Winter Birding in California Central Valley
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The Pacific Flyway ranks as one of the greatest migratory pathways in the entire world, stretching from the
Bering Strait off the coast of Alaska to the steeps of Patagonia in South America. Millions of migratory
birds representing hundreds of species use this great avian highway each year, and nowhere is this
abundance of wildlife more accessible than right here in the California Central Valley. Winter is the raining
season in California. With an ideal combination of mild winter weather, abundant food and rich quantities of
water in winter season, the area attracts a huge wintering population of waterfowl and raptors (水禽的越冬
棲息地, 南歸秋雁多宿於此).

Every winter, millions of migratory waterfowl including ducks, geese plus thousands of red crowned sandhill
cranes (丹頂鶴) arrive to winter in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta in California Central Valley.

We came to Cosumnes River Preserve located at 13501 Franklin Blvd, Galt, California in the afternoon of
November 12, 2016 to enjoy bird watching. This protected Preserve is a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway
for migrating and wintering waterfowl. They feed on the leftover waste grains in fields. We thank several
governmental and civilian organizations for their joint conservation effort to create and to protect such a
wonderful Preserve for wildlife.

We arrived at about 3:30 PM and stayed until after sunset at about 5:30 PM. This is the most important
time period to enjoy the spectacular massive fly-out at sunset in orderly waves after waves of huge number
of birds to to feed in the surround grain fields.

It is amazing and an immersive experience to watch hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese and sandhill
cranes circling overhead and darken the sky. It is Absolutely AMAZING!  The vibrant cackling and honking
of huge number of geese in the air are music to birders’ ears. It is one of your most memorable
experiences ever.  This is pure joy for anyone who enjoys birds and nature.

雁鳴聲,聲勢浩大,此起彼伏,形成了大合唱, 天空鳥陣如雲,非
常壯觀,令人興奮不已, 這是賞鳥者夢寐以求的地方。

I took a 3-minute movie clip and uploaded the movie to the following YouTube website:


Please enjoy magnificent air show.

In this movie clip, please notice that the second group of birds flying from right side to left side on the
screen during the time interval from about 25 seconds to 33 seconds are sandhill cranes.(雲中飛翔的仙鶴
的神采, 氣宇軒昂,不同凡俗). In Asian culture, red crowned cranes represent “longevity, good fortune,
harmony and fidelity.

Usually all these birds are busy feeding on the wetland. But sometime they can be spooked and lift off to
the air in unison by the air raid of a powerful predator, such as a bald eagle, a golden eagle or a falcon.

In this movie clip, please notice that at about the time of 1:17 seconds, a raptor (may be falcon) dived at
very high speed from above down into the big flock of ducks or geese in the air.

A detailed local map (Nature Trail Guide) of extensive network of hiking trails in Cosumnes River Preserve
for wildlife watching is available at:


The viewing area is near the first parking lot (marked #1 on Nature Trail Guide) with vault toilet, near visitor’
s center, on your east side as you drive into the preserve. If you drive further north on Franklin Blvd for
about 1,000 feet, there is another smaller parking lot (marked #30 on Nature Trail Guide) with vault toilet
on the west side. From this second parking lot, there is a 0.25 mile wooden boardwalk going west to an
observation deck(賞鳥平台) to enjoy birding in the middle of the wetland(蘆葦沼澤濕地).
The bird watching is also excellent along the section of Desmond Road between Franklin Blvd. and Bruceville
Road. There are several floodplains (
沼澤濕地) on both sides of Desmond Road in this section.

Last winter in November 2015, we went to Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (i.e., Isenberg Crane Reserve) on  
Woodbridge Road near Lodi, California to enjoy watching  many red crowned greater sandhill cranes (丹頂鶴)
in action as shown on my web page at:


Woodbridge Ecological Reserve is only about 10 miles south of Cosumnes River Preserve.

Besides these two locations, there are more other interesting winter bird watching locations in California
Central Valley for us to explore in the future.
The 0.25 mile wooden boardwalk going west to an observation deck(賞鳥平台) to enjoy birding in the middle
of the wetland(蘆葦沼澤濕地).
The observation deck(賞鳥平台) to enjoy birding in the middle of the wetland(蘆葦沼澤濕地).
A sunset view from the observation deck.
A view of a part of wetland in Comsunes River Preserve after sunset.