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February 12, 2016
North America's fastest land animal returns to Sierra Valley
Conserving habitat for pronghorn and birds
Pronghorns in Sierra Valley
Pronghorn are returning to Sierra Valley! Photo by Will Richardson

Pronghorn are coming back to Sierra Valley! You might see them as you drive along Highway 70 between Vinton and Beckwourth. And together with you and forward thinking landowners, we're working to conserve the habitat that sustains them. Found only in North America, Pronghorn face risks of habitat loss, fencing (they don't jump fences) and highways, and drought.

Pronghorn are North America's fastest land mammal. Did you know they can run well over 50 miles per hour? Second only to the cheetah in speed, Pronghorn can sustain their speeds for much longer, leading some paleontologists to surmise that they developed their speed and stamina over millennia to outrun the now-extinct North American "cheetah" ( read more about that debate here).

Yellow-headed Blackbird in Sierra Valley
Yellow-headed Blackbird in Sierra Valley. 
Andrew Wright, Lighthawkphoto
while we don't know for sure why Pronghorn are so darn fast, we  do know that they need large landscapes to survive, and it's exciting that they are returning to Sierra Valley. When you help FRLT conserve family ranches, grasslands, meadows and wetlands, you also conserve important habitat for Pronghorn and other wildlife. 

What else might you see in Sierra Valley?
In addition to the grass/scrublands that Pronghorn love, Sierra Valley has the largest system of wetlands in the Sierra Nevada. These wetlands host more than 230 species of birds, including Greater Sandhill Cranes, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, White-faced Ibis, and in the winter, the highest concentration of hawks and other raptors you're likely to see in the Sierra.

Where can you see them? A great place to start is FRLT's Maddalena Ranch, with its trail and wildlife viewing platform. Learn more.

Fun wildlife sightings in American Valley
In Quincy?  Take a walk on the Leonhardt Ranch Learning Landscape
A few years ago, you helped us conserve the Leonhardt Ranch Learning Landscape
in American Valley, protecting a working ranch, important wildlife habitat, scenic open space, and an outdoor classroom for Quincy schools.

Did you know you're invited to visit during non-school hours? Come take a stroll and take in great views of American Valley, Spanish Peak, a beautiful barn, and lots of wildlife.

From beavers to birds, the Leonhardt Ranch is a great place to enjoy wildlife viewing. With the high water in January, that playful North American River Otter even made an appearance. 

River Otter on Quincy Learning Landscape
The "funnest" -- A river otter visits the Leonhardt Ranch Learning Landscape in Quincy. Photo by Vanessa Vasquez

Here are a few fun sightings already in 2016:
  • Western bluebirds
  • River otter
  • A Red-tailed Hawk swooping down on a Great Blue Heron (until it realized what it was!)
  • A flock of Northern Flickers
  • Black Phoebes, doing that flycatcher flight
  • Greater White-fronted Goose
  • Hundreds of Canada Geese
Very soon, that ancient bird, the Greater Sandhill Crane will appear to nest. Listen for its distinctive rattling bugle. And in the spring, the willows will fill with Red-winged Blackbirds and their song.

How to access:
The community is invited to access the property from Quincy Junction Road, across from the Quincy High School playing fields (see photo and map here). The entrance from the bike path is solely for school use.

Learn more about the Leonhardt Learning Landscape here. Thank you for conserving wild habitat for wildlife and kids!

A poem to nurture the Wild in you
The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry
Black-crowned Night Heron by Andrew Wright of Lighthawkphoto
Black-crowned Night Heron in Sierra Valley. Andrew Wright, Lighthawkphoto
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life 
and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~Wendell Berry

More ways to connect and learn!
Western Tanager by Ryan Burnett
FRLT's Facebook Page
19th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count
Join the Fun: February 12-16, 2016
In just 15 minutes in your own backyard or park, you can join 100,000 people worldwide in a fun four-day count. Upload your results online and help create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of wild birds.  Find out how to participate here.
Join the Party on Facebook
More wildlife sightings, news, and friends

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