This IBA draws attention to three major springs in the east Mojave Desert with similar avifauna. All are oases of riparian habitat associated with desert ranges surrounded by arid scrub. Horsetheif Spring, in the north, lies at the eastern edge of the Kingston Range (see East Mojave Peaks IBA above), and is reached by taking Excelsior Mine Rd. north 30 miles from I-15. It features a small grove of Fremont Cottonwoods. Piute Spring, adjacent to Ft. Piute about 20 miles due west of Bullhead City, AZ, flows above ground for several hundred meters through volcanic rock, supporting a thin strip of willow forest. Cornfield Spring emerges from the western flank of the Providence Mountains just east of Kelso. Horsetheif is located on BLM land, and the latter two sites are within the Mojave National Preserve. There are several other springs with vital riparian scattered across the east Mojave, mostly associated with desert ranges (e.g. Sunflower and Panamint Springs, Old Woman Mtns.; Cove Spring, Granite Mtns.). All should be considered important for birds in this harsh environment.

Ornithological Summary

These springs are most heavily-used by birds during spring migration (April-May), when songbirds are moving up into the state from the Colorado River. The nesting avifauna, including Least Bell's Vireo and Yellow-breasted Chat, is highly dependent on the condition of the riparian vegetation at each, which is at times overgrazed (by cattle and by feral horses and burros) or burned (due to arson).

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Conservation Issues

Efforts to fence cattle and vandals from these springs have met with limited success. As long as the desert is seen by a subset of its users as a place to "raise hell", these fragile habitats will need to be protected and closely monitored. Recent (court-ordered) actions by BLM to close particularly sensitive areas have caused a serious backlash among the OHV community, exacerbating an already tenuous truce between desert preservationists and others (R. Kobaly, pers. comm.).

Ownership

Horsetheif is located on BLM land, and Piute and Cornfield Spring are within the Mojave National Preserve.

Habitat

This IBA draws attention to three major springs in the east Mojave Desert with similar avifauna. All are oases of riparian habitat associated with desert ranges surrounded by arid scrub. Horsetheif Spring, in the north, lies at the eastern edge of the Kingston Range. It features a small grove of Fremont Cottonwoods. Piute Spring, adjacent to Ft. Piute about 20 miles due west of Bullhead City, AZ, flows above ground for several hundred meters through volcanic rock, supporting a thin strip of willow forest. Cornfield Spring emerges from the western flank of the Providence Mountains just east of Kelso.

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