Free public tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Photo caption: Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula) have black bills, black legs, and distinctive yellow feet. They may be seen on the docent-led tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on Saturday, October 12 from 9 a.m. to noon. Photo credit: Maryellen Bauer

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October is an exciting month for birding in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area as fall migration brings a wonderful variety of species to the area and recently harvested rice fields offer rich feeding grounds. Yolo Basin Foundation invites members of the public to attend a free, docent-led tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. to discover a local gem right outside the state capitol.

Waterfowl such as Northern Pintails, Canada and Greater White-Fronted Geese, and Northern Shovelers are arriving to the Wildlife Area. Some will stay for the winter while others will stop by to rest and feed before continuing farther on their southbound migration. The harvesting of wild rice crops provides abundant feeding opportunities for many species. Rice grains left behind attract blackbirds and waterfowl while herons and egrets stalk prey such as crawdads, fish, and small mammals in the shallowly flooded fields.

Both Snowy and Great Egrets can be seen from afar as their tall white bodies with long slender necks stand out against the landscape. Great Egrets (Ardea alba), the taller of the two species at around three feet, have yellow bills, and long black legs. Standing about two feet tall, Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula) have black bills, black legs, and yellow feet. From a distance, height can be hard to judge, however their color patterns can be used for identification.

Participants should bring water bottles (there is no potable water on site) and binoculars, if desired. This tour is family friendly, and docents will have spotting scopes to enhance wildlife viewing. This is a driving tour on gravel roads with several stops and optional, short walks.

All interested tour participants should meet a few minutes before 9 a.m. in Parking Lot A of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, at the west end of the Yolo Causeway. More information about the tours as well as directions to the YBWA are available on Yolo Basin Foundation’s website at yolobasin.org.

Yolo Basin Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding public appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife in the Yolo Basin through education and innovative partnerships. The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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