March 2021 Yellowbill

01 Mar March 2021 Yellowbill


President’s Message

Greetings, FAS members and friends. I hope that you are all staying healthy and safe out there.

On Tuesday, March 9, FAS will hold its monthly general meeting over Zoom. Our speaker for the evening will be Beth Pratt, who will be talking to us about Yosemite wildlife. Beth Pratt is Regional Executive Director of the California Regional Center of the National Wildlife Federation, and has served in environmental leadership roles for over 25 years. If you are interested in the wildlife of Yosemite National Park, you definitely do not want to miss this presentation! Please join us on Tuesday, March 9 at 7:00 PM, and register here so that you will get the Zoom link:

Thank you again to everyone who attended the February 9 general meeting. Quang Ngo’s presentation on wildlife photography and photo editing was incredibly informative! For those of you who missed the meeting, you can view Quang’s presentation, along with other recent presentations, on our YouTube channel. Here is the link to Quang’s presentation:

FAS is resuming virtual field trips on Saturday 20 March at the River Center starting at 9 am. You can register for the Zoom event here: Our hope is to resume in-person field trips later in the year when it is safe to do so. Stay tuned for updates in the coming months.

The FAS 2020 annual report has been approved by the board of directors of FAS. It contains information regarding finances, volunteer efforts, membership, outreach, and various local projects. You can read it here:

If you are not already, please follow @fresnoaudubon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. This is a great way to engage with us and stay in the loop!

To end this message, I’d like to share two photos. Both are of Golden-crowned Sparrows. The first is a non-breeding adult (notice the smudged black surrounding the vibrant golden crown) and the second is an immature (notice the brown on the side of the duller golden crown, and the yellow above the eye).

Please take care of yourselves!

Rachel Clark
President, Fresno Audubon Society

Non-breeding adult Golden-crowned Sparrow by Rachel Clark

Immature Golden-crowned Sparrow by Rachel Clark


Membership with Fresno Audubon Society is available for students, for individuals or for families. We also offer a lifetime membership. Your dues will help us pay for our Zoom subscription, insurance for field trips and citizen science, communications and other costs of doing business. Please see our annual report for more information how we spend dues money.  We expect to issue our second annual report this Spring.

Fresno Audubon society membership levels:

$15 Student
$25 Individual
$35 Family
$1000 Golden Eagle (Life)

Our membership year runs from September 1 to August 31 the following year. To join Fresno Audubon Society or to renew your membership, please visit our website here.

March General Meeting
The Wildlife Wonder of Yosemite
Beth Pratt

Tuesday, 9 March 2021, 7-8 pm
Via Zoom

Pika by Beth Pratt

Conservation leader and author Beth Pratt has wandered in Yosemite for over 30 years, worked in the park for almost a decade, and makes her home outside its southwest entrance. “Yosemite is my north star,” she says, “And above tree line is my happy place—I will never tire of wandering in the park’s high country.” In this presentation, she’ll talk about the incredible diversity of wildlife in the park, and share some of her memorable encounters with the wild world, including pika, Yosemite toads, alpine butterflies, bears and much more.

Beth Pratt is a lifelong advocate for wildlife, and worked in environmental leadership roles for over twenty-five years, and in two of the country’s largest national parks: Yosemite and Yellowstone. As the California Regional Executive Director for the National Wildlife Federation, she says, “I have the best job in the world—advocating for the state’s remarkable wildlife.” Beth leads the #SaveLACougars campaign to build the largest wildlife crossing in the world in the Los Angeles area to help save a population of mountain lions from extinction, and her conservation work has been featured by The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC World Service, CBS This Morning, the Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, and NPR.

