October is a colorful time of year along the Truckee River, with cottonwoods, willows and aspen turning to bright gold and yellow, especially toward the end of the month. Leaves of shrubs such as the Woods’ Rose and Golden Currant darken to deep shades of red, and in dry areas along the riverbanks, Rubber rabbitbrush blooms.
Out in the river channel, non-native Brown trout are spawning, building nests called “redds” for their eggs in areas of loose gravel or pebbles. At the downstream end of the system, water temperatures in Pyramid Lake begin to cool, and Lahontan cutthroat trout move closer to shore — where fishermen await their arrival.
Late in the month (Oct 20-22), look to the skies between midnight and dawn for the Orionid meteor shower, which occurs as debris from the orbit of Halley’s comet enters the earth’s atmosphere. These meteors are known as the Orionids because they appear to come from the constellation Orion.
As the days grow cooler and shorter, animals prepare for winter. In the Sierra, Black bears bump up their food intake, foraging for up to 20 hours per day on berries, nuts and other wild foods. Near human habitations, they also go after garbage, beehives, fruit from fruit trees, and Halloween candy.
Many of our year-round water birds such as Mallards, Canada Geese, Kingfishers and Herons are still common along the river channel in Reno during the fall season. Soon, winter migrants like the Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye will begin to arrive.