Our December bird of the month is the Pinyon Jay. Pinyon Jays are known for foraging in Pinyon pines, hence their namesake. Pinyon Jays are a larger jay, and sometimes mistaken for small crows.
Pinyon Jays are found throughout the American West and even parts of Baja California. They are often seen in the Great Basin region due to the Pinyon trees that can be found here. Flocks of Pinyon Jays can be seen in Alum Canyon and have been recently observed on Peavine here in Reno. The Pinyon Jay is a Watch List species due to habitat loss.
Lahontan Audubon Society is partnering with the Great Basin Bird Observatory on an exciting community science project to advance our knowledge of this unique species. Join us for our upcoming free monthly meeting where you will learn all about the natural history of Pinyon Jays and how you can support conservation efforts. To register for the member meeting click below.
For more information about Pinyon Jays and to hear recordings of their call, please visit the Audubon Field Guide entry below:
" 'Tis the season" for the 2021 Christmas Bird Count. Our chapter does not run the Christmas Bird Counts ourselves, they are run independently by Bird Count Compilers. However, we happily promote the upcoming counts happening in the Northern Nevada and Tahoe region. Counts are listed below, and also listed on our website calendar. If you would like to participate in a count, please contact the count leader first. Check back in to this list regularly, as we will be adding more information about CBC counts as we hear from more leaders.
Contact Dave McNinch (775) 747-7545; Email David
Snake Valley (Baker, NV)
Contact Gretchen Baker (435)406-1041; Email Gretchen
Contact Lois Ports, through Bristlecone Audubon; Email Lois
Truckee Meadows (Reno/Sparks)
Contact Dave McNinch (775) 747-7545; Email David
January 1st, 2022
Contact Dennis Serdehely (775)771-1575; Email Dennis
As always, click below to see our calendar with a complete day-by-day list of all our events.
The Christmas Bird Count has been a long-standing tradition, starting up circa when the Audubon Society was founded. But did you know it began with a tradition of taking hunting trips at Christmas? Check out this Audubon article below, to read about the origins of the Christmas Bird Count, how data from the Christmas Bird Count is used in contemporary research, and much more.
To see the summary from last year's Bird Count, click below:
The Pinyon Jay is a charismatic corvid that can be seen locally, including in Alum Canyon and recently on Peavine. Unfortunately, their population has declined nearly 80% since the 1970s and the Pinyon Jay is a Watch List species due to habitat loss. Join us on Tuesday, December 14th at 7:00 for this virtual presentation by the Great Basin Bird Observatory. This webinar will feature background on the species, research, and ways that you can help with ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts.
As the weather becomes chilly, many of our feathered friends make their way south for the winter, but where do they go? Mario Cordoba returns to share with us the Costa Rican habitats of our local bird species. Find out which species are enjoying annual tropical sojourns and how Costa Rica and Nevada are connected by our birds.
Join Mario Cordoba, a Costa Rican native, for a Zoom webinar on the Western North American Birds in Costa Rica. Mario has been birding since childhood and guiding for over 25 years. He has guided numerous trips for birding groups and international natural history organizations such as the National Audubon Society, Bird Watcher’s Digest, National Geographic Society, Road Scholar, and the Sierra Club in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador. Mario will be leading two Costa Rica birding trips for the Lahontan Audubon Society in February 2022.