Her new book, “I Heart Wildlife: A Guided Activity Journal for Connecting With the Wild World,” was released in August, and she is also the author of “When Mountain Lions are Neighbors: People and Wildlife Working It Out In California,” published by Heyday Books. Beth spends much of her time in LA, but makes her home outside of Yosemite, “my north star,” with her five dogs, one cat, and the mountain lions, bears, foxes, and other wildlife that frequent her backyard. More at

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

General Meeting Speaker Schedule

Thanks to the efforts of president Rachel Clark and new board member Lowell Young, we now have speakers scheduled for the remainder of the year. Since Lowell took the position of Program Chair he has reached out to many potential speakers, many of whom he met as president of Yosemite Area Audubon. This schedule is subject to change due to cancelations.

Field Trips

All in-person field trips are on hold. The board has decided to not restart gatherings as long as Fresno County continues to be a hotspot of COVID-19 infections, but the declining case numbers and increasing numbers of vaccinated people give us hope that we will be able to restart by September, the typical start of our field trip season. Until then we will again offer virtual field trips on Saturdays for those wanting a narrated view of local birds.

Saturday 20 March 2021, 9:00-10:00 am ⏤ Virtual Field Trip to River Center with Rachel Clark

Our next virtual field trip will be to the River Center, which is a great place to see both waterfowl and riparian birds along the San Joaquin River. This trip will start at 9:00 am. This should be a lively trip with some great birds, and Rachel will give pointers for identifying the birds we see. Register for the Zoom meeting here.

Wings and Wetlands Virtual Birding Festival
24-26 March 2021

Through a series of Zoom classes, meet leading experts on birds, wetlands, and conservation messages and resources to enhance your next wetland visit.  Featured presenters include Kenn Kaufman (field Guide author, naturalist, and artist), Alvaro Jaramillo biologist, conservationist, guide), Sharon ‘The Bird Chick’ Stiteler (Birder, speaker, author) and others. Topics of presentations will include the link of Kansas wetlands to bird migrations, the psychology of birding, humorous birding stories, bird identification, Kansas wetlands, Kansas raptors and SmartPhone birding. The Wings & Wetland Festival virtual event will take place on 24 – 26 March  2021. Registration is $20.  Proceeds from the Wings & Wetlands Festival will benefit conservation efforts at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

Information and registration at



Fresno-Madera Birds
by Jeff Davis
Including reports for the period of

January 16, 2021 to February 15, 2021

Our area’s first Blue-winged x Cinnamon Teal lingered at the River Center through the period (ph. m.ob.).

Blue-winged Teal x Cinnamon Teal hybrid by Lynn Hemink

A male and female Greater Scaup at Lost Lake Park January 30 (ph. RB) provided the first record for Fresno County since 2015 and first record for Lost Lake Park since 2005.

Two Common Ground Doves were along Flum Ditch in Biola 19 January 2021 (ph. GW) and January 24 (ph. BaM, BrM), where the species is evidently resident in small numbers.

Common Ground Dove by Gary Woods

Madera County’s first Pacific Loon in six years continued at Bass Lake at least through February 12 (NJ).

Pacific Loon by Gary Woods

The adult male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Woodward Park continued there through at least January 25 (ph. CC), and the juvenile male at Lost Lake Park (ph. SH, ph. TD) continued there at least through January 24 (ph. KC, EE).

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Gary Woods

Two Cassin’s Kingbirds continued at Sycamore Island at least through January 24 (ph. BaM, BrM).

Cassin’s Kingbird by Gary Woods

A Hammond’s Flycatcher near Peach and Sierra avenues in Clovis February 4 (EE) furnished our first winter record since 2012.

Hammonds Flycatcher by Gary Woods

The adult female Vermillion Flycatcher along the Madera Canal continued there at least through January 18 (RS). Another female near Road 8 and Avenue 18 ½ January 18 (ph. BS) at least through January 24 (BM) established the second record for Madera County.

Adult female Vermillion Flycatcher by Gary Woods

The first Cliff Swallows of the season were at the Fresno WTP (ph. GW) and at the Westside Detention Basin (AS) February 8, a few days ahead of schedule.

Cliff Swallow by Gary Woods

The first Gray-headed Junco for our area continued at Woodward Park through the period (ph. m.ob.).

