Looking at the World for the First Time: Tree Swallow Chick at Cosumnes River Preserve
I was picking someone up at Sacramento Airport today, which gave me a chance to stop and wander a little at the Cosumnes River Preserve between Stockton and Sacramento. Maybe this is a bureaucratic nightmare, but the preserve covers 50,000 acres and is managed by not less than seven agencies: The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, California Department
of Fish & Wildlife, Sacramento County Regional Parks, Department of
Water Resources, Ducks Unlimited, and the California State Lands
Commission. Their management meetings must be a lot of fun! Still, they've done a good job of protecting a wide swath of river bottomlands, ponds and grasslands along the Cosumnes. I took a three mile loop trail from the visitor center (off Twin Cities Road at I-5) that turned around at the Cosumnes River. There weren't an overwhelming number of birds out and about, but as I followed a trail down to the river I was buzzed by a few Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). I didn't realize what the ruckus was about until I noticed a nesting box right next to the trail. Something was looking at me. And what a sour face!
I immediately realized the problem and backed off. The Swallows were concerned about their chick (or someone's chick, I couldn't be sure), who was looking out on the world, but wasn't quite ready to emerge from the nest and start exploring.
It's the quiet season at the preserve as it transitions into the summer and much of the wetlands dry up. The river will be running all year though, so I'll check it out when I can. It's a pleasant place to hang out while waiting for a plane to land.