Second annual California Swan Festival

Ibis feed in a rice field during the Second annual California Swan Festival on Saturday, November 8, 2014 along Mathews Lane in District 10 north of Marysville.

The Yuba-Sutter area is bustling with all things birds, as day two of the California Swan Festival kicks off. 

The festival, presented by the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce, Visit Yuba-Sutter and California Rice, features a number of workshops, presentations, guided tours and educational programs catering to bird and nature enthusiasts of all ages. 

Among the many activities scheduled, Swan Festival field trip leader Roger Lederer will be guiding walks at the Gray Lodge Waterfowl Refuge, located north of the Sutter Buttes, today from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

“The Gray Lodge trip will be to introduce people to waterfowl, and to birds in general, as waterfowl are the easiest to identify,” said Lederer.

On the short walk through the wetlands and woodlands, tour goers will have the opportunity to see more than four species of geese, nearly a dozen species of ducks including the Eurasian Wigeon, several raptor species, lots of wading birds and songbirds throughout the area. 

Tomorrow, Lederer will also lead a Grey Lodge Sunset Fly-off hike, which is scheduled for 3:30-6:30 p.m.

That tour will walk through the wetlands and woodlands to an observation platform overlooking huge flocks of waterfowl, before heading out on the one-way auto loop, which has great views of the wetlands and waterfowl from both sides of the vehicles. 

As a grand finale to the weekend dedicated to local birds and wildlife, Lederer will get the group situated for a front row seat as hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese take off at sunset. 

Registration for either Gray Lodge tour costs $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages five through 17. Children under the age of five are free. 

Bethany Thomas, lead naturalist at Shady Creek Outdoor School and Swan Fest tour guide, will be leading a children’s “Budding Birders Bingo,” excursion to the Sutter Wildlife Refuge today starting at 10 a.m.

“We will be stopping at various spots along the road out near the rice fields on our way to the refuge as well to bird watch,” said Thomas. 

The two-hour tour will include a welcome for the kids and time to practice their bird identification skills before heading out to view the wildlife in action. 

According to Thomas, attendees don’t need any prior knowledge of birds or birdwatching to attend. 

“It’s a great time for folks to learn about the different birds in our area,” said Thomas. 

Thomas said each child will also receive a bird bingo card with common birds pictured on it. While they are out observing, kids can try to get a bingo by identifying each of the birds listed on their card. 

Thomas recommended that if any participating children already have a pair of binoculars they feel comfortable using they should bring them along. For those that don’t, binoculars will also be available during the tour.

“We should be able to see some tundra swans, some egrets, all sorts of birds,” said Thomas. “And if we are lucky, we will see my personal favorite, the great blue herring.” 

Registration for the Budding Birder Bingo tour cost $5 for adults and children ages six through 12. 

Thomas said Shady Creek will also have an activity room set up at the Swan Central Festival venue with lots of interactive and hands-on activities. 

“And if people have questions about birds I would love to answer them!” said Thomas. 

Whether participants are watching one of the many presentations or heading out on an excursion, all attendees should meet their group at the scheduled time at the Swan Central Festival venue, located at 1895 Lassen Boulevard in Yuba City. 

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