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My upcoming Tahoe and Yosemite trip, tips on how to find my target species.


IKLland
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Hello everyone, in a few weeks I’ll be heading to Tahoe and then Yosemite. Well be going with other friends that aren’t birders, so I won’t have much flexibility with locations, but I’m bringing my camera and binos because I’ll still see some birds. I have a list of target species for Tahoe and one for Yosemite. If anyone has and kind tips to find these species( but not where), I’d really appreciate it. 
thanks!

Tahoe list wants: ( in no order). 

Mountain chickadee

Red breasted nuthatch

Northern flicker

Brown creeper

White headed woodpecker

Cassin’s finch

Nashville warbler

Clark’s nutcracker 

Green tailed towhee

Hermit warbler

Pygmy nuthatch 

Olive sided flycatcher 

Golden crowned kinglet

Sooty grouse

Townsends solitaire 

Evening grosbeak

Common nighthawk

Great horned owl

Yosemite: ( I only included ones that ebird don’t show were likely for Tahoe), I’m sure most of the ones on my Tahoe list could also be seen here).

Stellar’s jay

Hairy woodpecker

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Pileated woodpecker

Mountain quail

American dipper

Northern Pygmy owl

Pine grosbeak

Black backed woodpecker

 

again, any tips are really appreciated. 
tagging @Connor Cochrane, @Tony Leukering, but any responses are really appreciated. 

 

when I come back in a few weeks, I’ll give a report. 
thanks so much.

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I'll go through the list in order. When I have time later I'll give suggestions for spots. Where in Tahoe and Yosemite are you staying, that will help a lot.

Mountain Chickadee -- Really common, you won't miss them. (I had one down in Orange County yesterday, between Laguna Nidel and Ladera Ranch. Let me know if you want me to give you the spot)

Red-breasted Nuthatch -- Again, Very common. You'll constantly hear their tooting call. I have no doubt you'll be able to see them

Northern Flicker -- Slightly harder, but again very common. They give a couple different calls that you might want to study, but keep your eyes out for them flying between tress or peached atop of one.

Brown Creeper -- It will be somewhat difficult if you don't know their song, but once you learn it you'll hear it a lot, and will be able to. track them down.

White-headed Woodpecker -- One of the most common woodpeckers up there. I really don't think there is a trick to seeing them other then look around campsites.

Cassin's Finch -- They can be a little tricky, as you'll sometimes see a lot then see none at all for a little bit. Their song is somewhat similar to a house finch, but try to find them foraging, I find that they often come to the ground.

Nashville Warbler -- They can be pretty difficult. I often detect them singing, then find them from there. They are usually up a little higher near clearings in thick evergreen forest. 

Clark's Nutcracker -- In the sierras I find they usually stick to pretty high elevations, but can be found sporadicly lower down. It's pretty much luck if you run into them.

Green-tailed Towhee -- They're common around Tahoe, especially so the higher up you get in elevation. Look for them at forest edge.

Hermit Warbler -- Again, pretty random in where they are. The best advice I can give is to listen for them singing, as that's how I detect them 90% of the time (but beware for Black-throated Gray)

Pygmy Nuthatch -- The best area for them is right by the lake, listen for their loud calls up in the trees.

Olive-sided -- They somewhat replace pewees as you get into high elevation, listen for their distinctive song, and look for them peached atop a dead snag at the top of a tree.

Golden-crowned Kinglet -- Very common, they have a super high pitched call and you'll see them moving up high above you. I doubt you'll have a problem with them.

Sooty Grouse -- Good luck, because at this time of year you'll need it. Once males stop booming the chances of seeing them go way down. I wouldn't get your hopes up.

Solitarie -- There are usually a few around, especially when you get to more isolated areas. They search at the top of the trees and form small groups. Listen for their pygmy-owl like whistle.

Evening Grosbeak -- Again, pretty random, but look near small creeks and such

Nighthawk -- The further east you get the better. Look and listen for them in large open areas during the evening giving their peent calls.

Great-horned -- Listen where your staying during the night. Maybe there one that lives there, maybe not.

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11 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I'll go through the list in order. When I have time later I'll give suggestions for spots. Where in Tahoe and Yosemite are you staying, that will help a lot.

