Eagles & Agriculture, the Carson Valley’s celebration of wildlife and ranching, has set its schedule for its 12th year of exploring the interaction between eagles and other raptors and the ranches of Carson Valley. Headquartered at the Carson Valley Inn and set for Feb. 20-23, this year’s lineup includes several new offerings along with long time favorites.
The heart of the weekend remains Saturday morning’s Eagle & Ranch Tour and Luncheon. Luxury motor coaches take participants on a private behind the scenes group tour of area ranches.
“Learn about Carson Valley ranching, conservation and have an opportunity to view/photograph eagles, hawks, owls and other birds of prey,” organizers said. “For first timers, this tour goes on to ranches where the eagles have been active and we almost always are successful in sighting them. You should know that for the full benefit, you should have binoculars, a spotting scope or a camera with a good zoom lens.”
At each ranch, guests will have an opportunity to meet the ranch owner or operator and learn about its history and operation, and there will be a birder with a scope available at each ranch as well.
The luncheon, featuring a choice of herbed marinated ranch steak or ranch chicken breast entrée, immediately follows the tour.
New for 2014 is the Thursday evening opening reception at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. Noted Carson Valley photographers John Humphrey, Kathy Port, Kenneth Briggs and Diane Grimmeison will be on hand with their work displayed, and there will be an and informal talk from Dave Jinkling, an owl expert from Lahontan Audubon Society.
Jinkling will bring along several owl examples (sorry-they’ll be taxidermy specimens, the live birds will be at Friday night’s dinner) and is a wealth of information about the varieties of owls found in the area and their habits.
Friday night’s welcome dinner will feature falconers Mark and Ryan Moglich with a gyrfalcon and a rare Siberian White Goshawk. Corey Dalton will show a Harris Hawk.
“They will share their vast knowledge of falconry, answer your questions and you will have a chance to get up close to these magnificent raptors,” organizers said. “Photos are most certainly allowed.”
Primary presenters are Dr. Holly Walton-Buchanan, author of “Land of the Buckaroo: Historic Ranches of Western Nevada” and Matt McKinney, the general manager of Bently Ranch.
There will be exhibits from various agencies, businesses and craftspeople, and the dinner entrée is a choice of smoked New York steak, pan roasted chicken breast or blackened salmon.
The photography workshop brings back instructor Craig Moore from Gordon’s Photo. Moore has more than 25 years of teaching experience and manages to provide great information for all levels of shooters in the three-hour Saturday evening session. Sunday morning’s field session will be led by Humphrey, who has gained a large following the past several years for his wildlife photography.
For the first time, transportation is being provided for the field exercise participants. Both the class on Saturday evening and the meeting point for the bus for Sunday morning’s field work will be the Holiday Inn Express in Minden.
The owl prowl on Saturday afternoon, will feature the return of Dan Kaffer and Jinkling. Along with visiting several historic barns to find the nesting owls, participants in this tour get to witness a falconer working one of his birds in the field.
“The timing of the owl prowl is set so that you can do the ranch and eagle tour, enjoy the luncheon and then experience the owl prowl,” organizers said. “Seats for the owl prowl are typically the first thing that sells out, so a reservation as early as possible is recommended.”
There are several smaller tours for birders who want to experience more of the species that commonly winter in Carson Valley. The highway and byway tours and the wetlands tour are smaller, limited to 20 people each, and conducted by Jim Woods of Birding Under Nevada Skies.
“This year, in response to participants who have asked for a closer look at how the ranches operate, we have an added a tour of the Stodieck Ranch,” organizers said. “You’ll get inside this historic ranch guided by lifelong rancher Fred Stodieck.”
Organizers have also brought back the raft/kayak tour down the Carson River. Conducted by Great Basin Sports, this trip provides an entirely different perspective to birding in Carson Valley.
While registration is limited to insure a high quality experience, more than 5,500 enthusiasts have attended the previous events and have given rave reviews.
Participants are encouraged to sign up soon as space is limited for all Eagles and Agriculture events. All proceeds benefit local wildlife, conservation and agriculture projects.
With the exception of the opening reception and photography workshop, all tours and events are staged at or hosted by the Carson Valley Inn.
Registration for the event is available online at www.carsonvalleynv.org.
Those who prefer to register via mail may download the registration form at that website or call the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce at 782-8144 to register.