The Tahoe Big Year

Participants will have a myriad of motivations and expectations for their Tahoe Big Year, but nearly universal among those will be to have rich birding experiences, enjoying time outside, and seeing a lot of different species. To help attain these goals, we recommend the following:

  • Go birding a lot. To find and see the most birds, you need the opportunity to cross paths with them. The more time you spend outside, the more likely you are to intersect with new birds. This is especially true during spring and fall migrations. Plus, every single day spent in the field is an opportunity for discovery and learning.

  • Join TINS and other outings. Throughout the Tahoe Big Year, TINS will be offering monthly outings geared towards finding more birds for participants' lists. These outings will be a fun, easy way to learn about bird distribution and identification from TINS staff, hopefully while adding new species to your TBY lists (Note: Monthly TBY Outings are for TINS members only. Please click here to learn more about membership). There will also be many other outings to join throughout the year. Be sure to check our calendar and subscribe to our emails for upcoming events.

  • Consider joining regional list-servers. There are at least FOUR list-servers that regularly receive information about birds in Tahoe and we recommend Sierra-Nevada Birds or Lake Tahoe Birds. The former is best for rarities of regional interest, while the latter is probably better for species lists from day trips and coordinating with others for outings.

  • Consider joining TINS’ Tahoe Birding Facebook group. This page is an excellent place to share photos and discuss birds and birding in the Tahoe region. Join the Tahoe Birding here.

  • Find out about, and visit, the hotspots. There are a few locations around Tahoe that consistently produce great diversity and interesting or rare species, particularly during migration. Chief among these are the Cove East/Upper Truckee Marsh/Upper Truckee River Delta area in South Lake Tahoe, and the Lake Forest Beach/Pomin Park area in Tahoe City, both of which offer a great diversity of habitat right at the lake's edge. Other notable areas include Spooner Lake, Tahoe Meadows, Taylor Creek, Blackwood Canyon, Page Meadows, and the Martis Valley/Martis Creek Reservoir area.

  • Find your own hotspots! Part of the reason so many rarities have been found at the locations mentioned above is birder coverage. We encourage folks to get out and explore. Get off the beaten path, and let's put some new areas on Tahoe's birding map!

  • Learn about bird distribution in the Sierra Nevada. A big part of successful birding is knowing when and where to expect certain species.. For a more in-depth look at the subject, we highly recommend Beedy et al.'s Birds of the Sierra Nevada, released in 2013. Consider downloading or purchasing TINS' checklist of seasonal bird distribution for the Lake Tahoe basin, available here.

  • Study your field guides. As Louis Pasteur said in 1854, "Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés." In plain English: in the fields of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.

  • Leave four-legged friends at home. Our dogs are great companions and love to be out with us, but unfortunately they scare away a lot of birds and other wildlife. You can always bird while taking the dogs out, but it is best to focus on birding without them.