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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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See diving ducks at city wetlands tour

ruddy duckW

During breeding season, the bill of a male ruddy duck turns blue. Jim Dunn/Courtesy photo

By
From page A4 | February 25, 2014 |

Docents will lead a free tour of the city of Davis wetlands from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 1. Tours are offered the first Saturday of the month year-round, and this is the first morning tour of the season.

Buffleheads, common goldeneyes and ruddy ducks are some of the more common diving ducks that are attracted to the deeper ponds of the wetlands. Although different in appearance, all three share similar adaptations that help them dive underwater to feed.

Large feet propel them under the surface to forage for aquatic plants, insects and small fish. Compact bodies and wings are efficient for underwater movement but divers are awkward on land because of short legs located at the back of their bodies.
Also known as a stiff-tailed duck, the small ruddy duck stands out due to the breeding male’s blue bill, bright chestnut coloration and white cheek patches. Its stiff, black tail is often held upright for display.

In winter, the male’s bill fades to gray and bright plumage fades to brown, resembling the female. Both have a dark cap, but only the female has a dusky horizontal cheek stripe.

All those wishing to join the tour should meet a few minutes before 9 a.m. at the gate in front of the Davis 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.

This is a free tour, and no reservations are required. For more information, call Michael Herrera at 530-758-1018 before the day of the tour, or visit the Yolo Basin Foundation website at 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.

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