Reflections on a Backyard Preserve in Another Place, in Another Time
By Karen Kish
By Jennie Jones Scherbinski
Where the Deer, the Antelope, and the Sage Grouse Play
By Rose Strickland
Have you ever noticed an American Coot's lobed feet? Or seen the blue racing stripes above the eyes of a Steller's Jay? How about the beautiful red patches shining against the black feathers of a male Red-winged Blackbird? These are some of the special, up close looks we had on our walk at Rancho San Rafael Park. Last Saturday, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Diane Wong-Kone, along with LAS volunteer Mary Luzier and friend Jen Royle, led a bird walk and talk with the Nevada Youth Empowerment Project, or NYEP. This amazing local non-profit supports young, homeless women by giving them independent living opportunities. The AmeriCorps VISTA program is helping LAS expand birding and avian education opportunities to make a positive change in our community. This trip was originally scheduled for early September, in collaboration with the Western Field Ornithologists, another non-profit organization that was in town for their annual conference in Reno. Unfortunately, the smoke in the air that weekend caused a trip cancellation. This past weekend, we were able to do a rain, er smoke (?), check on the trip and go exploring. Monica, one of the NYEP counselors, brought four young adults on this beautiful day. Using LAS' taxidermy bird mount collection, we first learned about some of the local birds found at Rancho San Rafael, such as the House Finch, American Coot, White-faced Ibis, and Red-shouldered Hawk. After learning about bird bill and feet adaptations and some basic bird identification skills, the group practiced using binoculars, first on taxidermy birds, but soon enough, on live birds, as a Lesser Goldfinch landed on a thistle feeder right in front of us and a Steller's Jay popped out on the branch above our heads. Another highlight was close-up views of a male and female blackbird in the cattails on the side of the path. They seemed unconcerned about the humans staring at them and gave us some beautiful looks. The "cheesburger" bird, aka Mountain Chickadee, was also out, though that bird was more challenging to see flitting among the branches of a conifer tree. Nice long looks at California Scrub-Jays and Steller's Jays helped us learn the difference between two of our blue corvids. Click to see the eBird trip list with 15 bird species. By the end of the trip, everyone in the group had some nice looks at our local birds and the NYEP members are excited at the possibility of another trip with LAS to go birding at another local park! Where shall we go next?
If you like this story and would like to support LAS' efforts to provide birding opportunities throughout our community, please consider donating to our Fall Fund Drive. We provide opportunities like this thanks to support from the people in our wonderful birding community like you!
Photos by Judy Duffy
Last Thursday, Judy Duffy, one of Lahontan Audubon Society's outstanding volunteers, hosted a bird walk at the Damonte Ranch Wetlands for residents of Revel Rancharrah, an independent living community. Highlights were a pair of Great Egrets, several Lesser Goldfinches feasting on the Russian sage, Mountain Chickadees, and a Common Merganser. It was a gorgeous day at the wetlands! Click here to see the complete eBird checklist.
Photos by Dave Reynolds.
Report by Linda St-Cyr. Starting from the parking lot at the top of Peavine Creek Road and hiking up, 11 Pinyon Jay followers observed 122 Pinyon Jays (a life bird for at least 3 people!) over a 2-hour period on the morning of 10/5/22. The Pinyon Jays flew in a northerly direction in several groups from the houses below to the foothills above. It’s interesting that the area hosts Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines, but no Pinyon Pines. The Pinyon Jays seem to be getting supplementary food around the houses (peanut shells were visible on the ground at the lower elevations) and they could be preparing to cache at the higher elevations although we did not actually see caching behavior. The Pinyon Jay survey volunteers practiced submitting data to Great Basin Bird Observatory via the Survey 123 app. An extra perk was the Golden Eagle who often appears near the peaks when we’re in this area. See the eBird trip report for the full species list.
Welcome to our new Field Trip Committee Chair, Lauren Whitenack! Lauren is a PhD student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Mountain Chickadee breeding ecology, and one of our newest Trustees. She has been interested in birds from the young age of 13 when she began volunteering at the Intermountain Bird Observatory near Boise, ID. Before moving to Reno in August 2021, she worked as a bird bander in both Idaho and Western North Carolina and conducted bird research as an undergraduate. She is currently a graduate teaching assistant for a Field Ornithology course at UNR, and enjoys sharing her passion for birds with others. Lauren is bringing a fresh energy to the field trip committee and wants to know how we can best serve you. Please fill out this short survey on what you would like to see from our field trip programs in the future. You can also join Lauren on her upcoming field trip to Rancho San Rafael or Hunter Creek Trail and thank her for coordinating our birding field trips!
Also a huge thank you to our outgoing committee chair, Jasmine Kleiber, for all the great work she has done over the past few years!
We have a vacant seat on our Board of Trustees and we are looking for someone with a passion for our mission to step up. Trustees attend monthly board meetings, support strategic planning for our organization, and provide guidance to our programs. If you are interested in learning more, please contact our president, Suzie Reynolds and she will be happy to give you more information.
We are so excited to be back to our in-person monthly membership meetings and a huge thank you to Bob Goodman for kicking off the season last month. We are looking for volunteers to help host the snacks and beverages that we provide at each meeting. This would entail purchasing light snacks, and setting up the hospitality table before the start of the meeting. LAS will reimburse volunteers for the snacks they purchase and we are hoping to have different volunteers sign up for each meeting. If you are interested in helping or if you have any additional questions, please send us a message and we hope to see you at our October meeting.