Public Tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

WEST SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG)  |  By Yolo Basin Foundation
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Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) swallow much of their small prey whole and indigestible materials are ejected as compacted pellets. Yolo Basin Foundation volunteer docents will lead a public tour of the YBWA from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, February 10. Photo credit: Mike Reinhart

WEST SCRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - This time of year, after the leaves have fallen from the willows, Great Horned Owls are easier to see during the day in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. The Yolo Basin Foundation invites members of the public to join docents on a tour of the area on Saturday, February 10 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The mottled brown Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) aim to blend into leafless trees. Their large silhouette of a thick body, wide head and prominent feathered ear tuffs can be spotted perched in the branches, generally near the trunk. Great Horned Owls hunt by night and eat a wide variety of prey including birds, mammals, fish and insects. Their size allows them to eat larger prey such as skunks, raptors and geese. Great Horned Owls, like most owls, eat much of their prey whole. The indigestible materials such as fur and bones are compacted into a pellet that owls eject through their mouth. Dissecting owl pellets can reveal recent meals. Other bird species seen this time of year include Western Meadowlarks, Marsh Wrens, American Bitterns, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks and Black-crowned Night Herons.

All interested tour participants should meet a few minutes before 9 a.m. in Parking Lot A of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, at the west end of the Yolo Causeway. Directions to the YBWA are also available on Yolo Basin Foundation’s website at www.yolobasin.org. As of January 1, 2018, a daily or annual lands pass is required for each individual 16 years of age or older while visiting the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, including during this tour. Visitors who are carrying a valid California hunting or fishing license are exempt from this requirement. Lands passes may be purchased on-line, by phone at (800) 565-1458, or in-person at locations wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. For more information, visit: www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/Lands-pass.

Participants should bring binoculars and water (there is no potable water on site). Docents will have spotting scopes to enhance wildlife viewing. This is a driving tour on gravel roads with several stops and optional, short walks. For more information, call Yolo Basin Foundation at (530) 757-3780 or visit www.yolobasin.org.

Yolo Basin Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife through education and innovative partnerships. The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.