Multiple Cities Outdoor Adventurer

Butte County Watchable Wildlife

Through­out Butte Coun­ty, a wide array of feath­ered friends, mam­mals, rep­tiles, insects, and fish are full-time res­i­dents, mak­ing it an ide­al Cal­i­for­nia Watch­able Wildlife (CAWW) destination.

Dis­cov­er red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks, fal­cons, riv­er otters, owls, Mex­i­can free-tailed bats — and too many more ani­mals to list — at Butte County’s urban parks, neigh­bor­hoods, and rivers. With its myr­i­ad of lakes, sea­son­al wet­lands, ver­nal pools, and creeks, Butte Coun­ty also wel­comes mil­lions of migra­to­ry birds each fall and win­ter as a major play­er on the Pacif­ic Fly­way. Each year, winged vis­i­tors make their way to flood­ed rice fields, nature pre­serves, parks and refuges where you can watch breath­tak­ing fly-ins and show-stop­ping fly-outs of ducks, sand­hill cranes, Cana­da geese, snow geese and tun­dra swans (and more!). 

Whether you walk, pad­dle, hike, or observe from your car, it’s easy to get up close and per­son­al with nature in and around Butte Coun­ty all year long (just look for the binoc­u­lar signs).

Bid­well Park

Pre­mi­um Site: worth vis­it­ing if you have lim­it­ed time; has wildlife val­ues year-round

The habi­tat: Blue Oak foothills wood­land, Ripar­i­an, Grass­land, Foothill Pine-Oak Wood­land, Fresh­wa­ter seeps/​wetlands, pond

With both a low­er and upper part to the park, Upper Bid­well Park is the Watch­able Wildlife focus , with over 100 species of birds found dur­ing var­i­ous sea­sons and crit­i­cal habi­tat for the East­ern Tehama deer herd, the largest in Cal­i­for­nia. The area also pro­vides crit­i­cal habi­tat for and spawn­ing for threat­ened Spring Run Chi­nook salmon and hosts larg­er, sel­dom seen, ani­mals, such as moun­tain lion, black bear, coy­ote, and bobcat.

Chico Seed Orchard

The habi­tat: Oak wood­land and riparian

Orig­i­nal­ly known as the Plant Intro­duc­tion Sta­tion with the pur­pose of plant breed­ing research and plant intro­duc­tion from all over the world, today the Chico Seed Orchard pro­duces plants for projects such as refor­esta­tion, wild­fire recov­ery, water­shed restora­tion, fish­eries, ripar­i­an habi­tat for threat­ened and endan­gered species, oak wood­land restora­tion, and more. The trees and plants from around the world pro­vide shelter for 200 species of bird through­out the year.

Feath­er Riv­er Fish Hatchery

Locat­ed on a scenic stretch of the Feath­er Riv­er just below Oroville Dam, this hatch­ery offers stun­ning scenery, an under­wa­ter win­dow view of fish using the fish lad­der, close-up views of Chi­nook salmon and steel­head spawn­ing and rear­ing, and oppor­tu­ni­ties to see fish spawn nat­u­ral­ly in the riv­er grav­els below the hatch­ery. The Feath­er Riv­er Fish Hatch­ery han­dles 30 mil­lion eggs, 15 mil­lion fin­ger­lings, and 17,000 adult salmon and steel­head annu­al­ly. Approx­i­mate­ly 20 per­cent of the ocean sport and com­mer­cial catch orig­i­nates here. Best view­ing will be dur­ing the salmon spawn­ing sea­son (mid-Sep­tem­ber to Novem­ber) and steel­head spawn­ing sea­son (late Novem­ber to Feb­ru­ary 1). Find oth­er wildlife view­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties along the Feath­er Riv­er, where you’ll enjoy views of water­fowl, wad­ing birds, song­birds, birds of prey, and small mammals.

Butte County Watchable Wildlife

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

Pre­mi­um site: worth vis­it­ing if you have lim­it­ed time; inter­pre­tive pro­grams and/​or dis­plays, well-devel­oped facilities

The habi­tat: 35% upland, 5% per­ma­nent wet­land, 60% sea­son­al wet­land, 5% ripar­i­an, plus deliv­ery ditch, nat­ur­al slough, and creek banks.

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is a spec­tac­u­lar, sea­son­al wetland , locat­ed 5 miles north of the Sut­ter Buttes. Win­ter­ing water­fowl, which includes over a mil­lion ducks and more than 100,000 Ross’ and snow geese, enjoy loaf­ing on the shal­low ponds of this 9,200-acre wildlife area. Occa­sion­al­ly, muskrats and riv­er otters are seen swim­ming through the deep­er water­ways. The upland fields and tree-lined canals pro­vide habi­tat for war­blers, red-shoul­dered hawks, ring-necked pheas­ants, tri­col­ored black­birds and much more. You may even spot some of the noc­tur­nal life, such as barn owls and black-tailed mule deer, some of which are albino.

Sacra­men­to Riv­er Nation­al Wildlife Refuge

The habi­tat: Butte County’s part of the Sacra­men­to River Nation­al Wildlife Refuge is the Pine Creek Unit, which con­sists of 141 acres of native grass­es and 423 acres of mixed ripar­i­an forest

The Sacra­men­to Riv­er is an impor­tant breed­ing area for migra­to­ry song­birds and oth­er migra­to­ry and res­i­dent land­birds. This riv­er is also an impor­tant migra­tion cor­ri­dor that pro­vides stopover rest­ing and feed­ing habi­tat for birds that breed in the near­by north­ern Sier­ra Neva­da and south­ern Cas­cade foothills and moun­tains. Many mam­malian species are year-round res­i­dents of the Refuge. Fish species occur at the Refuge in the main chan­nel, sloughs, oxbow lakes, and on the inun­dat­ed flood­plain. Vis­i­tors to the Pine Creek Unit can enjoy about 2 miles of trails, acces­si­ble by foot or boat.

Cal­i­for­nia Wildlife Pho­to of the Year Contest

Cal­i­for­nia Watch­able Wildlife admin­is­ters the annu­al Cal­i­for­nia Wildlife Pho­to of the Year Con­test. Pho­tos can be present or past, but must have been tak­en in Cal­i­for­nia, includ­ing the wilds of Butte County.

The con­test has five sub­mis­sion entry peri­ods, begin­ning in Jan­u­ary and end­ing Octo­ber 31. The final judg­ing peri­od, Novem­ber – Decem­ber, is reserved for select­ing the Pho­to of the Year. Learn more about this annu­al con­test at Cal­i­for­nia Watch­able Wildlife and sub­mit your Butte Coun­ty pho­tos for your chance to win!