Rancho San Rafael, Reno, Washoe Co (5/23/14)
I birded RSR this fine spring day along Evans Creek from the lower park boundary to the upper. I'm only sorry I got there so late this morning--c.10:00--after things had doubtless started slowing down. Here are some highlights.
Pied-billed Grebe--2 (Herman's Pond)
Spotted Sandpiper--1 (dto)
American Coot--pair (Herman's Pond).
Great Horned Owl
Western Wood Pewees--2-3 (Evans Crk, both sides of McCarran)
House Wren--2-3 singing (dto)
Western Tanager--2-3 males (dto)
Black-headed Grosbeak--2-3 singing males (dto)
Bullock's Oriole--1-2 (Evans Crk, N of McCarran)
The grebes were an obvious mated pair, traveling & vocalizing together. Quite probably there's a nest somewhere along the far shore. Ditto for the coots (which are normally long gone at RSR this late in the spring).
I saw all three owlets this morning (but not the adults which I couldn't find), one high up in the nest tree, the other 2 in a big cottonwood a little ways away on the other (creek) side of the footpath. The hind-quarters of a freshly killed cottontail was on the ground beneath the cottonwood with the 2 owlets where it was in process of being demolished by magpies. I've found cottontail remains near the owls on 2 previous occasions: one (a detached foot) on the ground under the nest, the other (another hind-quarters) on the ground beneath one of the roosting adults. There's lots of meat on cottontails which are presumably well worth the catching when there's a nestful of owlets to be fed. The cottontails in my backyard are most active at dawn & dusk & that's maybe when the RSR owls have been taking them.
--Fred Petersen, Reno