March 2019 Yellowbill

28 Feb March 2019 Yellowbill


President’s Message

We have been very busy at Fresno Audubon Society over the past month. We have a new board member, (Nancy Gilmore) a new Instagram account (@fresnoaudubon) managed by Nancy Gilmore and Max Nichols, a new project to survey the San Joaquin River Parkway plant restoration areas, and a new partner in Shinzen Friendship Garden.

Our general meeting this month will be a citizen science training session for the River Parkway surveys. We took on this  project after meeting with the River Parkway and Conservation Trust Executive Director Sharon Weaver last year. George Folsom, Judy Johnson, Rachel Simmons-Clark, Alex Single and Robert Snow formed a bird survey subcommittee to develop standards and protocols for doing regular surveys of portions of the Parkway.  In consultation with the Parkway and Conservancy, the subcommittee has focused its efforts on restoration areas, and we are now ready to begin those surveys. If you can’t attend this month’s meeting you can still get added to our group of surveyors.  Simply send an email to Robert Snow at expressing your interest.  The surveys will happen monthly beginning near sunrise. We expect each survey to take about a half day.

We have five field trips in March. In addition to trips to the Kings River and the Kern County desert, we have two events with partners this month. The trip on 6 March to McKenzie Preserve is one of our joint trips with our partner the Sierra Foothill Conservancy. We also added a weekend event at Shinzen Friendship Garden (detailed below under Field Trips). Thanks to Dwayne Berrett for reaching out to us to lead this trip. I rescheduled the trip to Pinnacles National Park to 27 March from 27 February because an atmospheric river event was expected in the Bay Area. This event was a category 3 Atmospheric River, and if it had drifted south we would have been inundated after driving 2.5 hours, so with an abundance of caution we postponed the trip.

Fresno Audubon’s Introduction to Birding class (offered in conjunction with the Parkway at the River Center) will kickoff soon. Rich Gilman has nearly finished the curriculum. We have permission from the Parkway to construct a bird feeding and watering area at the River Center, and we will be reaching out to volunteers to help with that effort. We plan to begin monthly classes in April. Anyone wanting to be an instructor can let me know at We will review the class and recruit instructors at our April general meeting.

I just returned from the winter board meeting of Audubon California that was held at the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is a major focus of Audubon California now because it is rapidly shrinking due to a decline in inflows. Prior to its current iteration which formed in 1905, wintering birds used the Colorado River Delta, Tulare Lake and the Central Valley wetlands. Now these former wet areas are reduced in size or no longer available, and the decline in the Salton Sea could leave birds without a place to overwinter.

As the Salton Sea recedes, dust containing selenium from agricultural runoff gets blown into neighboring communities causing serious respiratory illness, particularly in young people.  Audubon seeks to reduce the impact of the drying up of the Salton Sea on the birds and on the people in the surrounding communities. The work will cost over $1b and will create wetlands similar to those created in Owens Lake to reduce the toxic dust exposed by receding water. After listening to Joaquin Esquivel, the recently designated Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, I believe that the time for talk has passed and the time for action has begun. Money to begin the work was allocated from Prop 1 and Prop 68, so there are no more excuses.  If you agree, please send letters to Governor Newsom and your state legislators showing your support for Audubon’s work at the Salton Sea.

Robert Snow


March General Meeting
River Survey Training
12 March 2019, 7-8 pm
UC Center

Fresno Audubon Society is about to undertake an ambitious project to survey parts of the San Joaquin River Parkway that are undergoing native plant restoration. We will start by surveying Jensen Ranch below Woodward Park, and the Spano Ranch at River West. We have a group of core participants who have already laid out the points to survey and developed a data sheet and protocol for the surveys. We want to survey monthly, so there will be plenty opportunity to help with the surveys. If things go well, we may expand to other restoration areas.

Please join us for a training session on this citizen science project. When we surveyed membership last year about citizen science projects, some members were interested but were unsure of their abilities to do the surveys. This meeting will be a great opportunity to learn more, and get involved. We will discuss the goals of the project, the survey methodology and data entry protocols. This project will also become part of the National Audubon Society’s Western Rivers Bird Count project during May-June.

If you can’t make the meeting you can still volunteer to be part of this project by sending an email to You will be able to join a survey session to learn the techniques and be able to participate in future surveys as well.

We hope to see you on March 12, 2019 at 7:00 at UC Center, 550 E Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93710.

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 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.

March Field Trips

Wednesday 6 March 2019 – McKenzie Preserve with Robert Snow

Golden Eagle on its nest, McKenzie Preserve, by Gary Woods

Golden Eagle on its nest, McKenzie Preserve, by Gary Woods

Join Robert Snow to bird the Discovery Trail at the Sierra Foothill Conservancy’s (SFC) McKenzie Preserve. This is a joint event sponsored by SFC and Fresno Audubon. To participate you must register at the SFC page here: We will meet at the parking lot for the preserve, which is located at 22477 Auberry Rd, Clovis, CA 93619. We expect to see woodpeckers, raptors (golden Eagles nest on the property), bluebirds, quail and maybe White-throated Swifts which fly above the table mountain. This is a relatively easy walk along dirt roads and some trails.

