Ruby Lake


brochure Ruby Lake - Wildlife

Wildlife of Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Nevada. Published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Checklist Thousands of acres of seasonal playa wetlands and semi-permanent bulrush marsh transition into wet and dry meadows then shrubsteppe as the elevation gradually increases. This diversity of habitats provides a haven for the wildlife living here. © Clair Kofoed Once covered by a 200-foot deep ancient lake, the “Ruby Marshes” now provide habitat for hundreds of species of birds and mammals. USFWS A Refuge for Migrating Birds and Other Wildlife Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938 as “a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.” It encompasses nearly 40,000 acres at the south end of Ruby Valley. The refuge is 16 miles long and over 3 miles at its widest point. This land was once covered by a 200-foot deep, 300,000 acre lake; today about 17,000 acres of marsh and other wetlands remain on the refuge. The Habitat The refuge, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, centers on an extensive bulrush marsh interspersed with pockets of open water. Islands scattered throughout the marsh provide good nesting habitat for waterfowl and marsh birds. Playa and other ephemeral wetlands provide important habitat for migrating and nesting shorebirds. Over 200 springs flow into the marsh, the largest of which is Cave Creek Spring. Some of the spring flows are directed into a collection ditch along the marsh’s northwest border. Riparian habitat found along Cave Creek, the collection ditch, and springs is used by many song birds as well as large and small mammals. With slight increases in elevation, wet meadows graduate into dry meadows and shrub-steppe habitat. Sandhill cranes, long-billed curlews, and other wildlife depend on the availability of healthy wet meadows. Sagebrush associated species like pronghorn and greater sage-grouse use both shrubsteppe and meadows on the refuge to forage and raise their young. At the highest elevations of the refuge, rocky cliffs both provide nesting and perching habitat for raptors and other birds, bats, and small mammals. General Key Habitat Codes The following symbols are used to indicate in which habitats each wildlife species would most likely be found. It is important to remember that use of an area may depend on the season and an animal’s activity, especially for birds that are highly mobile. 1 - marsh, open water areas 2 - riparian areas 3 - meadows, grasslands 4 - shrub-steppe 5 - wooded areas 6 - rocky areas, cliffs, caves 7 - buildings, residential areas 8 - widespread Seasons Sp - Spring (March - May) S - Summer (June - August) F - Fall (September - November) W - Winter (December - February) Abundance (depending on season) 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 locally Aspen leaves © Joan Kenyon Pronghorn © C. Holden Birds at Ruby Lake Common Yellowthroat © Torvik Bird life can be seen throughout all of the habitat types, from the valley floor to the rocky cliffs. The following bird list includes 222 species which may be observed on the refuge. In addition, 31 species are listed as accidentals because they have only been observed a few times in the area. The refuge is a significant migratory bird area in Nevada and is located at the cross-roads of the Pacific and Central Flyways. In spring and fall, refuge wetlands provide an important feeding and resting stop for waterfowl and shorebirds. During summer, the marsh provides excellent habitat for