On Friday, November 19th, Kath Giel led a birding field trip starting at Idlewild Park and walking upstream along the Truckee River for about a mile. There were 12 enthusiastic birders on the trip, newcomers to Reno as well as long term residents, many who had never been to this delightful birding area. Valerie Andersen compiled an eBird checklist. Below is the summary and highlights of the event:
Idlewild Park is a lovely park along the Truckee River near downtown Reno. It has two small ponds, and in addition to the perennial MALLARDS and CANADA GEESE on these ponds, we saw HOODED MERGANSERS, COMMON MERGANSERS, and a pair of WOOD DUCK. There was a HAIRY WOODPECKER in a tree near one pond. As we strolled upstream along the Truckee River, we were delighted with a number of DOWNY WOODPECKERS in the trees We also noted a few FLICKERS, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES, SONG SPARROWS and ROBINS. A few people spotted a MERLIN on the other side of the river. We also saw a JUVENILE SNOW GOOSE in the river with some CANADA GEESE and then on the way back to our cars we were thrilled with a JUVENILE RED-TAILED HAWK that was fearless and perched just above the ground on a tree stump along the river path (photo above by Emma Wynn). We enjoyed the two hours of birding on a beautiful day, enjoying our birding and making new friends.
On Thursday, November 18th, our Community Engagement Coordinator Parker Flickinger and field trip volunteer Kath Giel, undertook the monthly eBird birding challenge. Their goal was to go birding at 3 different parks, all on the same day!
To help promote the Birding By Bus program, Kath and Parker chose to explore three different parks featured on the Birding By Bus map; Rancho San Rafael, Virginia Lake and Wingfield Park. This was an interesting time to go birding as many of the migrating species had already traveled through Nevada, and mainly resident species remain. Nevertheless, Kath and Parker did indeed manage to capture 29 different species across the parks.
Kath and Parker also had their cameras along with them, and were able to capture footage of their adventure, and the birds they observed. Their footage was compiled into a video, now featured on the Lahontan Audubon Society YouTube Channel. Watch it below.
If you would like to go on your own birding adventure, feel free to check out the Birding By Bus Map and see some of the many public birding parks in the Reno/Sparks metro area. Also feel free to check out a PDF of the complete list of birds Kath and Parker observed on their challenge.
We still have spaces available on both our Costa Rica Field trips in 2022! The first field trip happens from February 8th to 18th, and the second from February 19th to March 5th. Ornithologist, Mario Cordoba will be your guide through the Costa Rican forests. To meet Mario and learn about the environment and wildlife of Costa Rica, please check out his previous monthly member meeting below. Also check out the Costa Rica Field Trip Flyer below or contact our field trip coordinator, Kath Giel, for more details.
On Friday, November 11th, Jeff Bleam lead a birding field trip at the Silver Saddle Ranch Area outside of Carson City. As usual, he kept notes, an eBird checklist, and had his camera by his side. Below is his summary and highlights of the event:
Silver Saddle Ranch and the Carson River Park is SE of downtown Carson City and the trail runs along the Carson River. As the group gathered, there was a large flock of BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES and if you look closely you can see a gray bird, which was a COOPER'S HAWK. There were numerous FLICKERS, many CANADA GEESE, JUNCOS, and WC SPARROWS. There was also a large flight PINYON JAYS, a flock of RC KINGLETS, a MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, and on the way to the dam we found HERMIT THRUSH, DOWNY WOODPECKER, and 5 TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE. I played the Solitaire call and song for someone that wasn't familiar with their song and a Solitaire flew in within 5 feet of us and responded with a call then he started to sing. Like the Davis Creek walk a couple of weeks ago it was more birdy on the way to the dam but very quiet on the way back. We ended the walk with 25 species.
Lahontan Audubon Society is excited to partner with the Great Basin Institute to bring you the Galena Creek Visitor Center Speaker Series. These monthly talks will highlight various bird-related topics using LAS's taxidermy mounts. Speakers will include long-time LAS volunteers, Alan Gubanich and Mike Goddard. Talks are scheduled for Saturdays at 10:00 am. The draft schedule and topics are listed below, however, this is subject to change based on volunteer and staff availability, so please check our calendar for the most up to date information. All talks are free and open to everyone.
