On Sunday morning, I headed down to Idlewild Park for a walk before the storm. It was starting to sprinkle (okay, maybe the storm had started), but the park was nice and quiet and I came across a lot of great winter birds.
Down in the river channel, flocks of Mallards and Canada Geese paddled here and there, feeding and resting in the chilly water. A male Common Goldeneye with a bright green head, clownish white cheek-patches, and a bright yellow eye swam alone along the far side of the channel.
Further upstream, I came across a pair of my very favorite winter ducks – Hooded Mergansers. Hooded Mergansers are most common in our area from November until March, when they use the Truckee River for winter habitat. During summer, most migrate further north, where they nest in holes in trees. Males have a beautiful black-and-white crested head, which they can puff up, making their heads look very large.
Further from the river channel, a flock of Mountain chickadees flitted around in a patch of coyote willow near the path, calling and flying from branch to branch. A lone brown creeper hopped up the trunk of a Fremont cottonwood tree, pulling insects out of the bark. This is the first Brown Creeper I’ve seen along the Truckee. According to ebird data, it looks like Brown creepers are actually fairly common along the Truckee River in Reno during winter months, but move higher into the Sierra during the summer.
Last but not least, two Red-tailed Hawks flew by and perched in a tall cottonwood tree, and a Belted Kingfisher watched over it all from the telephone wires. Not a bad bird list for a stormy morning!
What have you seen along the Truckee lately?