Today Don and I decided on an evening birding amble at Rabe Meadows, just north of South Lake Tahoe in Nevada.  Previously in April, we did a morning visit to Rabe Meadows. This time we hoped to see some night birds such as night hawks or owls, so we arrived just before 5 pm.  It was very smokey over Lake Tahoe due to fires in California.  Just near the parking area, we saw a group of California Quail, a species I see every day in our Reno backyard, but I’d not yet counted as a TBY bird.  Too bad they scurried away before I could get my camera out of the trunk of the car!  Well that is a lesson-learned for me: always have your camera ready at hand!  Often birds are less scared of cars than of humans walking about.

We took the trail toward Lake Tahoe and passed the pond where we saw some female and juvenile Green-winged Teal ducks, as well as a muskrat and a yellow-headed blackbird.  We passed through the meadow area to the edge of the conifer forest where we lingered for some time.  In some green willowy bushes we noticed some lively bird activity, including flycatchers feeding and a Wilson’s warbler.  Later after some research, I identified the flycatcher as a WIllow Flycatcher – there were two or three of them; it seemed the adult was training the juvenile to forage for insects. This flycatcher is quite similar to the western wood pewee (which we observed 20 minutes later) but has a whitish (not gray) neck and more yellow belly that extends lower on the belly almost to the tail.  We continued through the forested area, seeing not much bird activity other than seed-eating sparrows and juncos on the trail.  When we reached Lake Tahoe, we sat on a bench for a while to observe the smokey sunset.   The usual picnic-frequenting birds were hanging around including brewer’s blackbirds and Steller’s jays.  A few California gulls patrolled the shoreline and I enjoyed a family of common mergansers that were heading east and constantly diving for tidbits.

When the sun was almost down, Don and I headed back on the Rabe Meadows trail.  We had our eyes peeled for owls, but saw none.  I snapped shots of birds up on the phone wires.  I thought they were Brewer’s blackbirds, but after studying my photos later, realized they were a number of European Starlings – a common bird in the blackbird family that I’d not yet observed in the TBY zone.

I added 4 species to my TBY list, but was disappointed in not seeing any night-frequenting birds.

Willow Flycatcher (TBY-83)

Green-winged Teal (TBY-82)


Smokey Lake Tahoe Dusk – you can barely make out the outline of mountains across the lake

Western Wood Pewee

California Gull

European Starling (TBY-84)

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Provide your information so we can email you about JudyDuffyPhotography website updates and upcoming photography events.

You have Successfully Subscribed!