Mary's River is the primary Humboldt River tributary that drains the southern end of the Jarbidge Mountain Range in Elko County, Nevada. It is located southeast of the town of Jarbidge and west of Wells. Its confluence with the Humboldt River is approximately 33 miles east of Elko, Nevada. Ownership is primarily BLM, USFS, and private (one owner - The Wright Family). The Mary's River watershed is an extremely valuable area for river riparian (willow, cottonwood, alder and aspen) and upland (sagebrush, mountain brush, mountain mahogany and subalpine mixed coniferous forest) dependent bird species. In 1991, most of this 220 square mile area was protected from growing season livestock grazing and is responding vigorously to this protection. The area provides habitat for over 100 breeding bird species, and several migratory and wintering bird species as well. 

Ornithological Summary

Significant densities of White-faced Ibis, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Swainson's Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Greater Sandhill Crane, Long-billed Curlew, Short-eared Owl, Calliope Hummingbird, Lewis's Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Willow Flycatcher (E. t. brewsteri, E. t. adastus), Loggerhead Shrike, Sage Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Vesper Sparrow, Sage Sparrow, Bobolink and Sage Grouse.

In particular, the cottonwood/alder gallery is an extremely rare and threatened habitat type in the state. Here, it is returning. Bird species such as Lewis' Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Bullock's Oriole, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and House Wren are responding positively.

A second unique habitat that is an exceptional representative of the natural Humboldt System is the native wetland hay meadows. These provide significant nesting habitat for Bobolinks, Greater Sandhill Cranes and Short-eared Owls. Where emergent vegetation types (Scirpus, Typha) continue to respond to rest in the oxbow sloughs associated with these native hay meadow areas, we expect Black Tern, Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren and White-faced Ibis nesting numbers to respond in turn.

The Mary's River Watershed is, to a great extent, the last functioning, natural relict of what the entire Humboldt River System used to be. It is for that reason an exceptional site to provide for the continued existence of northern Nevada's native bird fauna and as a native seed source for additional avian recovery sites downstream on the main stem of the Humboldt.

Unbroken 50-mile long willow-lined bird migration corridor.


Most of the public land portions of the Mary's River are only in the early stages of restoration after 120 years of overuse by domestic livestock. Much of stream corridor will take several decades to produce Lewis' woodpeckers, red-naped sapsuckers and Lahontan cutthroat trout up to its historical potential.

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