Having lived my entire life in the Sacramento Valley, coupled with more than 20 years working with farmers, I have seen a lot of interesting sites on the roads less traveled in the North State. I consider a recent encounter in Yuba County as among the top of the list.
I was in the Marysville area to chronicle the rice harvest. While driving my truck on a small road adjacent to the rice field, out flew an absolutely magnificent bird.
I knew I had something special in my sights. Owls are among the favorite birds on the planet and I had one about 15 feet away in a rice field and in broad daylight no less. Fortunately I have my cameras pretty much ready to go and was able to take this photo.
I later learned that this is a male Short-eared Owl. It was out in the afternoon most likely looking for lunch. This species is one of the only owls that hunt by day as well as at night. I was also fortunate to shoot some video of this dramatic bird.
I’ve heard from many rice farmers that Burrowing Owls are no stranger in and around the rice fields. However, this Short-eared Owl was a revelation for me. A real thrill in the countryside and one more reason to keep the rice fields going strong – providing a home for nearly 230 wildlife species.
Jim Morris is Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission. Jim has worked in communications for more than 20 years. When he’s not on the job, he enjoys his family, faith, football, outrageous monster stories and running marathons.