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Oroville Area Wildlife

photo of bird - heron

Oroville Wildlife Area
with Egret & Heron Rookery

These 11,000 acres of preserved natural beauty lie just outside Oroville. Surrounded by several hundred acres of open grasslands, the 4,300 acre Thermalito Afterbay and its 26 miles of shoreline are popular with anglers and boaters.

Just east of the Afterbay, the 5,700 acre preserve area features twelve miles of the Feather River, which creates willow and cottonwood-lined ponds, islands, and channels. Canoes or car-top boats can be launched in several spots along the river. The river holds salmon, steelhead, and shad. Catfish, bass, and crappie are found in both the ponds and Afterbay.

Limited primitive camping is available at five locations in the southern half of the preserve area, but is not permitted in the northern section or in the afterbay area. The preserve is home to at least 35 species of mammals and 177 species of birds, including wood ducks. Most are permanent residents. Maps are available at entry points.

There is an outstanding Egret & Heron Rookery in the preserve area (3.3 miles from Oro Dam Blvd. off Larkin Rd.) with viewing from January-July (peak nesting March & April). For information, call (530) 538-2236.

photo of bird flying

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.

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