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Sacramento Regional Wildlife Viewing

Fun for the Whole Family. Welcome...

to 12 UNIQUE PLACES to view wildlife in the Sacramento region. This river-rich basin, coupled with marshes teeming with life, provides vital habitat for HUNDREDS of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish.

Most of the habitats are mere remnants of what was once a wild and pristine valley, but thanks to conservation and restoration, the landscapes and waterways still offer diverse and magnificent wildlife awaiting your visit to their homes.

Take an easy stroll some morning or early evening. Enjoy the beauty and drama of nature. There’s always SOMETHING SPECIAL each season, so get ready for a fun adventure – close to home, for the whole family!


Map of Viewing Locations

Viewing Locations

  1. NIMBUS AND AMERICAN RIVER HATCHERIES
    California Department of Fish and Game
    Rancho Cordova; (916) 358-2884; www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Hatcheries/Nimbus
    Stroll the river trail to discover signs of wildlife. Scan the river's edge for fish, egret and mergansers.
    Catch a glimpse of heron fishing at the pond. Check out the Visitor Center exhibits.
    YEAR-ROUND
    : young salmon and trout in the raceways
    SPRING: cormorants, hawks, bluebirds
    SUMMER
    : gulls, kingfisher, osprey
    FALL: salmon spawning, steelhead trout in the raceways, herons, waterfowl, turkey
    WINTER: steelhead spawning, salmon hatching, ducks, vultures, deer, egrets
     
  2. AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY EFFIE YEAW NATURE CENTER
    Sacramento County Parks Recreation and Open Space
    Carmichael; (916) 489-4918; www.sacnaturecenter.net
    Discover nature's richness along trails through oak woodland, lush cottonwoods and wild grape. Sights, sounds and smells of the peaceful nature area offer a restful retreat.
    YEAR-ROUND: magpies, waterfowl, turkeys, deer
    SPRING: wood ducks, hawks, quail, hummingbirds
    SUMMER: swallowtail butterflies, acorn woodpeckers, tree swallows
    FALL: red-tailed hawks, vultures, salmon, gulls, mergansers
    WINTER: owls, songbirds, raccoon, otter Interactive natural and cultural history exhibits, live animals, discovery store and weekend programs.
    Additional Parkway Sites: Discovery Park, Bushy Lake, William Pond, Rossmoor Bar, Sailor Bar
    FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL (916) 875-6672
      
  3. FOLSOM LAKE STATE RECREATION AREA
    California Department of Parks and Recreation
    Folsom; (916) 988-0205 ext 273; www.parks.ca.gov
    Wander the trails and enjoy wildlife viewing along the shoreline, in open woodlands and wetlands.
    YEAR-ROUND: deer, kites, turkey, quail, mockingbirds
    SPRING: hummingbirds, orioles, herons, songbirds
    SUMMER: hawks, white pelican, geese, jays
    FALL: geese, bluebirds, woodpeckers, lizards
    WINTER: waterfowl, waxwings, beaver, muskrat
    Picnic areas, hiking trails, camping, boat access, visitor center.
      
  4. MATHER REGIONAL PARK
    Sacramento Regional Park, Recreation and Open Space
    Rancho Cordova; (916) 875-6672; www.msa2.saccounty.net/parks
    Wooded lake and creek, grasslands and colorful vernal pools offer intimate viewing.
    YEAR-ROUND: deer, lizards, owls, meadowlarks
    SPRING: wildflowers, amphibians, shorebirds, songbirds
    SUMMER: hawks, pheasant, bluebird, orioles
    FALL: woodpeckers, falcons, magpies, quail
    WINTER: waterfowl, towhees, coyote, jays
     
  5. ISENBERG CRANE RESERVE
    California Department of Fish and Game
    Lodi; (916) 358-2353; www.dfg.ca.gov/lands
    Witness awe-inspiring flights of sandhill cranes along Woodbridge Road, west of I-5. All land is
    private except the reserve.
    SPRING: barn owls, herons, orioles, shorebirds
    SUMMER: pelicans, vultures, Swainson’s hawks
    FALL: sandhill cranes, ibis, hawks, shrikes
    WINTER: sandhill cranes, swans, stilts, ducks
    Parking lot 2 1/2 miles west of I-5. Tours to shelter available by reservation.
     
  6. COSUMNES RIVER PRESERVE
    The Nature Conservancy / Bureau of Land Management
    Galt; (916) 683-1700; www.cosumnes.org
    Hike through oaks, marsh and willows on established trails. Over 200 bird species use this site for resting or residence. Visit this expanding reserve along a wild and scenic river.
    YEAR-ROUND: herons, hawks, otter, deer, owls
    SPRING: songbirds, turtles, blackbirds
    SUMMER: avocets, bluebirds, pheasant, muskrat
    FALL: sandhill cranes, waterfowl, stilts, finches
    WINTER: sandhill cranes, geese, swans, ducks
    Open daily; visitor center exhibits, special programs, small boat access, restoration opportunities
     
  7. STONE LAKES NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
    U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Service
    Elk Grove; (916) 775-4420; www.fws.gov/stonelakes
    Explore a grassland trail along the water’s edge and ramble through the woods. This new urban refuge provides homes for well over a hundred bird species and many resident mammals and reptiles. Get a bird’s eye view from the viewing platform or join a tour.
    YEAR-ROUND: herons, egrets, cinnamon teals, owls
    SPRING: otters, beavers, shrikes, vernal pool flowers, grebes, ibis
    SUMMER: pheasant, hawks, quail, coyote, rabbits
    FALL: ducks, stilts, avocets, pheasant, hawks
    WINTER: white pelicans, sandhill cranes, geese, eagles
    Open second and fourth Saturday of each month.
     
