Sierra Valley Birding – The Great Migration

It’s a  rite of spring: The great bird migration in the Sierra Valley right in Nakoma’s backyard.

With high-elevation snow melting and spring springing in the Lost Sierra, the Sierra Valley is flowing with water that supports exotic bird life. Located in Sierra County between Truckee and Graeagle, the valley’s 120,000 acres of ranch land and wetlands support the biggest and most varied population of birds in the Sierra — more than 230 species — and are a crucial stop along the Pacific Flyway north-south migration route.

A major part of the Sierra Valley’s bird action is due to the Feather River Land Trust. The Trust’s Sierra Valley Preserve offers more than 1,000 acres of protected wetlands that provide safe habitat for amazing birds large and small. See if you can spot sandhill cranes, American avocet, white-faced ibis, flocks of yellow-headed blackbirds and ducks of every feather! And even though you’re in the mountains far from the ocean, you might even see one peculiarly big bird — the white pelican.

Come autumn, the stately raptors take the stage. Not only do bald and golden eagles make appearances, so do hawks of every size and shape. Be on the lookout for redtail, rough-legged, sharp-shinned, ferruginous, and northern harriers.

Bird watchers report that migrating flocks of waterfowl and songbirds can also be seen in the fall.

The Valley is also home to a variety of wildlife. A herd of pronghorn can be seen regularly along Hwy 70 and deer and coyotes are also a common sight.


While Lake Tahoe grabs the headlines (and crowds!), the Sierra Valley was eons ago a lake larger than Tahoe.

That geological history makes for rich soil that’s supported heritage farms and ranches dating back to around the California Gold Rush. That rich history is best experienced during the Sierra Valley Art & Ag Trail, an annual event that hopefully resumes in 2021 after last year’s hiatus caused by COVID-19. 

For more information, contact the East Sierra Valley Chamber of Commerce.


Birding and other adventures that add quality to your life in the Lost Sierra make for an easy decision when looking at purchasing real estate in Eastern Plumas County or Sierra County. Be it a custom home or homesite in Graeagle or Clio, the Nakoma sales team is ready to share its vast knowledge of the Nakoma community as well as the best trails, lakes and mountain-top vistas right in their vast backyard.

Photos by S. Pettengill

The Lost Sierra has been home for the past 14 years. It is a place that soothes my sometimes weary soul and rejuvenates my body, mind and spirit with its natural beauty and spacious landscapes. I love sharing this little corner of paradise with others.