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Overview

The Teichert Ponds are named after the Teichert Construction Company that was involved in the construction of Highway 99 which is adjacent to the ponds. Teichert Co. quarried the gravel from the site for use in the building of the highway. The resultant gravel pits filled with water from an underground aquifer and seepage from Little Chico Creek, and retain water year round. The perpetual water source has created a unique mix of habitats which attract an impressive variety of birds. Bordered by a housing development, a freeway and the Little Chico Creek greenway, this unlikely birding location is an under-appreciated delight in the midst of the Chico urban area.

Access is via a network of residential streets which terminate at a vehicle barrier. A well used trail borders the 3 ponds and numerous spur trails access various point along the ponds and little Chico Creek. Bordering most of the trail is a well developed canopy and understory which, although much of it is non-native, nevertheless provides attractive foraging areas for many species of birds.

Given the attraction of the ponds for wintering passerines, migrating waterfowl and waders; late fall, winter and spring are perhaps the best time to visit. The lush vegetation also provides an attractive stopping point for migrating neotrops.

Beginning at the vehicle barrier at Creek Hollow your first view into the pond area is of numerous tall cottonwoods in various states of growth and decomposition. These trees are used heavily by large flocks of cedar waxwings, European starlings and acorn woodpeckers. Any number of other birds can be found flying in and out of the cottonwoods including: western scrub-jay, yellow-rumped warbler, American and lesser goldfinch, ruby-crowned kinglet, oak titmouse and Anna’s hummingbird. In summer western wood peewees use these dead snags as perches and there is a non-stop aerial display of tree, violet green, northern rough-winged and barn swallows. At the base of these cottonwoods is a semi-dense understory that includes lots of small willows and blackberries, these thickets house many sparrow species and their allies including white-crowned and golden-crowned sparrows, California and spotted towhees, and in early summer a variety of western warblers.

Proceeding west along the trail the cottonwoods give way to scattered small oaks, brambles, small weedy areas, tailing (rock) piles and cattails. Savannah sparrow makes appearances here and the open canopy can reveal a variety which includes many of the above plus American robin and bushtits. In migration selasphorous hummingbirds (assumed to be primarily rufous), black-chinned and possibly Costa’s and calliope should be watched for here. Be aware that the dense thickets on your right sometimes hide homeless encampments, though we are aware of no negative incidents with birders.

As the trail enters a tunnel of mainly deciduous oaks there is more activity overhead; varied thrush can appear is significant numbers in winter and raptors such as Cooper’s hawk and red-shouldered hawk are seen regularly and rarely merlin and great horned owl.

A difficult to discern trail leading into a thicket on your left takes you onto a narrow spit dividing the two ponds. The spit provides a natural hide for viewing osprey, Canada geese, mallard, wood ducks, common moorhen, double crested cormorant, great egret and great blue heron

Back on the main trail the understory becomes more dense and is attractive to song and fox sparrow, Bewicks wren and orange-crowned warbler. Nuttall's and downy woodpecker, northern flickers and rarely hairy woodpecker make appearances here. A short wide spur on the left leads to the edge of a shallow wetland full of red-winged blackbirds, and occasionally green herons. Another 100 feet down the main trail the smallest of the three ponds opens up on your left, here belted kingfishers are regularly seen, while sora and Virginia rail can occasionally be heard .

At the northwest corner of the pond complex an area of non-native vegetation composed largely of pyracantha, ailanthus and Himalayan blackberries and bordered by Little Chico Creek is attractive to yellow, yellow-rumped, orange-crowned and black-throated gray warblers, bushtits, fox and song sparrows. Turning the corner and heading south along an old service road within sight of Highway 99 the main body of the largest pond comes into view. Great views of mixed waterfowl can often yield a rarity such as Eurasian wigeon. Black phoebe and western kingbird forage among the snags while great blue herons and great and snowy egrets pick along the ponds edge. The south end of the lake is the terminus of the trail as the south eastern edge is nearly impenetrable.

Rare Finds In This Area

Eurasian Wigeon observed December 2007.

Directions

From the Highway 32 exit off of Highway 99 turn east towards Forest Ranch/Chester. Proceed approximately 1 mile to Forest Ave. Right on Forest for 1/3 mile, right on Springfield. Take Springfield 1/4 mile to right on Heritage Oak. From Heritage Oak make an immediate left on Bending Oak to Ridgebrook. Right on Ridgebrook to Creek Hollow. Left on Creek Hollow and park near the orange barrier. From the barriers follow gravel roadway that arcs to the right.

Alternately, there is access from the parking lot of a commercial strip mall along Springfield Rd. from which you can walk the above route in reverse.

Difficulty and Hazards

The trail is almost all level with a few cobbled areas, and mud puddles following rainy periods. Walking can be difficult on the narrow spit between the ponds. Poison oak can be a hazard if exploring into the dense brush.

Birds To Look For

(Mouseover bold names for more information)
C - Common FC - Fairly Common U - Uncommon R - Rare I - Irregular H - Hypothethical