A male Hooded Oriole at the Fresno WTP February 8 (ph. GW) was presumably a wintering bird as migrants generally don’t start arriving until mid-March.

Hooded Oriole by Gary Woods

Cited Observers: Ralph Baker, Kaia Colestock, Elias Elias, Nina Jones, Barry Mast, Bruce Mast, Alex Single, Brian Sullivan, 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

Audubon Scientists Reveal Migration Bottlenecks Used by Tens of Millions of Birds

Black-throated Gray Warbler. Photo: Scott Somershoe/USFWS/Flickr (CC 0)

New study details how California’s Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta in Mexico provide food and shelter for globally significant numbers of migratory birds.

NEW YORK—(26 January 2021). Today, scientists from National Audubon Society published a study highlighting the high conservation value of California’s Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta for tens of millions of migratory landbirds each year. The study, led by Audubon’s new Migratory Bird Initiative and published in Ornithological Applications, estimates that more than 65 million birds use major portions of the Central Valley during fall migration, and about 17 million birds use the Colorado River Delta during spring migration. These regions are important migratory routes at the population level for dozens of species. Audubon scientists also found the Central Valley and Colorado River Delta to be migratory “bottlenecks,” because these regions had highly concentrated numbers of birds compared to similarly sized geographies at the same latitude. Protecting the Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta will be critical in conserving the populations of North American migratory birds into the future.

“Spring and fall migration seasons can be the most dangerous times of the year for migratory birds. We now know more than ever about bird migration, allowing us to take important steps to protect them,” said Bill DeLuca, PhD, migration ecologist with Audubon’s Migratory Bird Initiative and primary author of the study. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of protecting birds year-round, and not just in breeding and wintering habitat, if we want to secure their future.”

Using data from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird Status and Trends team and population estimates from Partners in Flight, Audubon scientists summarized the abundance and spatial concentration of 112 species of migratory landbirds, week by week across the study regions.

Audubon researchers highlighted three major findings:

1) California’s Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta along the United States-Mexico border are migration hotspots for tens of millions of migratory birds as they fly up and down western North America.

2) The tens of millions of birds that fly through these regions represent major proportions of many species’ global populations. For example, in the spring, more than 27 percent of North America’s Tree Swallows migrate through the Colorado River Delta, and 80 percent of Lawrence’s Goldfinches migrate through the Tulare region of the Central Valley. In the fall, more than five percent of the Black-throated Gray Warblers migrate through the Colorado River Delta, and nearly 40 percent of Anna’s Hummingbirds migrate through the Central Valley. Full list of species and proportions available upon request.

3) The Valley and Delta act as migratory bottlenecks. As birds migrate through these latitudes, they funnel into these study regions. These high concentrations of birds makes them especially vulnerable to threats. Migratory bird conservation efforts and research should therefore focus on these key regions.

Audubon California, the state office of National Audubon Society, has worked on land and water conservation efforts in the Central Valleyfor decades.

“We’ve long known of the Valley’s importance to migrating waterfowl, but we were astounded at the sheer number of land-based birds who also depend on the region – for instance, nearly 40 percent of all Anna’s Hummingbirds migrate through the Valley in the fall. This study puts an exclamation point on what we already have come to see as the Valley’s hemisphere-wide importance,” said Meghan Hertel, director of land and water conservation for Audubon California.

The Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta are not just important for locally breeding birds, they are also important for common migratory birds that people enjoy in their backyards and parks up and down the Pacific Flyway.

“This study further demonstrates the outsized importance of the Colorado River Delta, particularly for the many birds that migrate through, including 27 percent of the global population of Tree Swallows in the spring and more than five percent of breeding Black-throated Gray Warblers in the fall, as well as many other land birds,”said Jennifer Pitt, Audubon’s Colorado River Program Director. “And while the Delta is just a remnant of what it once was—due to upstream water diversions, historic drought, and climate change—we know that targeted and strategic restoration projects with our partners in Mexico will result in positive outcomes for both people and birds.”

