January 2019 Yellowbill

02 Jan January 2019 Yellowbill


President’s Message

Happy New Year everyone. 2019 promises to be a good year for Fresno Audubon as we move forward with our partnership with the San Joaquin Parkway and River Trust. We are finalizing the Introduction to Birding class curriculum and have purchased 10 pair of Nikon ProStaff 3S 8×42 binoculars for the class to use. We hope to begin classes by spring. We continue to work on our San Joaquin River (SJR) bird survey protocols so that we can begin surveys there in the spring as well. I met with John Shelton, the new Executive Director of the SJR Conservancy, about our efforts for the SJR, and he was thrilled with what we are setting up. He would like to see other Citizen Science projects at the river, such as using iNaturalist to document plants and wildlife that are not birds.

Our speaker this month is Jamie Ervin of the Sierra Forest Coalition who will talk about how we can help conserve our local forests. There is a pre-meeting speaker dinner at BJ’s Brewhouse at 5:00 pm if you would like to meet him before the presentation. Just send an email to rsnow@fresnoaudubon.org if you want to attend so that we have an accurate count for dinner.

Our field trips this month include one local (Scout Island) trip and two trips venturing further afield to O’Neill Forebay and the Merced Grasslands and Merced National Wildlife Refuge. When we surveyed the membership last year, several commented that they prefered the local field trips, while some wanted us to hold trips at new locations. We will continue to offer both types of trip, but we have noticed very little participation on the long trips, with respondents saying they want more active time on the trips. Another common request was to not have field trips on the Wednesday after a Tuesday general meeting, so we will work on that for next season’s schedule. Another respondent asked that I remove the maps from The Yellowbill newsletter because they increase the length of the printed newsletter, so I have begun replacing them with links instead. I hope this helps those that want to print the newsletter.

I had a heavy response to my call for photographs by members, so many that I’ve had to limit the number of photos published this month. The photograph section will be a continuing feature, so if your photos are not published this month they should appear in a later issue. And please continue to send in pictures for future publication.


January Meeting
Sierra and Sequoia National Forests Conservation
Jamie Ervin, Sierra Forest Coalition
8 January 2019, 7-8 pm
UC Center


Jamie Ervin

Fresnans are lucky to live within a half day’s drive of some of America’s most iconic forest landscapes. In the Spring of 2018, conservationists including Audubon members will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure better protections for these wild places, and for the species that depend on them. Jamie Ervin, an organizer with Sierra Forest Legacy, will talk about current conservation efforts to protect wilderness, wildlife, and forest health on the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests through the upcoming forest plan revision. The Audubon presentation will include a particular focus on bird species that are impacted by forest management, including the black-backed woodpecker, California spotted owl, and Northern Goshawk.
Jamie works with the Sierra Forest Coalition to organize campaigns supporting conservation initiatives throughout the National Forests of the Central and Southern Sierra. His work involves engaging citizens, organizations, and communities in the forest planning process. Jamie holds a Master of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont, as a well as a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. His graduate research focused on forest structure in old growth montane cove forests throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains. Prior to graduate school, he worked with private landowners on land protection and stewardship projects with a land trust called Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in Asheville, NC.

We hope to see you on January 8, 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 Jamie Ervin 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 rsnow@fresnoaudubon.org if you would like to attend the dinner.

Field Trips

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 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.

January Field Trips

Wednesday 9 January 2019 – Scout Island with Judy Johnson

Join trip leader Judy Johnson for our trip to Scout Island Outdoor Education Center on Wednesday, January 9th. Scout Island is conveniently located within Fresno City limits on the San Joaquin River and provides eighty-five acres of invaluable habitat for native wildlife and for riverside vegetation. Expect to see  riparian birds including herons, egrets, and numerous duck species, as well as sparrows, warblers, kinglets, woodpeckers and possibly a California thrasher. We will meet at the gate to Scout Island at 7:50 am, heading into the facility at 8 am. Latecomers can meet the group in the facility parking lot. Expect to be finished by noon.

Checklist: binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, jackets, snacks, water, and insect repellant.