Mountain Chickadee -- Really common, you won't miss them. (I had one down in Orange County yesterday, between Laguna Nidel and Ladera Ranch. Let me know if you want me to give you the spot)

Red-breasted Nuthatch -- Again, Very common. You'll constantly hear their tooting call. I have no doubt you'll be able to see them

Northern Flicker -- Slightly harder, but again very common. They give a couple different calls that you might want to study, but keep your eyes out for them flying between tress or peached atop of one.

Brown Creeper -- It will be somewhat difficult if you don't know their song, but once you learn it you'll hear it a lot, and will be able to. track them down.

White-headed Woodpecker -- One of the most common woodpeckers up there. I really don't think there is a trick to seeing them other then look around campsites.

Cassin's Finch -- They can be a little tricky, as you'll sometimes see a lot then see none at all for a little bit. Their song is somewhat similar to a house finch, but try to find them foraging, I find that they often come to the ground.

Nashville Warbler -- They can be pretty difficult. I often detect them singing, then find them from there. They are usually up a little higher near clearings in thick evergreen forest. 

Clark's Nutcracker -- In the sierras I find they usually stick to pretty high elevations, but can be found sporadicly lower down. It's pretty much luck if you run into them.

Green-tailed Towhee -- They're common around Tahoe, especially so the higher up you get in elevation. Look for them at forest edge.

Hermit Warbler -- Again, pretty random in where they are. The best advice I can give is to listen for them singing, as that's how I detect them 90% of the time (but beware for Black-throated Gray)

Pygmy Nuthatch -- The best area for them is right by the lake, listen for their loud calls up in the trees.

Olive-sided -- They somewhat replace pewees as you get into high elevation, listen for their distinctive song, and look for them peached atop a dead snag at the top of a tree.

Golden-crowned Kinglet -- Very common, they have a super high pitched call and you'll see them moving up high above you. I doubt you'll have a problem with them.

Sooty Grouse -- Good luck, because at this time of year you'll need it. Once males stop booming the chances of seeing them go way down. I wouldn't get your hopes up.

Solitarie -- There are usually a few around, especially when you get to more isolated areas. They search at the top of the trees and form small groups. Listen for their pygmy-owl like whistle.

Evening Grosbeak -- Again, pretty random, but look near small creeks and such

Nighthawk -- The further east you get the better. Look and listen for them in large open areas during the evening giving their peent calls.

Great-horned -- Listen where your staying during the night. Maybe there one that lives there, maybe not.

Wow, thanks so much! I won’t tell where I’m staying for privacy, but as I said I’ll be going with other families that aren’t birders, so I can’t probably go to a great birding spot, but while we’re walking around, I’ll see some birds. If you could tell me the location of that chickadee in Orange, that would be great. 
Thanks again!

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27 minutes ago, IKLland said:

Wow, thanks so much! I won’t tell where I’m staying for privacy, but as I said I’ll be going with other families that aren’t birders, so I can’t probably go to a great birding spot, but while we’re walking around, I’ll see some birds. If you could tell me the location of that chickadee in Orange, that would be great. 
Thanks again!

I don’t mean exact location, however Tahoe is a big area and it would be good to know what town your near, as some places could be hours away. 

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To continue on to the Yosemite birds.

Stellar's Jay -- You should have them in tahoe, they are super common there. They make themselves pretty obvious, but you'll probably hear them before you see them, they are very loud.

Hairy Woodpecker -- Again pretty common up around Tahoe, but maybe a little more abundant down in Yosemite. Listen for a louder, deeper Downy call note. They're more likely to be in tall forest (which there is a lot of)

MacGillvary's Warbler -- Again, pretty common up in tahoe (I've seen about 30 of them according to ebird up there. You hear them singing and giving their chip a lot more then you see them (they're usually pretty secretive). They are usually most abundant at forest edge near rivers in my experience.

Pileated Woodpecker -- They aren't super common, but listen for their very loud call in mature forest. 

Mountain Quail -- Most of the time when I've seen them I've just been lucky enough to see a covey while I was driving. However, their calls can be heard from pretty far away, so that's probably your best chance of detecting them. 

