Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Southwest Region, California, Nevada & Klamath Basin
Birders' Sightings
Dec 30, 2012 observation by Greg Scyphers, Reno NV:

"This morning, I birded Stillwater NWR, which had about 2in of snow on the ground. Birding was fairly good with good numbers of Rough-legged Hawks and N Harrier, Prairie Falcons, Barn Owls and a Short-eared owl. At 5 Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, and nine Greater Yellowlegs. A single White-faced Ibis looked out of place on the ice and snow. An adult Herring Gull fed on a dead coot at Swan Lake. A female Hooded Merganser fussed with a fish that appeared much too large for it as about 30 Tundra Swans rested on the ice. There were at least 600 Canada Geese and one imm. Snow goose near Stillwater/Hunter Rd at the Tule Trail pond."

"The most interesting sighting of the day was at 8:15am near Swan Lake gate/landing area. I had just scoped the Gull on Swan Lk,, driving back to Center Rd near the gate when I saw a very large, pale falcon passing from left to right; the bird was moving at an incredible rate straight over Tule Lk. It was clearly a large falcon with very powerful, stiff wingbeats, grayish above, white below with some streaks or black spots, long tail, pale armpits and heavy chested. I immediatley thought "GYRFALCON!", based on the first recorded in-state sighting last January by refuge biologist Bill Henry in the same area. I was unable to drive after it or confirm a face pattern, but everything I did see fits for a Gyrfalcon. Four more hours of searching didn't find anything."

10/9/12: Submitted by Miles Shaylor

"Today was an absolutely beautiful day at Stillwater NWR. We started at Fallon NWR. There weren't as many ducks as I expected. We only saw a few dozen mostly mallards and a few Northern shovelers. There were several great blue herons and four or five egrets, both snowy and great. Coots were abundant. A dozen or so hawks and two kestrels. A few white crowned sparrows and some other birds I haven't identified yet. Miles Shaylor CoyoteThe oddest sight was in a tree near the blind on the auto loop at Stillwater. I spotted something in a tree that was decidedly unbirdlike. By the time I got stopped and got the camera, the coyote that was five or six feet off the ground in the tree had jumped down and headed off into the sagebrush.

My wife and I had just left the covered area on the auto loop and on the north side of the road near the blind I spotted something in a tree. It definitely wasn't a bird and when it jumped from the tree I realized that it had a bushy tail. I wasn't even thinking coyote, I thought it was a raccoon. (No, ringed tail hadn't registered yet.) It was out of sight by the time I got the car stopped and the camera turned on then it stepped from behind the tree and that's when I learned it was a coyote up the tree. After the coyote was out of sight in the brush there were a couple of birds, dark, blackbird size, fluttering around in the tree. I wondered at the time if it was trying to catch some of them but dismissed the idea since there were a number of rabbits around. That coyote in a tree has to be right up there with things I never unexpected to see."

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Last updated: January 9, 2013