Alongside the serene beauty of the Sierra Nevada landscape, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter wildlife of some kind when visiting Bishop’s big backyard. In fact, the mountain range although only taking up a quarter up of the Golden State’s land, contains more than 60 percent of California’s vertebrate species. This includes 290 avian species, 60 types of fish, 46 reptile species, 37 amphibian species, and finally 135 types of mammals. In summary, be sure to pack your binoculars and a longer lens for your camera to take in the wildlife. At the same time, remember this is THEIR home so be sure to give them a bit of space.
A Wildlife Enthusiast’s Dream
We aren’t talking a few here or there either. Fisherman will drool over the lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with fish. Bishop is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. It’s home to year-round residents like the Belted Kingfisher as well as millions of migrating birds that make a pitstop in the spring and fall. And that’s not even including all the cool little invertebrates such as dragonflies that can be found in the mountains as well. For this article, we wanted to focus on a few of our favorite mammals.
Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep
We can’t start this list without naming the most idyllic picture of an animal that was born to take in the varied terrain and climate like no other – the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep. These natural mountain climbers made a recovery from only 100 back in 2000 to now over 600 in population. The main difference from their Rocky Mountain cousins is their horns. They’re much less curved and broader.
Yellow Bellied Marmot
A personal favorite. These cute creatures are cousins to the ground squirrel albeit a bit bigger. Standing often on their hind legs, you realize they’re related to groundhogs as well. In the winter months, they typically hibernate in burrows.
In the United States, there are two species of deer: white-tailed deer and mule deer. The Sierra Nevada is home to the latter. From coat color to rack formation, there are some certain differences between the two. For example, in most cases mule deer will have longer, pointier ears than white-tail deer. An easy clue to know which one you’re looking at is by location. West of the Missouri River, it’s probably a mule deer. But mule deer habitat does intermingle with its Western cousin.
Interesting fact: The Latin name for mule deer is “Odocoileus hemionus,” which means “half-mule” hence its name.
With Bishop’s big backyard being so sparsely populated, it’s truly a mecca for wildlife viewing. And remember, this isn’t your home but rather theirs, so be sure to: