Bird Watching

The Delta is a favorite spot for flocks and flocks of birds. Ornithologists say we have some 200 species of birds fluttering around the California Delta at one time or another each year.

The great blue heron is very common in the Delta. They lumber through the air like a great pre-historic bird, or maybe ankle-deep in water on some tule berm, fishing. Snowy egrets are often seen snacking on crawdads in agriculture drainage ditches, or roosting in the eucalyptus trees along the California Delta waterways. There are also Sandhill Cranes and Pelicans to be found here.

These pelicans (left) were recently photographed in a submerged island commonly known as the Apple Orchard. They are spectacular when they take flight and show their black tipped wings.

Snow geese and the great white swans come here in late fall and early winter and hang out in the islands farmers flood to help kill off the stubble and make the fields ready for the next season's crops.

There are plenty of hawks in this area, especially during the winter months. They sit atop utility poles or trees, occasionally swooping down to make a snack of some careless rodents. The Swainson's hawk finds its home in the California Delta, and winters in Mexico. As development gets closer to the waterways, the Swainson's hawk has lost habitat and diminished in numbers here. Much is being done to protect this hawk.

About ten million birds pass through the Delta every year, prime season being mid-October to mid-February.

Of course, there is good duck hunting. Since most of the land is privately owned, much of the duck hunting is done from duck clubs that own or have access to the private lands. However, you do see duck blinds constructed on parks (submerged) property, including Franks Tract and Big Break. Many hunters also hunt from duck boats or other camouflaged craft. There are plenty of ringneck pheasants here too. You need to know a property owner to have access to hunting these birds.

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