A decade of eagles and agriculture
Despite having a dead truck battery it was still a perfect bird-watching day for Markleeville resident Chris Cross.
Cross joined a handful of other people parked along Highway 395 on Saturday to watch calves being born, and hopefully catch a glimpse of some eagles.
“I haven’t seen any eagles yet, but I saw one heifer give birth. It’s first little steps were so cute,” Cross said. “I absolutely love this time of year. I’m a bird-watcher, and I love raptors. It’s a perfect day.”
Corinne Billett of Gardnerville and her 12-year-old daughter, Cattibria Wilson, were also peering through binoculars at the livestock on the Settelmeyer Ranch.
“I’ve only seen some hawks flying around, but no eagles,” Billett said. “It’s nice to come out and see the eagles and check out the calves. You don’t see eagles very often.”
Last year, Billett said she spotted 15-20 eagles in one day.
“I don’t know if it’s maybe not the right time yet, or if the weather has played a role,” she said. “Getting to see the agriculture around here, and calves being born and what happens after…It’s educational for her (Cattibria) to see all this.”
Participants on the 10th annual Eagles & Agriculture tours had a better experience.
“It was an amazing weekend. One bus tour saw 14 eagles on Saturday,” Organizer Dan Kaffer said. “It was a stellar success, and an amazing tribute to the bounty that ranching and farming provides to the wildlife habitat of Carson Valley.”
More than 425 people participated in the various events from rafting the Carson River, to the raptor highway and byway tours to the popular owl prowl.
Some highlights of the weekend were the sighting of more than 70 red-tail hawks, and the return of great-horned owls to the Valley.
“They’re recovering from the die-off we had from drought years,” Kaffer said. “It’s exciting to see them reproducing and coming back to the Valley.”
Kaffer also said a nesting pair of bald eagles was seen on one of the ranches.
“They’re courting and nest building. We’re expecting egg laying soon.” he said. “From the first year until this year we have seen a decline in birds of prey and eagles, but now we have nesting eagles in the Valley so that’s a pretty cool thing.”
Eagles & Agriculture was sponsored by American Land Conservancy, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Authority, a group of Carson Valley ranchers, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development, the Smallwood Foundation, Lahontan Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and other members of conservation community.