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1. Serene Lakes (Ice lakes) - Lake Van Norden
Soda Springs Rd. off Donner Pass Rd. (Soda Springs exit from I-80) Blue Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Osprey, White Pelican, tundra swan and many other high-elevation birds.

2. Discovery Trail
Hwy 20 near the intersection of the Bowman Lakes Road just a mile West of the I-80 intersection.
Handicapped accessible with asphalt paths and boardwalks through a manicured forest it was built by PG&E who maintain it. The paths lead over and along the Bear River and throughout there are kiosks, benches and interpretive signage. To get there turn on to the Bowman Lakes Road from Highway 20 and proceed about a half a mile to an ample parking area.

There are a significant variety of birds in the area. Blackbirds, Flycatchers, Swallows, Bluebirds are seen in the field as you enter the woods. Along the river you may find Tanagers, Grosbeaks, several varieties of Woodpeckers, Warblers, Thrushes, Mountain Chikadee, Brown Creeper, Northern Flicker, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Harry Woodpecker, Dipper (water ouzel), Stellar Jay and Vireos.

3. Prosser Reservoir / Sagehen Creek / Alder Creek/ Boca Reservoir,
Highway 89 just North of I-80. Boca exit off I-80 for boca.

The Eastern slope of the Sierra's affords a distinctly different forest and avian population. To reach these areas exit I-80 at the Eastern most Truckee exit and take Highway 89 North. The second road is the Prosser Dam Road. The reservoir is about 8 miles down this Road. The Creeks lie further North with Roadside parking areas.

The Birds that may be seen here include some waterfowl such as White Pelicans, Mergansers, Ducks, Gulls and Geese. The Horned Lark is seen in the open areas, while the Streams harbor a variety of Warblers, Thrushes, and Vireos.

4. Martis Peak / Martis Creek.
Highway 267 South ofTruckee
Within a half mile after leaving the Highway 267 via recently paved road, an aspen grove on the right had both Williamson's Sapsuckers and Hairy Woodpeckers nesting here in 1998. This is undoubtedly the best area in Placer County in Summer for the sapsucker.

As you reach Martis Creek, along Highway 267, you are in the most extensive area of sagebrush that Placer County has to offer. Wintering raptors such as Rough-legged Hawk, Prairie Falcon, and Merlin can be seen right from the wide shoulders of the Highway 267. Mountain Bluebirds assemble in small flocks here in Spring and Fall. Get off Highway 267 at the sign for Martis Creek Wildlife Area. While most of the lake is in Nevada County, the drive through the sagebrush is good for Green-tailed Towhee, Vesper and Brewer's sparrows. A hike upstream is worthwhile. The mouth of the creek where it joins the lake is where the first county record of Sanderling occurred in May 1998. The campground loop offers quiet birding among Jeffery Pines. Pygmy Nuthatch, White-headed Woodpecker and Williamson's Sapsuckers can be heard and seen here. Nest boxes for Mountain Bluebird have been successful.

Mount Watson
Highway 267 Truckee to Kings Beach
A long, scenic drive good for Williamson's Sapsuckers, Evening Grosbeaks and distant views of the Lake. A recent forest fire within 1.2 mile of Hwy 267 is the site of some of the best opportunities to see Black-backed Woodpecker. In September 2006 I found 5 Black-backeds here. In winter this side road may be closed. Along the road where there is a large orange-painted boulder,take a turn south to the beautiful Watson Lake.

Squaw Valley -
Hwy 89 to Tahoe City
A short hike will take you to the cliffs where Gray-crowned Rosy Finches nest.

Alpine Meadows
Hwy 89 to Tahoe City
As you cross the bridge over the Truckee River, look for American Dipper right there at the bridge. As you leave Hwy 89, take a mileage at the turnoff. In 0.7 miles the road makes a split. Take the right fork and park immediately. In the meadow, Black-backed, White-headed woodpeckers have nested in the dead trees 30 feet off the road (As of 2006 the nest tree was felled). Also, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Evening Grosbeak and other passerines nest along the meadow edge. A hike through the meadow will lead back to the bridge where American Dipper nests along the creek. From the paved road, to the south, on the slope behind you, Blue Grouse can be heard booming in spring and summer in the morning or evening. This is where we had 3 booming grouse on the 1998 Placer County Big Day.


Birding Hotspots of Placer County, California
  Tahoe Region
# If you have any questions or would like guide service to see birds, contact me via email: Bruce Webb or telephone (916) 797-0535, Granite Bay, Placer County, California.

Ten Birding Hotspots in Nevada County
  Birds of Nevada County
  Nevada County Natural Resources Report

Species spotted on hikes around Donner Summit and Fallen Leaf lake, by Jim McKinney on a trip in July, 2007.

tellar's jay
dark-eyed junco (Oregon)
Western tanager
red-tailed hawk
common nighthawk
hummingbird (unident)
red-breasted sapsucker
Northern flicker
Western wood peewee
olive-sided flycatcher
Cassin's vireo
violet-green swallow
mountain chickadee
red-breasted nuthatch
white-breasted nuthatch
American robin
orange-crowned warbler
Wilson's warbler
Nashville warbler
yellow-rumped warbler
Brewer's blackbird
white pelican
red-winged blackbird
spotted sandpeper
Canada goose
American crow
Clark's nutcracker
fox sparrow
white-crowned sparrow
black-headed grosbeak
acorn woodpecker
pine siskin
turkey vulture
California gull
white-headed woodpecker
hairy woodpecker
Western grebe

last updated 7 July 2007