Before evening fly off, sandhill cranes are visible from the parking lot and viewing platform off W. Woodbridge Road in Lodi in December. (Photos by Steve Martarano)

Photos: Sights to See

Sacramento Valley overflows with opportunities to view winter wildlife

Back Photo gallery Dec 23, 2020 By Steve Martarano

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Located on the southerly end of the Pacific Flyway migratory route, the Sacramento Valley provides some of the top wintering sites for waterfowl in the world. Many opportunities to view winter wildlife are within easy driving distance of Sacramento and often without cost. There’s beautiful sunrises and breathtaking sunsets, and crowds are usually sparse. And there’s lots of wildlife, especially migratory birds.

While most visitor centers are closed due to coronavirus concerns and popular guided tours for viewing wildlife have been canceled, wildlife areas in the Capital Region have remained mostly open. The peak waterfowl season is generally October through January, so the sight of migratory birds such as sandhill cranes and snow geese won’t be seen in big numbers for much longer. Here’s a sampling of five of the many area spots Comstock’s visited in recent months, including Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Cosumnes River Preserve, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve and Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

The Effie Yeaw Nature Center is part of a 100-acre nature preserve with riparian and oak woodlands, shrub lands, and meadows, where wildlife such as wild turkeys and deer freely roam close to the preserve’s many trails.

The Cosumnes River Preserve is in Galt, with easy access off Interstate 5.

Migratory birds fly above the Cosumnes River Preserve in November.

A visitor to the Cosumnes River Preserve in Galt checks out the local wildlife.

The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in Lodi, also known as the Phil and Marilyn Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve, provides up-close access to view migratory birds.

A pair of sandhill cranes stand at dusk at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in Lodi.

With Mount Diablo in the background, sandhill cranes soar at sunset above the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in Lodi.

A tour around the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area between Davis and Sacramento offers views of the Sacramento skyline.

A skydiver practices opening a parachute at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area just off Interstate 80 in December.

The Yolo Bypass, seen here to the right of Interstate 80 in February 2017, is one of the two flood bypasses in the Sacramento Valley.

The nature preserve surrounding the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael offers direct walking access to the American River.

On the day after a December rain, visitors can take one of the many walkable trails at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

Geese fly off above the federal Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve near Willows in December.

The Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve features a 6-mile driving tour and supports more than 250 species of birds and raptors, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons.

A group of snow geese soars above the Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve.

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Tricia Hamelberg (not verified)January 1, 2021 - 10:31pm

After reading this, I'm inspired to take a few more short jaunts to view local wildlife. I feel so fortunate that wildlife viewing is covid19 safe.

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