Traveling back home from a California Burrowing Owl Consortium meeting last week, I stopped at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, which is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex just north of Sacramento. I didn’t really have time to stop, but as I was passing by, I saw hundreds of American White Pelicans fly up and thought I’d better take a drive through and see what else was there.

I spotted a Eurasian Wigeon amongst the American Wigeon right out of the gate, but that wasn’t the best sighting of the day. On the way out I spotted a lone White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) engaged in behavior I had not seen before. It was foraging in breast deep water.

Being winter, this bird is in non-breeding plumage with more brown upper parts and lacking the white face it acquires in its aternate (breeding) plumage.

I have seen Ibis foraging in flooded fields and mudflats but not in water this deep (click on photos to see full sized images).

I watched it for quite awhile as it stuck its head and neck completely under water while foraging.

After several minutes of this deep water foraging behavior, this White-faced Ibis made its way toward me into more shallow water

Posed for a little while, and then began to preen

I’m glad I took the time to visit Colusa National Wildlife Refuge on this day.  You never know what you might see!

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.