Sunday, May 26, 2013

Birding in the Neighbor's Yard

May has been a busy month - not that there isn't always a lot of work, but prepping for travel has kept me in my office more than I'd care to be. Still, it's worthwhile, because the travel itself brings me closer to birds.

The first trip, just last weekend, was to a neighboring birding hotspot - Fallon, Nevada. I was part of a group of talented and diverse journalists invited to explore the Spring Wings Festival, and a delightful exploration it was. I've visited the area before, but despite the similarities of northern Nevada to my own northern Utah backyard, it's always a treat to visit such a diverse area and reacquaint myself with all my western favorites. Just a few species highlights of the visit include...
And not to forget the western rattlesnake; my first encounter with a rattlesnake, and though he was just a little one, he was far less than pleased with the attention of a bunch of journalists. I suppose you have to be a bird to want the fame...

Fallon is rich in avifauna and its birding experiences can change on a daily basis depending on the water levels of the various lakes and rivers, as well as the time of year, temperatures, and weather patterns. Just as rich, however, are the experiences of the Spring Wings Festival, and our itinerary included a detailed lecture about falconry (complete with avian ambassadors), birding by kayak (the birding was easy, the kayaking wasn't - at least at first), a daytime owl prowl (visiting daytime roosts and nest boxes), and a tour around Carson Lake Wetlands, one of my favorite birding spots in the area.

As birders, of course, we tend to focus on the feathered attractions of a region, but a word of caution - every community you visit, whether just to twitch a rare species, to join in a festival, or as part of a larger birding trip - had a greater history and culture beyond its birds. In Fallon, we had delicious pizza at the rustic Pizza Barn, toured amazing historic homes at the Douglass House and Williams House, examined intriguing artwork at the Barkley Theater, and enjoyed local dishes and exquisite cuisine at The Slanted Porch. But why should this matter? Because birding is big business - that's why press trips are available and festivals are planned. When you go to an area birding, whether it's a neighboring city, an adjacent state, or a far-flung country, you're helping raise awareness of just how valuable their local birds are. That can encourage businesses to support local bird conservation and habitat preservation, creating a cycle that will allow you to return again to see even more wonderful birds. So get out there and explore your "neighbor's" backyard!

Want to learn more about birding in Fallon? Check out what 10,000 Birds, Nevada Magazine, and National Geographic have to say about the festival!

1 comment:

Nevada Magazine said...

Great post Melissa! It was great to meet you, and hopefully our paths cross again somewhere in Nevada.