31 Jan February 2019 Yellowbill
Our speaker this month is Larry Parmeter, former president of Fresno Audubon and current trip leader. He will talk about bird navigation, a subject that combines his two loves: birds and astronomy. This should be a very interesting presentation since there has been quite a bit of recent research that indicates just how clever birds are at using the earth and sky to find there destinations after flying thousands of miles.
Our Saturday field trip this month has been changed from Yolo Bypass to Lost Lake Park because of potential flooding. Alex Single will instead lead the trip to Lost Lake Park, a popular destination; close to town and the number one hotspot in our area. Other February field trips will be one to Ball Ranch lead by George Folsom and one to Pinnacles National Park lead by me. Details of these trips and the member meeting are below.
Last year we created two surveys to collect feedback from membership on how Fresno Audubon is meeting our member’s needs. The “open rate” for our emails is 25-35%, so FAS could have hoped for more than 125 responses to the survey from our 525 email recipients. However, the surveys were only returned by 25 and 27 people respectively, most of whom were long-time FAS members. Overall, most survey respondents said their involvement had stayed the same or increased over the year. We are implementing many of the suggestions we received in the survey.
Activities Survey: Few respondents get involved in the Christmas Bird Count or other bird surveys, and there are small numbers of people attending the general meeting regularly. People cited schedule conflicts, lack of bird survey training and geographic considerations as barriers to attending/participating. For bird walks, satisfaction was highly varied. Some wanted more walking and less time in the car; others with limitations said they attended the car-based birding more often. Some wanted more trips to distant destinations while others just wanted more variety. Some respondents asked for greater outreach to diverse and non-Fresno people; one suggested an annual advocacy-based meeting to let people know how they can get involved in other important endeavors. More than one person suggested a brief board update before each general meeting (this has been implemented, along with a blog post summarizing each board meeting).
Communications Survey: Most people were happy with the change from printed newsletter to a blog post, but some people wanted The Yellowbill to return to a printable newsletter format. One respondent said that printing The Yellowbill blog took 18 pages, but the blog was not designed to be printed. However, in an effort to shorten it, I replaced the maps with links.
How Birds Navigate
12 February 2019, 7-8 pm
At the February meeting, Fresno Audubon Society member Larry Parmeter will combine two of his major interests, birdwatching and astronomy, in a talk titled “How Birds Navigate: Using the Sun, the Stars, and the Earth”. Until recently, scientists were baffled as to how birds could fly thousands of miles to and from precise locations. Now, studies indicate that they have highly developed internal guidance systems that rely on our sun, the distant stars, and the Earth itself to get them exactly where they want to go year after year. This research shows that most birds are far more intelligent and complex than humans give them credit for, and proves just how amazing the natural world is when people look close enough.
We hope to see you on February 12, 2019 at 7:00 at UC Center, 550 E Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93710.
We will have a no-host pre-dinner meeting at 5:00 with speaker Larry Parmeter at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, which is across the street from the UC Center at 715 E Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93710. Please RSVP by email to email@example.com if you would like to attend the dinner.
Our website has a calendar that allows you to see all the details of an upcoming trip as they become finalized. Included in the details is a link to map showing the meeting point for the trip. The calendar is subscribable, which allows you to integrate it into your electronic calendar. Updates to events will appear as they are made. We encourage you to subscribe. Follow the links within each writeup for more information on destinations and meeting point locations.
February Field Trips
Wednesday 13 February 2019 – Ball Ranch with George Folsom
Ball Ranch on the San Joaquin River Parkway offers various habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, ponds, riparian areas and oak groves. Cormorants, ducks, mergansers, grebes, raptors, sparrows, finches, quail, gnatcatchers, woodpeckers and many others can be found there. Occasionally we have found Lewis’s Woodpeckers.
We will walk a mile or more on dirt roads, but most of the area can be driven for those who prefer to do so. Please meet at the Target in the River Park Shopping Center near Highway 41 and East El Paso Ave at 7:45 am. We plan to be finished by noon. The gate to the property must be locked while we are on the property so plan to stay until noon. Please also note there are no restrooms on this property. The gate will be opened at noon for those who want to leave or you may stay and have lunch at the site.
Checklist: binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, radios
Directions to meeting point here: https://goo.gl/maps/XdkVdNixXQz
Saturday 16 February 2019 – Lost Lake Park with Alex Single (changed from Yolo Bypass)
Because of potential flooding in Yolo Bypass, Alex Single will instead lead a trip to Lost Lake Park on Saturday February 16. Lost Lake Park has a wide variety of habitats including grassland, riparian areas, marsh, and managed parkland that support the widest variety of birds of any hotspot in Fresno County. We will meet at 7:00 am at the Walmart parking lot on Herndon and Clovis, or feel free to join us at the park at 7:30. Note there is a $5 per vehicle entrance fee.