Year Round Birds

Year round birds at the Teichert Ponds include: Pied-Billed Grebe(FC), Western Grebe(H), Clark's Grebe(H), Double-crested Cormorant(FC), American Bittern(H), Great Blue Heron(FC), Great Egret(C), Snowy Egret(FC), Green Heron(U), Black-crowned Night-Heron(H), Turkey Vulture(C), Canada Goose(C), Wood Duck(C), Gadwall(U), Mallard(C), Cinnamon Teal(H), Northern Shoveler(R), Northern Pintail(U), Ruddy Duck(H), Osprey(FC), White-tailed Kite(H), Bald Eagle(H), Sharp-shinned Hawk(H), Cooper's Hawk(U), Red-shouldered Hawk(C), Red-tailed Hawk(FC), American Kestrel(FC), California Quail(C), Black Rail(H), Virginia Rail(U), Sora(U), Common Moorhen(U), American Coot(FC), Killdeer(FC), Black-necked Stilt(H), American Avocet(H), Spotted Sandpiper(H), Wilson's Snipe(U), Rock Pigeon(C), Mourning Dove(FC), Barn Owl(H), Western Screech-Owl(H), Great Horned Owl(R), Anna's Hummingbird(C), Belted Kingfisher(C), Lewis's Woodpecker(H), Acorn Woodpecker(C), Red-breasted Sapsucker(H), Nuttall's Woodpecker(C), Downy Woodpecker(C), Hairy Woodpecker(R), Northern Flicker(C), Black Phoebe(C), Loggerhead Shrike(H), Hutton's Vireo(FC), Western Scrub-Jay(C), Yellow-billed Magpie(H), American Crow(C), Common Raven(H), Horned Lark(H), Tree Swallow(C), Oak Titmouse(C), Bushtit(C), White-breasted Nuthatch(FC), Brown Creeper(R), Bewick's Wren(C), Marsh Wren(FC), Ruby Crowned Kinglet(C), Western Bluebird(FC), American Robin(C), Northern Mockingbird(FC), European Starling(C), Phainopepla(H), Common Yellowthroat(U), Spotted Towhee(C), California Towhee(FC), Lark Sparrow(U), Fox Sparrow(FC), Song Sparrow(FC), Lincoln's Sparrow(H), Red-winged Blackbird(C), Western Meadowlark(H), Yellow-headed Blackbird(H), Brewer's Blackbird(FC), Brown-headed Cowbird(FC), Purple Finch(H), House Finch(C), Pine Siskin(H), Lesser Goldfinch(C), Lawrence's Goldfinch(H), American Goldfinch(C), and House Sparrow(C).

Winter Birds

Birds that winter at the Teichert Ponds area include: Horned Grebe(H), Eared Grebe(H), American White Pelican(H), Greater White-fronted Goose(H), Snow Goose(H), Ross's Goose(H), Cackling Goose(H), Tundra Swan(H), Eurasian Wigeon(I), American Wigeon(FC), Blue-winged Teal(H), Green-winged Teal(FC), Canvasback(H), Ring-necked Duck(H), Greater Scaup(H), Lesser Scaup(H), Bufflehead(U), Common Goldeneye(H), Barrow's Goldeneye(H), Hooded Merganser(H), Merlin(R), Greater Yellowlegs(U), Long-billed Dowitcher(H), Ring-billed Gull(C), California Gull(U), Herring Gull(R), Thayer's Gull(H), Glaucous-winged Gull(H), Say's Phoebe(H), Golden-crowned Kinglet(H), Hermit Thrush(FC), Varied Thrush(I), American Pipit(H), Cedar Waxwing(FC), Orange-crowned Warbler(FC), Yellow-rumped Warbler(C), Savannah Sparrow(FC), White-crowned Sparrow(C), Golden-crowned Sparrow(C), and Dark-eyed Junco(U).

Summer Birds

Birds that summer and nest in the Teichert Ponds area include: Least Bittern(H), Wilson's Phalarope(H), Caspian Tern(H), Lesser Nighthawk(H), Vaux's Swift(H), White-throated Swift(H), Black-chinned Hummingbird(R), Costa's Hummingbird(H), Olive-sided Flycatcher(I), Western Wood-Pewee(FC), Hammond's Flycatcher(H), Dusky Flycatcher(H), Pacific-slope Flycatcher(FC), Ash-throated Flycatcher(FC), Western Kingbird(FC), Cassin's Vireo(H), Warbling Vireo(H), Violet-green Swallow(C), Northern Rough-winged Swallow(C), Barn Swallow(C), House Wren(H), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher(U), Swainson's Thrush(H), MacGillivary's Warbler(H), Wilson's Warbler(FC), Yellow-breasted Chat(H), Western Tanager(H), Chipping Sparrow(H), Black-headed Grosbeak(FC), Lazuli Bunting(H), Great-Tailed Grackle(H), Hooded Oriole(H), and Bullock's Oriole(FC).

Spring Transient Birds

Birds that pass through this area during the spring or fall migration include: Common Loon(H), Lesser Yellowlegs(H), Solitary Sandpiper(H), Western Sandpiper(H), Least Sandpiper(H), Dunlin(H), Red-necked Phalarope(H), Bonaparte's Gull(H), Calliope Hummingbird(H), Rufous Hummingbird(U), Allen's Hummingbird(H), Willow Flycatcher(H), Nashville Warbler(H), Yellow Warbler(FC), Black-throated Gray Warbler(FC), Towsend's Warbler(H), and Vesper Sparrow(H).

Fees

No Fees

Facilities

The nearest restrooms are app. ½ mile away at Chico Mall.

Useful Links

 

Area Interactive Map

Teichert Ponds Interactive Map

View Teichert Ponds in a larger map

More Photos

Cottonwoods
Cottonwood Trees (Scott Huber)

Western Wood Pewee
Western Wood Pewee (Scott Huber)

Green Heron
Green Heron (Scott Huber)

Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher (Scott Huber)

Large Pond
Large Pond (Scott Huber)

Large Pond From Spit
Large Pond From the Spit (Scott Huber)

Eurasian Widgeon
Eurasian Widgeon (Liam Huber)

Little Chico Creek
Little Chico Creek (Scott Huber)

Path To Spit
Path to the spit (Scott Huber)

Tules at end of spur
Tules at the end of the spur (Scott Huber)

Tules at first pond
Tules at the first pond (Scott Huber)

Plant Tunnel
Vegitation tunnel (Scott Huber)