nesting ducks and marsh birds including canvasbacks, redheads, white-faced ibis, great blue heron, black-crowned night-heron, American bittern, eared grebes, and many others. Greater sandhill cranes, black-necked stilts, and American avocets nest along the marsh’s edge. Ducks and songbird species nest throughout the meadows and riparian areas. In winter, the refuge provides critical habitat for trumpeter swans and a few other hardy waterfowl due to the presence of many springs and associated ice-free areas. Common names follow the 7th Edition of the AOU Checklist of North American Birds (1998) including revisions contained in all supplements up to and including the 57th (2016). Sandhill Crane © R. Bacon Common Name Habitat Sp S F W Loons  Common Loon 1 r r Grebes *Pied-billed Grebe  Horned Grebe *Eared Grebe  Western Grebe  Clark’s Grebe 1 1 1 1 1 c c o c c r r r r c o c u Pelicans  American White Pelican 1 o u u Cormorants *Double-crested Cormorant 1 u u u r Bitterns, Herons and Egrets *American Bittern *Great Blue Heron *Great Egret *Snowy Egret  Cattle Egret  Green Heron *Black-crowned Night-Heron 1 1, 2 1, 3 1, 3 3 1, 2 1, 2 c c u u u r c c c u u u r c c c u u r c c o Ibises and Spoonbills *White-faced Ibis 1, 3 c a c r New World Vultures *Turkey Vulture 8 c c u Swans, Geese and Ducks  Greater White-fronted Goose  Snow Goose  Ross’s Goose *Canada Goose *Trumpeter Swan  Tundra Swan  Wood Duck *Gadwall *American Wigeon *Mallard *Blue-winged Teal 1 r r 1 o 1 r r r 1, 3 a a a a 1 u u u c 1 o u u 1, 2 o o o 1 a a a c 1 c u c c 1 a a a c 1 o o o r Swans, Geese, and Ducks continued next page u u r Common Name Habitat Sp S F W 1 a a c 1 c c c 1 c u a 1 c u c 1 a a a 1 a a a 1 c o o 1 c c c 1 u c 1 u u 1 r 1 o o 1 u u 1 r r 1 c c c u u c c u u c u c c r o u r u Swans, Geese, and Ducks continued *Cinnamon Teal *Northern Shoveler *Northern Pintail *Green-winged Teal *Canvasback *Redhead *Ring-necked Duck *Lesser Scaup  Bufflehead  Common Goldeneye  Barrow’s Goldeneye  Hooded Merganser  Common Merganser  Red-breasted Merganser *Ruddy Duck Osprey, Kites, Hawks and Eagles  Osprey  Bald Eagle *Northern Harrier  Sharp-shinned Hawk  Cooper’s Hawk  Northern Goshawk  Red-shouldered Hawk  Swainson’s Hawk *Red-tailed Hawk  Ferruginous Hawk  Rough-legged Hawk *Golden Eagle 1 r r 8 o 8 c c c 8 o o o 8 o o o 5 r r r 8 r r 8 o o o 8 c c c 8 o o o 3, 4 u u 8 u u u o c r o r o o c o Falcons and Caracaras *American Kestrel  Merlin  Peregrine Falcon *Prairie Falcon 3 c c c 3, 4 o 8 r r 6, 3 u u o u o r r Gallinaceous Birds *Chukar *Greater Sage Grouse *Dusky Grouse *Gray Partridge 3, 6 o o o 4, 3 u u u 5 u u u 3, 4 o u u o Common Name Habitat Sp S F W Rails *Virginia Rail *Sora *Common Gallinule *American Coot 1 1 1 1 u u r a u u r a u r r a c Cranes *Sandhill Crane 3 c c c Plovers  Black-bellied Plover *Killdeer 1 3 r c c c Stilts and Avocets *Black-necked Stilt *American Avocet 1 1 u u c c u u Sandpipers and Phalaropes  Greater Yellowlegs  Lesser Yellowlegs  Solitary Sandpiper *Willet *Spotted Sandpiper *Long-billed Curlew  Marbled Godwit  Western Sandpiper  Least Sandpiper  Long-billed Dowitcher *Wilson’s Snipe *Wilson’s Phalarope  Red-necked Phalarope 1 1 1 3 1 3 1, 3 1 1 1 1, 2 1 1 o o o o r u u u u c c r r o o u c o o o o o r o u Skuas, Jaegers, Gulls, and Terns  Franklin’s Gull  Ring-billed Gull *California Gull *Caspian Tern *Forster’s Tern *Black Tern 1 1 1 1 1 1 r o u u c c r o u u c c r u u u u u Pigeons and Doves  Rock Pigeon  Eurasian Collared Dove *Mourning Dove 7 8 8 o c c o c c o c c r o o u o o r u o r r Common Name Habitat