Nature Blog

Ask a Naturalist: How do flowers get their color?

April 27, 2021

Flowers are well known for their brilliant, vibrant beauty. They all come in different shapes, sizes, and colors (as well as a combination of colors). Learn how flowers get their color and what other factors contribute to their coloration.

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Ask a Naturalist: Are black widows dangerous?

March 02, 2021

Often when we think of black widows, we believe their bites are deadly as rattlesnakes. Truth is, while they can be dangerous, fatal bites are not that common (it's still important to seek immediate medical attention after a bite). Learn more about this spider and how to stay safe around them.

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Ask a Naturalist: Are spiders insects?

February 09, 2021

Spiders are sometimes mistaken for a type of insect. While they do have some similarities, there are some major differences. Learn how spiders are not an insect in this week's Ask a Naturalist article!

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IUCN Red List: The Extinction and Recovery List

January 30, 2021

Extinction is a somber topic, but it’s one we must take seriously in order to preserve the health and well-being of our planet. It’s imperative to explore these extinctions closely to understand what happened, and what can be done to prevent more loss.

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IUCN Red List: Bees Threatened

January 28, 2021

Bees are a lifeline for our ecosystems. As pollinators, bees are critical to the survival of plant species. Learn the threats they face and what you can do to help protect them!

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IUCN Red List: Turtles Under Threat

January 23, 2021

Turtles are an important, and sometimes unrecognized, part of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Learn how they are so crucial in maintaining healthy habitats, the threats they face, and ways you can help protect them!

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IUCN Red List: Amphibians in Danger

January 21, 2021

Frogs, newts, salamanders, and other amphibians are a crucial part of our environment, but in the last several decades, over 120 amphibian species have gone extinct just due to human activity. Learn about what threats face them and how you can help conserve and safeguard their habitats!

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IUCN Red List: Freshwater Dolphins Endangered

January 16, 2021

Many think of dolphins as only ocean-dwelling mammals. While most dolphins do live in saltwater habitats, there are species that live in freshwater streams such as rivers. Learn about the world's freshwater dolphins, why they're at risk, and why salmon and steelhead trout conservation is an important part of their survival.

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IUCN Red List: California Spotted Owl at Risk

January 14, 2021

There are many different species of owls that reside in the big, beautiful trees of California. The towering, secluded shrubbery provides the perfect home for our mostly nocturnal friends. Learn about the importance of the California Spotted Owl, what threats they face in the wild, and how we can help protect them!

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IUCN Red List: Giant Garter Snakes are Vulnerable

January 07, 2021

While snakes are not always regarded as cute or adorable, they are still incredible animals that play an important role to the ecosystem. Learn about the Giant Garter Snake, what threatens their population, and ways you can help protect them!

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IUCN Red List: Oak Trees Under Threat

January 02, 2021

When we hear a species is endangered, we often think of an animal. But trees and other plants also face this danger, especially the oak. Learn about what oaks contribute to the ecosystem and why they're at risk.

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IUCN Red List: What is the Red List?

December 30, 2020

What exactly do we mean when we say "threatened" or "endangered" species? Who defines whether an animal is threatened or endangered? Learn all about the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), their purpose and goal, as well as explore their Red List of Threatened Species.

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Ask a Naturalist: Is an opossum a rodent?

December 29, 2020

With its long rat-like tail and its rat-like nose, opossums are often thought to be a rodent. The truth is, they're a part of an entirely different species of animals. Learn more about these incredible animals and the type of animal that they are!

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Ask a Naturalist: What is an amphibian?

November 24, 2020

There are so many types of animals living on this planet: mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and more! But what about amphibians? What exactly are these slimy or bumpy little critters and what makes them so interesting?

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Ask a Naturalist: Can you help this injured animal that I found?

November 03, 2020

We're often asked what should be done if you find an injured animal. Like you, we want to help that animal, but there are a few things to be aware of when approaching a wild animal in need of help and ways to keep both the animal and yourself safe. Check out our latest Ask a Naturalist to find out what to do if you find an injured animal.

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Ask a Naturalist: What is echolocation?

October 29, 2020

Ever wonder how bats are able to hunt at night or how dolphins are able to locate objects near and far? They use echolocation! Learn all about what echolocation is and how certain animals use it to survive in their habitat. Create by creating your own sound experiment at home and then activate by testing how well you can pinpoint the location of a sound while blindfolded!

