Southern Sierra Research Station

...conserving biological diversity through research

Kern River Valley Yellow-billed Cuckoo Research

The Kern River Valley (KRV) has been a consistent cuckoo breeding area for over 30 years (Gaines 1977, Schonholtz 1983, Laymon et al. 1997, Henneman 2009). It holds one of the largest remaining contiguous cottonwood/willow forests in the state of California (Gaines 1977), and contains one of the largest populations of cuckoos in the state of CA. As such, the KRV provides critically important habitat for the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoos which we have monitored periodically for decades. Our current cuckoo research in the KRV aims to (1) survey KRV riparian areas to assess Yellow-billed Cuckoo occupancy using the latest cuckoo survey methods, (2) document nesting success of breeding cuckoos, (3) and most importantly identify habitat characteristics vital to cuckoo site occupancy, habitat use, and nest placement. This research will help us verify the state of the KRV Yellow-billed Cuckoo population and identify critical habitat information currently unknown to scientists and land managers to aid in the recovery of the species.


Gaines, D. 1977. Status and habitat requirements of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo in California, 1977. Cal. Dept. of Fish and Game, Project E-1-1, Job IV-1.4.

Henneman, C. 2009. Yellow-billed Cuckoo surveys in the South Fork Kern River Valley in 2008. Final report prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Field Office. Sacramento, California.

Laymon, S.A., P.L. Williams, and M.D. Halterman. 1997. Breeding status of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the South Fork Kern River Valley, Kern County, California: Summary report 1985-1996. Prepared for U.S.D.A. Forest Service Sequoia National Forest, Cannell Meadow Ranger District, Grant # 92-5-13.

Schonholtz, R. 1983. 1983 Yellow-billed Cuckoo research, Kern River Preserve. Final report prepared for Kern River Preserve, The Nature Conservancy. Weldon, CA.