Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

California Wood Duck

It’s a beautiful day out at the creek. You’re relaxing under the shade of a cottonwood and you hear a rustle above you, what could it be? You look up to see that it’s no other than the breathtaking Wood Duck! This flamboyant, tree dwelling waterfowl can be found throughout most parts of Northern America, but don’t let its prevalence make you think it’s not special!

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vulture

The sky above Putah Creek is home to an array of beautiful bird species, but there are definitely some that are prettier than others. In the land of beautiful bald eagles and ravishing red tailed hawks, the Turkey Vulture may seem a little — uh — ugly.

Great Valley Gumweed (Grindelia camporum)

Great Valley Gumweed

If you’re familiar with California flora then you’re likely to know of the Great Valley gumweed (AKA gumplant): the small plant with daisy-like flowers that seems to grow everywhere in the central valley.

Colors of the Creek

Oak galls

As the temperatures drop and the days become shorter the creek will start to show some of its impressive autumn colors. The vibrant, green shades of summer have already begun their transition to the yellows and reds of fall. These colors come from many sources, but the ones we’d like to highlight are the leaves and the galls.

Creekside Fire Ecology

Creekside ecology

Fire is a part of life for the plants and animals of California. Most species have developed special adaptations to live through the periodic cycles of burns and in fact some require it.

Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)

Gopher snake

Putah Creek is home to one of the region’s largest snakes. The Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer) can attain lengths up to 8 feet long. Feeding primarily on rodents and other small animals this snake should be considered a good friend.

Manroot (Marah fabaceous)

Manroot

One of our earliest seasonally flowering species is a vine called the “Manroot” (Marah fabaceus). This perennial flowering plant vine is a native cucumber in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae).

The Endochory Story

Endochory

Did you ever wonder why blackberries grow right along the trail? Endochory is the term used to describe when seeds are ingested (but not digested) by an animal and then pass the seeds through the intestines.