Eagles & Agriculture Returns To Carson Valley
Eagles come to the Carson Valley during the calving season to feed on afterbirth. During this time, tours offer people a chance to see the birds of prey.
Carson Valley host its 16th annual Eagles & Agriculture event, later this month. It starts with a welcome reception and photography exhibit January 25, and ends January 28. The weekend includes several tours where participants can see a wide range of birds of prey, including bald eagles, on five different ranches.
"They're going to see goldens, they're going to see all kinds of raptors, all kinds of hawks and sharp-shins and ferruginous and red tails, which are ubiquitous in this neighborhood," Bill Chernock, Executive Director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce said.
Bald eagles are the main attraction. Two to three dozen fly to the Carson Valley during calving season. When calves are born, the eagles head to the pastures and eat the afterbirth and the carcasses of the cattle that do not survive.
"They get to move on up and bop around and there's two dozen ranches that are calving at different times, so it's a really attractive spot for them to be," Chernock said.
Some of the eagles come from the Sierra, while others make the journey from other western states. There are a few eagles who live in Douglas County throughout the year, including a pair near Genoa.
"We do have a nesting pair right here in Genoa that have been nesting here since 2010, and it's the first known nesting pair of eagles in the valley in known history," J.T. Humphrey, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce said.
Humphrey says the pair mates for life and produces one or two chicks per year. The female will lay the eggs in March, and they will hatch in April. The event has several tours, including stops at five different ranches where people can see the bald eagles.
"When they actually come down here and see it for themselves, I see a lot of excitement in their eyes," Humphrey said. "It's like kids in a candy store."
"We will see, in a good year, upwards of 20 eagles on one of the tours," Chernock said. "It doesn't happen every year but we can see that many in a given day."
Chernock says this event serves as a way for people to see the different birds while learning about the history of the area and the importance of ranching, saying agriculture and wildlife habitat go hand-in-hand.
"They're making a living, yeah, but they're also maintaining that open space that is the habitat where these guys hang out for a few weeks," Chernock said.
The ranchers also get involved with the tours to help educate the guests.
"Ranchers will come out, talk about ranch life, talk about kids, water rights, politics, whatever is on their mind," Humphrey said.
The tours offer a chance to get up close with other birds of prey. Horned Owls and Barn Owls tend to perch up in the rafters of barns and other ranch buildings. There are also many different types of hawks throughout the valley.
"Every field has got a dozen hawks in it," Humphrey said. "Almost every tree, you'll find a hawk in it."
Humphrey and Chernock say the tours and events during Eagles & Agriculture offer unique experiences. They say the ranches offer a perfect environment that makes it easy to predict where the eagles and other birds will be. People get a chance to learn about the birds and their migration patterns. Most of the eagles will be around through January, but many will leave the area in February and March. It also brings people into the area that may not visit, otherwise.
"It fills up the hotels, it gets the restaurants full, it's great for the economy," Humphrey said. "People are excited to know and see all the wildlife that we have here."
Many of the tours are already sold out. For more information on Eagles & Agriculture, follow this link: http://www.carsonvalleynv.org/pages/EAGLESAG/