New Release—Volume 5 in WFO’s Studies of Western Birds


Birds of Inyo County, California, Including Death Valley National Park, is the culmination of more than three decades of dedicated work by Thomas S. Heindel and Jo Ann Heindel.

For this remarkable 500-page book, they compiled every known record from the first explorations of the region to the end of 2020. The resulting database contained more than 455,000 records. A concerted effort was made to find all Inyo specimens residing in museums. These data were carefully vetted and synthesized in what is certainly one of the most comprehensive books on avian status and distribution ever published. The volume is liberally illustrated with a map of the county and more than 200 color photos of habitats and birds recorded in the county, including many documenting unusual records.

Inyo County comprises a vast region of desert and mountain ranges in central-eastern California, along the border with Nevada. It hosts a surprising diversity of habitats, largely because it contains the greatest elevational range in the contiguous United States (Mt. Whitney, the highest, and Bad Water, Death Valley, the lowest). Most of it consists of mountain ranges, the majestic Sierra Nevada along its western boundary, and numerous “dry” ranges to the east, including the White Mountains, home to the ancient bristlecone pines. Death Valley National Park is almost entirely within its borders.

This great variety of habitats is reflected in the fact that 441 species of birds have been recorded in the county. The book presents a meticulously detailed account of the status, distribution, and seasonal occurrence of each.

Following introductory chapters on habitats and a history of ornithological exploration of the county from the pioneering expeditions of the late 19th century to the present, each species has an account beginning with a bar graph showing seasonal abundance. This is followed by a description of its distribution in the county; the seasonal occurrence with extreme dates and maximal numbers observed in each season; a detailed summary of breeding data; and a comments section where first documented occurrence, population trends and other changes in occurrence, and subspecies are discussed. A separate section within each account provides the same information for Death Valley National Park. A gazetteer, extensive literature cited, and a list of observers of individual records follow.

Birds of Inyo County will be an invaluable reference for scholars, resource managers, and anyone interested in the birds of this remarkable region.

The book, at $35 plus tax and postage for the hardcover and $26 for the ebook, can be ordered on the WFO website.

 

 

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