Llano Seco Sign
Entrance sign, restroom, interpretive display and viewing platform (Robin Sigel)

Overview

The Llano Seco Unit of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex is a winter wetland area about 10 to 14 miles south of Chico, depending on your chosen route to get there. This is one of the best public viewing locations, near Chico, for viewing water birds in the fall, winter and early spring months. It is also a great location to pickup some of the migrating shorebirds in the springtime as they head North. Llano Seco has two viewing platforms with handicap access available to the viewing platform closest to the entrance. There is a restroom and a interpretive kiosk at the parking lot. The walk to the back viewing platform is about a half mile on a gravel road.

Most if not all the ponds are dry during the summer months. The filling of the ponds usually begins in October (Back ponds first) and they are full by middle to late November. Llano Seco has an abundance of Pintail Ducks in the winter. American Widgeon are also very Common here. At least one Eurasian Widgeon seems to spend the winter on the front pond and often times, more than one can be spotted. Green-winged Teal seem to like the shallow water at the south-west back corner of the font pond although, on a good day, they may be seen along side the islands closer to the front viewing platform. Osprey may be seen here fishing in the spring as the ponds begin to dry up. Check below for a full list of birds found at this site.

Check on the Altacal Audubon web site for any upcoming field trips to this area.

Birds To Look For

(Mouse over bold names for more information)
C - Common FC - Fairly Common U - Uncommon R - Rare I - Irregular  

Year Round Birds

Year round birds in this location include: Double-crested Cormorant(R), American Bittern(U), Great Blue Heron(FC), Great Egret(FC), Snowy Egret(FC), Cattle Egret(U), Green Heron(R), Black-crowned Night-Heron(FC), White-Faced Ibis(R), Turkey Vulture(C), Canada Goose(FC), Wood Duck(U), Gadwall(C), Mallard(C), Cinnamon Teal(C), Northern Shoveler(C), Northern Pintail(C), Redhead(FC), Osprey(U), White-tailed Kite(U), Bald Eagle(U), Northern Harrier(FC), Sharp-shinned Hawk(U), Cooper's Hawk(U), Northern Goshawk(R), Red-sholdered Hawk(R), Red-tailed Hawk(C), Golden Eagle(R), American Kestrel(C), Peregrine Falcon(R), Prairie Falcon(R), Ring-necked Pheasant(FC), Wild Turkey(R), California Quail(U), Virginia Rail(U), Sora(U), American Coot(C), Killdeer(C), American Avocet(U), Wilson's Snipe(U), Rock Pigeon(R), Mourning Dove(C), Anna's Hummingbird(U), Belted Kingfisher(U), Downy Woodpecker(R), Hairy Woodpecker(R), Northern Flicker(U), Black Phoebe(C), Loggerhead Shrike(FC), Yellow-billed Magpie(U), American Crow(FC), Common Raven(FC), Tree Swallow(C), Bushtit(R), Bewick's Wren(R), Marsh Wren(FC), Western Bluebird(U), American Robin(U), Northern Mockingbird(R), European Starling(FC), Common Yellowthroat(R), Spotted Towhee(R), Lark Sparrow(R), Red-winged Blackbird(C), Tricolored Blackbird(R), Western Meadowlark(C), Yellow-headed Blackbird(U), Brewer's Blackbird(C), Brown-headed Cowbird(FC), House Finch(U), and Lesser Goldfinch(U).

Winter Birds

Birds that winter here include: Pied-Billed Grebe(U), Horned Grebe(R), Eared Grebe(U), Western Grebe(R), Clark's Grebe(R), American White Pelican(R), Greater White-fronted Goose(FC), Snow Goose(FC), Ross's Goose(U), Cackling Goose(R), Tundra Swan(U), Eurasian Wigeon(FC), American Wigeon(C), Blue-winged Teal(R), Green-winged Teal(FC), Canvasback(U), Ring-necked Duck(U), Lesser Scaup(U), Bufflehead(C), Common Goldeneye(U), Hooded Merganser(R), Ruddy Duck(C), Ferruginous Hawk(U), Rough-legged Hawk(R), Merlin(R), Common Moorhen(U), Sandhill Crane(FC), Black-necked Stilt(FC), Greater Yellowlegs(FC), Willet(U), Long-billed Curlew(U), Long-billed Dowitcher(FC), Wilson's Phalarope(U), Ring-billed Gull(U), Say's Phoebe(R), Hermit Thrush(R), American Pipit(FC), Cedar Waxwing(R), Orange-crowned Warbler(R), Yellow-rumped Warbler(U), Savannah Sparrow(FC), Lincoln's Sparrow(U), White-crowned Sparrow(FC), Golden-crowned Sparrow(FC), and Dark-eyed Junco(U).

Summer Birds

Birds that summer and nest here include: Least Bittern(R), Swainson's Hawk(U), Spotted Sandpiper(R), Caspian Tern(R), Forster's Tern(R), Black Tern(R), Lesser Nighthawk(R), Black-chinned Hummingbird(R), Western Wood-Pewee(FC), Ash-throated Flycatcher(U), Western Kingbird(C), Violet-green Swallow(FC), Northern Rough-winged Swallow(U), Cliff Swallow(R), Barn Swallow(FC), Wilson's Warbler(R), Black-headed Grosbeak(U), Blue Grosbeak(U), Great-Tailed Grackle(U), and Bullock's Oriole(U).

Spring Transient Birds

Birds that pass through Llano Seco during the spring or fall migration include: Common Loon(R), Black-bellied Plover(R), Snowy Plover(R), Semipalmated Plover(FC), Vaux's Swift(R), Rufous Hummingbird(R), Willow Flycatcher(R), Hammond's Flycatcher(R), Nashville Warbler(R), and Yellow Warbler(R).

Llano Seco Information

The viewing area is open year round. There is a gate at the entrance but, at the time of writing this, the gate was left open all the time. There are no fees. There is a restroom.

Hazards

There is water and a canal, with steep sides, just before the rear viewing platform so caution should be taken especially with children.

Directions

From Highway 99E in Gridley travel north approximately nine miles, turn west on Highway 162 and travel approximately 12 miles to Road Z. Turn north and travel approximately 11 miles to the Unit entrance. From Chico, take Dayton Road south approximately five miles, turn west onto Ord Ferry Road. Continue west approximately three miles, turn south onto Seven-mile Lane. Travel two miles to the Unit entrance.

Links:

Interactive Area Map

Map (in summer) shows the location of the two viewing platforms and trail. Zoom back to see more of the area.

View Llano Seco Unit in a larger map

More Photos

EurWigeon.jpg
Eurasian Wigeon (Steve King)

Pintail.jpg
Northern Pintail (Steve King)

Harrier.jpg
Northern Harrier (Steve King)

WestSand.jpg
Western Sandpiper (Steve King)