For U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Fish and Wildlife Biologist Rena Escobedo, one of the beauties of bird watching is you don’t have to be an expert to do it.
Basin birding will become even more inclusive this summer with the addition of the first-ever Spanish-language bird walk at the fourth annual Lake Tahoe Bird Festival.
“The motivation for the Spanish-language bird walk is to outreach to segments of our community who don’t go out and hike, backpack and enjoy the outdoors. It offers Spanish-speaking families a free, fun way to enjoy the outdoors with their kids,” Escobedo wrote in an email.
To prepare for the bird walk at the June avian festival, LTBMU staff invites Spanish-speaking parents and their children on a owl survey in the Angora area next month. Participants will walk through the woods hooting for owls and listening for the birds’ responses. It’s important for LTBMU biologists to survey and monitor California spotted owls, a bird listed as a Forest Service sensitive species, Escobedo said.
The survey is geared toward the local Spanish-speaking community, while the festival’s bird walk aims to attract both South Shore residents and visitors, according to Escobedo.
The U.S. Forest Service unveiled the national Descubre el Bosque, or Discover the Forest, website two years ago. The goal was to instill a lifelong appreciation of forests and the outdoors in more young people, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a press release.
The local Forest Service has followed in those footsteps. The LTBMU launched its first Spanish Ski with a Ranger program last season, guided tours of Heavenly Mountain Resort that taught participants Tahoe’s natural and cultural history. Tourists from Mexico and other Latin American countries make up one of the largest groups visiting the South Shore resort, LTBMU Conservation Education Assistant Megan Dee said in a previous article.
Outreach like the new birding walks and the Spanish Ski with a Ranger tours let the Forest Service communicate its mission with the entire population, Escobedo said.
“It’s really cool to see the different species. For me, being of Hispanic descent, it’s impressive that the birds have to cross over a multitude of borders on their journeys. Humans make borders, but the birds don’t,” she said.