By Jeff Bleam
It's nice to be back on Standard time with the sun rising around 6:30 so it was nice to warm up in the sun. We started at the ponds where there were WIGEONS, MALLARDS, one CANADA GOOSE, a GADWALL, and 4 domestic Mallards. As we walked along the trail we found WC SPARROWS, JUNCOS, heard a DOWNY WOODPECKER, and saw a Flicker, which turned out to be an INTERGRADE NORTHERN FLICKER (Red x Yellow Shafted). More Sparrows at the path that cross the Creek as well as the RC KINGLET, CHICKADEES, and BUSHTITS. As we were walking away I looked back and saw GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS: Nice. Plenty SCRUB (34) and STELLERS (26) JAYS and we found out first HERMIT THRUSH along the path to Steamboat Ditch. Along the Ditch there was plenty of activity of LESSER GOLDFINCHES, HOUSE FINCHES, WC and GC SPARROWS, and SPOTTED TOWHEES. Back on the trail we walked up Alum Creek where we found many Sparrows, MAGPIE, and a few PYGMY and a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH. On the way back we saw PELICANS flying overhead, which was surprising. Three of us walk the lower part of Alum Creek and found a male Downy Woodpecker, a male ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD on the heated feeder and CA QUAIL. We found 35 species.
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.
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!
By Jeff Bleam
This walk was along the Carson River with Riparian, Sagebrush, and Ranch habitats. While meeting up we heard HOUSE WREN, MAGPIE, KESTREL, and a RED-TAILED HAWK. We walked along the river and saw and heard nothing for over a 1/2 hour but when we reached the Mexican Ditch things changed. In this section it is where there is a diversion runoff from the ditch and we found WOOD PEWEE and WESTERN TANAGER. As we approached the Dam we came across Warblers: YELLOW, WILSON'S, and after reviewing photos a NASHVILLE. Shortly after the Warblers, we came across a herd of Sparrows: SAGEBRUSH, BLACK-THROATED with many immature, and BREWERS with young. I like this walk for the good possibility of seeing Jays. We saw CA SCRUB JAYS and many PINYON JAYS and after the walk I was able to photograph what look like an immature calling. We also saw Monarchs and a Praying Mantis and ended the walk with 35 species. Good day.
Fall migration is almost upon us! We are looking for volunteers who are interested in coordinating some birding walks so we can share fall migration with more people in our community. You don’t have to be an expert birder to lead a walk, just someone who is familiar with a local birding spot and interested in learning. If you want to find out more about leading or co-leading a birding walk, please send a message to our Field Trip Committee.