break into flight and circle overhead, calling repeatedly. Their flight is rapid, with stiff, intermittent wingbeats. The Killdeer's broken-wing act leads predators away from a nest, but doesn’t keep cows or horses from stepping on eggs. To guard against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the beast to attempt to make it change its path. A well-known denizen of dry habitats, the Killdeer is actually a proficient swimmer. Adults swim well in swift-flowing water, and chicks can swim across small streams. Killdeer Photo
California Quail (Callipepla californica): California Quail are plump, short-necked game birds with a small head and bill. They fly on short, very broad wings. The tail is fairly long and square. Both sexes have a comma-shaped topknot of feathers projecting forward from the forehead, longer in males than females. California Quail spend most of their time on the ground, walking and scratching in search of food. In morning and evening they forage beneath shrubs or on open ground near cover. They usually travel in groups called coveys. Their flight is explosive but lasts just long enough to reach cover. The California Quail’s head plume, or topknot, looks like a single feather, but it is actually a cluster of six overlapping feathers. The California Quail is California’s state bird and has had roles in several Walt Disney movies, including "Bambi." California Quail Photo
Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni): Swainson's Hawks are buteos, meaning they are large hawks with fairly broad wings and short tails. However, Swainson's Hawks are less hefty than many other buteos. They are slimmer and longer-winged, with their wings typically held in a shallow V when soaring. Swainson's Hawks are social raptors, nearly always being found in groups outside the breeding season. Groups of soaring or migrating hawks are called "kettles." When it comes to forming kettles, Swainson's Hawks are overachievers: they form flocks numbering in the tens of thousands, often mixing with Turkey Vultures, Broad-winged Hawks, and Mississippi Kites to create a virtual river of migrating birds. Their daytime migrations create a much-anticipated spectacle for birders who in fall and spring form their own flocks at well-known migratory points in the southern U.S., Mexico, and Central America to watch the birds stream by. These birds are declining in numbers in California and are listed as State Threatened. Swainson's Hawk Photo


Photos by Steve Turner