Winter Wonders: Bald Eagles of Northern Nevada
Photo by Leela Ruiz
Nestled amid some of the stunning habitats of Northern Nevada, bald eagles captivate the hearts of locals and nature enthusiasts alike. In particular, the winter months unveil more frequent sighting opportunities and unique behaviors. Sightings in Northern Nevada can begin as early as November but December-February is often peak eagle spotting time offering a glimpse into their extraordinary nesting habits. Plus, a chance to spot their unique and mesmerizing cartwheel courtship displays.
Winter holds a special significance for bald eagles, as it marks the beginning of their nesting season. These magnificent birds meticulously choose locations with easy access to water, a crucial element for their diet, which primarily consists of fish. The proximity of their nests to water bodies not only aids in hunting but also ensures a secure environment for their eaglets.
Photo by Ben Sonnenberg
As winter transforms our local landscape, it also triggers one of the most enchanting displays in the bald eagle repertoire; the cartwheel courtship. Mated pairs engage in a breathtaking aerial ballet, exchanging graceful maneuvers high above their nesting territories. This courtship ritual not only solidifies the bond between partners but also serves as a testament to the resilience of their species.
In the South East Reno, near the wetland expanses of bustling Veterans Parkway, at least one pair of bald eagles has claimed its domain near Rosewood Nature Study Area and the Hidden Valley neighborhood. With the ever-changing urban landscape of Reno and the construction of Veterans Parkway, there were anecdotal concerns about the potential disturbance to their nesting site. However, this majestic pair of birds have seemingly defied the odds, and have continued to return faithfully over the last few years. Their resilience in the face of human development underscores the importance of coexistence and conservation efforts.
Photo by Ben Sonnenberg
The location near Veterans Parkway and Hidden Valley serve as ideal winter nesting grounds, providing a perfect blend of resources. Other local pairs have been spotted near Mayberry Park, Stampede Reservoir near Truckee, Lower Sardine Lake, Lake Tahoe, the Carson Valley and even Swan Lake. Observing these eagles in their natural habitat during this season is an awe-inspiring experience and was not always possible even recently in our local history. An annual bald eagle count takes place at Lake Tahoe and in 1979, just two eagles were spotted. Last year, volunteers counted 19 bald eagles at Lake Tahoe alone and it is estimated that there are as many as 150 eagles in Northern Nevada at this time.
Photo by Leela Ruiz
In January 2022, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in the United States. The species was officially delisted in 2007, marking a significant conservation success story. The recovery of the bald eagle population was attributed to the banning of the pesticide DDT, habitat protection measures, and intensive conservation efforts. The delisting signaled a triumph in wildlife conservation, highlighting the positive impact of dedicated conservation initiatives in preserving and restoring endangered species.
For more on the Bald Eagle locations and occurrence patterns in the area, bird enthusiasts can explore eBird.org. By navigating to "Explore" and then selecting the map for Bald Eagle sightings along with the barchart for Washoe County, observers can gain valuable insights into the distribution and frequency of these majestic birds.
In addition to tracking eagles through eBird.org, birdwatchers can enhance their experience with the Merlin App by Cornell. This powerful tool excels at identifying local birds by their distinct sounds. Whether you're a hobby birder just starting or an advanced bird enthusiast, the Merlin App adds a layer of excitement to your birdwatching endeavors. It's a valuable resource for connecting with the avian world, making bird identification accessible and enjoyable for all. As you explore the landscapes of Northern Nevada in search of bald eagles, both apps make great tools for enriching your birdwatching experience in our breathtaking region.
As winter continues to unfold its magic here in Northern Nevada, the bald eagles stand as guardians of the skies, inviting us to marvel at the delicate balance of nature and the human experience. This season, in the midst of our busy urban landscape, the eagles near Rosewood Nature Study Area remind us that even in the face of change, nature's wonders persist. By appreciating and understanding these magnificent birds, we can contribute to their conservation and ensure that future generations can witness the awe-inspiring beauty of bald eagles in flight.
If you are interested in volunteering at Rosewood Nature Study Area, we have an upcoming Biobltiz on January 15th as well as several planting events throughout the year. Last year more than 1500 plants were added at Rosewood Nature Study Area, contributing to the eagles local habitat. Please visit Events at tmparksfoundation.org or click here to learn more.
To try and spot the eagles, you can visit Rosewood Nature Study Area at 6800 Pembroke Dr, Reno. Trails:
8:00am to 4:00pm, Monday through Saturday
9:00am to 4:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday
Closed Sunday and Monday
You can even check-out a pair of binoculars!
To support ongoing restoration efforts at Rosewood please visit our Donation page.
To view more eagle pictures, please visit Bob and Matt's sites by clicking their names above. Special thanks to the Birding Nevada Facebook group for supporting this blog.