Birds of the Lake Tahoe basin

By: Lake Tahoe Staff

There are many bird species found in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The following are a few of the ones often seen by visitors.

Information via the US Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Dark-Eyed Junco
These small birds have solid black heads and white stripes on either side of their tails and are often seen eating seeds on the forest floor.

Dark Eyed Junco Bird
“Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)” by C.V. Vick, via Flickr | Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Yellow-Headed Blackbird
This bird is often found in cattail and tule marshes. No other Lake Tahoe Basin bird has such a distinctive yellow head and black body. It is generally spotted in the Pope Marsh area during early spring.

Yellow Headed Blackbird
“Yellow-headed Blackbird” by Len Blumin via Flickr | Licensed under CC BY 2.0

This type of duck typically prefers shallow water such as creeks, ponds, and marshes. The male Mallard is easy to spot because of his glossy green head and narrow white collar. Usually you can see the ducks flying south in formation for the winter.

Mallard Bird
Mallard at Taylor Creek. Photo credit: Merick Rickman

Mountain Chickadee
The most common bird in the Tahoe Basin is the Mountain Chickadee. These small plump birds have a black cap, black bib under their chin and a white line over each eye. Chickadees are very acrobatic, swinging from the tips and undersides of branches as they hunt for insects and seeds. They have a very distinctive three note whistle, and are commonly referred to as “cheeseburger birds.”

Mountain Chickadee Bird
“Mountain Chickadee” by Billtacular, via Flickr | Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Steller’s Jay
Almost anyone who spends time in the forest will meet the noisy Steller’s Jay. This pigeon-sized bird with deep blue wings, tail, and breast, is hard to miss. Often this jay becomes quite bold, sometimes stealing bread crusts from tables where people are picnicking.

Stellar Jay Bird
Steller’s Jay near Ski Run Marina. Photo credit: Steve Hunter

Looking for more birds of the Lake Tahoe Basin? Visit the US Forest Service – Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Which birds have you seen when visiting Lake Tahoe?

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