Migratory birds celebrated at Lake Tahoe Bird Festival | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Migratory birds celebrated at Lake Tahoe Bird Festival

Birds of a feather will flock together at Taylor Creek Visitor Center this weekend for an annual celebration of migratory birds. The Lake Tahoe Bird Festival takes place Saturday morning, June 11. "Every year, (Tahoe Institute for Natural Science) partners with the U.S. Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and many other agencies, organizations, and businesses, to bring the Lake Tahoe Bird Festival to Tahoe," according to a description from the institute. "The event is one of hundreds of International Migratory Bird Day festivals celebrated throughout the Americas. The festival will teach the Tahoe community about the incredible journey that migratory birds take each year. Migratory birds travel thousands of miles between their breeding grounds and winter habitats! This is a day to support and increase awareness of conservation efforts while enjoying family-fun outdoor activities." The event includes bird walks, falconer presentations and talks on landscaping for birds and optics. The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit's Taylor Creek Visitor Center. The festival also includes an off-site bird walk starting at 8 a.m. Taylor Creek Visitor Center is located on Visitor Center Road off State Route 89, west of Camp Richardson. More information is available at http://www.tinsweb.org/lake-tahoe-bird-festival. — Lake Tahoe Action

Migratory birds celebrated at Lake Tahoe Bird Festival

Birds of a feather will flock together at Taylor Creek Visitor Center this weekend for an annual celebration of migratory birds. The Lake Tahoe Bird Festival takes place Saturday morning, June 11. "Every year, (Tahoe Institute for Natural Science) partners with the U.S. Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and many other agencies, organizations, and businesses, to bring the Lake Tahoe Bird Festival to Tahoe," according to a description from the institute. "The event is one of hundreds of International Migratory Bird Day festivals celebrated throughout the Americas. The festival will teach the Tahoe community about the incredible journey that migratory birds take each year." The event includes bird walks, falconer presentations and talks on landscaping for birds and optics. The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit's Taylor Creek Visitor Center. The festival also includes an off-site bird walk starting at 8 a.m. Taylor Creek Visitor Center is located on Visitor Center Road off State Route 89, west of Camp Richardson. More information is available at http://www.tinsweb.org/lake-tahoe-bird-festival.

Celebration of birds returns to Taylor Creek

The Tahoe Institute for Natural Science in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will host the sixth annual Lake Tahoe Bird Festival on June 13, at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, located three miles north of South Lake Tahoe on State Route 89. Residents and visitors are invited to attend this free family event from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The event includes guided bird walks along the Rainbow Trail every hour from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., talks on gardening for birds and birding with the family, information on migratory birds and a presentation by Master Falconer Marie Gaspari Crawford that includes live birds of prey. Early morning off-site birding tours will also be offered at both Blackwood Canyon and Spooner Lake. Additional participants of the Bird Festival include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Lahontan Audubon Society. For a schedule of activities, visit http://www.tinsweb.org. TINS is a member-supported nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of natural history, conservation and ecosystem knowledge of the Tahoe region through science, education and outreach. TINS has a long-term goal of bringing a world class interpretive nature center and educational facility to the Tahoe area. Ruby Lyon, Provided

Bird feeders contribute to spread of disease in basin

Bird feeders are to blame for passing around a deadly infection to birds in the Lake Tahoe Basin, wildlife experts said. An estimated 150 pine siskins, a small, brown finch-like bird with telltale yellow markings on its wing tips and tail, have died this spring in the Lake Tahoe area, said Cheryl Millham, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, a nonprofit organization in South Lake Tahoe which rehabilitates sick and injured wild animals, took in about 40 of the ailing birds. A few responded to the therapy, but most died, Millham said. California Department of Fish and Game officials examined two of the carcasses. Both tested positive for a strain of salmonella bacteria, said Pamela Swift, of the state’s wildlife investigations division. California’s Plumas and Alpine counties are reporting similar symptoms with pine siskins. Swift said bird feeders host the infectious disease and spread it around to the rest of the bird population through contact with feces. In an effort to stop the spread, Fish and Game is asking for a halt on feeding birds for at least one month. After that, feeders put back into use should be disinfected with a 10-percent bleach solution at least once each week. Wooden feeders, which are difficult to sanitize, should be taken out of use entirely. Dead birds should be placed in a plastic bag and thrown away with the trash. People are also susceptible to salmonella infection and should wash their hands thoroughly after handling sick birds or infected feeders, Swift advised. Swift is not certain how the disease started this year in the siskins, but remembers a larger die-off in 1993. “It happens, and I don’t know why it is happening now,” Swift said. “I don’t know if it’s only in the pine siskin. It could be happening with other birds too.” The migratory siskin spends the summer months in the wooded areas of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. The winter snow drives them to warmer climes, usually to the Pacific coast or northern Mexico.