Directions: http://scoutisland.org/sites/scoutisland.org/files/forms%20folder/Directions%20to%20Scout%20Island_0.pdf.

Saturday 26 January 2019 – Merced Grasslands/Merced NWR with Jeff Seay

Jeff Seay leads this trip through the Merced Grasslands Important Bird Area finishing at Merced National Wildlife Refuge. Meet at the Walmart parking lot at Ashlan and Blackstone at 6:45 am for a 7 am departure. The trip will cover Madera County’s foothill grasslands on the way to the Merced Wildlife Refuge. We expect to see wintering raptors and other birds of the low foothills and grasslands. We will mostly be driving and getting out of the car periodically with possible small walks. At the end of the trip we will enjoy the spectacle of sandhill cranes, snow and Ross’s geese, and other waterfowl. It will last most of the day, ending about 5:45 at the refuge.

Checklist: binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, radios, jackets, lunch/snacks, water, and insect repellant.

Directions to the assembly point are here.

Wednesday 30 January 2019 – O’Neill Forebay with Larry Parmeter

The Fresno Audubon Society  field trip on January 30 will be to the O’Neill Forebay area and environs. We will meet in front of the Target at El Paseo Shopping Center (at Herndon and Highway 99) at 8 am and go from there. This will be an all-day trip, so bring a lunch and warm clothing. We should see a number of hawks and eagles, waterfowl, shorebirds, field birds, and many others. If time permits, we will also visit the day use park on the northwest side of the forebay, as well as look for elk below the dam.

Checklist: binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, radios, jackets, lunch/snacks, water, and insect repellant.

Directions to the assembly point are here.


Fresno-Madera Birds
by Jeff Davis
photos by Gary Woods
Including reports for the period of
November 16 to December 15, 2018

Four Common Ground-Doves

Common Ground-Dove

Common Ground-Dove

at Flum Ditch in Biola December 20 (GW) established a new high count and just the fourth record of this species for Fresno County. A Ruff



at the Madera WTP November 26 through December 8 (ph. GW, ph. m.ob.) provided the third record for Madera County.  That one plus another at the Fresno WTP November 28 (ph. GF, ph. RS) furnished the first records for our area since 2009.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

at Lost Lake Park November 20+ (FO, LP, KM, JR) (ph. m.ob.) marked the fourth consecutive winter this species has been detected there.  Fresno County’s first Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird

remained at the Chaffee Zoo through at least November 20 (ph. m.ob.).  A Cassin’s Kingbird,

Cassin's Kingbird

Cassin’s Kingbird

the third one reported this fall-winter period, was at River West Open Space Area November 26 (ph. JM) and November 27 (ph. GF).  Single Grasshopper Sparrows

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

continued at the Madera Canal November 26 (ph. RS) and Big Dry Creek Reservoir December 11 (ph. RS) and December 13 (CH, DS).  Three Sagebrush Sparrows

Sagebrush Sparrow

Sagebrush Sparrow

in the Panoche Hills December 11 (ph. SS, ph. CC) provided further evidence that this species regularly winters in Fresno County.  Our first Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

since 2002 was at Lost Lake Park December 2+ (TD, SH, ph. m.ob.).  

Cited Observers: Christine Carino, Tom Dayton, George Folsom, Chris Hiatt, Stephanie Hines, John McLaughlin, Kurt Mize, Frances Oliver, Linda Pittman, Jim Rowoth, Rick Saxton, David Sears, Susan Stanton, 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, jndavis@ucsc.edu), the Fresno County Birders e-mail list, or eBird.


Birds in the News
Links to Recent Articles on Birds

Ancient bird fossils have ‘the weirdest feathers I have ever seen’

One hundred million years ago, the sky was filled with birds unlike those seen today, many with long, streamerlike tail feathers. Now, paleontologists have found examples of these paired feathers preserved in exquisite detail in 31 pieces of Cretaceous amber from Myanmar. The rare 3D preservation reveals the feathers’ structure is completely different from that of modern feathers—and hints that they may have been defensive decoys to foil predators. Read more…

