28 Apr May 2022 Yellowbill
Greetings, FAS members and friends. I hope this message finds you healthy and safe.
Here we are in May, and spring migration is in full swing. Bullock’s Orioles are singing and chattering, Black-headed Grosbeaks are belting out their robin-like song, the distinctive, raspy song and calls of Ash-throated Flycatchers are filling the air in oak woodlands, and this is only scratching the surface. Personally, this time of year is my favorite! I hope that you are all able to get out and soak up some late spring birding this month before things heat up here in the San Joaquin Valley.
We want to thank everyone who attended our April field trips, which were a great success. We have some exciting field trips scheduled for the month of May, which are listed below.
- Wednesday, May 11⏤Sycamore Island
- Saturday, May 14⏤China Creek Park and Avocado Lake Park
- Wednesday, May 25⏤Cricket Hollow
FAS resumed our beginning birder class and beginning birder hike in April out at the River Center. The plan is to hold another class and hike in May. If you are interested in attending the class or the hike, or both, please see the announcement later in the newsletter or look for event announcements via email and on FAS social media. If any of you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Saturday, May 21⏤Introduction to birding class
- Saturday, May 28⏤Beginning bird walk
I also want to mention that FAS has the following field trips schedule for the month of June:
- Saturday, June 11⏤Swanson Meadow, McKinley Grove, and Courtright Reservoir
- Wednesday, June 22⏤Steven’s Ranch, Moss Landing
- Saturday, June 25⏤Tamarack Ridge
We would like to remind everyone of the current requirements for attending FAS in-person field trips and classes. We are no longer requiring that participants be fully vaccinated. Masks are now optional for all FAS outdoor events. We still require that participants must not be exhibiting any symptoms of Covid-19. Registration is still REQUIRED for all in-person field trips, and participants must register individually. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
Thank you again to all of those who attended the April 12 general meeting. Pamela Flick of Defenders of Wildlife talked to us about the return of Gray Wolves to California, which was an outstanding presentation. If you missed Pamela Flick’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, May 10. Dan Airola will be talking to us about the Yellow-billed Magpie, a species endemic to California and the FAS mascot. Here is the link to registration.
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!
To end this message, I’d like to share two photos I took recently of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow out at Jensen River Ranch. Note the small head and small beak, the long pointed wings, the rich brown backside, the dingy brown throat, sides and breast, and the white belly. Enjoy!
Please take care of yourselves!
Fresno Audubon Society President
May General Meeting
Yellow-Billed Magpie Population Status in Urban Sacramento
Tuesday, 10 May 2022
Dan’s talk will cover his studies of the Yellow-billed Magpie population that occupies parks and other open space areas within the urban Sacramento area. Dan documents the previously unstudied ecology of Central Valley magpie populations. He describes new information that explains the occurrence and abundance of magpies in this area. He also solves the mystery of how magpies appear to have maintained stable and healthy populations in this urban area, while populations in more rural areas have been decimated by West Nile virus.
Dan Airola is a Wildlife Biologist and Ornithologist, who has lived in the Central Valley since 1985. Dan conducts research and conservation efforts for birds of concern in northern California, often with a community science component. He began studies of Yellow-billed Magpies during 2020 after discovering that almost no ecological study of the species had occurred in the Central Valley. His other research and conservation program species include the Tricolored Blackbird, Purple Martin, Swainson’s Hawk, Osprey, and migratory and wintering songbirds. He is a Board member and Conservation Chair of the Central Valley Bird Club, and Editor of the journal Central Valley Birds. His recent book on 30 years of Purple Martin research and management is available at cvbirds.org.
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.
Field Trip Schedule
Now that the Omicron surge of COVID-19 is past in our area, Fresno Audubon Field Trip leaders met Sunday 20 March to plan future field trips for more than a moth ahead. Please know that another surge could change these plans. Following is the current schedule for future trips. This schedule is subject to change due to cancelations.