Wild Tahoe Weekend at Taylor Creek Visitor Center

A Wild Tahoe Weekend comes to Taylor Creek Visitor Center this weekend, with the fifth annual Lake Tahoe Bird Festival on Saturday, June 7 and the fourth annual Native Species Festival on Sunday, June 8. "There's all kinds of stuff going on," said T. Will Richardson, co-director and co-founder of Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, which helps organize the events. "The two are a little different in feel and nature, but both are fun for the whole family, very kid-friendly, but also very informative." TINS launched the Lake Tahoe Bird Festival as part of International Migratory Bird Day. All sorts of migratory birds can be spotted around Lake Tahoe this time of year, including western tanagers, warblers, vireos, flycatchers, hummingbirds and the flammulated owl, a tiny owl that summers at Tahoe and winters in Central America and is named for its distinctive flame-like markings. "They're only here four months, maybe five months out of the year, but they're back," Richardson said about the migratory birds that travel thousands of miles each year to and from Lake Tahoe. People will be able to see such birds on guided hikes along the Rainbow Trail throughout the day. Earlier morning hikes at 8 a.m. are scheduled for Spooner Lake and Blackwood Canyon, but people must pre-register for those with TINS. Other festival events include crafts and games for children, a bird art contest, opportunities to make bird boxes and discussions about the challenges and hazards migrating birds face, how to landscape for birds and optics for bird watching. Master Falconer Marie Gaspari Crawford is bringing an assortment of live birds of prey for presentations at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. "So people get to see the birds up close. That's always a highlight and definitely a crowd favorite," Richardson said. The Lake Tahoe Bird Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The Native Species Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The event includes walks led by field professionals and local students to help people learn more about native species of plants such as Tahoe yellow cress and quaking aspen and a variety of local wildlife. A local band, Fugitive Roots, will play live music. The festival will have 14 educational booths set up as well as a large fish tank holding Lahontan cutthroat trout. Vendors will offer hot dogs, snacks and ice cream. The events are made by possible by numerous partners including TINS, U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, California Conservation Corps, Camp Richardson Resort, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Sugar Pine Foundation, Sierra Wildlife Coalition, League to Save Lake Tahoe, Nor Cal Bats, Tahoe Native Plant Society, Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Lake Tahoe Unified School District and Tahoe Expedition Academy. Taylor Creek Visitor Center is located three miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89.

Feathering the storm: How do birds stay warm during cold Tahoe winters?