Sp S F W r r Barn Owls  Barn Owl 8 Typical Owls  Western Screech-Owl *Great Horned Owl *Burrowing Owl *Long-eared Owl *Short-eared Owl *Northern Saw-whet Owl 5 r 2, 6 c c c c 3, 4 o o o 5, 2 o o o o 3, 4 u u u o 5 o o o r Nightjars *Common Nighthawk *Common Poorwill 8 5, 4 c u c u u u Swifts *White-throated Swift 6 u u u Hummingbirds *Black-chinned Hummingbird *Calliope Hummingbird *Broad-tailed Hummingbird  Rufous Hummingbird 2 5 2, 5 1, 2, 7 u u c o u u c u u u u u Kingfishers *Belted Kingfisher 2 u u u o Woodpeckers *Lewis’s Woodpecker *Red-naped Sapsucker *Williamson’s Sapsucker *Downy Woodpecker *Hairy Woodpecker *Northern Flicker 2 2, 5 5 2, 5 2, 5 2, 5 u o o u u c u o o u u c u u o u u c r Tyrant Flycatchers  Olive-sided Flycatcher *Western Wood-Pewee *Willow Flycatcher  Hammond’s Flycatcher *Gray Flycatcher *Dusky Flycatcher *Cordilleran Flycatcher *Say’s Phoebe 5 5, 2 u 2 o 5 o 5 u 4, 5 u 2, 5 u 3, 7 c o u o o u u u c Common Name r u u c u u u Ash-throated Flycatcher Kingbird r c r c F W *Western 5, 2 2, 7 Shrikes *Loggerhead Shrike  Northern Shrike 4, 3 u u u o 4, 3 u Vireos  Cassin’s Vireo *Plumbeous Vireo *Warbling Vireo  Red-eyed Vireo 2, 5 2, 5 2 2 o u u u u r o u u r Crows, Jays and Magpies *Western Scrub-Jay *Pinyon Jay *Clark’s Nutcracker *Black-billed Magpie *American Crow *Common Raven 5 5 5 8 8 8 c u o c o c c u o c u c c u o c u c c c o c o c Larks *Horned Lark 3, 4 c c c c Swallows *Tree Swallow *Violet-green Swallow *N. Rough-winged Swallow  Bank Swallow *Cliff Swallow *Barn Swallow 2, 3 2, 6 6 3 7, 6 7 c c c u a c c c c u a c a a c u a c Titmice and Chickadees *Mountain Chickadee *Juniper Titmouse 5 5 u u u u u u c c Bushtits *Bushtit 5 u u u u Nuthatches *Red-breasted Nuthatch *White-breasted Nuthatch 5 5 u o u o u o u o Creepers *Brown Creeper 5 u u u  r Habitat Sp S r c Common Name Habitat Sp S F W r r o r u Wrens *Rock Wren *Canyon Wren *House Wren  Winter Wren *Marsh Wren 6 6 2 2 1 u u o o c c r a a u o c r a Gnatcatchers  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 6 c u Dippers  American Dipper Common Name Habitat Sp S *Yellow-rumped Warbler 2 c u u u Kinglets  Golden-crowned Kinglet *Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6 u 6, 2 u u u Thrushes *Mountain Bluebird *Townsend’s Solitaire *Swainson’s Thrush *Hermit Thrush *American Robin 5 5 2 2, 5 2, 7 c u u o c c u u o c c u u o a r u r o Mockingbirds and Thrashers  Gray Catbird *Northern Mockingbird *Sage Thrasher 2 2, 7 4 r o c r o c r o c r Starlings *European Starling 7 c c c o Wagtails and Pipits  American Pipit 3 o o o r Yellowthroat Wilson’s Warbler *Yellow-breasted Chat c c u u r u u c c u u u c u o u u u u Tanagers *Western Tanager 5 u u Sparrows and Towhees *Green-tailed Towhee *Spotted Towhee  American Tree Sparrow *Chipping Sparrow *Brewer’s Sparrow *Vesper Sparrow *Lark Sparrow *Black-throated Sparrow *Sagebrush Sparrow *Savannah Sparrow  Grasshopper Sparrow *Fox Sparrow *Song Sparrow  Lincoln’s Sparrow  White-throated Sparrow  Golden-crowned Sparrow *White-crowned Sparrow  Harris’s Sparrow *Dark-eyed Junco *House Sparrow 4 u u u 2, 4 u u u 2, 7 o 5 u u u 4 a a a 4, 3 c c c 4 u u u 4 u u u 4 u u u 3 a a a 3 r r r 2 u u u 2, 1 c c c 2 r r r 2 r 2 r 2, 4 u o u 7 r r 5 c o u 7 u u u 2, 5 2, 3 2 3 u r u r u r u r u r u 3 1, 3 3 r u a r c a r c a  Northern Waterthrush *MacGillivray’s Warbler *Common  8 r 2, 7 u u u o Wood Warblers *Orange-crowned Warbler  Nashville Warbler *Virginia’s Warbler *Yellow Warbler Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Allies *Black-headed Grosbeak  Blue