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Ask a Naturalist: How do salmon know how to return to their birthplace?

October 27, 2020

Dive into the incredible world of salmon and discover their amazing life cycle. Born in the river, they make their way to the ocean before returning to their birthplace when it's time to spawn. Learn how they're able to navigate the vast ocean to find their way home, create, and activate in this latest Ask a Naturalist!

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It's Fruiting Season

July 17, 2020

The path is dusty and hot, the grass is dry and most of the flowers are gone, but now is actually the most bountiful season in our Nature Study Area. It is fruiting season! Take a walk with EYNC Docent Mary Louise Flint and discover a dozen of the fruit you might see in these hot summer months!

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Ask a Naturalist: Is that a lobster in the river?

July 09, 2020

When you are at the river, you may come across a critter that tries to look threatening with its two pincerlike claws raised up at you ready to pinch at any moment to protect itself. It looks like a lobster! But is it a lobster?

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Ask a Naturalist: What is the difference between venomous and poisonous?

June 16, 2020

We regularly overhear visitors saying that Natoma (the rattlesnake) is a “poisonous snake” when, in fact, she is venomous! So, that leads us to our big question: what is the difference between venomous and poisonous? Find out the answer, draw rattlesnake patterns, and explore the world of toxic biology on this edition of Ask A Naturalist!

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Wood Ducks

May 14, 2020

Have you seen wood ducks in the Nature Study Area? Even if you didn't know what they were at the time, the answer is most likely yes. View the Nature Center's wood ducks through the lens of photojournalist Larry Klink, and discover where you are likely to see these stunning birds!

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Ask a Naturalist: What are Oak Galls?

April 23, 2020

Ever notice those little pink bumps on oak leaves, or those growths that look a little like an apple? Those are oak galls! Learn about what causes these fascinating formations and discover a couple of fun ways to use oak galls in your crafts. Read more...

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Ask a Naturalist: Why do birds build different types of nests?

April 16, 2020

A popular question we hear around the Nature Center is: “What kind of nest is this?” Most of the time we are able to identify the nest simply by the size and by the materials used and construction of the nest. So why do some birds build their nests in different shapes with different materials? Read more...

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A Few Tips to Begin Exploring Nature in Your Neighborhood

April 08, 2020

Sacramento County parks will be closed this weekend (April 11 + 12, 2020), so why not explore the natural world in your own neighborhood? Here are a few ideas to get you started learning about the plants, bugs, birds, and mammals that live with you everyday!

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Ask a Naturalist: How do I identify Poison Oak?

March 26, 2020

A commonly asked question that our naturalists hear at the Nature Center is "how do I identify poison oak?" Naturalist, Kelly Seck, has the answer in our first online edition of Ask a Naturalist! Each post will include information and various media inviting you to Create, Activate, and check out a related resource with more fascinating details.

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Turkey Vultures

February 05, 2020

The turkey vulture is a common raptor seen at the Nature Center, but raptors are birds of prey meaning they are great hunters. Turkey vultures scavenge and eat carrion. How can they be a raptor?

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Where are all the reptiles?

January 23, 2020

January is an amazing time for spotting birds at Effie Yeaw, but where are all the reptiles? Snakes, pond turtles and lizards are nowhere in sight. Read more...

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2019 ARNHA Wildlife Count Results Are In!

January 13, 2020

ARNHA Wildlife Count volunteers were out in full force on the weekend of December 7th-8th to document bird and wildlife populations found along the Lower American River. Twelve teams, including 1 team in a canoe, counted 13,894 birds in 121 species (plus 13 taxa), and other animal species. See the details of their efforts and an exciting raptor observation.

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At the Elderberry Bush

January 09, 2020

Blue elderberry is a important shrub (or small tree) for people and wildlife in California. Learn more about this useful and fascinating plant! And take a peek at some avian enthusiasm for these berries.

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Canada Geese

December 23, 2019

Canada geese are beautiful birds that have become so commonplace that we often ignore them or even consider them a nuisance; however, they are actually very interesting birds.

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Soap Plant: A Plant with Many Forms and Many Uses

December 12, 2019

What are those very tall, straw-colored, dead-looking plants in the meadow along the Main Trail near the river? They weren’t there when you walked by last spring. These tall sticks are the autumn form or last stage in the annual cycle of...

