February 2022 Yellowbill

31 Jan February 2022 Yellowbill


President’s Message

Greetings, FAS members and friends. I hope this message finds you healthy and safe.

It is tough to believe that we are already into the second month of 2022. In the next few weeks, the fruit trees will be blossoming and over the next few months, spring migrants will be making their way back north and the air will be filled with their familiar serenades!

After some careful consideration, FAS has decided to resume in-person field trips in February with a handful of rules in place to keep trip leaders and participants safe. Participants must be fully vaccinated and must wear masks (N95 strongly encouraged) when in close proximity to one another. Registration is REQUIRED for all FAS field trips. You can read our field trip guidelines here: Fresno Audubon Society Field Trip Guidelines during Covid 27 November 2021.

There are two field trips planned for February. The first is scheduled for Wednesday, February 9 at River West. The second event is scheduled for Saturday, February 19 during the Great Backyard Bird Count, starting at Wildwood Native Park, which is located in Madera County, just north of Fresno, right off of the 41: https://goo.gl/maps/JfQMk8NkPnGSsQYM8.  For the Wildwood Native Park event, we will be meeting in the parking area at 8:00 AM. Registration is limited to 20 participants.  Please feel free to reach out to me at tanagergirl@gmail.com. More details for both trips are found in the field trip section below along with the registration links.

I mentioned the Great Backyard Bird Count in the previous paragraph and some of you might be wondering what that is. Also known as the GBBC, the Great Backyard Bird Count is a four-day event held every February in which birders everywhere are encouraged to go out and count birds wherever they may be for at least 15 minutes and submit an eBird list. The 2022 GBBC goes from February 18-21. Wherever you are and whatever your skill level may be, you can participate! Here is a link for more information:  https://www.birdcount.org/participate/.

Thank you again to all of those who attended the January 11 general meeting. Benny Jacobs-Schwartz of Biocitizen Los Angeles talked to us about birds of the tropics, which was a very informative and entertaining presentation. If you missed Benny’s’s talk and would like to view the presentation, you can find it and other general meeting presentations on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/FresnoAudubon.

The next FAS general meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 8. Dr. John Eadie will be talking to us about Wood Ducks. You can register here.

I’d like to remind all of you that FAS is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Please give FAS a follow if you haven’t already! This is a great way to engage with us and stay in the loop!

Please take care of yourselves!

Rachel Clark

Fresno Audubon Society President

Fresno Audubon Society Board of Directors News

At the January Fresno Audubon Society board meeting, the board welcomed Maureen Walsh as a director and Field Trip chair. We thank Maureen for joining us and taking on this important role.

February General Meeting
Sleuthing into the Secret Lives of Wood Ducks
Dr. John Eadie
Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Female Wood Duck at nest box
Dr. John Eadie and a baby Wood Duck

Biologists have studied the charismatic Wood Duck for well over a century. What more could we possibly learn? As it turns out, quite a bit. New technology is revealing a rich and complex social underworld that is proving to be quite astonishing. We are employing automatic logging devices (passive integrated transponders, or PIT tags) that record every nest site a female visits, and population-wide genetic analyses of all breeding females and their offspring to follow the breeding behavior and entire life histories of Wood Ducks on several sites in California. We are focusing on a particularly curious nesting behavior whereby females lay eggs in the nests of other females in the same population (termed conspecific brood parasitism or CBP). Females in a wide variety of bird species lay their eggs in the nests of other conspecifics but despite its widespread occurrence the factors that promote parasitic nesting behavior remain poorly understood, in part because the sneaky parasitic females are rarely identified, but also because the information needed to assess the possible benefits of this behavior are often lacking. Are these females friends or foes? Does this behavior add or detract from the survival of females and their young, or the sustainability of the population? Our studies are providing some new insights and, in some cases, surprising us with the wide range of behavioral interactions among females in this enigmatic species of cavity-nesting duck.