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — One thing I always think about as I watch the birds that flock to my feeders in the wintertime is, how do these small creatures survive the Tahoe area's cold temperatures and snowstorms? Take the snow bunting, for example, which as we already learned, does not come down from the north as far as Lake Tahoe, in any season. The snow bunting is the northernmost songbird in the world and apparently conditions at Lake Tahoe are too mild for its taste, even in the winter. Wintering grounds for the snow bunting include Minnesota and Montana, and if you've ever been to those states in the winter, you know how cold that is — as in, very cold. The snow bunting is white on its underparts, with white, brown and black wings. The feathers of this and all birds are incredibly insulating against the cold, or heat, as the case may be. Feathers are oily, providing further insulation and waterproofing. The snow bunting also has feathered legs, making it better suited to the cold. The bunting builds nests on the ground, in crevices that provide shelter from the elements and predators. These birds are breeding in subzero temperatures so the female remains on the nest while the male hunts. After breeding season in the Arctic, beginning in September or as late as November, the snow bunting makes his way to "warmer" climes for the winter, such as that found in North Dakota and similar areas. Before migrating back to the Arctic in the spring, he has to gain 30% of his body mass. The bunting migrates nocturnally, and does so by detecting the geomagnetic field of the earth, rather than visually. Studies have shown that only individuals with adequate energy storage are able to select seasonally appropriate directions during migration. Birds at Lake Tahoe and elsewhere grow extra feathers in the fall to provide additional insulation for the coming winter months. The bird's legs and feet are covered in scales designed to minimize heat loss. In the fall, birds begin to gather into flocks for travel and roosting, clumping together at night to share body heat. They may group together in small spaces or against the trunks of trees to take advantage of the heat absorbed by the bark during the light of day. Birds will fluff out their feathers to create air pockets for further insulation and will also generate heat by shivering. Shivering consumes calories so a bird needs to be well fed during the cold months. Birds need high fat, high energy foods in the winter such as black oil sunflower seed and suet. Even though there is snow on the ground, it takes precious energy to consume it, so an open source of water, perhaps in a heated bird bath, is a bonus for the birds. Locals and visitors alike enjoy feeding the chickadees at the meadows on the summit of Mt. Rose Highway. Jacquie Chandler, who hosts a vacation rental property, has a list of activities for her guests during their stay and the friendly chickadees are a favorite. Jacquie offers appropriate seed and treats for the guests to bring. One of her guests snowshoeing at the meadows was eating an English muffin spread with peanut butter when a chickadee landed on his head. The bird then alit on his hand, helping himself to some of that muffin. As any good Lake Tahoe resident knows, we should not be feeding the wildlife, and this includes birds, yet still we do. I've been putting out wild bird seed, thistle, sunflower seed, peanuts and suet for probably 20 years. If you do put out feeders for the birds, make sure to bring them in at night so as not to attract bears, even in the winter. There are downsides to feeding the birds. Supplemental feeding of the birds can cause advanced laying dates in the spring and may give an advantage to backyard birds over other species that may already be threatened. And of course, the congregation of birds at backyard feeders increases the potential for the spreading of disease. Even with the bag of survival tricks, birds can succumb to the cold, so I will continue to aid the avian visitors with a high-energy meal and hope that I'm not doing more harm than good. Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. Visit saveourplanetearth.com to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content.

