THE CREAGRUS CALIFORNIA COUNTIES PROJECT
A personal portfolio
 

Riverside County
all photos & text by Don Roberson
all photos taken in California
Great-tailed Grackle
29 May 2004 at Blythe
Riverside County cuts a long swathe across the interior of southern California. It stretches from the City of Riverside, which is just over the Santa Ana Mts from the Los Angeles basin, all the way east to the Colorado River. The county was created in 1893 from the then-existing San Diego County (taking about 75% of that county) but its southeastern quadrant was chopped off in 1907 to create Imperial County. Despite being land-locked, the county has quite a variety of habitats from sand dunes in the Coachella Valley to high coniferous forests in the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains. It is hot and dry low desert from the Salton Sea to the Colorado River, with a scattering of barren desert ranges. Riverside County holds about the northern third of the Salton Sea, and marshes around the north end are very birdy. It also has reservoirs to the west (Lake Matthews, Lake Elsinore). In all, this diversity permits Riverside County to boast the highest county total for any interior county in California (~450 species at this writing).
    County birding statistics and links are on Joe Morlan's site. Birds of the Salton Sea: Status, Biogeography, and Ecology (2002), by M.A. Patten, Guy McCaskie, and Philip Unitt, covers the status and distribution of all Salton Sea birds in both Riverside and Imperial counties. Similar coverage for birds along the lower Colorado River including San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties is in Rosenberg, Ohmart, Hunter, and Anderson's 1991 Birds of the Lower Colorado River Valley, published by the University of Arizona Press (it also covers the AZ side of the river).
    For Riverside County the top shot is a digiscoped pic of a displaying male Great-tailed Grackle on a motel lawn in Blythe. This icterid has now colonized a major chunk of California; it was once a rarity and when I started birding it was found only along the Colorado River. So this photo is still on the Colorado River. Probably the best birding spot in Riverside County is at the north end of the Salton Sea. One of the best vagrants to occur here was this alternate-plumaged Spotted Redshank (below left; 3 May 1983. Another digiscoped common bird along the Colorado River is this White-winged Dove (below right; 30 May 2004), essentially on the RIV-SBE line at the mouth of Vidal Wash.
    A number of county birding spots are on the Colorado River; the upper photo (below) shows that river with Cliff Swallows overhead (30 May 2004). Marshes and mudflats at the north end of the Salton Sea can be very productive; the lower photo (below) shows part of the north end (2 May 1983; the lone birder in the distance is Roger Tory Peterson).
All photos & text © 2006 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.

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Page created 25 Mar 2006