Many North American landbirds are declining at alarming rates, and we need to know the places that they depend on throughout the year. Audubon’s Migratory Bird Initiative is working with migration researchers and conservation practitioners to use the best available migration science to help steer conservation efforts to these critical landscapes.

To learn more about Audubon’s Migratory Bird Initiative, please visit

Click here for the PDF of the study.

Click here for an infographic from the study for third-party use (or use map embedded above).

Wildlife Photographer Captures ‘Never Before Seen’ Yellow Penguin

A wildlife photographer has shared a once-in-a-lifetime photo of what he believes is a “never before seen” yellow penguin. Belgian landscape and wildlife photographer Yves Adams was leading a two-month photo exhibition in the South Atlantic in December 2019 when the group made a stop on an island in South Georgia to photograph a colony of over 120,000 king penguins. Read more…

Desert mammals survive climate change underground. For birds, it’s a different story

In the struggle to survive the ever hotter deserts of California, there are winners and losers. Among the losers are desert birds, whose populations have collapsed amid the heat stress of climate change. The winners, it turns out, are small burrowing mammals, including the cactus mouse, kangaroo rat and white-tailed antelope squirrel, which take refuge from the sun underground. Read more…

Birds use massive magnetic maps to migrate – and some could cover the whole world

Every year, billions of songbirds migrate thousands of miles between Europe and Africa – and then repeat that same journey again, year after year, to nest in exactly the same place that they chose on their first great journey. The remarkable navigational precision displayed by these tiny birds – as they travel alone over stormy seas, across vast deserts, and through extremes in weather and temperature – has been one of the enduring mysteries of behavioural biology. Read more…

The World’s Largest Eagles

Eagles are birds of prey synonymous with strength, power, and tenacity. They are gracious birds used as national symbols in many countries such as the United States and Japan. In the avian kingdom, eagles can be found at the very top of the food chain. They are very successful birds in terms of hunting down prey and weathering the harshest environmental conditions. These heavily built birds have attracted interest from scientists and researchers who study their unique adaptations and habitats. Below are some of the biggest eagles in the world in terms of total length, wingspan and body mass. Read more…

How The Military Helped Bring Back The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

The U.S. military and conservation groups forged an unusual alliance to help save the red-cockaded woodpecker, but a Trump-era move to take the bird off the endangered list could threaten the species. Read more…

eBird Essentials, a free course from the Bird Academy

Get up to speed on how the largest biological citizen-science program in the world can help you with your birding. The eBird community gathers more than 100 million bird sightings each year from people like you. Providing a powerful tool for motivated bird enthusiasts everywhere, eBird helps you find more birds and keep track of your sightings. Collectively, these sightings are now empowering a global scientific community and helping answer pressing conservation questions. Full of video tutorials, this course will get you ready to confidently store and share your sightings with eBird. Read more…

Places to bird during social distancing within a half hour drive of Fresno

We would also like to offer the following suggestions for birding on your own. Birding alone or with a household member is permitted as a means of exercise as long as a six-foot separation from others is maintained (see for example Fresno City Emergency Order 2020-13). Many public parks and other areas are now closed, but these areas below remain open. Be sure to follow any parking restrictions when birding these areas.

Fresno County

Jensen River Ranch

Riverbottom Park

River West

Big Dry Creek Reservoir grasslands

Enterprise Canal, Clovis

Cotton Wood Park, Clovis

Madera County

Wildwood Native Park and trail to Sycamore Island

Rd 208

Rd 209

Hildreth (210) Rd loop

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 will also showcase your photos on our social media.

Cara Barnhill

Cedar Waxwing by Cara Barnhill. Clovis, CA. 9 January 2021.

Larry Cusick

Male Wood Duck by Larry Cusick

Female Wood Duck by Larry Cusick. Roeding Park Jan 19

Lark Sparrow by Larry Cusick. San Joaquin River. 16 February 2021.

Great Horned Owl by Larry Cusick. San Joaquin River. 16 February 2021.