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A Year in the Life of Deer

October 22, 2019

Photographer and blogger Larry Klink photographed the Nature Center's deer over the past year. Take a look at what he discovered!

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These Spiders Don't Spin Webs

October 09, 2019

Spiders without webs! Last time we took a look at how to use spider webs as a clue to a spider's identity. Did you know that some spiders don't spin webs? Learn more about these fascinating creatures here!

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In Search of Spiders

September 04, 2019

The easiest way to spot a spider is by looking for their webs. Did you know that web characteristics are a good clue to its builder's identity!

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Wild Turkeys

August 13, 2019

"Whooooooaaaaaah, Birdzillas!" a young camper said as a group of Wild Turkeys cruised by the Visitor's Center. Learn more about these large birds. What do they eat? Where do they sleep? How did they get to California?

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Poison Oak: Leaves of Three---Let It Be

July 24, 2019

Poison oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum, is often associated with the nasty rash that can result from contact with it. Did you know that this attractive plant serves as an important food source for deer, squirrels, and many birds?

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Wandering at Effie Yeaw Nature Center

July 10, 2019

Photographer and blogger Larry Klink spends many mornings wandering the trails of the Effie Yeaw Nature Study Area. He says, "For me, walking the trails and photographing the things I see allows me to connect with nature in simple, every day, matters of life".

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Lady Beetle Season

June 14, 2019

Late spring is a glorious time for lady beetle lovers. Why? Because aphid populations are at their peak, and aphids are the prime food for the red and black lady beetles most people are likely to recognize.

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Birds of a Different Feather

May 23, 2019

The Wild Turkey and the Mallard are familiar to most of us.; In fact, their markings make them instantly recognizable, but, like all animals, there are variations.

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Western Tussock Moth Caterpillar

May 07, 2019

May is a good time to observe western tussock moth caterpillars.You can find these colorful and hairy caterpillars chewing holes in leaves on oaks and many other trees on our nature reserve in spring. Their scientific name is Orgyia vetusta.

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Squirrels of Effie Yeaw

April 15, 2019

Discover the squirrels of Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Squirrels are a common site on the Nature Preserve. The 2 varieties most often seen are...

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Eek! Earthworms on the Grinding Rock

March 25, 2019

On March 4, I arrive at the Maidu Village to help Effie Yeaw Nature Center's Lead Naturalist, Brena Seck, clean the grinding rock, and there are worms everywhere. Why do we keep finding worms in the water-filled grinding holes?

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Those Little Brown Birds for Beginners

March 13, 2019

When you walk through Effie Yeaw Nature Center, you’ll notice a lot of bird activity. The acorn woodpeckers and jays make their noisy presence known. Wild Turkeys roam the grounds, Hawks and Turkey Vultures can be seen perched or circling. But what about those little brown and gray birds that are always flitting around from tree to tree?

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What's that Green Stuff Covering the Pond?

February 19, 2019

We have two ponds at Effie Yeaw, the Nature Study Pond at the southeast corner of the reserve and the smaller pond in the Maidu Village at our entryway. Both ponds are covered with mats of tiny plants. Often these plants make it difficult to even see the water surface.

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Birds Frequently Seen at Effie Yeaw Nature Center

February 07, 2019

As you travel through the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, there are a few birds that are common and easy to spot. For those new two birding, learning to identify these birds and their favorite places and foods is a great way to begin!

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What's That Hole in my Acorn?

January 22, 2019

Have you ever picked up an acorn and found a tiny hole in it? Did you wonder what made the hole? Read the blog to learn all about the critter creating tiny holes in your acorns!

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Salmon Run

December 18, 2018

From mid-autumn through about year end, the Chinook or King Salmon make their run into rivers along the Pacific Coast to spawn. Read about this amazing process...

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Under the Mistletoe

December 04, 2018

Did you hang a mistletoe branch over your entryway this holiday season? You don’t need to nail mistletoe over your door to grab a kiss. Just take a hike in our nature preserve.

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Story from the Trails

August 14, 2018

This summer our campers enrolled the Animal Caretakers nature camp encountered an unexpected critter on the trails.

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Monarch Butterflies and You!

April 03, 2018

You may have seen Monarch butterflies and caterpillars at the Nature Center and other places around Sacramento. But do you see them in your own yard? Learn how you can attract and help conserve this amazing species!

