It’s hard to miss the huge downtown banner – California Duck Days is coming to Davis.
Starting Friday night with a free evening welcome reception at the Davis Art Center and continuing all day Saturday with day trips throughout the area, California Duck Days is the one of the oldest wildlife festivals run by the Yolo Basin Foundation.
Yolo Basin Foundation event coordinator Ann Brice said she encourages families, young people and students alike to come out and see local wildlife found in nearby wetlands.
“We are in the heart of the Pacific Flyway,” Brice said. “It is a great spectacle.”
Seventeen field trips are planned throughout the region and expected to bring out 500 participants. Events and activities will begin at the Yolo Wildlife Area Headquarters in South Davis by the Putah Creek undercrossing.
The evening before the day of trips and workshops, a free welcome reception at the Davis Art Center kicks off Duck Days. The California Rice Commission will donate sushi at the reception, Brice said.
Starting in the early 1990s, Duck Days used to be a three-day festival, said Brice. Now, the event is packed into one day- rain or shine.
New to this year’s festival is a decoy carving class.
Jim Burcio, master carver at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association, will lead a three-hour carving seminar, and the PFDA will also have a booth to share more information about what he calls an overlooked art.
“Nowadays people carve all types of birds. It’s an art expression,” Burcio said. “[I started carving] 36 years ago and I’m still carving.”
Other trips include a birding for beginners trip and an owl trip that the Yolo Audubon Society hosts annually at Duck Days. Yolo Audubon Society vice president and programs chair Mary Schiedt said Duck Days provides great activities, lectures, talks and even fishing for kids.
“[Duck Days] promotes awareness of the whole environment in the Central Valley,” she said. “The emphasis is to get people intrigued.”
Cache Creek Conservancy has participated in Duck Days for the past four years. Their educational coordinator will lead a tour through the Jan T. Lowrey Cache Creek Nature Preserve, said Lynnel Pollock, executive director of Cache Creek Conservancy.
“People who come out are interested in birding,” Pollock said. “We have wetlands with lots of birds and ducks.”
To wrap up Duck Days, the California Waterfowl Association’s Davis chapter hosts a dinner at the Davis Veterans Memorial Center. This will be their 14th year at Duck Days, said California Waterfowl Association volunteer Laura Defty.
Along with the cost of a dinner ticket, a silent and live auction will help raise money to restore wetlands and keep waterfowl habitats safe from hunters. About 200 people have come in the past to help the conservation effort and enjoy the evening.
“Duck Days is getting more and more popular,” Defty said.
For more information, or to register for Duck Day trips and events, go to yolobasin.org.
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at email@example.com.