A Nevada Adventure and Something I’ve Never Observed Until Today – Valentine’s Day, 2014

14 Feb

Valentine’s Day, 2014 dawned with a beautiful sunrise, but, of course I didn’t have my camera available on the way home from the gym.  Take my word for it, sunrise was beautiful!

On a whim, I decided to drive a few miles south on Hwy, 395 toward “downtown” Minden (I live in the ‘burbs of Minden) and see if I could spot any eagles in the pastures that line 395.  As I might have mentioned to some of you before, they begin to arrive this time of year when the cows give birth to the cute little calves.  No, they don’t eat the newborns.  They eat the afterbirth that is filled with lots of good nutrients that raptors like to eat.

Thirsty cows with the Sierras in the background(don't forget to click on the image to enlarge it)

Thirsty cows with the Sierras in the background(don’t forget to click on the image to enlarge it)

I stopped alongside the highway and began to check out a herd.  Many were too far away for good pictures, but a few were drinking in a creek and a few were resting not more than 50 yards from me.  Cows are curious, but when you make a slight move toward them, they scoot away.  There was a resting mom and her calf of just a few days not far.  Those calves are so cute!  In the picture below, you will see the cow and her calf, but also a couple of black lumps in the background.  Those are not large cow pies.  They are the newborns catching some z’s.   There were lots of them all over the pasture with more being born every day.  (Don’t forget to click on the image to enlarge it)

Cow and her newborn of a few days

Cow and her newborn of a few days

Yea!  I spotted a pair of eagles quite a distance away.  I only spotted them because I was using binoculars.  They were obviously feeding on something, so I assume it was afterbirth, but the cow and newborn were not nearby.

The  calf below is the same one in the picture above.  He had wandered over to the little creek but didn’t go down into it.  Maybe he doesn’t drink water yet.  I think he’s less than a week old.

A little dogie

A little dogie

As I was scanning the pasture for more eagles, I saw a reclining cow and just happened to realize she was giving birth!  WOW!  As much as I’ve been around animals, I’ve never gotten to see this miracle before.  So I watched the entire process.  At the end, she stood up, in a move that I suppose makes gravity help with the birth, and the calf just dropped out on its head (I’m not sure it was the head because of the distance in viewing this miracle).  So there is truth to the saying that cows drop their babies.  Then I watched the new mother meticulously clean up her calf and begin to nuzzle it.  In just a few minutes, it tried to stand up.  There were so many tries and I wondered if it would have enough energy to finally make it to all four legs.  Oh, I of little faith.  In just about 15 minutes, the new baby was getting its first meal from mom.  Animals are amazing!  I would loved to have gotten pictures of the baby trying to stand up and eat, but, even with the binoculars, the images were pretty small.

Later, I drove over to Genoa, a small town right at the base of the Sierras in hopes of seeing more cows, calves and eagles.  I did see some cattle, but nothing as exciting as what I’d already observed.  Genoa (the oldest town in Nevada, if you don’t talk to people from Dayton) is known for antiques,  the oldest thirst parlor in Nevada, cute little restaurants and mule deer.  Those poor citizens of Genoa never have any flowers in their yards because the deer eat them faster than they can plant them.  Here is a small family in somebody’s front yard helping to crop the lawn and fertilize it at the same time.

A deer family in downtown Genoa

A deer family in downtown Genoa

Carson Valley ranchers and the Chamber of Commerce have found a way to bring in tourists and make money with this annual, natural phenomenon of the eagles coming in to get the afterbirth.  They organize tours of the ranches, rafting trips down the Carson River, tours to see wetlands and then also photo contests along with expert lectures on this natural happening    I think it’s a cool way to introduce people like me to the inner workings of ranches, the eagles and the cattle while keeping the riff raff out of the ranch property and their herds safe.  Jerri and I will be taking one of the tours next week and then we’ll understand what’s going on in more detail.

Of course, there is the cheapo way that I did today by just driving along the highway and stopping to take pictures..  Many people do this but I think it will be fun to learn more next week and maybe have an opportunity to get some better pictures.  Hope to be able to show you more soon.

6 Responses to “A Nevada Adventure and Something I’ve Never Observed Until Today – Valentine’s Day, 2014”

  1. Barbara Allen February 15, 2014 at 1:54 am #

    Oh, my, Buzzard!! A live birth…wow!! That is such a wonderful sight! And I am so excited that you saw EAGLES!! My all time fave birdies!!! They are so huge and for kingly! What an adventure you had!!

  2. howard&sherrill harrison February 15, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    Wow. You are not in Orange Co anymore, for sure. Love, Sherry

  3. Connie Raub February 15, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    Great adventures out there in Nevada! How exciting! Great pictures of the cute calves! Amazing that those little guys can stand up in such a short period of time. I can barely do that now! I would love to see the eagles. I’m sure you will learn a lot on your tour, but I bet you won’t see a birth! Thanks for continuing to keep me informed on so many things. I think I will just start going to Coralee.com Love, Connie

  4. Sharyn Miller February 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    Love it Cora, why don’t you take pictures with your phone on the way back from the gym, or is it that you don’t take it to the gym. Looking forward to more great pictures of your adventures with your sister. Thanks I always get a big smile thinking of the fun you are having. Sharyn

    • buzzardnotes February 25, 2014 at 1:27 am #

      I still have a dumb phone and can’t transfer the pics to email.

  5. Glenda Gregory February 19, 2014 at 3:08 am #

    This is great, Cora. One can’t help but smile at the adventures you seek out and find in your new home. Wow, seeing that cow giving birth was just amazing! I never knew about afterbirth being such a delicacy for the eagles. The are discerning scavengers and majestic at the same time.

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