Two American Coots and a Common Gallinule by Larry Cusick. San Joaquin River. 16 February 2021.

Black-crowned Night-Heron by Larry Cusick. San Joaquin River. 9 February 2021.

American Kestrel by Larry Cusick. San Joaquin River. 9 February 2021.

Nelson Ernst

Western Meadowlark by Nelson Ernst. Clovis, CA. 24 January 2020.

Mountain Bluebird by Nelson Ernst. Clovis, CA. 4 February 2020.

Hooded Merganser by Nelson Ernst. Clovis, CA. 25 February 2020.

Northern Cardinal by Nelson Ernst. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY. 2 March 2020.

Northern Shrike by Nelson Ernst. Near Sacramento, CA. 18 March 2020.

Anna’s Hummingbird by Nelson Ernst. Nice, CA. 22 March 2020.

Lark Sparrow by Nelson Ernst. Wellbarn Rd. 3 March 2020.

White-breasted Nuthatch by Nelson Ernst. Wellbarn Rd. 3 March 2020.

American Robin by Nelson Ernst. Maxson Rd. 10 March 2020.

George Folsom

Fox Sparrow by George Folsom

American Widgeon by George Folsom

Lesser Goldfinch by George Folsom

Cedar Waxwing by George Folsom

Judy Johnson

Great Horned Owl by Judy Johnson

Sandhill Crane by Judy Johnson

Western Meadowlark by Judy Johnson

Nina Jones

Canada Geese by Nina Jones. Lost Lake Park.

Great Egret by Nina Jones. Lost Lake Park.

Tree Swallow by Nina Jones. River Center.

Bald Eagle by Nina Jones. Bass Lake, CA.

Pacific Loon by Nina Jones. Bass Lake, CA.

Red-tailed Hawk by Nina Jones. Road 406, CA.

Belted Kingfisher by Nina Jones. Road 403, Hensley Dam, CA.

Scott Holm

Yellow-rumped Warbler by Scott Holm. Los Banos Wildlife Management Area, CA. 8 February 2021.

Sandhill Crane by Scott Holm. Los Banos Wildlife Management Area, CA. 8 February 2021.

Black-necked Stilts by Scott Holm. Los Banos Wildlife Management Area, CA. 8 February 2021.

White-faced Ibis by Scott Holm. Los Banos Wildlife Management Area, CA. 8 February 2021.

Black-necked Stilts by Scott Holm. Los Banos Wildlife Management Area, CA. 8 February 2021.

Yellow-rumped Warbler by Scott Holm. Los Banos Wildlife Management Area, CA. 8 February 2021.

Yoshida Keiko

Western Gull by Yoshida Keiko, Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA.

Great Egret by Yoshida Keiko. Pismo Beach, CA.

Bald Eagle by Yoshida Keiko. Hensley Lake, CA.

Dark-eyed Junco by Yoshida Keiko. Uvas Canyon, Santa Cruz County, CA.

Sandra McMillan-Cato

Great Horned Owl by Sandra McMillan-Cato

Savannah Sparrow by Sandra McMillan-Cato

Sandhill Crane by Sandra McMillan-Cato

Larry Parmeter

Female Vermillion Flycatcher by Larry Parmeter. Merced NWR. 7 March 2021.

Snow (“Blue”) Goose by Larry Parmeter. Merced NWR. 7 March 2021.

Aleutian Cackling Geese by Larry Parmeter. Hwy 132 and Gates Rd, Stanislaus County. 7 March 2021.

Judy Smith

Yellow-rumped Warbler by Judy Smith. Northwest Fresno. February 2021.

Cooper’s Hawk by Judy Smith. Northwest Fresno. 26 February 2021.

Cooper’s Hawk by Judy Smith. Northwest Fresno. 26 February 2021.

Yellow-rumped Warbler by Judy Smith. Northwest Fresno. 16 February 2021.

Spotted Towhee by Judy Smith. Northwest Fresno. 16 February 2021.

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