Birds Of The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

by Larry Jordan on October 11, 2009

American Coots Take Off photos by Larry Jordan

One of the sights you will see if you visit the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is a cover of American Coots skittering across the water as they take off.  This running across the top of the water is the only way these birds can get airborne from the water and they make plenty of noise doing it.  In the photo above you can see the individual splashes each bird makes until they get their big, lobed feet out of the water.

If you arrive early in the morning you may catch a young Bald Eagle finishing breakfast…

Or a Red-tailed Hawk on the lookout for a meal

But they aren’t the only raptors you will find here.  Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawk, as well as Golden Eagle and Peregrine Falcon have frequented this refuge.  The American Kestrel and Great Horned Owl are hard to miss as are the Red-shouldered Hawk and the ever present Northern Harrier as she flies low over the marshes.

This time of year the Snow Geese are arriving by the hundreds and you will witness skeins like this one flying in as well as Greater White-fronted Geese and Ross’s Geese.

Waterfowl are present in abundance and there are way too many species to list here but here is a link to the complete list of 269 species of birds found on the refuge.  I have a male Gadwall representing the dabbling ducks…

And a Double-crested Cormorant in flight, just for fun.

American Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egret are common at the refuge…

As is the little Marsh Wren which can be heard almost everywhere near the edges of the marsh in the bulrush.

Go check out the complete species list for the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and you will see why it is one of my favorite places to bird.  And, if you’re in the area, come join us for a bird outing on November 21st with a great group of Birders Who Blog, Tweet and Chirp!  For now, go check out all the other great bird photos at Bird Photography Weekly!

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Wren October 11, 2009 at 9:07 am

Is this where you’re going with the BwBTC? That should be a fantastic outing. Looking forward to many more photos!


Mary Carlson October 11, 2009 at 11:52 am

Wish I could be there – but I’ll be enjoying the cranes and snow geese in New Mexico at that time. The Bosque del Apache holds their annual Festival of the Cranes the week before Thanksgiving week. I’ll miss seeing/meeting all of you who plan to be there; but consider me there in spirit. I’ll be thinking of all of you.
.-= Mary Carlson´s last blog ..June blooming lilies =-.


Klaus October 11, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Pretty cool shots, Larry!


Larry October 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm

@Wren this is the place! Or one of them. I think we should stop at the Wildhorse Golf Club to see the Burrowing Owls too.

@Mary we will miss you. Bosque del Apache should be awesome. Cranes-a-plenty I’m sure. Enjoy!

@Klaus thanks a bunch for stopping by with a comment


chris October 12, 2009 at 3:28 am

HI Larry,
you got a nice pallet of birds there!!! The bald eagle shot is fabulous. We are getting some vagrants too because of the huge storm coming from USA… Cool as we see new species, but bad, cause the wind is terrible.
.-= chris´s last blog ..Vagrants, did you say vagrants!! =-.


bob k October 12, 2009 at 8:55 am

Great photographic harvest, Larry! I love the raptor shots!
.-= bob k´s last blog ..Two Wrens Make It Right =-.


Neil October 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Great series beautiful photos love the Snowy Egret.
.-= Neil´s last blog ..Birds at our local Ponds. =-.


Larry October 12, 2009 at 8:22 pm

@Chris thank you very much. We have a big storm coming through the next few days, the remnants of a typhoon. Lots of rain and wind. No complaints here though, we really need the rain

@Bob thanks, I love raptors

@Neil thank you. Don’t those Snowys look cool when you can see their feet?


Kelly October 13, 2009 at 7:06 am

Wow! Sacramento NWR looks like it’s the place to be right now. I’d love to see that flock of Snow Geese–and everything else. You have so many gorgeous photos here… I’m jealous I’m not within driving distance of this place. 🙂
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Autumn Rain in Ann Arbor =-.


Dawn Fine October 13, 2009 at 11:14 am

Oh my goodness. i am getting soo excited! Can you see me jumping up and down?
I loveeeeee your photo of the snowy egret with the glistening foam backdrop!
.-= Dawn Fine´s last blog ..A day drive in the Tetons =-.


Larry October 13, 2009 at 10:52 pm

@Kelly we’re finally getting some rain 🙂 so it’s gonna just keep getting better!

@Dawn I’m getting excited too! I have a photo blind reserved for 10/25 at the refuge. They have two photo blinds there but I haven’t been to #2 blind yet so I’ll be writing a post and should have some nice shots to post from that trip
.-= Larry Jordan´s last blog ..Comment on Birds Of The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge by Dawn Fine =-.


Nicole October 14, 2009 at 1:09 am

Gosh, you got an awesome collection there.

Tell me one thing though (it might sound stupid), how do you differ between a grey and a blue heron?

Those snow geese must be amazing to watch too, wow 🙂

That bald eagle makes me sigh, sigh 😀

Totally awesome!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..Juvenile steppe Buzzard =-.


Larry October 14, 2009 at 6:01 am

@Nicole there is not much difference between a Grey and a Great Blue Heron. The Great Blue is slightly larger an has brown in its neck and thighs where the Grey is all grey with white below and grey thighs.

Although the Great Blue can be a vagrant in some places in Europe, the main difference between the two is location. The Great Blue is found in North and Central America and the Grey is found in Europe, Asia and Africa.


Nicole October 14, 2009 at 6:24 am

Thanks a million, Larry.

That solves my mystery why so many people in the US get to see a blue heron and all I get to see is the grey heron.
And last Friday I started wondering how they can tell them apart 😉

Now I know. Thanks again :)!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..Juvenile steppe Buzzard =-.


Scott October 14, 2009 at 9:08 am

I’m siding with Dawn on this one…very much looking forward to the upcoming trip. Great photos!
.-= Scott´s last blog ..America’s Wildlife Heritage Act =-.


Larry October 15, 2009 at 5:24 am

@Nicole you are very welcome

@Scott thanks. I look forward to seeing you again


Amber Coakley October 18, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Larry, what a treat you’ve given us! The pictures are all wonderful, but I have to say that the Marsh Wren, with her tail flipped up over her body and head is adorable! Reminds me of a squirrel.

I am looking forward to reports of your trip with fellow tweeting and chirping bloggers. 🙂
.-= Amber Coakley´s last blog ..For the Love of Pelicans =-.


Tim December 19, 2009 at 4:58 pm

We were there today 12/19/09. Lots of hawks with a narrow white tail hovering low over the marsh.


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