Readers’ wildlife photos

May 17, 2023 • 8:15 am

We’re running quite low again, so if you want this feature to continue, please send me your good wildlife photos. Thanks!

Today’s batch are local Davis photos taken by Susan Harrison, UC Davis ecologist. Her narrative and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.


Random animals of north-central California, spring 2023

Here are some sightings from the past couple of months in the area surrounding Davis.   It’s been especially fun to watch all the nesting activity.

The first five were taken at UC Davis’s Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, a local birding hotspot that’s a 5-minute bike ride from my home.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) mom and owlet:

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana):

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta biocolor):

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus):

Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana):

Red-Eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans, non-native, left) and Western Pond Turtles (Actinemys marmorata, native, right) at the UC Davis Arboretum:

Indian Peacock (Pavo cristatus, non-native) at Lake Solano County Park:

Bushtit (Psaltriparis minimus) near Lake Solano:

Beaver (Castor canadensis) at UC Davis’s McLaughlin Natural Reserve:

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) along Cache Creek:

Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) along Butte Slough:


Cliff Swallow apartment complex, a.k.a. an abandoned bridge:

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) at Gray Lodge National Wildlife Refuge:

Sutter Buttes, “the world’s smallest mountain range,” seen from Gray Lodge NWR:

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. These are great. I’ve never seen a Bushtit, let alone one sitting in its nest. Thank you!

    1. Good point! When I was a kid, I thought the peacock’s scream was a mountain lion saying MEE-YOWWW! So yes, it’s definitely scary to the uninitiated.

  2. A very lovely set of photos. Loved the turtles and the cliff swallows. Started seeing swallows around here a couple weeks ago. I call them F-16’s, but they’re actually barn swallows. Sutter was a popular Californian, wasn’t he…many landmarks named Sutter in that area.

  3. I appreciated the Western Pond terrapin picture. The closest I’ve ever come to seeing one in the wild was the ripples it left on the surface of the pond when it dove off its perch.

  4. Great photos. I especially like the swallows at their nests. Each species seems so out of place in those awkward spots, a bird otherwise so graceful and aerodynamic sitting uncomfortably with those tiny legs on some utterly inappropriate-looking substrate. And how on earth do those Cliff Swallow nests stick to their supports without falling off??

    Also, the light on the Western Bluebird is stunning!

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