Regional bird-watchers scoping spring uptick in avian activity in Truckee/Tahoe | SierraSun.com
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Regional bird-watchers scoping spring uptick in avian activity in Truckee/Tahoe

Dylan SilverTahoe Daily Tribune
Photo by Dylan SilverA yellow-headed blackbird perches on a branch in the Upper Truckee Marsh on Tuesday.
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TAHOE/TRUCKEE andamp;#8212; From time to time, Sheryl Ferguson will just freeze and listen. Sometimes she hears the andamp;#8220;tsee tsee tseeandamp;#8221; of one of Lake Tahoeandamp;#8217;s warbler species. Other times itandamp;#8217;s the andamp;#8220;conk-a-reeeeeeeandamp;#8221; of the red-winged blackbird.andamp;#8220;You need to know your songs as well as know what they look like because half the time youandamp;#8217;ll hear them before you see them,andamp;#8221; Ferguson said, during a recent bird-watchers outing in the Upper Truckee Marsh.In the spring, many of the areaandamp;#8217;s migratory bird species will arrive from their winter homes. With the increase in activity, bird-watchers are out and about, peering through their binoculars, trying to one-up one another with rare sightings.andamp;#8220;My birding friends and I kind of have a competition,andamp;#8221; Ferguson laughed. andamp;#8220;Once you can identify each bird, youandamp;#8217;ve got to go on and find the youngsters.andamp;#8221;Ferguson teaches a class at Lake Tahoe Community College on bird-watching on the South Shore. Sheandamp;#8217;s also part of the growing group of birders in the Lake Tahoe Basin.andamp;#8220;When I first got to Tahoe in the andamp;#8217;90s, there wasnandamp;#8217;t much of a community or much connectivity,andamp;#8221; said Will Richardson, bird enthusiast and co-executive director of the Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences. andamp;#8220;In the last couple of years, the birding community has really grown. Itandamp;#8217;s great.andamp;#8221;Whether the group is out spotting bald eagles in Emerald Bay or scoping Woody the Woodpecker look-alikes, the pileated woodpecker, in the forest, thereandamp;#8217;s always something to see. Though some species stick around all year, others are only here temporarily.andamp;#8220;Birding is really a year-round endeavor. One of the things that makes it so fun is the dynamic nature of the seasons,andamp;#8221; Richardson said. andamp;#8220;This time of year is really great because so many of the birds that we only have in the summer are arriving.andamp;#8221;Richardson has had some incredibly rare sightings around the Lake Tahoe area. Heandamp;#8217;s seen Oklahomaandamp;#8217;s state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, and a western sandpiper, that had bands on its leg from Russia. Often, these sightings occur on accident. With migratory birds traveling thousands of miles, they sometimes make an error in direction, Richardson said.andamp;#8220;The spring and summer is a great time to see birds that are completely lost,andamp;#8221; he said.Though the Sierra Nevada doesnandamp;#8217;t have the avian diversity of, say, Costa Rica with more than 800 species, there are a variety of habitats that host around 300 species throughout the year. About 120 of these species breed in the Lake Tahoe Basin.andamp;#8220;The most productive is when you can get all these habitats together,andamp;#8221; Ferguson said.Out on the Upper Truckee Marsh, where the forest meets the wetland, dozens of birds chirped, sang and chased each other around the reeds Thursday. If one were to close their eyes and just listen, they could count at least eight different birds singing simultaneously.andamp;#8220;Itandamp;#8217;s probably the best time,andamp;#8221; Ferguson said. andamp;#8220;You can hear the call, hear the songs, hear the babies talking. Itandamp;#8217;s just going to get louder and louder as we move into summer.andamp;#8221;


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