The Lahontan Valley wetlands, located in and around the community of Fallon, sixty miles east of Reno, represent Nevada’s most important desert oasis and are widely recognized as among the most significant wetland systems in the American West.
Although the Carson Lake and Stillwater wetlands are well-known to birders, there are many other interesting waterbird and landbird sites worth visiting in the valley. More than 280 species have been sighted in the valley.
The Lahontan Valley wetlands have been designated as a site in the Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network due to the more than 250,000 shorebirds that migrate through the valley. These tremendously rich and diverse wetlands attract more than a million waterfowl, as well as over 20,000 other water birds, including pelicans, egrets, cormorants, herons, ibis, gulls and terns.
These Great Basin wetlands are also called “terminal” wetlands because they lie in a closed basin at the terminus of the Carson River. These wetlands undergo tremendous boom and bust cycles tied to the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Lying in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada, these wetlands are truly a desert oasis.
The Carson River corridor provides important songbird habitat for migrants and breeding birds. The agricultural lands near the wetlands provide accessible wildlife viewing
and are a great place to see feeding White-faced Ibis.
Whether you have a few hours or a few days, birding in the Lahontan Valley will be a rewarding experience!