The Panoche Hills of western California border the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The arid hills are home to species such as Chukar, Greater Roadrunner, and Golden Eagle. Wintering species include Mountain and Western Bluebirds, Ferruginous and Rough-legged Hawks and Bald Eagle.
Directions: From Interstate 5 head south of the Los Banos area to the Little Panoche Road/Shields/Mendota exit and head west into the hills.
Little Panoche Wildlife area: A short distance west of I-5 on Little Panoche Road, is a wildlife area located around a small reservoir. This area is excellent for Greater Roadrunner.
Mercy Hot Springs: The small community of Mercy Hot Springs is an excellent spot to observe owls. The campground/picnic area is home to Long-eared, Barn, and Great Horned Owls. The Long-eared Owls are most numerous in winter but some stay and nest here. Be prepared to pay a $5 fee per person if you intend to visit this location.
Directions: Head west from I-5 on Little Panoche Road until you see signs for Mercy Hot Spring off to the north of the road.
Above left: Long-eared Owl at Mercy Hot Springs
Above right: Distant Golden Eagle near Mercy Hot Springs
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