Friday, March 4, 2016

Spotted Towhee at Knight's Ferry

It's that red-eyed sparrow that I keep trying to photograph! Spotted Towhees (Pipilo maculatus) are common enough, apparently, but I mostly see them hiding and rustling around in the underbrush, and flying away if I raise a camera. But it's getting to be springtime, and the males are earnestly looking for mates, so they're spending more time out in the open, singing their hearts out.
Knight's Ferry is a historic village that has the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi River at 330 feet. The bridge is in this location because it is the last exposure of solid metamorphic bedrock along the Stanislaus River, providing a solid foundation for the structure. It's the second bridge that was built; the first was destroyed by the Great Flood of 1862.
The landscape surrounding Knight's Ferry is mostly flat and gently sloping, but along the river there are rugged cliffs. It provides a variety of habitats for birds of all kinds. Some of the spookier ones are the dozens of Turkey Vultures that like to roost in the high cottonwood trees.

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