Grosbeak *Lazuli Bunting  Indigo Bunting 2 2, 5 5 2 Blackbirds and Orioles *Bobolink *Red-winged Blackbird *Western Meadowlark u o u c W 2, 7 5 2 2 1, 2 2 2 *Black-throated Gray Warbler Waxwings  Bohemian Waxwing  Cedar Waxwing u u o u u c c F Blackbirds and Orioles continued next page u r r o o r o c r r o r c o u o Common Name Habitat Sp S F W c c u c c r o o Blackbirds and Orioles continued *Yellow-headed Blackbird Blackbird *Great-tailed Grackle *Brown-headed Cowbird *Bullock’s Oriole 1 8 1, 7 8 2 Finches  Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch *Black Rosy-Finch *Pine Grosbeak *Cassin’s Finch *House Finch *Pine Siskin  Lesser Goldfinch *American Goldfinch  Evening Grosbeak 3, 4, 6 o 3, 4 o 5 o o o o 5 u u u u 2, 7 u u u o 5 u u u o 3, 2 u u r 3, 2 u u u o 5 o o r *Brewer’s Accidentals Least Bittern Little Blue Heron Eurasian Wigeon Greater Scaup Long-tailed Duck Surf Scoter White-winged Scoter California Quail Semipalmated Plover Baird’s Sandpiper Upland Sandpiper Bonaparte’s Gull Mew Gull Band-tailed Pigeon Yellow-billed Cuckoo Flammulated Owl Eastern Kingbird Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Steller’s Jay Ruddy Ducks: Hen and Drake a c u c c a c u c c Blue Jay Black-capped Chickadee Western Bluebird Varied Thrush White Wagtail Blackpoll Warbler Townsend’s Warbler American Redstart Louisiana Waterthrush Rose-breasted Grosbeak Hooded Oriole Red Crossbill © Ken Morris Mammals at Ruby Lake The following list includes mammals found on the refuge as well as those that are suspected to occur in the area or have an unknown abundance (?). Mammals that have been identified only prior to 1940 (h) are also included. All are considered residents except for migrant species of bats. Visibility of mammals varies seasonally because of hibernation, migration between summer and winter ranges, or snow cover. The common names follow Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.) by Wilson and Reeder (2005). Species Habitat Abundance Shrews  Merriam Shrew  Vagrant Shrew  Northern Water Shrew 4 3 2 ? u ? Bats  Little Brown Myotis  Long-eared Myotis  Long-legged Myotis  Western Small-footed Bat  Silver-haired Bat  Canyon Bat  Big Brown Bat  Hoary Bat  Spotted Bat  Townsend’s Big-eared Bat  Pallid Bat  Brazilian Free-tailed Bat  Western Red Bat  Fringed Myotis 6, 7 7, 6 7, 6 6, 5 5, 7 6 5,6,7 5 7, 6 6, 7 6, 3 6 2, 5 6 c c ? c r ? ? ? ? ? ? r r ? Mustelids  Short-tailed Weasel  Long-tailed Weasel  American Mink  American Badger  Western Spotted Skunk  Striped Skunk 2, 3 2 1, 2 8 4, 2 7, 4 r u ? c r r Canids next page Species Habitat Abundance Canids  Coyote  Red Fox 8 8 c ? Felines  Mountain Lion  Bobcat 4 4 u u Squirrels  Yellow-bellied Marmot  Piute Ground Squirrel  Wyoming Ground Squirrel  Belding’s Ground Squirrel  Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel  White-tailed Antelope Squirrel  Least Chipmunk  Uinta Chipmunk 6 4, 3 4, 3 3, 4 5 4 4, 5 5, 6 u ? ? c u ? c r Pocket Gophers  Botta’s Pocket Gopher  Northern Pocket Gopher 3 8 ? c Pocket Mice/Kangaroo Rats  Little Pocket Mouse  Great Basin Pocket Mouse  Dark Kangaroo Mouse  Ord’s Kangaroo Rat  Chisel-toothed Kangaroo Rat 4 4 4 4 4 ? c u c c Jumping Mice  Western Jumping Mouse 2 ? Mice and Voles  Western Harvest Mouse  Canyon Mouse  North American Deer Mouse  Piñon Mouse  Northern Grasshopper Mouse  Desert Woodrat  Bushy-tailed Woodrat  Montane Vole  Long-tailed Vole  Sagebrush Vole  House Mouse 3 6 8 5, 6 3, 4 4 6 3 2, 3 4 7 u h c h ? ? u c u ? c Species Habitat Abundance Aquatic Mammals  American Beaver  Common Muskrat 