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A Winter drive may be rainy – we farmers hope—and cool, but you will be treated to the sweet song of the Western Meadowlark, yellow-breasted and speckle-feathered in the fields and meadows in late winter, as the Golden Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks soar overhead, hunting for Cottontails and Jackrabbits in the fields.
In early winter, most of the blossoms are gone, but the Kinglets are Golden- and Ruby-crowned and the Sparrows are White- and Yellow-crowned to add a bit of color to the gray skies and brown landscape. Farmers spend the winter praying for rain, harvesting leafy greens, and watching their grain and hay crops grow.
A Spring drive through the Capay Valley will mean abundant blossoms, birds and insects, of course.
Farmers will be tending to almond crops, harvesting hayfields, and planting tomatoes. Be wary driving at night as the owls, both Barn and Great Horned, will swoop down into your headlights, mistaking them for the infra-red orbs they see as rodents with their night vision.
While looking up, look for the Western Kingbirds and Bullock’s Orioles, both arriving in Spring – and you are sure to see Long-billed Curlews and White-faced Ibis in abundance in the irrigated fields in late spring and into summer.
To get a closer look at the flowers and gardens in the Capay Valley, join in the annual Mother’s Day Garden Tour.
A Summer drive will be filled with the squawk of Brewer’s black birds and our Bi-color, or Red-winged black bird and you may be lucky to see the magical display of Starlings, entertaining as they communicate and ward off predators through “murmuration,” a synchronized swarm-dance over the fields.
With birds flying overhead, the farmers are busily harvesting melons, tomatoes, beans, stone fruit, and sunflowers. Walnuts and almond are maturing on their trees, and many of the cattle overwintered in the Capay Valley have moved north to chew the sweet Oregon grass for the summer.
Swallows swoop out from under bridges and eaves of old barns while Mallards swim below with their young in the creeks and canals. Live music fills the weekend nights at the historic saloons in Capay and Guinda and the outdoor concerts at the casino in Brooks have a backdrop-view across the beautiful valley floor.
And magical Dragonflies! Swarms of them—which is a good thing, as it means they are eating the pesky mosquitoes in the air and their larvae in the water!
Celebrate the tomato harvest at Capay Organic’s Capay Tomato Festival.
A Fall drive brings the Mountain Bluebirds, winged sapphires dotting the barbed-wire fence-lines, feasting on our abundant crickets, while
out in the fields and on the creek will be Big Blue Heron and smaller White Egrets looking for amphibian or reptile snacks.
With fall settling in, the farmers are busy harvesting nuts – walnuts and almonds alike. Winter squash, pumpkins, persimmons, and pomegranates are also being harvesting, and leafy greens are making their way back into the fields.
The Acorn Woodpeckers are knocking holes in trees to stash their acorns for winter while their cousins the Northern Flicker and Nuttall’s Woodpecker comb the trees’ bark with long tongues in search of bug nests.
And overhead will be the longing cry of Canada Geese in V-formation; typically a migratory bird, many stay in our area year-round, but their movement is a fall tradition – it says the school year is about to begin and the harvest season draws to a close.
Come to the Capay Valley for the annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival on the first Saturday in October for old fashioned family fun!
By Betsy Monroe and Hallie Muller
The Birds of Capay Valley
Monroe for Sheriff
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