Checklist:  binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat

Saturday 9 March 2019 – Shinzen Friendship Garden with Robert Snow

This is a field trip sponsored by Shinzen Friendship Gardens.

Shinzen Friendship Garden, within Woodward Park, is a bird sanctuary and a birding hotspot with nearly 164 species reported within the Park.  This class promises to be an exciting opportunity to see and learn about many of them. Birders of all ages and levels, from beginner to expert are welcome.  Please register on line as space is limited.

Pre-Registration required:   http://www.shinzenjapanesegarden.orgClass Size limited.

What to Bring:  Binoculars or share Audubon loaners, drinking water, sun protection

Appropriate Attire:  Footwear suitable for walking.  Consider the weather forecast and layer as needed.  If inclement weather is forecast, the event may be cancelled, so please check your email before leaving home.

Note:  Free admission to Woodward Park if you arrive prior to Woodward gates opening at 8:00 am.

Date:  Saturday, March 9, 7:45 am Check in,  Class 8 am – 9:00 am

Cost:  No Cost to Members, $7.50 for non-members

Directions to meeting point here:

Wednesday 20 March 2019 – Kings River with George Folsom

Brown Creeper by Gary Woods

Brown Creeper by Gary Woods

Join us on a birding outing along the Kings River below Pine Flat Dam.  We will visit Choinumni Park and the Kings River Wildlife Areas where oak woodlands and riparian forests are the primary habitats.  The surrounding hills are the hunting grounds of Golden Eagles and several species of hawks.  This is a good area for woodpeckers, nuthatches, creepers, warblers, thrushes, egrets, mergansers, sparrows and many others.

We will be walking 1 to 2 miles, but there will be good birding close to our parking areas for those who don’t want to take the long walks. There are restrooms in the parks we are visiting.   Choinummi is a Fresno County Park charging a $5 entrance fee per car if you don’t have an annual pass.  Consider carpooling to reduce your cost. We plan to be finished around noon.

We will meet in the Walmart parking lot at Blackstone and Ashlan at 7:45 AM for an 8:00 AM departure.

Directions to the meeting location are here:

Checklist:  binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, radios


Wednesday 27 March 2019 – Pinnacles National Park with Robert Snow

California Condor

California Condor

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:

Saturday 30 March 2019 – Kern County Desert Birding with Kevin Enns-Rempel

Bell's Sparrow by Gary Woods

Bell’s Sparrow by Gary Woods

Join Kevin Enns-Rempel for a trip to the Kern County desert region. Target species include Bell’s Sparrow and LeConte’s Thrasher. Meet at the usual Blackstone/Ashlan Walmart parking lot at 6:45am. Directions to the meeting location are here:

Plan for a full day.

Checklist:  binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, radios


Fresno-Madera Birds
by Jeff Davis
photos by Gary Woods
Including reports for the period of
January 16, 2019 to February 15, 2019


A male White-winged Scoter

White-winged Scoter by Gary Woods

White-winged Scoter by Gary Woods

at the Fresno WTP January 24-25 (ph. EE, ph. GF, ph. m.ob.) provided the fourth record of this species for Fresno County. A Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk by Gary Woods

Swainson’s Hawk by Gary Woods

at the Fresno WTP January 24 (ph. GF) and January 25 (LH) was either an early migrant or a rare winter resident. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Gary Woods

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Gary Woods

at Lost Lake Park, first discovered November 20, was present through the end of the period (ph. m.ob.). A Cassin’s Kingbird,

Cassin's Kingbird by Gary Woods

Cassin’s Kingbird by Gary Woods

the fourth one reported this fall-winter period, was on the Madera side of the San Joaquin River across from Riverbottom Park January 27 (JS).

Lawrence’s Goldfinches

Lawrence's Goldfinch by Gary Woods

Lawrence’s Goldfinch by Gary Woods

continued to be present in unusually high numbers for the season, with 50 at the Parlier WTP January 17 (ph. CR), 200 at Jensen River Ranch January 29 (RC), 31 along Dickenson Ave south of the San Joaquin River February 5 (GW), and 229 at a vineyard near Belmont and Madera avenues, north of Kerman, February 12 (ph. GW). Sagebrush Sparrows

Sagebrush Sparrow by Gary Woods

Sagebrush Sparrow by Gary Woods

continued in the Panoche Hills, with five there February 6 (JN, JM). A Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow by Gary Woods

Swamp Sparrow by Gary Woods

below Hensley Lake dam January 27 (GW) was the first one reported in our area since 2016. A Black-throated Gray Warbler,

Black-throated Gray Warbler by Gary Woods

Black-throated Gray Warbler by Gary Woods

a male, at China Creek Park January 25 (DJ) provided a rare winter record; two were at the same location January 28, which presumably included the continuing male (RS, JN) as well as a female (ph. RS). Western Tanager

Western Tanager (female) by Gary Woods

Western Tanager (female) by Gary Woods

is less than annual in winter in our area, so a female at Oso De Oro Lake Park February 3 (BM) provided an unusual record.

