WHAT TO EXPECT East Truckee Meadows, also known as University Farms, is an area of open fields just south of the Truckee River on the eastern edge of metropolitan Reno-Sparks. Mitigated wetlands extend throughout Rosewood Lakes Golf Course along the area's southern boundary. There are a number of places where you can park and enjoy birding on foot.
Best time of year: Migrants can be found during the spring, but fall and winter tend to be the most productive times of year.
Notable species: Raptors and waterfowl, particularly geese, are quite abundant in the winter. This is one of the better places in the immediate Reno-Sparks area to find open-country birds such as Black-billed Magpie, Loggerhead Shrike, Horned Lark, Prairie Falcon, and American Kestrel. White-fronted, Snow, and Ross's Geese are sometimes observed among the numerous Canada Geese throughout the area. Wintering sparrows have included Harris's, Golden-crowned, and White-crowned. Look for Red-shouldered Hawk, a rare winter visitor.
Precautions: McCarran Boulevard is well-traveled; traffic can be heavy.
HOW TO GET THERE From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive approximately 3 miles east on I-80 to Exit 19 McCarran Boulevard East. Turn right (south) on McCarran Boulevard and proceed 1.6 miles south to Cleanwater Way. Turn left (east) onto Cleanwater Way.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE As you drive east on Cleanwater Way, check the fields and brushy areas, especially around the buildings on the left at about 0.6 mile, for open-field birds and wintering sparrows. At 1.8 miles there is a bridge over a slough. Cliff Swallows often nest under this bridge. Drive another 0.1 mile to a pullout on the left and park there. The slough is on the left; on the right is a gated road going up a hill. Walk around the gate and up the road a short distance to look for Rock Wren.
Return to Cleanwater Way. Search the west-facing base of the hill for Rock Wren as well as possible Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows. Cleanwater Way ends in another 0.3 mile at the entrance to the Reno-Sparks Water Treatment Plant. It is best to walk this section since the gated plant entrance with a guard check-in station does not allow for a good turnaround. Return to McCarran Boulevard. (Side Trip A)
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS Side Trip A Rosewood Lakes Golf Course: Turn left (south) on McCarran Boulevard from Cleanwater Way and drive 1.9 miles to Mira Loma Drive. Turn left (east) and drive 0.6 mile to a pullout on the left side of the road next to the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course. Bird the wetlands on both sides of the two bridges. Across from the parking area is Heron's Landing, which may sometimes contain a shallow pond that can be very productive.
Continue 0.6 mile east on Mira Loma Drive to Hidden Valley Drive. Turn left and continue another 0.5 mile to a pullout on the left, just before the Hidden Valley Volunteer Fire Department building. Park and walk to the water, where a path begins that extends behind the houses along the eastern side of the wetlands. Backtrack to Mira Loma Drive and out to McCarran Boulevard to return to Reno.