Christmas Bird Count returns to Lake Tahoe this weekend

Grab your binoculars, break out the camera, dress warmly and volunteer to observe birds and waterfowl for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count this weekend, locally sponsored and hosted by Tahoe Institute for Natural Science (TINS). During the late 1800s there was a holiday tradition called the Christmas Side Hunt. Hunters would choose sides and go out to shoot as many birds as they could. The side with the largest pile of dead birds was the winner. Ideas of conservation were in the beginning stages at that point, but scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. On Christmas Day, 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the just-beginning Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition — a Christmas Bird Census — counting birds rather than hunting them. There were 25 bird counts that day, tallying around 90 species of bird, in areas ranging from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California. The count has come a long way since then — last year there were over 2,400 bird counts (called circles), counting more than 68 million birds and including over 2,100 species. The Christmas Bird Count takes place all over the continent, within established 15-mile diameter circles — each circle being managed by a local compiler. At Lake Tahoe, the circle is managed and data compiled by Will Richardson and staff of Tahoe Institute for Natural Science. TINS invites you to join novice and expert birders in participation of the South Lake Tahoe Christmas Bird Count, being held Saturday, December 17 in South Lake Tahoe, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participants meet at the Alpina Coffee Café on Emerald Bay Road at 8 a.m. From there, everyone will head together to Cove East for an hour or two of observation. The group will be divided into smaller groups, with at least one experienced birder in each group, to cover the remaining territory. TINS will host a pizza party after the event so that birders can swap stories and exchange pictures and notes. Will Richardson, Ph. D., co-founder and executive director of TINS, is responsible for collecting, compiling and entering the data into the Audubon Society's data base. This data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America, and to help guide conservation efforts. Check out the website, tinsweb.org for more information and to sign up. Participants need to RSVP with Sarah Hockensmith, TINS membership and outreach manager at (775) 298-0067 or email at sarah@tinsweb.org. Incline Village resident Franny Bryan, who works on Saturdays and cannot participate, nevertheless conducts her own research and has been kind enough to share with us some of her discoveries. Franny always has her eyes on the trees as she counts on her husband, Chris, to keep his eyes on the road while he drives. Ask Chris how many times Fran has said to him excitedly, "Pull over, I see something!", he will tell you, "Too many!" Yet, he obliges and they troop off the road to see Fran's latest discovery. One of their favorite stomping grounds is Cove East, the area chosen for the Christmas Bird Count, because it is so rich with wildlife. Just last month, Fran and Chris were at Cove East, bird watching, and they saw a tree filled with cedar waxwings, along with one American robin. These are birds you might expect to see during the Christmas Bird Count this weekend. Last September, the Bryans were excited to see a flock of Caspian terns in the same area as the terns passed through on their way to southern Mexico, where they spend the winter. The Caspian tern is the largest tern in the world and its large coral red bill makes it easily identifiable. The terns are most likely much farther south by now and won't be seen at Cove East in December. A beautiful bird with a haunting call, the common loon, should be making an appearance on count day. The loon, a large, diving bird, can submerge without a splash to catch a fish. Loons are more adaptive to water, and only come ashore to nest. Generally, 60-80 species are spotted during the Christmas Bird Count at Cove East. Come out and be a part of this important data-gathering event and surround yourself with knowledgeable and enthusiastic fellow birders. The event will take place unless there is a significant storm that day. Be sure to sign up at tinsweb.org. Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. Visit saveourplanetearth.com to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content.

Toree’s Stories: Annual bird count Monday at Lake Tahoe

Birders, grab your binoculars. The annual Christmas Bird Count, sponsored for over 100 years by the National Audubon Society, is upon us. The 115th Annual Audubon CBC will take place beginning Dec. 14 and runs through Jan. 5, 2015. The longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, the Christmas Bird Count provides critical data on avian population trends. The Tahoe Institute for Natural Science makes it easy for the everyday citizen to participate by functioning as the count coordinator for the local circle here at Lake Tahoe, which will take place Monday, Dec. 15. Will Richardson, TINS co-founder, has coordinated the South Lake Tahoe CBC since 2004. This year, AmeriCorps volunteer and Outreach Manager at TINS, Ruby Lyon, is assisting in coordinating the effort to bring the count to fruition at South Lake Tahoe. Volunteers will meet at the Alpina Coffee Café on Emerald Bay Road at 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 15. After an initial period of instruction and group observation, participants will split into smaller groups and will collectively cover an area 15 miles in diameter. At the end of the day, the group will reconvene and swap stories and notes. Don't worry if you can't tell a wren from a robin, you will be paired with someone who can. Teams are typically a mixture of volunteers with varying degrees of experience. Each person is a set of eyes and can add value to the team, no matter what birding experience they have. Plan on a day in the field, which for the South Lake Tahoe event is a 7.5-mile radius circle centered at the mouth of the Upper Truckee River. Dress in layers, and be sure to don warm boots. Bring your binoculars, a camera if desired, notebook and field guide, a lunch, and your enthusiasm for birds and wildlife. The count coordinator is responsible for compiling and submitting the data to the Audubon Society. Once established, the circle remains where it is for subsequent counts. The counts are conducted for a full eight hours in daylight with at least 10 observers. Some circles, in larger areas, may cover a 24-hour period and have dozens of observers. People who can't be out of doors can participate by observing backyard feeders that exist within the counting circle. Those who choose to participate will be rewarded with the satisfaction of providing valuable data to bird conservationists, of having spent an entire day outside observing nature, experiencing the warmth of the camaraderie of a group of nature enthusiasts, and perhaps with the sighting of a bird they haven't seen before. Birds observed in past counts include the American bald eagle, rough-legged hawk, Northern shrike and a variety of waterfowl. Some of the birds recorded are birds that are only or mainly seen in the wintertime in this area. In 2008, observers were fortunate to spot three bald eagles congregated in one tree. Generally, 60-80 different species are recorded. Who knows what treasures will be discovered during this year's count — you don't want to miss it. The first Christmas Bird Count occurred in the year 1900 and was the idea of ornithologist Frank Chapman, who noticed that during the holidays, there was an excessive amount of hunting of birds. He was concerned that bird populations were declining, and too many birds were ending up as decorations for hats and perhaps as holiday feasts, so he proposed, via his magazine, "Bird-Lore." a Christmas Bird Census to be conducted on Christmas Day. The first census involved 27 people but the tradition continued and eventually evolved into the CBC of today composed of just over 2,400 circles and tens of thousands of observers. Last year was spectacular in many areas of North America due to the irruption of snowy owls. An irruption is an unusually large group of birds found where they usually aren't. The owls were found in abundance in the East and in the Great Lakes area beginning in November of 2013, believed to have been caused by a proliferation of lemmings in the Arctic the prior spring, leading to a breeding boom for the snowy owls. We won't be treated to a display of snowy owls in our area, but spotting a bald eagle would truly make my day. Join us in this event by contacting Ruby Lyon at TINS and pledge your participation for the Christmas Bird Count 2014. Website: tinsweb.org, email: ruby@tinsweb.org. Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. See the new website: saveourplanetearth.com to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content.

