Fly, Fly, Fly Away Wildlife along the Auto Tours of National wildlife Refuges in the central valley

The wildlife photographs were taken along the Auto Tour of 4 National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). All the Auto Tours are free except the exceptional tour at the Sacramento NWR, which charges $6 for a single-day trip, or $12 for an annual pass. Or, if you have an annual National Parks pass that covers all National Parks, you can visit the Sacramento NWR without an additional charge. The Auto Tour is normally open Sunrise to Sunset.

  • Sacramento NWR: 752 County Rd 99W, Willows CA
  • Colusa NWR: Corner of Highway 20 and Ohair Rd in Williams, CA
  • Merced NWR: 7430 W Sandy Mush Rd, Merced, CA
  • San Luis NWR: 7376 Wolfsen Rd, Los Banos, CA
Buteo lineatus. Red-Shouldered Hawk. This hawk posed for his picture while sitting on top of a sign post next to open fields looking for his Sunday Brunch. At first, I thought he was staring at me, but I looked over my shoulder and he was making eye contact with a nervous deer grazing on some weeds in the opposite side field. He turned attention away from the deer and to a rodent that was scurrying across the field. Sacramento NWR.
Lepus californicus. The Black-tailed Jackrabbit can run at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour and it can jump a distance of about 20 feet. When it tries to out run a coyote or fox, it runs in a zig-zag pattern and its favorite food is alfalfa. Sacramento NWR.
Sturnella neglecta. The Western Meadowlarks seek the wide open spaces of native grasslands and agricultural fields for spring and summer breeding and winter foraging. It has a wonderful, melodious song that turns everyday into a happy day. Sacramento NWR.
Calypte anna. The Anna's Hummingbird is like flying jewelry because of its sparkly, colorful throat. A group of hummingbirds is not called a flock, but a bouquet of hummingbirds. Sacramento NWR.
Chen caerulescens. When Snow Geese are feeding in a field or pond, several of them stand watch over the whole flock, serving as sentries in case of danger such as a nearby coyote. When danger is spotted, all of a sudden the entire flock flies up at once, filling the air with thousands of birds looking for a less threatening place to eat and rest. Sacramento NWR.
This is a juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk. There is a line of tall trees that border a large field giving the juvenile an excellent view of potential sources of food. Here, the hawk was scratching himself and stretching out a bit. Sacramento NWR.
Phasianus colchicus. The Male Ring-necked Pheasants, like the one you see here, are gaudy birds with red faces and an iridescent green neck with a bold white ring. They eat grain, seeds and insects to fuel themselves. Colusa NWR.
Cervus elaphus nannodes. The male Tule Elks weigh up to 700 pounds and drops its antlers every year and grows another set. The male Elk in this photograph saw me, and snorted in my direction, making sure I knew who was in charge. He was in the midst of about 30 female elks (cows) and calves, called a harem. San Luis NWR.
Antigone canadensis. 5,000 Sandhill Cranes flying back to rest at Sunset. Merced NWR.

Thanks to the National Wildlife Refuges, the New Hampshire Public TV Natureworks and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for help with the content of this Adobe Spark page. I used all Canon equipment for these photograph. Mostly the Canon EOS 7D Mark II with the EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, or, the Canon EOS 6D with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. Photographs copyrighted 2017 David J. Butler.

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Dave Butler

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