YOLO COUNTY NEWS

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Morning tour offered at city wetlands

By From page A8 | May 24, 2013

Brown-headed cowbirds, like this male, are often seen with flocks of Brewer’s and red-winged blackbirds around the city of Davis wetlands. Leslie Morris/Courtesy photo

Community members are invited to a free, guided tour of the city of Davis wetlands, a 400-acre wetland and grassland complex, from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, June 1. A team of trained docents from the Yolo Basin Foundation will lead the group.

Not all birds build nests. The brown-headed cowbird, a year-round resident of the Davis wetlands, is North America’s most widespread obligate brood parasite. This means that it never builds a nest of its own. Instead, the females lay their eggs in nests of other bird species and leave chick-rearing to the unwitting foster parents.

Small and stocky, the adult male cowbird has a brown head and black body. Females are uniformly gray-brown with slightly lighter plumage on the head and underbody. Often seen foraging with other blackbirds and starlings, the brown-headed cowbird can be identified by it relatively short tail and a conical, finch-like bill. Females, who might produce 11 to 20 eggs a season, consume snail shells and eggs from visited nests to satisfy their large calcium requirements.

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 plant, head north 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 www.yolobasin.org.

The Yolo Basin Foundation works in cooperation with the city of Davis to offer the Davis wetlands tours. Yolo Basin is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife through education and innovative partnerships.

Enterprise staff

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