Wildlife/Bird Viewing

Best time of year: Winter for raptors and waterfowl; spring and summer for nesting songbirds and Tricolored Blackbirds.

Notable species: For the entire area, wintering raptors include Bald and Golden Eagles, Rough-legged and Ferruginous Hawks, and Prairie Falcon.  Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, and American Kestrel are resident.  White-faced Ibis and a modest number of Sandhill Cranes may be observed.  A colony of Tricolored Blackbirds breeds in the Carson Valley, the only known occurrence in Nevada.

Below is a popular Carson Valley Birding Route:

Turn right on Jacks Valley Road/SR 206, a stoplight 1.2 miles south of the US 395 & US 50 junction.  Watch for raptors along the route, in particular Golden and Bald Eagles.  At 6.1 miles check the farm ponds on the left.  At the stop-sign in Genoa (8.5 miles) turn left (east) onto Genoa Lane/SR 758.  During winter, mainly in February, Bald Eagles feed on calving afterbirth in the pastures on both sides of the road.  Continue a total of 3.7 miles from Genoa to US 395.  Turn right (south) onto the highway, travel 1.8 miles to Muller Lane/SR 757, and turn right (west).  Check the ranches on both sides of the road, especially for wintering raptors.

At the stop sign (3.2 miles) turn right (north) onto Foothill Road/SR 206 and proceed 0.8 mile to 1862 David Walley's Hot Springs on the right.  Black Phoebe, Green Heron, and other marsh species have been observed on the grounds at the rear of the resort.  Return to northbound Foothill Road (55 mph zone) from the resort's north exit.  At about 0.3 miles the TNC wetlands, signaled by a grove of poplar trees, comes into view on the right.  Continue north approximately 1 mile to Genoa.

The little town of Genoa, located at the interface of the Carson Valley and the steeply rising Carson Range, abounds in Nevada territorial history.  It can be an interesting spot to find both mountain and valley birds.  Mormon Station Historic State Park is situated on the northeast corner of the only intersection in town.  A half block west of this intersection, on Nixon Street, you will see Genoa Park (restrooms).  Spring through fall, both of these parks can be worth exploring for songbirds.

From Genoa Park, return to Foothill Road/SR 206, turn right (south), and drive 4.4 miles to Mottsville Lane/SR 207.  Turn left (east) and check the ranches along both sides of the road.  At the SR 88 stoplight (3.3 miles), turn right (south) and travel 1.5 miles to Centerville Lane/SR 756.

Turn right (west) and pull onto the right shoulder.  The marsh across Centerville Lane/SR 756 on the southwest corner of this intersection should be checked in spring and summer for a breeding colony of Tricolored Blackbirds.  Continue 2.8 miles west, checking the ranches on either side, to Foothill Road/SR 206.  Turn right (north) and travel 1.3 miles to return to Mottsville Lane/SR 207, turn right (east) and return to the stoplight at SR 88. Turn left (north) onto SR 88, which will connect with US 395 at 1.9 miles to return south to Minden.



Birding Under Nevada Skies 1266 Manhattan Way
Phone: Jim Woods (775) 265-3914 Cell (775) 720-7009

Here is the only Bird Watching and all-around outdoor guide service dedicated to Western Nevada and the Eastern portions of the Sierra Nevada around Lake Tahoe. Nevada is ideally located in the Intermountain Flyway and that brings birds from the western US & Canada into Nevada on their annual migrations.  Birding Under Nevada Skies offers birding tours of private ranches in the Carson Valley, the high mountain lakes and rivers of the Sierras, and the marshes & wetlands of the valley bottoms.  This is a great way to enjoy a date, your family or vacation.

Cost is $35/ per person for a 3 hr. tour, less for groups of five or more.  Custom tours are available for those special adventures.  The tours are set up as you need them ~ when you are ready to go, so are we.  Give me a call and let's get you Birding Under Nevada Skies.  Guides are members and directors of the Lahontan Audubon Ornithologists, University of Nevada Reno, Hawk Watch International and other birding and scientific organizations.  They will also provide the opportunity for in the field photography, geology / rock hounding, wildflower identification, trout fishing, stargazing, camping and other outdoor actives.

Birds of Northwestern Nevada Checklist

Jacks Valley Road
Jacks Valley RoadNV
From U.S. Highway 395, take Jacks Valley Road (SR-206) west and south, birding the 22 miles to SR-88.  Muller Lane, Genoa Lane, Mottsville Lane, and Centerville Lane are other roads to travel for wildlife and bird viewing. 
Lahontan Audubon Society
Phone: (775) 384-2473
Carson Valley Birding Guide Map.

The Lahontan Audubon Society a chapter of the National Audubon Society, based in Reno and serving all of northern Nevada, represents over 1,000 memberships of conservation-minded individuals and families.  We seek to help restore, preserve, and improve habitat for birds and other wildlife and to provide education about birds and their habitats in Nevada and adjacent areas of California.  Our other primary activities include guided birding trips for the public and for school groups, site clean-ups and improvements, annual birding classes, and Christmas Bird Count.  We publish occasional position papers on key Nevada conservation area issues, and we participate in or partner with various Nevada conservation agencies and groups.

River Fork Ranch/Whit Hall Interpretive Center 381 Genoa Lane
Phone: Duane Petite, Carson River Project Director at (775) 781-3505

An 800-acre preserve operated by The Nature Conservancy, the ranch encourages sustainable agriculture and ranching, preservation and education.  A network of trails allows visitors to explore the river and discover the natural Carson Valley. 

Spooner Summit Snow Valley Peak Trail
Lake TahoeNV89450

Beginning at the Spooner Summit north trailhead you will follow the Tahoe Rim Trail uphill.  Though the trail starts off steeply it soon becomes gentler, as you pass through a Jeffrey Pine forest.  After 2.25 miles you will see a vista sign, follow this 100 yard spur trail for rewarding views.  Continuing through the mostly shady forest you will find occasional filtered views during the next 1.4 miles.  At that point you will pass the trail for North Canyon campground (one of two required campsites on this section of trail).  As you continue on another 1.05 miles you may notice the change from white fir to red fir and the change of scenery to Eagle Valley with its sprawling Carson City.  Your final climb is one mile on an exposed west facing ridge with sagebrush, tobacco brush, plenty of granite boulders and a few stunted white-bark pines.  During this final mile you will finally be able to enjoy full open views of Lake Tahoe.  Best of all, you are rewarded with views of Marlette Lake.  Seeing these two lakes side by side is truly spectacular.  This is a great spot to have lunch before turning around for your next 6.2 miles back.

Classification: Hard

Distance: 12.4 miles round trip

Low/High Elevations: 7150' to 9214'

Highlights: Marlette Lake, gentle shaded uphill and full views of all sides of Lake Tahoe.

Location: The Spooner Summit North trailhead is on the north side of highway 50, ½ mile east of the junction with Highway 28.

Users: This part of the trail is open to hikers and equestrians.  Due to State Park regulations this section of trail is closed to mountain bikers.  It is recommended that mountain bikers interested in this area try riding the flume trail.

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