| In the
winter literally millions of birds come through the area and use the
out-of-season rice fields as a resting and feeding place. Many species of
ducks and geese utilize the
Pacific Flyway as they
migrate from Alaska to overwinter in California wetlands.
The idle rice fields are not natural wetlands, but it turns out that they are an ideal environment for the species of birds that overwinter in the Sacramento Valley. The water depth is just what the birds like and a few hundred pounds of rice per acre ends up on the ground at harvest providing a food source. Weed seeds and insects are also available as food.
The birds spend the winter in various places in California, some as far south as the Salton Sea. Northern California is known as a good place for bird watchers and duck hunters during the winter. Shown here are the Canada Goose, Branta canadensis (Lower right), the Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus (lower left), and some of the many species of ducks.