Cited Observers: Rachel Clark, Elias Elias, George Folsom, Lynn Hemink, Daniel Jeffcoach, Bruce Mast, Jireh Mukawa, Jeremy Neipp, Chris Rempel, Jeff Seay, 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,, the Fresno County Birders e-mail list, or eBird.



Birds in the News
Links to Recent Articles on Birds

A Journey Into the Animal Mind

Amid the human crush of Old Delhi, on the edge of a medieval bazaar, a red structure with cages on its roof rises three stories above the labyrinth of neon-lit stalls and narrow alleyways, its top floor emblazoned with two words: birds hospital.

On a hot day last spring, I removed my shoes at the hospital’s entrance and walked up to the second-floor lobby, where a clerk in his late 20s was processing patients. An older woman placed a shoebox before him and lifted off its lid, revealing a bloody white parakeet, the victim of a cat attack. The man in front of me in line held, in a small cage, a dove that had collided with a glass tower in the financial district. A girl no older than 7 came in behind me clutching, in her bare hands, a white hen with a slumped neck. Read more…

What birds would gain from the Natural Resources Management Act

Passage of the Natural Resources Management Act in the Senate signified a big win for all Americans and a step toward advancing wildlife conservation and recreation initiatives. Read more… 

Wildflower planting on farms boosts birds, from skylarks to starlings

Planting wildflowers and protecting nests on farms enables birds, from skylarks to starlings, to bounce back rapidly from long-term declines, new research shows.

Intensive agriculture has led to overall farmland bird numbers in the UK plunging by more than 50% since 1970 and the fall has not stopped yet, with the latest figures showing a 9% drop from 2010 to 2015. Read more…

This LAX-adjacent ghost town is now ‘priceless coastal real estate’ for rare owls

When the Los Angeles beachfront community of Surfridge disappeared decades ago to make way for the jet age, nature was slow to reclaim the sandy dunes and upscale lots that once dominated the path of planes taking off from Los Angeles International Airport.

Today however, this 2-mile ghost town of vanished homes supports a growing list of protected and endangered species that have somehow adapted to the throttled-up roar of passenger jets. Surrounded by hurricane fencing and “no trespassing” signs, the LAX Dunes Preserve is now a haven for some of the rarest creatures in California. Read more…

Bay Area bird chasing – bicycle style!

As I’ve always been one for setting goals, my most immediate intent is to push Bay Area bike list north of 200 species. I am currently at 112 for San Mateo County, so I’ve got a long way to go. Summer is the slowest birding season in the Bay Area, but I fully expect to reach that plateau once fall migration commences. I can hear Josiah Clark and Rob Furrow laughing right now. Those two ironmen routinely tally 180+ species on their annual bicycle Big Day in April! I’m still learning the area and getting into shape, but I hope to be able to keep up with those guys in a few months. How far beyond 200 I can can reach is yet to be seen, but the my photography interest will certainly limit my bike-birding to some degree as the two are usually mutually exclusive. That being said, I have biked my rig to Coyote Point on a few occasions, so there’s at least some hope of integrating the two passions! Read more…

Shoot Better Bird Photos with These 7 Tips from Expert Tim Boyer (VIDEO)

Last year we featured some great shooting tips from bird photographer extraordinaire Tim Boyer. And today Boyer is at it again, with “seven more rules of bird photography” that will really up your game.
Read more


Member Photographs

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 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 now have an Instagram site (@fresnoaudubon), and we will showcase photos there as well.

 Larry Cusick

These Anna’s Hummingbird photos were taken at the River Center 24 February 2019.

Anna's Hummingbird displaying by Larry Cusick

Anna’s Hummingbird displaying by Larry Cusick

Anna's Hummingbird courtship by Larry Cusick

Anna’s Hummingbird courtship by Larry Cusick

Anna's Hummingbirds mating by Larry Cusick

Anna’s Hummingbirds mating by Larry Cusick

Female Anna's Hummingbird feeding by Larry Cusick

Female Anna’s Hummingbird feeding by Larry Cusick

Nina Jones

These pictures were taken on White Rock Road 22 January 2019.

Northern Flicker by Nina Jones

Northern Flicker by Nina Jones

Golden Eagle by Nina Jones

Golden Eagle by Nina Jones

Greater Yellowlegs by Nina Jones

Greater Yellowlegs by Nina Jones

Lisa Moore

These pictures of a Pileated Woodpecker were taken at Cascadel Woods 16 February 2019 using a phone camera through binoculars.

Pileated Woodpecker by Lisa Moore

Pileated Woodpecker by Lisa Moore

Pileated Woodpecker by Lisa Moore

Pileated Woodpecker by Lisa Moore


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.