Graduate program will study Tahoe birds

Wildlife habitat is for the birds. To what extent and how fauna and flora are intertwined is the thrust of a University of Nevada, Reno, graduate student’s study. Will Richardson has teamed with the U.S. Forest Service to study aspen stands at the lake through bird counts. The Forest Service is chipping in $15,000 annually over the next two years to help fund the student’s research project called Partners in Flight. Richardson and a crew of four other students will spend the summer counting birds in the Marlette Lake, Glenbrook Creek and Fallen Leaf Lake areas. The research crew, which started its work last week, will also place bands around the bird legs to gain demographic information. In addition, the team will hunt down nests. If the search turns out to be successful, it will give the researchers indicators on forest health. The main emphasis of the bird study, warbling vireos and dusky flycatchers, thrive in aspens. These stands have been identified as one of the most threatened resources in the Sierra Nevada. The ecology major couldn’t venture a guess when the study would be completed. He also plans to update the book, “Birds of the Lake Tahoe Region.” Richardson theorized that controlled natural fires have allowed the conifer trees like white fir to “grow up like weeds.” The infiltration infringes on the aspen’s territory through the root system and competes for sunlight. “We want to determine vegetative characteristics of what makes the best aspen stands from the birds’ perspective,” Richardson said Thursday of his dissertation project. He makes the hypothesis that squirrels are more prevalent in the conifers. They feed on bird eggs. “They just don’t eat nuts,” he said. One of the longstanding goals of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit revolves around updating the bird species. “By participating in the Partners in Flight project, we can gain valuable information about the species and populations of migratory birds in the Tahoe basin, and through this, better understand the habitat needs and conditions as well,” LTBMU spokesman Rex Norman said. Beyond lake clarity, forest health has more than ever entered the consciousness of agencies over the last six years since the Presidential Summit focused on the environmental health of the basin. From that event that brought out President Bill Clinton to the lake, the Forest Service created a watershed assessment report. “Surely the studies add to that body of knowledge,” Tahoe Regional Planning Agency wildlife biologist Shane Romsos said. The TRPA and LTBMU entered into an agreement a few years ago for the Multi Species Monitoring Program. They will also track habitat through the study of animals, including birds. “The studies represent a holistic approach to forest health. Before it was only a small blip on the radar screen,” said research wildlife biologist Pat Manley, who works for the Forest Service’s Sierra Nevada Research Center. — Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

