The Yolo Basin Foundation docents will lead a free public tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Winter has officially arrived and the ponds and fields of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area are host to a great variety of bird species this time of year. Tundra swans, greater white-fronted geese and several types of ducks — as well as species such as Western meadowlarks, white-tailed kites and black-crowned night herons — are regularly seen along the Wildlife Area auto tour route.
Year-round residents of the Wildlife Area, black-crowned night herons are well adapted and are found on five continents, including most of North America. They make use of both fresh and salt-water wetland habitats. Most of the year, black-crowned night herons are active at night, foraging in the marshes and shallow ponds, feeding in the same areas that other heron species frequent during the day. When there are young to feed, the adults are active both night and day.
It takes about three years for the black-crowned night heron to gain the full black crown and back, gray wings and tail, and the white underparts. Being night hunters, black-crowned night herons have large eyes to let in light. Their iris color changes with age and is likely to establish rank. The iris is grayish olive in hatchlings, soon changing to yellow, deepening to orange, and then becoming bright red at maturity.
Yolo Basin Foundation and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife welcome members of the public to view these and other species on the monthly public tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. 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 bridge. Directions to the Wildlife Area are also available on Yolo Basin Foundation’s website at www.yolobasin.org.
Participants should bring binoculars, water (there is no potable water on site), and a field guide. Docents will have spotting scopes to enhance wildlife viewing. This is a driving tour on gravel roads with several stops and short walks.
Tours run rain or shine and no reservations are necessary. For more information, call Michael Herrera at 530-757-1018 or visit www.yolobasin.org.