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Notable wildlife found in BLM's Palm Springs-South Coast Resource Area

Watchable Wildlife IconUnique wildlife are found in several parts of the Bureau of Land Management's Palm Springs-South Coast Resource Area. Some of them threatened with extinction, or endangered. Several of these notable animals are described below.

The Palm Springs-South Coast Resource Area includes Watchable Wildlife sites at:

Yuma clapper rail

The Yuma clapper rail is a large bird - about the size of a grouse - that is more often heard than seen in the freshwater marshes of Dos Palmas and similar habitats. Its distinctive "kek kek kek" call of 10 or more notes is generally heard at daybreak or sunset. Officially known as Rallus longrostris yumanensis, the Yuma clapper rail was listed as endangered in 1966 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, mostly due to the loss of its marsh habitat. The total population is estimated at slightly more than 600 birds.

desert pupfish

The desert pupfish (Cyprinoldon macularis) is a remarkably adaptable creature. Various types can survive in an extreme range of environmental conditions: in salinities randing from nearly twice that of sea water to that in fresh water; in temperatures ranging from 113 Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) to 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius); and oxygen levels from saturationto 0.1 ppm.

On the other hand, they do not compete well with other fish, often becoming a food source for their competitors. Several ponds in the Coachella Valley Preserve have been successfully cleared of non-native predatory fish, in order to provide refuges for the desert pupfish.

Adult males are rarely larger than 3 inches in lengty and during the breeding season, they turn bright blue with lemon-yellow tails and fins. Females are smaller, and generally have tan to olive backs and silvery sides. During the winter when water temperatures cool, desert pupfish may bury themselves in loose debris on the bottom of the ponds, and become dormant.

Once common in Arizona, California and Mexico, the desert pufish is both a State- and Federally-listed endangered species.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service displays a photo and description of the desert pupfish and other pupfish. (Use the "back" button on your browser to return to this page).

Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, photo courtesy U.S. Forest ServiceCoachella Valley fringe-toed lizard

The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata) is specially adapted to live in an environment of wind-blown sand. Its body shape - wedge-shaped nose and fringed toes - allow it to "swim" through loose sand to escape predators or the heat of the desert surface. It eats insects and some plant material in the blown-sand ecosystem.

The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species in 1980.

 (Photo by U.S. Forest Service)

desert slender salamander

The desert slender salamander (Batrachoseps aridus) was discovered in 1969 by a California Department of Fish and Game warden as he dug out a small waterhole for bighorn sheep on the lower desert slopes of the Santa Rosa Mountains. It apparently has been isolated from other salamander species for hundreds of thousands to several million years, and is a relic from wetter geologic epochs. This relatively small (less than 4-inch) salamander requires a constantly moist enviroment for survival, and generally lives in canyons where water seeps from the walls.
      The species was listed as endangered by California in 1971 and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1973.

peninsular bighorn sheep

The Santa Rosa Mountains are home to an estimated 350 peninsular bighorn sheep, the largest concentration in the world of this majestic animal. Its range stretches from the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains south through the Anza Borrego Desert State Park and the Jacumba Mountains into Baja Mexico.
      Scientists have been searching for clues to the problem of the extremely high mortality of these animals, listed by the State of California as threatened, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a candidate for listing as threatened or endangered. The peninsular subspecies is one of three subspecies of the bighorn; the other two are the Nelson's and California bighorn sheep.

least Bell's vireo

This small, gray songbird prefers streamside habitats in Southern California, such as that found in the Morongo Canyons Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The migratory species winters in Mexico, mainly in Baja California.
      A common sight in the early 1900's, the least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) was designated an endangered species by the State of California in 1980 and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1986. The main cause for the decline is loss of habitat to an expanding human population. Also contributing to the decline is an expanding population of cowbirds, who remove the vireo's eggs from its nest and replace them with their own.

vermilion flycatcher

Big Morongo Preserve is home to one of the rare populations of vermillion flycatchers (Pyrocepahlus rubinis) away from the Colorado River. These 6-inch birds favor habitat near water in desert country, and build their nests in the limbs of mesquite, willows and cottonwoods. Males feature a crown, throat and underparts in flaming vermillion, contrasting with dark brown upper parts and tail. Females are brownish gray with a white, narrowly streaked breast and pinkish or yellow lower belly.


Watchable Wildlife Sites