75 million strong: Birdwatching soars as growing outdoor activity

The fastest growing outdoor activity in the world, bird watching has reached a new milestone. Welcome to the TahoeNotebook. Click here to add to this story http://www.ourtahoe.org/addnotebook.php?url=876 Lake Tahoe is a long way from Ithaca, New York – where participants of the Great Backyard Bird Count in February tallied 11 million birds of 616 species. But Tahoe birdwatchers can be just as ambitious and diligent about their sport, as evidenced by the response to a new Lake Tahoe Community College class called Birds of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Instructor Sheryl Ferguson, a longtime birder, has noticed growing interest in the activity in her hometown. Her class has filled up, but in case people drop, she advises those interested to show up on the first night. “There’s a turkey vulture,” Ferguson called out to the handful of people gathered at the edge of Pope Marsh to see what’s flying and swimming this spring. Ferguson guessed the warm, sputtering winter may bring on an early nesting season, but it may be “too soon to tell.” When the sporadic season returns to winter, the birds either “hunker down” for a few days or park at the Carson Valley until the storms pass. “There’s always a debate about when the best time to bird watch is – before the storm, during the storm or after the storm,” she said. Ferguson placed her bet on the latter but recognized the obvious. Birding may not be an exact science. Bird watching is estimated to capture the hearts and minds of 75 million people. And to those who feel passionate about it, the interest level comes as no surprise. Many who get into the activity range from the occasional viewer to the binocular-clad, plane-hopping, list-carrying ornithologist wannabe. Several have biology backgrounds, but all have an affinity for the outdoors. Either way, Ferguson is convinced all types of birdwatchers have increased in numbers. For the truly serious, the sky’s the limit on what one can spend. A high-end set of binoculars can run $800, while viewing scopes can surpass $1,000. Otherwise, most would agree the sport costs little (unless one wants to go all out), can be done most anywhere and educates people about their natural environment. To say the least, airfares can easily add up as bird chasing or “twitching” to the British will take enthusiasts from one end of the Earth to the next to spot a rare bird. And word of that gets out fast on computer alerts. Many involved on the South Shore admit to planning vacations around bird watching. Sometimes it’s planned. Other times it’s not. Cindy Archer finds herself bird watching when she travels. A short jaunt to the Susanville area recently allowed the South Shore woman to catch sandhill cranes in the wild. Archer enjoys “the commonality” of bird watching, while also noticing the word of its benefits has caught on. “Everywhere you go people are talking about: ‘Oh, we went birding,’” she said. “Oh my God,” she cried out at the sight of a hovering osprey fishing within feet from the close-knit group. She proceeded to check out Gordon Shirts scope set up on a tripod because it was stationed to view a wood duck off in the distance. She longed for better binoculars, but he was more than willing to share. The South Shore man said he usually focuses on vacations for much of his bird spotting and relished the idea of recently seeing an American bittern and golden eye bay duck around the region. Every year, birders descend on the Carson Valley for the Eagles and Agricultural Tour for one of the premier events in which the hawks and other predatory birds feast on the birthing placenta of the calves. Birds of the Lake Tahoe Basin class Lake Tahoe Community College, room #D102 6 p.m.-7:50 p.m., starting Thursday, May 17, lecture 8:30 a.m.-11:20 a.m., Saturday-May 19, June 2 and 9, field work An introduction to the science of ornithology. ferguson@ltcc.edu Great Backyard Bird Count in February The biggest bird count ever 11 million birds; 616 species recorded through 80,000 checklists “There has never been a more detailed snapshot of continental bird distribution in history,” said John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The university co-sponsored the event with the National Audubon Society. A sampling of Tahoe-area birds — Osprey: A large, long-winged fish hawk that lives around lakes, rivers and sea coasts. — Wood duck: A crested, multi-colored duck with an iridescent pattern of greens, purples and blues. They can be found most often in freshwater marshes in late summer and fall. — Bald eagle: A large, blackish eagle with a white head and yellow bill can be spotted quickly by its distinctive squeaky cackling and thin squeals. — American bittern: A medium-sized, streaked brown heron makes a loud pumping sound that can be heard within a half mile. — Pileated woodpecker: A crow-sized bird with black and white neck stripes and red crest, which likes to habitate in forested areas.