Checklist: binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat
Directions to meeting point: https://goo.gl/maps/ZDYTBb3vnCD2
Wednesday 27 February 2019 – Pinnacles National Park with Robert Snow
Join Robert Snow for a trip to Pinnacles National Park; there’s good chance you will see California Condors. We will meet at the Target located in the Marketplace at El Paseo (Herndon and Golden State Blvd.) at 7:45 and carpool to the park. The trip will take 2.5 hours of drive time, so we will stop along the way to bird and stretch our legs. Please note that this is a national park, and thus a fee is charged. Bring your “America the Beautiful Lifetime Senior pass” (issued by US Fish and Wildlife and available at national parks) if you have one. This will be a long day trip, returning around 4 pm, so plan accordingly.
Checklist: binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, radios
Map to meeting point: https://goo.gl/maps/Dm8T8wE9cuq
by Jeff Davis
photos by Gary Woods
Including reports for the period of
December 16, 2018 to January 15, 2019
The first Mountain Plovers
reported in Fresno County in several years were along Manning Avenue southwest of Tranquility January 3+ (ph. GF, LH, m.ob.), with a high count of 177 on January 11 (ph. GW) and January 13 (ph. JR, KM, LW). The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
at Lost Lake Park, first discovered November 20, was present at least through December 29 (ED).
A Barn Swallow
at Mendota Wildlife Area January 7 (JM, JN) provided a rare winter record. Sagebrush Sparrows
continued in the Panoche Hills, with two there January 5 (ph. SS). Fresno County’s second Pink-sided Junco was in a northwest Fresno yard December 31 (GW). Unusually high numbers of Lawrence’s Goldfinches
persisted during the period, with flocks at several locations including Jensen River Ranch, with high counts of 156 there December 29 (ph. JS) and 200 there January 8 (KC). The Black-and-white Warbler
at Lost Lake Park, first detected December 2, was present at least through December 30 (AR). A bright male Yellow Warbler
at the Fresno Wastewater Treatment Plant January 11 (ph. KC) provided our first winter record in many years.
Cited Observers: Kaia Colestock, Ellen Davies, George Folsom, Lynn Hemink, Kurt Mize, Jireh Mukawa, Jeremy Neipp, Jim Rowoth, Alexander Rurik, Jeff Seay, Susan Stanton, Liz West, and Gary Woods. m.ob. = many observers, ph. = photographed by, WTP = Wastewater Treatment Plant.
If you make an interesting observation, we’d love to hear about it. We are especially interested in birds listed as casual or rare on the Fresno Audubon checklist and those found out of season, out of normal habitat, or in unusually large numbers. Please submit reports to Jeff Davis (559-246-3272, firstname.lastname@example.org), the Fresno County Birders e-mail list, or eBird.
Report on the First Year of the Original Fresno Audubon Society, 1907
While searching the internet for Fresno Audubon Society, Radley Reep, Vice President of Fresno Audubon Society, stumbled upon an interesting item. In 1907 the Audubon Society of California published its first annual report, which included a report from the Fresno Audubon Society. The current Fresno Audubon Society was founded in 1967, but it seems there was an earlier organization as well. Interestingly, our mission was as important then as it is now.
Here are scans of that report, dated 24 June 1907.
Birds in the News
Links to Recent Articles on Birds
Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’
“We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.” His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming. Read more…
The 20-Year Quest to Track Down Every Bird-of-Paradise Species Before They Vanish
Edwin Scholes has taken dozens of bush plane flights, helicopters and boat trips, and spent countless hours hauling gear up muddy mountains in New Guinea, for nothing more than a song and dance. Sometimes, he only manages to capture a few seconds of footage of the rainforest performances he seeks before his subjects become spooked, vanishing amongst the trees. Read more…
Mis-timed Migration Means Bird Death Battles
Climate change is shifting population numbers and nest building by resident and migratory birds in Europe—sometimes leading to deadly conflict. Christopher Intagliata reports. Read more…
How to identify a bird in 5 steps
Identifying a bird can be a challenge, even for experienced birders. And if you’re new to using field guides, it can be daunting to figure out where to even begin searching in the hundreds of pages of species. Read more…
Unique camera enables researchers to see the world the way birds do
Using a specially designed camera, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have succeeded for the first time in recreating how birds see colours in their surroundings. The study reveals that birds see a very different reality compared to what we see. Read more…
Crow Murders In Idaho Are Nothing To Squawk About: Human Scarecrows Try To Divert Bird Invasion
Every winter for the past three years, almost 10,000 migratory crows have descended upon Nampa, Idaho, dotting the skyline in black and squawking away. Read more…
Fresno Audubon Members have been submitting some really terrific photographs to this column. If you would like to add yours to the mix, please send your photo in jpeg format to email@example.com with a brief description, where the photo was taken and how you want the photo credit to read. Birds may be from anywhere. Limited space may restrict publication to a later issue. We will be launching an Instagram site soon, and anticipate being able to showcase photos there as well.