Swan fest

A black crowned night heron perches on a branch over a slough, while a pair of mallards swim past at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday. 

It’s timed to align with the return of the tundra swans to their winter quarters – flooded rice fields and farmlands throughout the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa region. The three-day California Swan Festival kicks off today.  

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

Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release, a non-profit organization dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife, is one of the featured presenters at this years festival. 

Karen Koskey, education chairperson for the organization, said they will have five birds on site, including a great horn owl, a barn owl, a read tail hawk, a red shoulder hawk and an American crow, to discuss during their presentation. 

“Our goal is to release the injured animals we take in but some the animals are not releasable due to their injuries,” said Koskey. “So if they are certified by a vet that they’re non-releasable and would make a good wildlife ambassador, as we call them, then they become education animals and we take them to schools and different community events like the Swan Fest to educate the public about living with wildlife.”

According to their website, each year the team successfully releases over 100 different species of native wildlife, including small mammals, songbirds, raptors and bats.

Kroskey said the presentation will include stories about each of the featured birds and tips about how to better co-habitate with local wildlife. 

“We encourage sustainable practices,” said Kroskey. “These animals were here before us so we need to learn how to live without damaging their habitats.” 

The presentation will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Swan Central Festival venue, located at 1895 Lassen Boulevard in Yuba City and is free to attend. Following the presentation, Kroskey said there will be a question and answer session. Literature will also be available on site for those who would like to know more about Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release. 

Wildlife photographer and author Stephen Fischer will also be in attendance on Saturday, hosting two photography presentations.

Starting at 10 a.m., Fischer will present a two-hour lecture on bird photography at the Swan Central Festival venue. 

“The lecture will cover techniques for capturing better bird photographs, discussing equipment, methods, composition and behavior,” said Fischer.

According to Fischer, he will cover the do’s and don’ts of bird photography, as well as provide tips about how to capture a more interesting image. 

Following the lecture, Fischer said he will also lead a photography-oriented field trip to the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.

Attendees of this tour will meet at the Swan Central Festival venue at 1:30 p.m. before heading to Colusa as a group.

“The afternoon field trip will provide attendees and opportunity to apply their photography skills with some coaching and review in the field,” said Fischer. 

Fischer said the field trip will stay at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge until sunset. 

Registration costs $15 for adults and $10 for children ages . Attendees are asked to bring a camera they are familiar with along with a tripod, warm clothes in layers, insect repellent and water. 

Swan Fest will continue tomorrow and Sunday, with several tours and presentations scheduled throughout both days. 

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