  8. LAGUNA CREEK PARKWAY
    Elk Grove Community Service District
    Elk Grove; (916) 685-3917; www.yourcsd.com/parks
    Enjoy year-round trails along cottonwoods and willows.
    YEAR-ROUND: herons, egrets, otter, songbirds
    SPRING: vernal pool flowers, frogs, wrens
    SUMMER: turtles, red-wing blackbird, muskrat, hawks
    FALL: deer, hawks, grebes, magpies
    WINTER: ducks, shorebirds, opossum, kingfisher
    Guided tours held first Saturday of every month.
     
  9. VIC FAZIO YOLO WILDLIFE AREA
    California Department of Fish and Game
    Davis; (530) 758-1018; www.yolobasin.org
    The Yolo Bypass, a Globally Important Bird Area, is a partnership wetland restoration project.
    YEAR-ROUND: black crowned night herons, owls, ibis, muskrat
    SPRING: avocets, hawks, orioles, blackbirds
    SUMMER: yellow headed blackbirds, great blue herons, egrets, finches, kites
    FALL: snow geese, shorebirds, kingfisher, raccoon
    WINTER: white pelicans, swans, ducks, bald eagle
    Open daily; weekly tours, auto loop, trails (demonstration marsh at headquarters).
     
  10. GRIZZLY ISLAND WILDLIFE AREA
    California Department of Fish and Game
    Suisun City; (707) 425-3828; www.dfg.ca.gov/lands
    This salt/freshwater marsh hosts one of the state’s most diverse groupings of birds – 230 species, and California’s largest population of river otter.
    YEAR-ROUND: tule elk, kites, hawks, otter
    SPRING: tule elk calves, hummingbirds, egrets, yellowthroats, rails
    SUMMER: teals, shorebirds, songbirds, muskrat
    WINTER: waterfowl, prairie and peregrine falcons
    Open daily to the general public February through July. Auto loop, trails.
     
  11. GRAY LODGE WILDLIFE AREA
    California Department of Fish and Game
    Gridley; (530) 846-5176; www.dfg.ca.gov/lands
    Situated in the heart of the Pacific Flyway, this spectacular wetland is known for its wintering migratory waterfowl. A million ducks, 200 species of birds and over 200,000 geese winter on this 9,182 acre mosaic of marshes, ponds and woods.
    YEAR-ROUND: herons, teals, egrets, hawks, grebes
    SPRING: avocets, stilts, kingbirds, finches, muskrat
    SUMMER: orioles, pelicans, marsh wrens, coots
    FALL: bitterns, sandhill cranes, ducks, kites, pheasant
    WINTER: ducks, snow geese, ibis, deer, swans
    Open daily; Seasonal weekend tours, self-guided nature trail, auto tour, viewing platform, exhibits
     
  12. BOBELAINE AUDUBON SANCTUARY
    Sacramento Audubon Society
    Nicolaus; (916) 481-5332; www.sacramentoaudubon.org
    Enjoy well maintained trails as you meander through lush woodlands by the Feather River.
    YEAR-ROUND: hawks, great horned owls, wood ducks, herons
    SPRING: cormorants, grebes, wood ducks, quail
    SUMMER: egrets, swallows, kingfishers, woodpeckers
    FALL: salmon, osprey, yellow rumped warbler, bald eagle, gulls
    WINTER: herons, kestrel, woodpeckers, owls
    Highway 99 to one mile north of Feather River (south of Yuba City); go east on Laurel Road. Proceed 1/2 mile.

Wildlife Festival Calendar

Wildlife Festivals

Join the celebration of wildlife and conservation! Special viewing tours, children's activities, workshops, exhibits, art and performances create fun-filled educational events that the whole family can enjoy.

January

February

May

  • Walk on the Wildside Festival
    Elk Grove
    916-775-4420

September

October

  • Lodi Salmon Festival
    Lodi
    209-333-6742 / 209-333-6890
    www.lodi.gov

November

Wildlife Viewing Tips

The ultimate wildlife viewing experience is watching animals in their normal behavior. Here are some helpful tips to become a wildlife friendly viewer.

  1. Silence is rewarding.This is the main tip for quality viewing. Walk softly, keep your voices low and turn off all cell phones and pagers. Calls or recordings to attract wildlife can stress animals by interrupting courtship, nesting, or feeding.
  2. Move slowly and quietly so you don't disrupt wildlife behavior. Scattering herds or flocks causes them to use up valuable energy that may be needed for migration, nesting or breeding.
  3. Keep your distance by staying on established trails. If wildlife change their behavior, become agitated, or stare at you, you are too close.
  4. Let wildlife eat wild food. Avoid feeding wildlife. It can cause animals to become dependent on people for food and provides improper nutrition.
  5. Tune up your senses. Cup your hands behind your ears to capture more sounds. Scan the horizon or trees for movement or odd shapes. Notice smells and wind direction.
  6. Leave the site the way you found it. Leave natural items in nature and remove your litter.

Helpful Guides for Viewing Wildlife

  • BIRDS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
    David Fix and Andy Bezener
  • THE OUTDOOR WORLD OF THE SACRAMENTO REGION, A Local Field Guide
    The American River Natural History Association
  • CALIFORNIA WILDLIFE VIEWING GUIDE
    Jeanne Clark
  • BIRDING NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
    John Kemper


North Central Region (Region 2)
Regional Manager: Tina Bartlett
Main Office: 1701 Nimbus Road, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Sales Hours 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
Email the North Central Region | (916) 358-2900 | FAX: (916) 358-2912