Dipper -- Here's an easy one. They are very common both around tahoe and Yosemite in the correct habitat. Listen and look for them flying up and down rivers. They will always be at a river.

Pygmy-owl -- Unlike most other owls, they are pretty active in the day. Every time I've seen one I heard it's distinctive tooting calls first, so listen for those. 

Pine Grosbeak -- It's one of my most needed birds for California, so I'm not the person to be asking tips from for them.

Black-backed Woodpeckers -- I've only seen them in burns, however they can be seen at certain spots in mature forest, normally near high elevation meadows. I've seen them in the Yosemite area in Ackerson meadow.

 

Any other species of birds you want to see that might be a little lower on the ebird targets list? I might be able to suggest certain spots for them. I'll also invite @Aidan B to add in, as I know he birds Placer and El Dorado counties (Tahoe) a fair bit.

Edited by Connor Cochrane
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On 7/21/2021 at 6:02 PM, Connor Cochrane said:

To continue on to the Yosemite birds.

Stellar's Jay -- You should have them in tahoe, they are super common there. They make themselves pretty obvious, but you'll probably hear them before you see them, they are very loud.

Hairy Woodpecker -- Again pretty common up around Tahoe, but maybe a little more abundant down in Yosemite. Listen for a louder, deeper Downy call note. They're more likely to be in tall forest (which there is a lot of)

MacGillvary's Warbler -- Again, pretty common up in tahoe (I've seen about 30 of them according to ebird up there. You hear them singing and giving their chip a lot more then you see them (they're usually pretty secretive). They are usually most abundant at forest edge near rivers in my experience.

Pileated Woodpecker -- They aren't super common, but listen for their very loud call in mature forest. 

Mountain Quail -- Most of the time when I've seen them I've just been lucky enough to see a covey while I was driving. However, their calls can be heard from pretty far away, so that's probably your best chance of detecting them. 

Dipper -- Here's an easy one. They are very common both around tahoe and Yosemite in the correct habitat. Listen and look for them flying up and down rivers. They will always be at a river.

Pygmy-owl -- Unlike most other owls, they are pretty active in the day. Every time I've seen one I heard it's distinctive tooting calls first, so listen for those. 

Pine Grosbeak -- It's one of my most needed birds for California, so I'm not the person to be asking tips from for them.

Black-backed Woodpeckers -- I've only seen them in burns, however they can be seen at certain spots in mature forest, normally near high elevation meadows. I've seen them in the Yosemite area in Ackerson meadow.

 

Any other species of birds you want to see that might be a little lower on the ebird targets list? I might be able to suggest certain spots for them. I'll also invite @Aidan B to add in, as I know he birds Placer and El Dorado counties (Tahoe) a fair bit.

Thanks so much again.

here’s a few more for Yosemite 

bell’s sparrow

Lesser nighthawk

Spotted owl any way??

lewis’ woodpecker 

 

 

tahoe: flammulated owl

spotted owl

Black billed magpie

Gray crowned rosy finch

Sage thrasher

if there’s anything else that I missed that you think could be possible, let me know. 
 

thanks again. 

 

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Bell's Sparrow -- Briceburg Road on the way in or out is going to be your best shot. Listen for their high calls in the chaparral, and you'll probably see them perched at the top of some bushes. Cherry Lake Road is a good alternative if your going out 120.

Lesser Nighhawk -- Your best chance would be if you're driving up 5 in the evening on the way up or down. I've seen them many times in the headlights. 

Spotted Owl -- There's a chance, at this time of year it's probably just as likely you'll see one in the day as hearing them at night. 

Lewis's Woodpecker -- Mono lake would be the best area for them, however it's probably to far away for you (though it would hold many other different birds). Tahoe Mountain in South Lake has also been decent for them in the burn.

Flammulated Owl -- I doubt you'll be able to get them if you aren't able to travel far.

Black-billed Magpie -- Should be easy if you can get to Truckee Marsh in South Lake.

Rosy-finch -- Should be possible if your family likes hiking. You have to be above the tree line or by alpine lakes. 

Sage Thrasher -- Common in the Sierra Valley and around Mono Lake if your going there. 

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