Dr. John Eadie is a Professor and the Dennis G. Raveling Waterfowl Chair in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, University of California Davis. He joined the faculty at UC Davis in 1995 from Zoology University of British Columbia, where he completed his PhD degree. His research interests include the ecology, conservation and management of waterfowl and wetlands. His current work focuses on the management and conservation of wetland habitats, breeding waterfowl (mallards and wood ducks) in California, and linking ecological theory to wildlife management and conservation. He uses a combination of experimental and observational field studies, molecular genetic techniques in the lab, and population modeling approaches in his research.

To receive the Zoom link for the meeting, please register here.

General Meeting Speaker Schedule

Following is the schedule for future speakers. This schedule is subject to change due to cancelations.

February Field Trips

FIELD TRIP GUIDELINES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ⏤ Fresno Audubon Society is again offering field trips during COVID-19 now that vaccinations are available to all. We have implemented the following guidelines for our field trips during the pandemic.


  1. Participants must be vaccinated.
  2. Participants must pre-register using the FAS event registration system.

  3. Participants must self-screen their own temperature before the outing and must not attend if they are feverish.
  4. Participants must consent to Fresno Audubon Society’s Liability Waiver by signing the Event Sign-Up Sheet provided by the trip leader.

    Day of Outing
  5. Social distancing is encouraged.
  6. Participants are encouraged to wear a mask.
  7. We will not be sponsoring car pools.

    Days Following Outing
  8. Participants should contact their trip leader should they test positive for COVID-19 within three days following the outing.

Wednesday 9 February 2022 ⏤ River West (Fresno) with Susan Estep

Join Fresno Audubon for a bird hike at River West Open Space on Wednesday, February 9. We will meet at 9am as it is frequently foggy in the morning in the river bottom. There is plenty of on street parking available on River View Dr and W Bluff Ave. You MUST register to attend this event. Register here.

This is a rich area with many target species. We can expect to see a wide variety of ducks, including Goldeneye, Mergansers, and Bufflehead. There are many resident raptors – including Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, and occasional Osprey and Bald Eagle sightings. There are many songbirds waiting to be discovered as well – sparrows, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Loggerhead Shrikes. It is not unusual to log more than 40 species.

Participants should bring snacks, water, hat, sunscreen, and binoculars, and should dress in layers. There really isn’t anywhere to eat lunch at this property; we will likely be wrapping up by 12:30. FAS is asking that participants be vaccinated and wear masks in addition to following social distancing protocols. Registration is required for this event.

The trip leader is Susan Estep. She can be reached at (402) 212-1215 or sbse820@gmail.com if you have any questions. It is about a 3-mile loop of flat walking. There are no restrooms or water available so come prepared!

Saturday 19 February 2022 ⏤ Wildwood Native Park and River West Madera with Rachel Clark

Join FAS on Saturday, February 19 as we take part in the 2022 Great Backyard Bird Count by birding at Wildwood Native Park and the surrounding areas. Wildwood Native Park is located in Madera County, just north of Fresno, right off of the 41: https://goo.gl/maps/SKW27jQZhu7kCWpr6  Our target species include Red-shouldered Hawk, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, Lesser Goldfinch, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and many more! We will be meeting at 8:00 AM in the parking lot. Participants should bring snacks, lunch (if desired), water, hat, sunscreen, and binoculars, and should dress in layers. We will likely be wrapping up between noon and 1:00 PM. FAS is requiring that participants be vaccinated and wear masks in addition to following social distancing protocols. Registration is required for this event. If you have any questions, please reach out to trip leader Rachel Clark at tanagergirl@gmail.com or 515-357-0122. You MUST register to attend this event. Register here.

For anyone curious about the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), it is a four day event held every February in which birders everywhere of all skill levels are encouraged to spend at least 15 minutes counting birds and submit an eBird list. The 2022 GBBC will run from February 18-21. More information can be found at this link: https://www.birdcount.org/participate/.

