Yolo Basin Foundation docents will host a morning tour of the city of Davis wetlands from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 6. The guided tour visits these specially created wetlands that use treated waste and storm water to create habitat for a diverse population of bird species year-round.
Migration is under way at the wetlands, providing the brief opportunity to see early spring arrivals alongside lingering winter migrants and year-round residents. Some of the early spring species recently seen are shorebirds such as American avocets and black-necked stilts. Waterfowl species still present include gadwalls and American wigeons. In addition to shorebirds and waterfowl, visitors will see a variety of raptors, including American kestrels, Swainson’s hawks and white-tailed kites.
With its distinct predominantly white and light gray plumage and long white tail, the appropriately named white-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus) is easily identified in the field and can frequently be seen hovering 15 to 80 feet off the ground searching for prey. Rodents make up 95 percent of a kite’s diet.
Although now fairly common, these birds nearly became extinct in California in the 1930s, most likely due to habitat loss and shooting. Through conservation efforts, California is home to the largest number of white-tailed kites in North America.
All those wishing to join the tour should meet a few minutes before 9 a.m. at the gate in front of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, east of the Yolo County Landfill on County Road 28H. Participants should bring their own binoculars, water (there is no potable water on site), and field guide. Docents will have spotting scopes to enhance wildlife viewing.
Most of the tour is by car on firm gravel roads, with a couple of optional short walks in the wetlands. A portable toilet is available on the route.
To reach the wastewater treatment station, head north from Davis on Pole Line Road, turn right on Road 28H and go 3 miles east, just past County Road 105. The group meets at the gate east of the intersection.
This is a free tour; no reservations are required. For more information, call Michael Herrera at 530-758-1018 or visit the Yolo Basin Foundation website at www.yolobasin.org.
The foundation works in cooperation with the city of Davis to offer the wetlands tours. Yolo Basin is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife through education and innovative partnerships.