Gray Lodge Wildlife Area
& The Sutter Buttes
With a backdrop of the world's smallest mountain range, the Sutter Buttes, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is a wonderful nature photographer's dream come true attracting more than a million ducks, 100,000 geese, and thousands of other bird species annually. Managed by the California Dept. of Fish & Game, its 8,400 acres are among the most extensively used wetlands in the entire Pacific Flyway.
More than 80 miles of roads run through the area with miles of hiking trails ringing the many ponds. A bird specimen museum is located on the main road.
Fall is an ideal time to visit Gray Lodge with the ash-colored, red-capped sandhill cranes arriving in September with many staying until March. By November, 80,000 Ross' and snow geese begin gliding in to join the grebes, kestrels, owls, hawks, pheasants, and quail already there.
On the heels of northern winter storms, teal, mallards, swans, widgeon, buffleheads, and as many as 200,000 northern pintail arrive daily. In January, the rookery is filled with nests of great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and egrets. A viewing mound is located near the nests.
By early March, nesting begins in the more than 200 nesting boxes for the area's wood ducks. For information, call (530) 846-5176.