In the fall of 2010, the city of Chico completed work on the wastewater treatment plant, which included improved access to the oxidation ponds. For waterfowl in the winter, and just a short distance from downtown Chico, this place can't be beat. The Oxidation Ponds are a great place to bird most anytime of the year. Altacal Audubon (the local Chapter of the Audubon Society) has many field trips to the Oxidation Ponds throughout the year. Check their web site for more information.
The walk to the oxidation ponds from the parking area is about 500 yards or a quarter mile on a flat walkway. This is a very easy walk. In the winter, standing water my accumulate along the low spots of the walkway.
The largest concentration of waterfoul can be found at the Oxidation Ponds in the late fall and winter. It will be full of many species of ducks and, on occasion geese. Spring will bring some migrants to the area. Mostly migrating shorebirds. Thousands of Tree Swallow were seen at the ponds in August of 2010 as well as about 50 Lazuli Buntings. A Yellow-shafted Flicker was seen here in the fall of 2010. In the spring of 2011, a pair of Great-tailed Grackle were nesting. Blue Grosbeak are also found here in the spring. Yellow-headed Blackbirds also nest here.
The oxidation ponds are open to the public year round at 7:00 am. Closing time is; April through September until 9:00 pm and October through March until 7:00 pm
Keep your distance from the ponds. Stay on the roads and paths. In the winter, it can get very muddy. You may consider staying on the graveled trails when it is muddy. Make sure you read the rules at the Kiosk which is at the start of the trail to the ponds.
From highway 32 in Chico, go west on West 5th Street (which becomes Chico River Rd.) for 3.9 miles. The wildlife viewing parking area is 300 yards past the main entrance to the treatment plant.
Participants of an Altacal Audubon Society Field trip scanning the ponds.
Juvenile Great Horned Owl along Little Chico Creek (Spring 2011)
Rare Red-Necked Grebe sighting (spring 2011)
Unusual Sighting of Mute Swans at the Oxidation Ponds (spring 2011)