Head Home Previous Next Last

Bird Land

Nida Spalding loves to read, travel, and spend time with family and friends. She believes that curiosity and persistence are key to happiness and success.

I asked my husband, "When did we Bird Land for the first time?" He replied, "I don't remember. I took my bike down there. I was talking with an old guy about mountain lions." 

"Mountain lions? Did he see one there?" I asked. 

"No," he said. "A mountain lion was seen somewhere near Lodi. When they are not feeling good and are too weak to hunt, they start looking for pets."

We were talking about the Cosumnes River Preserve, located 20 miles south of Sacramento. The Sacramento Regional Parks website states that this nature preserve "encompasses and protects thousands of acres of wetlands and adjacent uplands. These lands once considered insect-ridden, unattractive and even dangerous, today are recognized as beautiful places with important roles in local and global ecology."

According to Wikipedia, Cosumnes River is the "last free-flowing river in California's Central Valley," and "located on the bird migration route, the Pacific Flyway. The preserve is designated as an important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy and National Audubon Society."

One glorious Thanksgiving Day, we were there.  The sun was out. I remember feeling the sun's yellow rays on my skin. I closed my eyes and turned toward the sun, as I often do, feeling the sun on my eyelids.

Eyes closed, I saw red, my eyes feeling instantly rejuvenated. Around my face, I felt the coolness of a slight fall breeze. I opened my eyes and stood there awestruck by the birds blanketing the expanse of the wetlands. They were migrating. Bird watchers, with their fancy binoculars and cameras, looked jazzed.

"Have a look," the man with a floppy hat, said, looking at my son, offering his binoculars. My son, then 12 years old, obliged. I accepted a well-dressed lady's invitation to peer into her camera on a tripod. My husband patiently waited, then nudged us towards the Boardwalk Trail.


So began our love affair with the Cosumnes River Preserve. Since then, we call the place "Bird Land."  It's one of the places we go as a family to get out of the house. "Nature heals the brain." I often say. I remind my son how much he enjoyed climbing trees and running around in parks.

Nature trips trigger a picture in my mind of my son chasing his Dad on trails. Nowadays, he still comes with us on drives to the preserve. But lately, he parks himself outside the Visitor Center, with his smart phone.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Visitor Center is temporarily closed. On our first visit, we went inside to look at the exhibits. Outside is a 400 square foot deck overlooking an expanse of oak trees. Once, we looked under the deck and I marveled at the sturdy construction, immediately thinking of my Dad.  A skilled carpenter and a stickler for quality work, Dad would have appreciated the craftsmanship.

On the wall outside the Visitor Center is a chalkboard where guests can list wildlife they saw. We don't bother with the list. I am usually looking at the time, thinking, how long before my husband or son will say, "Shall we go?" I often wish they would not be in such a hurry to go home.

Throughout the year, we come back to this preserve to take nature walks. In the summer months, this is a cool, welcome respite. In the spring, the place bursts into life. In 2021, for sure, we will still be coming here. My son will be 20 years old. My fervent hope is that we will take longer walks, quit rushing, hear the trees. Will you join us, Son?

~ Nida Spalding






Last page
Next page
Previous page
Home page