Fallon's Spring Wing Festival Draws Flocks of Bird Watchers

If you're an experienced bird watcher from anywhere you already know about Lahontan Valley and the Spring Wings Festival is probably on your calendar or your to do list.

"People have come from all over the world," says Susan Sawyer of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, "It attracts a lot of attention from birders and non-birders who wonder what are all these people coming here for?"

"It's one of those hot spots where you can get a lot of species in a short amount of time," says Bill Henry, a retired wildlife biologist and lifelong birder. "It's on the bucket list,"

"They come for the chance to see 140 to 150 species. The usual suspects, the ducks, geese and coots, of course, but also all manner of shore birds, dowtichers, avocets, stilts, snowy egrets,

The list of species you can expect to see is impressive, but there's always the chance for something unusual.

"It's the treasure hunt," says Henry. "It's like looking for an antique. You're looking for that special thing. Who knows? I'm waiting for the first condor. It's fun."

No condor sightings today, but some interesting characters and a little drama. Like a tern divebombing a Swainson's hawk while the hawk's mate perches on a nearby pole, clutching a twig.

The hawks will nest in a nearby tree soon, raise the next generation and in the fall head south as far as Argentina.

Minutes later a Great Blue Heron dropped in for lunch and grabbed a garter snake.

Witness a few sights like this and you'll begin to understand the appeal of bird watching.

"Once you take that time and stop and listen," says Sawyer. "You hear them and see them and then, wow, that's kind of neat what that bird is doing. I wonder what kind of bird that is?"

The Spring Wing Festival runs Friday through Saturday with guided tours to Fallon area wetlands.

You'll find more information here: http://www.springwings.org


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