Fresno-Madera Birds
by Jeff Davis
Including reports for the period of
December 16, 2021 to January 15, 2022

A Glaucous-winged Gull, the first reported this season, visited the Fresno WTP December 31 (ph. GW); two others were among thousands of other gulls at the American Avenue Landfill January 3 (ph. KC, EE).

Glaucous-winged gull by Gary Woods

The Red-naped Sapsucker discovered at Sierra Cedars Meadow December 8 was present at least through January 3 (JT); another, for our second this season, was along Road 209 on December 30 (RS); and a Red-naped x Red-breasted Sapsucker hybrid, also our second this season, was at McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve December 19 (ph. GW).

Red-naped Sapsucker by Gary Woods
Red-naped x Red-bellied Sapsucker by Gary Woods

Two “Red” Fox Sparrows at Sycamore Island January 3 (ph. GW, GF) provided the first record of this form for Madera County.

Red Fox Sparrow by George Folsom

Our third White-throated Sparrow this season, a tan morph, foraged on the lawn at the Fresno WTP December 31 (ph. GW).

White-throated Sparrow by Gary Woods
White-throated Sparrow by Gary Woods

Cited Observers: Elias Elias, Kaia Colestock, George Folsom, Rick Saxton, Jim Tietz, Gary Woods.  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 eBird, the Fresno County Birders e-mail list, or Jeff Davis (jndavis@ucsc.edu).

Member Photographs

Please send your photos in jpeg format with a width of 1024 pixels and a resolution of 72 pixels/inch to rsnow@fresnoaudubon.org with how you want the photo credit to read. Birds may be from anywhere. Limited space may restrict publication to a later issue. We will also showcase your photos on our social media.

Hart Broesel

Double-crested Cormorant by Hart Broesel

Clayton Dahlen

Green Heron by Clayton Dahlen
Rudy Duck by Clayton Dahlen
Eurasian Collared-Dove and Mourning Dove by Clayton Dahlen
Belted Kingfisher by Clayton Dahlen
Common Mergansers by Clayton Dahlen

Robert Groos

Female Common Merganser by Robert Groos
Male and female Hooded Mergansers by Robert Groos
Male Common Merganser by Robert Groos
Female Hooded Merganser by Robert Groos

Peter Nagayama

Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit and Willet by Peter Nagayama
Caspian Terns and American Avocets by Peter Nagayama
Brant Geese by Peter Nagayama
California Thrasher by Peter Nagayama

Frank Raney

American Goldfinch by Frank Raney
American Goldfinch by Frank Raney
California Scrubjay by Frank Raney
American Goldfinch by Frank Raney
White-crowned Sparrow by Frank Raney

Cecelia Sheeter

Northern Harrier by Cecelia Sheeter
Northern Harrier by Cecelia Sheeter
American Goldfinch by Cecelia Sheeter
Red-tailed Hawk by Cecelia Sheeter

Deborah Weber

Sandhill Cranes by Deborah Weber

Gary Woods

Male and female Barrow's goldeneye by Gary Woods. River West, San Joaquin River, CA 3 January 2022

Birds in the News
Links to Recent Articles on Birds

Ask Kenn: What Exactly Is a Warbler?

Illustration: Joe Ciardiello

What is a warbler? From the angle of English linguistics, a warbler should be any person, animal, or object that warbles—that makes a warbling sound. And what exactly is a warbling sound? Look it up in a dozen dictionaries and you’ll get a dozen definitions. It may be a sound that rises and falls, or a musical trill, or a melodious series at a low tone, or a high-pitched and uneven sequence of notes. Apparently a warbler could be anyone or anything that makes a complicated sound! But for purposes of this column, we’ll forget trying to define the sound, and focus on “warbler” as a name applied to various small, insect-eating birds. Read more…

Ask Kenn: What is the Most Widespread Bird in the World?