RFID tech may tell us if hummingbird feeders are really a good idea

While it’s certainly kind of people to set up hummingbird feeders in their back yards, some scientists are wondering if the practise may be causing more harm than good. In an effort to better understand the issue, researchers recently equipped a group of the birds with tags that were read by devices at urban feeders. Read more…

The Birds at My Table: Why We Feed Wild Birds and Why It Matters By Darryl Jones, Cornell University Press, 2018

Bird feeders are a common sight in the yards of many neighborhoods. Their ubiquity might suggest that they are beneficial to birds. But Darryl Jones’s new book, The Birds at My Table, shows that’s not necessarily true. Taking readers through the history of bird feeding and what we know about its impacts, he makes the case that just because we have a habit of feeding birds, that doesn’t mean it’s always in their best interest. Read more…

Feeding Birds: A Quick Guide To Seed Types

The seed that attracts the widest variety of birds, and so the mainstay for most backyard bird feeders, is sunflower. Other varieties of seed can help attract different types of birds to round out your backyard visitors. In general, mixtures that contain red millet, oats, and other “fillers” are not attractive to most birds and can lead to a lot of waste as the birds sort through the mix. Read more…

Birders urge city to keep ramp during I Street Bridge rebuild to protect a rare bird

Dan Airola has been studying birds in Sacramento for more than 30 years. The wildlife biologist meticulously keeps track of how many purple martins — the largest swallow in North America — are nesting in the city year after year. That’s how he knows there are only 29 nesting pairs left in the city, compared to 173 in 2004, and that they only nest in six places. One of those spots is in jeopardy. The city plans to demolish a nesting spot behind the California State Railroad Museum when it rebuilds the I Street Bridge over the Sacramento River. Read more…

Member Photographs

Featuring photographs submitted by Fresno Audubon Members. To submit a photograph for publication in The Yellowbill, send a photo to rsnow@fresnoaudubon.org with a brief description, when 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.

Clayton Dahlen

Barn Swallow by Clayton Dahlen

Barn Swallow by Clayton Dahlen, Quail Lake CA, June 2018

Green Heron by Clayton Dahlen

Green Heron by Clayton Dahlen, Quail Lake CA, July 2018

Lynn Hemink

Curve-billed Thrasher by Lynn Hemink

Curve-billed Thrasher by Lynn Hemink, Woodland CA January 2018

Ferruginous Hawk by Lynn Hemink

Ferruginous Hawk by Lynn Hemink, Lost Lake Park January 2018

Kirtland's Warbler by Lynn Hemink

Kirtland’s Warbler by Lynn Hemink, Greyling MI, July 2017.

Brian Johnson

Great Blue Herron by Brian Johnson

Great Blue Herron by Brian Johnson, Morro Bay September 2012

Osprey by Brian Johnson

Osprey by Brian Johnson

Wood Duck by Brian Johnson

Wood Duck by Brian Johnson

Roseate Spoonbill by Brian Johnson

Roseate Spoonbill by Brian Johnson, Fulton TX April 2013

Broad-billed Hummingbird by Brian Johnson

Broad-billed Hummingbird by Brian Johnson, Cave Creek AZ, April 2015

 Cecelia Sheeter

Bullock's Oriole by Cecelia Sheeter

Bullock’s Oriole by Cecelia Sheeter, Madera CA

Costa's Hummingbird by Cecelia Sheeter

Costa’s Hummingbird by Cecelia Sheeter, Madera CA

Sandhill Cranes by Cecelia Sheeter

Sandhill Cranes by Cecelia Sheeter, Merced NWR

Great-horned Owls by Cecelia Sheeter

Great-horned Owls by Cecelia Sheeter, Madera CA

Burrowing Owl by Cecelia Sheeter

Burrowing Owl by Cecelia Sheeter, Fresno WTP

Larry Cusick

Black-crowned Night-Heron by Larry Cusick

Black-crowned Night-Heron by Larry Cusick, River Center, December 2018

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher by Larry Cusick

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, December 2018

Bushtit by Larry Cusick

Bushtit by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, December 2018

Greater Roadrunner by Larry Cusick

Greater Roadrunner by Larry Cusick, River Center, December 2018

Rock Wren by Larry Cusick

Rock Wren by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, December 2018

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