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Bird Watching

Washoe County, home to the cities of Reno and Sparks, stretches from the Oregon border south to Lake Tahoe. This diverse county includes mountain forests, sagebrush steppe, juniper woodland, riparian areas and two important lakes (Pyramid and Washoe).

The area around the Truckee Meadows (Reno-Sparks) and south to Lake Tahoe and Washoe Valley is the most heavily birded portion of the county. There are lots of areas to explore north of Reno along the highway from Gerlach to Cedarville, Calif., and the western portion of the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Northern Washoe County has a number of ephemeral lakes and wetlands that are worth exploring.

Great Basin Bird Observatory (GBBO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats in the Great Basin. This mission shall be accomplished through partnerships, public education, and applied research.

Call 775-348-2644 or visit www.gbbo.org for more information.

Lahontan Audubon Society holds monthly meetings and fieldtrips. Its newsletter is a great source of information on birding in northern Nevada. Check out this wonderful birding guide: A Birding Guide to Reno and Beyond.

Birding Itineraries

For birders who find themselves in Reno for a convention or just for a short visit, the GBBO recommends the following itineraries based on how much time you have:

  • Couple of Hours: Oxbow Park, Virginia Lake or Rancho San Rafael make great short birding trips for visitors with only a little time. All are close to downtown Reno.
  • Half Day: Any one or more of the above sites or even a quick trip to Washoe Valley (Bellevue Exit, Davis Creek Park), Pyramid Lake or Galena Creek Park.

  • Full Day: For mountain species try visiting Spooner Lake State Park (Carson City/Douglas County) maybe combined with Washoe Valley. For wetlands and waterbirds (egrets, ibis, waterfowl, shorebirds) try the Lahontan Valley (Churchill County). For waterbirds (grebes, pelicans, gulls) try Pyramid Lake.

Birding Sites

For birding sites in Northern Nevada, check out the following GBBO suggested locations: Hunter Creek, Idlewild Park, Lemmon Valley, Oxbow Park, Pyramid Lake, Rancho San Rafael, University Farms, Virginia Lake, Washoe Valley, Galena County Park