Sanderlings winter all over the world, placing them on many continents—but only within a teeny strip along the coastlines. Does that make them the most widespread bird in the world? Photo: Matthew Reitinger/Audubon Photography Awards

Bird distribution is fascinating and complex. Nearly every spot on Earth has at least a few birds—avian visitors have been seen at the South Pole, for example, and flying over the top of the Himalayas—but no single species is found everywhere, and no two have exactly the same distribution. But which one has the largest total range? It might seem that this question would be simple (if time-consuming) to answer: All we have to do is to look through published range maps for all 10,000-plus species, and pick the one that covers the largest area. But it’s actually more complicated than that. Read more…

Don’t Forget The Time Scientists Grew ‘Dinosaur Legs’ on a Chicken

A chicken embryo. (Graeme Campbell/Wikimedia Commons/Public domain)

Until recently, one of the biggest myths in science was that all dinosaurs have been extinct for the past 65 million years. But thanks to new fossil discoveries that filled in our knowledge about avian dinosaurs, we now know that only some dinosaurs went extinct following an asteroid collision with Earth – others survived and gave rise to the birds we live with today. To figure out how this evolution occurred, researchers in Chile carried out a strange but fascinating experiment in 2016. They manipulated the genes of regular chickens, causing them to develop tubular, dinosaur-like fibulas on their lower legs – one of the two long, spine-like bones you’ll find in a drumstick. Read more…

2021 Year in Review: eBird, Merlin, Macaulay Library, and Birds of the World

Red-legged Cormorant Poikilocarbo gaimardi © Jory Teltser Macaulay Library eBird

2021 was a year of milestones. From one billion records in eBird, to the transformative launch of Merlin Sound ID, to new conservation decision-making tools powered by eBird Status and Trends visualizations, there’s a lot we’ll remember from the past twelve months. This year, millions of people from every country in the world joined us in sharing an appreciation for birds. By being a part of this global endeavor, you make a difference to the hundreds of thousands of people who use the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s resources each year to learn, research, conserve, and educate. To those 116k new eBirders and 2 million new Merlin users who joined us for the first time in 2021, welcome! We also appreciate and thank eBird Supporters who keep eBird and the Cornell Lab moving forward through their monthly contributions. Read more…

Some birds sing the same song for hundreds of thousands of years

The six lineages of the eastern double-collared sunbird are found on isolated mountains (black) across East Africa. Many of the populations have been isolated from one another for hundreds of thousands of years, though not all have changed much in terms of plumage or song. Credit: University of California - Berkeley

Many of the birds that awaken us each morning learn their melodious songs the same way that humans learn a dialect—from parents and neighbors. But to most biologists, learning songs through mimicry is an uncertain and error-prone process, resulting in slow but inevitable change in over the years. A new study by biologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Missouri State University in Springfield, however, documents songs in East African sunbirds that have remained nearly unchanged for more than 500,000 years, and perhaps for as long as 1 million years, making the songs nearly indistinguishable from those of relatives from which they’ve long been separated. Read more…

Bald eagle population growth stunted by lead poisoning, study finds

Bald Eagle by Clayton Dahlen

Bald eagles’ population size is being affected by lead poisoning, according to scientists at the Department of Public and Ecosystem Health at Cornell University. A study looking at records between 1990 and 2018 found the birds are eating hunters’ gunshot ammunition, decreasing their population growth by 4% to 6%. Read more…

A Shaky Song Reveals an Old Sparrow’s Age to Younger Competition

Swamp Sparrow. Photo: Peter Wilton/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Carla Ciuffo

Down the street, right after Christmas, a developer knocked down a perfectly good house, along with nearly every tree on the deeply treed lot. It’s an old story here, and the pure waste of it is always appalling. But this yard also happens to be on the neighborhood bobcat’s route between a school campus lush with trees and a wet creek bordered by dense greenery, and that’s what brought me to tears. Preserving those trees would have meant protecting an unassuming but crucial wildlife corridor in an area where development is putting increasing pressure on already stressed wildlife populations. Read more…


If you are not already a member, please consider joining Fresno Audubon Society. You can join on our website here: https://fresnoaudubon.org/become-a-member

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