bald eagleDonner Summit Birding - over 100 species

Over one hundred species of birds have been cataloged on Donner Summit. Among them are osprey, bald and golden eagles, various hummingbirds, red tail hawks, goshawks, and the willow flycatcher.

The number of species is impressive but for bird watchers the Summit is even more impressive and attractive because of all the open space. You can wander for miles enjoying the scenery and searching for more species. To see a list of Donner Summit birds and source information click here. This list is based on observations summarized by Marsh Nelson and by the Lee and Waddle families of the Palisades, and was compiled by Edward C. (Ted) Beedy, Ph.D. Wildlife Biologist/Photographer of Nevada City.


The bald eagle to the right was camped out for the summer in 2010 in Serene Lakes. When he got hungry he'd swoop from his perch to pluck one of the trout that the homeownwers thoughtfully stock each year. According to one witness he didn't just catch is own fish; he stole them too from osprey.

For a good bird watching experience with a little zen attached, hike to any of the peaks or ridges around Donner Summit. Take a look at the hiking page for ideas. Donner Peak or Mt. Judah are good choices. The ridgeline between Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Anderson doesn't require so much climbing and from the knifelike ridge you overlook Coldstream Canyon on one side and the American River canyon on the other.

come Ted Beedy
Once you get to the top, sit down, have a drink of water and a snack. Get your camera and binoculars ready. Now enjoy the hawks riding the thermals as they scout for small prey. The afternoon will disappear quickly.


An interesting suprise one day in late summer was a flock of pelicans that arrived on Van Norden Meadow. They floated placidly in the remains of Lake Van Norden free of any worries.


Find your own special moments birding on Donner Summit.

The Commonn Merganser (female) above right and Lazuli Bunting (Male) above left, as well as the Canadian geese below, are by Edward C. (Ted) Beedy, Ph.D. Wildlife Biologist/Photographer, Nevada City. Ted is working on a book about the birds of the Sierra. You can contact Ted at

Canadian Geese Beedy