1, 2 1 o c Porcupines  Common Porcupine 2, 5 c Hares and Rabbits  White-tailed Jackrabbit  Black-tailed Jackrabbit  Mountain Cottontail  Pygmy Rabbit 4, 3 4, 3 4, 6 4 r c c u Deer  Elk  Mule Deer 3 8 o c Pronghorn  Pronghorn 3, 4 u Fishes at Ruby Lake The tiny relict dace is the refuge’s only native fish. Efforts are currently underway to restore populations of this fish on more areas of the refuge. Lahontan speckled dace persist on the refuge from a 1950’s stocking. Largemouth bass, introduced in the 1930’s, reproduce in the marsh. Other non-native sportfish that either have been or are currently stocked on the refuge include rainbow, brown, eastern brook, and cutthroat trout. Trout hybrids stocked on the refuge include tiger and bowcut trout. Relict dace. USFWS/D.C. Carr Amphibians and Reptiles The northern leopard frog is an amphibian in decline throughout the west, and Ruby Lake NWR supports one of Nevada’s most important remaining populations. Four species of lizards are known to occur on the refuge and it is likely that there are several more that have not yet been documented. Snakes found on the refuge include the venomous Great Basin Rattlesnake so be careful where you step. The refuge also has the Great Basin Gophersnake which is sometimes mistaken for a rattlesnake. Snakes are protected on the refuge and they play an important ecological role as both predator and prey. Snakes are attracted to warm surfaces, especially roads which will retain heat into the night. This behavior, however, can be disastrous for snakes. Please drive slowly and be observant to avoid hitting snakes on refuge roads, the county road, and whenever you are in an area with snakes. Your efforts can help ensure the long term survival of these important species. The common names follow the 7th Edition of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America (2012). Species Habitat The best time to observe wildlife is during morning and evening hours. Binoculars or a spotting scope greatly assist in identifying wildlife and observing their behavior. Using your vehicle as a blind increases viewing opportunities; you can view wildlife from a vehicle by driving the refuge auto tour route through the marsh. For a unique opportunity to see marsh wildlife close up, the South Marsh is open during part of the year to canoes and small motor boats. If you spot a species not found on this list, or one listed as accidental or rare, or find anything which differs widely from the information printed here, please let us know by e-mailing For further information, contact: Thanks so much for your help! Refuge Manager Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge HC 60, Box 860 Ruby Valley, NV 89833 Telephone: 775-779-2237 Fax: 775-779-2370 E-mail: Abundance Amphibians  Northern Leopard Frog 1, 2, 3 c Reptiles: Snakes  Great Basin Gophersnake  Terrestrial Gartersnake  Western Yellow-bellied Racer  Great Basin Rattlesnake  Desert Nightsnake 8 2, 3, 4 3, 4 4 6 a c c c u 6, 7 4 4, 7 4 c a u u Reptiles: Lizards  Western Fence Lizard  Common Sagebrush Lizard  Western Skink  Greater Short-horned Lizard Viewing Wildlife Leopard frog. © Koen Breedveld Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge HC 60, Box 860 Ruby Valley, Nevada 89833-9802 775-779-2237 phone 775-779-2370 fax U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Refuge Information 1 800-344-WILD This brochure will be made available in other formats upon request. June 2017 Canvasback hen with brood © Clair Kofoed

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