Odds and Evens

Although the sheer number of birds found at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge makes the biggest impression on visitors, I’m always amazed at how many different species can be found throughout the year, species I rarely see elsewhere.

Hidden behind all the Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and Greater White-Fronted Geese were at least three pairs of Ringed-Neck Ducks, 

a Cowbird, which Leslie shot,

a small flock of Lesser Goldfinch, a first for me,

and several Black-necked Stilts (another of Leslie’s shots).

Of course, we also saw other birds like Dowitchers, Yellowlegs, etc., but I want to move on to the second part of the day — tomorrow.

Another Point of View

There’s so much to see on most auto tours of National Wildlife Refuges that Leslie has been taking pictures with my backup camera for several years now. I pointed out this Snowy Egret standing on the rail above the drainage ditch but couldn’t get a shot of it myself.

I did see this hawk (a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, I think) (John says it’s a Red-Shouldered Hawk) through the windshield, but there was no way I could get a decent shot through the windshield.

Sometimes she sees birds that I don’t even see from my side, like this very Red-Tailed Hawk.

I did see this Bald Eagle and maneuvered the car so that Leslie could get a good shot

but since it was on Leslie’s side of the car there was no way I could have gotten a decent shot of it.

Northern Pintail Ducks and Greater White-fronted Geese

Usually this time of year the Sacramento NWR is dominated by Snow Geese, so we were surprised at how few we saw on our visit.  Luckily, there were still thousands of birds there.  So, Northern Pintails and Greater White-Fronted Geese took front stage on this visit.  This is my favorite shots of the two together.

I’m not about to claim that a particular duck’s plumage is more beautiful than all other ducks’ plumage, but the male Northern Pintail surely strikes me as the most elegant.

The Greater White-fronted Goose’s plumage, on the other hand, is delightfully understated.  

I guess when you are as big and powerful as they are, especially when they take flight 

that they don’t have to rely on fancy feathers to attract a mate.

Sacramento NWR

Usually on our visit to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge we are greeted by rabbits, deer, and coyotes.  On our most recent visit we were greeted by songbirds like this Meadowlark


and this Red-Wing Blackbird.

Try as they might, the two could not drown out the song of the White-Crowned Sparrows

though the immature sparrows seemed more interesting in foraging than in joining the choir around them.

The House Finches high in the trees weren’t exactly silent but weren’t nearly as loud as the other three,

while the Black Phoebes seemed satisfied to flutter out and back silently.

Disappointingly, there were surprisingly few Snow Geese and the birds seemed more easily spooked than usual, flying away before we could stop and get pictures.