11/20 - Winter Birds of the Galena Forest
12/11 - Waterfowl of Northern Nevada
1/15 - Miniscapes of Swan Lake with Bob Goodman
1/22 - Wetland Birds of Northern Nevada
2/19 - LBJ's of the Bird World (Little Brown Jobbies)
3/12 - Breeding Birds of the Galena Forest
4/16 - Birding By Ear
5/21 - What Makes a Bird a Bird? - Part 1
6/18 - What Makes a Bird a Bird? - Part 2
7/16 - Hawks of Northern Nevada
8/20 - Owls of Northern Nevada
We are excited to announce a new bird watching activity challenge hosted by eBird. Birdwatchers who submit 3 separate eBird checklists in a single day will be entered into a raffle to win a pair of Ziess 8x42 binoculars. These checklists can be from the same location at 3 different times or multiple locations throughout the day. The contest is open throughout the month of November. Click the button below to learn about the eBird November Challenge.
"How do I find locations to bird for this challenge?" you ask. This is where our Birding By Bus map is here to help you. Our Birding by Bus map contains a full list of parks and nature areas within the Reno/Sparks metro area. The Cormorant photo above was taken at Virginia Lake, one of the parks featured in our map. Our map contains additional information about each park, such as what birds are currently seen there or which RTC ride bus stop serves it. Our map uses the Google Maps engine, and therefore can give you directions to the parks through your smartphone. The link to our Birding to Bus map is below. If you would like to learn more about the local public transit service, visit rtcwashoe.com.
"I would love to participate, but I do not have an eBird account," you say. Have no fear. We also have an eBird tutorial webinar available. Our Community Engagement Coordinator, Parker Flickinger, and ornithologist Ben Sonnenberg hosted this webinar last month. Parker and Ben are both eBird enthusiasts and covered the basics of how to register for then use eBird to keep track of the birds you observe in your lifetime. This webinar was recorded and available always on our YouTube Channel (linked below).
As always, if you have any other questions about birdwatching in our community, Birding By Bus or using eBird, don't hesitate to contact us. We would love to hear from you.
Good luck on your birdwatching adventure!
*Although we encourage birdwatching, Lahontan Audubon Society is not in charge of purchasing the Ziess binoculars and running the raffle. This is completely managed by eBird and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For more information about how the contest works, visit the website tab above.
The photo contest results are in. In 1st place: Gadwall (male) from Feathers of Fall by Emma Wynn.
Below are some honorable mentions:
To see more photos from previous contests or to enter our contest, visit our archive by clicking below.
To celebrate Nevada Day, we hosted a field trip at Davis Creek regional park lead by Jeff Bleam. Although our group did not observe our State bird (the Mountain Bluebird), we had a wonderful adventure nonetheless. Below are Jeff's field notes:
Friday's Field Trip was to Davis Creek Regional Park located at the base of the Sierra's in the Washow Valley. As we gathered in the parking lot, we heard CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS, STELLER'S JAYS, FLICKER, and MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES. We walked north to take advantage of the warm morning sun and saw a CASSIN'S FINCH, PYGMY and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, and a large flock of RUBY-CROWNED NUTHATCHES. Walking through the campground, we heard more Pygmy and WB Nuthatches plus a calling RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. It was quiet on the way to the group camp area but we did find a male WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER in the parking area and there were only 3 MALLARDS on the half filled pond. We ended the walk with 23 species.
ebird cklst - https://ebird.org/checklist/S96851895
DCRP Album - https://flic.kr/s/aHskmWcCJU
Our November Bird of the Month is the Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). This photo of a male (left) and female (right), was taken at Cottonwood Park. Common Goldeneyes are recognized by their namesake golden eyes and the white egg-shaped patch on the male's "cheek". Like most ducks, Common Goldeneyes enjoy rivers, lakes and wetlands. As the Fall and winter move on, they become more commonly (no pun intended) seen at Virginia Lake, Idlewild Park, or other parks with rivers and lakes.
To learn more about Common Goldeneyes and hear their calls, visit the Audubon Field Guide entry here: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/common-goldeneye