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2017 ARNHA Wildlife Count Results Are In!

December 20, 2017

This year ARNHA Wildlife Count volunteers were out in full force to document bird and wildlife populations found along the Lower American River. Twelve teams, including 1 team in a canoe, counted 14,326 birds in 119 species, and other animal species. See their details of their efforts and some exciting wildlife observations.

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Spring is just arriving

March 30, 2017

Spring is just arriving, and the trees and shrubs here at the preserve are starting to wake up! From the moment you step foot on the sidewalk approaching the visitor center, you can see a whole host of diverse native trees and shrubs exploding with new life.

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The Antlions of Effie Yeaw

September 01, 2016

Imagine the existence of a predatory creature that will grab its prey from beneath the ground, just below their feet, and drag them below the earth to devour them. Such a creature sounds like a monster from science fiction and horror, but this thing is real! It is real!! And it lives at Effie Yeaw!

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The Wood Ducks of Effie Yeaw

January 23, 2016

The wood duck is another iconic North American animal that we are fortunate to find in the Effie Yeaw nature preserve. The beauty of the wood duck has inspired stories in the oral traditions of Native Peoples as well has being a common theme found in American folk art. Hand painted wood duck decoys are a popular item among collectors.

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Black Ops Squirrels

December 26, 2015

Reported sightings from visitors of small shadowy black furred creatures inhabiting the woods surrounding Effie Yeaw have increased during the month of December. Recently a woman came into the Nature Center and recounted that she and her grandson had witnessed a small black skunk quickly scurrying up and down tree trunks and leaping across branches!

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The Deer, the Vultures and the Coyotes

November 27, 2015

I couldn’t sleep. I looked through the dark at the time; just after 4am. I wanted to go to Effie Yeaw early that morning to do some wandering before open, but not at 4am. For the record, I am far from being a morning person. Nevertheless I had my alarm set for 5am. For me to try falling back asleep now for less than an hour would be a futile effort, so with a groan I dragged myself out of bed and quietly in the dark I got dressed.

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Turkeys in the Mist

November 25, 2015

Recently I was talking with Phil Stone at Effie Yeaw, a long time friend of the Nature Center and local photographer. He told me he had been walking in the field opposite the golf course on Tarshes Drive when he noticed a nicely dressed family gathered to pose for an outdoor family photo. The family was ready for the photo and smiling for the camera when three Tom Turkeys came running at them in fury.

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The Screech Owl on the Main Trail

October 30, 2015

Alright, I'm excited to write about this next animal that is living wild in the preserve. This pint sized ghost of the woods has a lot of personality packed into a little bad ass ball of fluff. This entry is about the western screech owl! Megascops kennicotti. Aka: ghost owl, the cat owl, and little horned owl.

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October 17, 2015

I like to explore the preserve after a good rain; it is when the riparian woods are the most alive. After last night and this morning’s much needed rain shower I was excited to go out and see what was new. I didn’t even make it to the first big granary tree on the main trail before I noticed something was…weird.

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Anna's Hummingbirds at Effie Yeaw

October 15, 2015

There is a cottonwood tree close to the river, past where the observation trail fades into cobbles; the bare forked top branches have long been the favorite perch for a certain male Anna’s Hummingbird. The sight of this hummer has been a consistent and reliable one that I’ve come to enjoy keeping an eye out for when taking this trail to the river.

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Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia

October 04, 2015

Perhaps not our most cute and cuddly critter, but there is definitely a coolness and fascination factor to these spiders of enormous size that I couldn't pass up. I mean, I wouldn't want to find one in my house, but observing them in the preserve I think is pretty cool. Last Friday I was at the nature study pond with Paul and a local eagle scout surveying for a cattail removal service project that will allow visitors to actually see the pond

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Cedar Waxwings

September 30, 2015

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year to spend outdoors. The American Parkway becomes a beautiful and different world to visit altogether. Not only do the sights and smells change, but you can also hear the calls and songs of migratory birds, announcing the change of season with their arrival.

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Coyotes in the Preserve

September 17, 2015

This entry is about one of the most talked about animals of the preserve and one of the most controversial animals of North America, el coyote!, canis latrans, aka: the prairie wolf, brush wolf, American jackal, and the trickster.

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