May 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. As we move into the endemic phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone must determine their own level of risk aversion. The CDC’s newest recommendations state that masks should be optional when outdoors. It has been shown that a well-fitting N95 mask protects the wearer for several hours from an infectious dose of virus, so anyone concerned about exposure can choose to wear a mask near others if they feel at risk. Following are our current guidelines for our field trips.
- Participants must pre-register individually using the FAS event registration system.
- Participants must self-screen their own temperature before the outing and must not attend if they are feverish.
- Participants must consent to Fresno Audubon Society’s Liability Waiver by pre-registering.
- Social distancing is encouraged.
- Masks are not required, but participants are encouraged to wear a mask whenever they feel the need.
- Some field trips meet up at a central point before traveling to the field trip location. Participants may form their own car pools at these meetup points.
- Participants must contact their trip leader should they test positive for COVID-19 within three days following the outing so that we can notify others who attended the trip.
Wednesday 11 May 2022 ⏤ Sycamore Island with George Folsom
Join trip leader George Folsom to explore Sycamore Island. Sycamore Island is along the San Joaquin River in Madera County downstream from River West open space. It offers a variety of habitats: ponds, riparian, grasslands, oak woodlands and wetlands. We can expect ducks, raptors, herons, egrets, orioles, woodpeckers and perhaps migrating warblers and vireos among many others.
Meet at the access gate off Ave 9, Madera County at 8:00 a.m.. See map below. This is a large property and we will do a combination of driving and walking. Walking distance will be 1 to 2 miles, but those who don’t care to walk can drive to most of the areas.
There are picnic shelters with tables for lunch and restrooms on the property. Participants should bring snacks, lunch (if desired), water, hat, sunscreen, and binoculars, and should dress in layers.
Checklist: ID, binoculars, bird guide, water, sun protection and lunch.
Saturday 14 May 2022 ⏤ China Creek Park and Avocado Lake Park with Rachel Clark
Join Fresno Audubon on Saturday, May 14 as we celebrate World Migratory Bird Day 2022 by exploring China Creek Park and Avocado Lake Park. We will meet at 06:30 in the Wal-Mart parking lot at Blackstone and Ashlan (36.793565, -119.789792, near El Pollo Loco), where we will arrange carpooling.
From there, we will make the approximately 30 minute drive to China Creek Park in Centerville (36.722578, -119.502003). Entry is free at China Creek Park, but parking is a little limited near the entrance. We will hike around China Creek for about 3 to 4 hours. At this location, our target species will be Black-headed Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole, Western Tanager, Yellow Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and many more!
After birding at China Creek, we will head to Avocado Lake (36.782435, -119.407550), where we will have a picnic lunch before birding. Be advised that there is a $5 fee per vehicle to enter Avocado Lake Park. Our target species at Avocado Lake will be Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Violet-green Swallow, Oak Titmouse, Phainopepla, Lesser Goldfinch, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and several others! We will plan to wrap up around 2:00 or 3:00 PM.
Participants should bring snacks, lunch, water, hat, sunscreen, and binoculars, and should dress in layers.
Registration is required for all participants. We ask that all participants register individually. This trip is limited to 25 participants. Please reach out to trip leader Rachel Clark at 515-357-0122 or email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns. Please register for the event here.
For anyone curious about World Migratory Bird Day, here is a link to more information: https://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org/.
Wednesday 25 May 2022 ⏤ Cricket Hollow Park in Reedley with Larry Parmeter
The FAS Wednesday Walk on May 25 will be to Cricket Hollow Park in Reedley, on the bank of the Kings River. This should be a good opportunity to see spring migrants, as well as riparian, woodland, and river birds. Birding at the park is an easy walk on level ground. The trip should last about three hours. If time permits, the trail along the Kings River next to nearby Reedley College will also be covered. Participants will meet at the Walmart at Blackstone and Ashlan at 8 a.m. and caravan to Reedley. Maps from Fresno to Cricket Hollow will be provided. Bring a lunch. Participants are responsible for arranging any carpooling beforehand.
Participants should bring snacks, lunch, water, hat, sunscreen, and binoculars, and should dress in layers. Registration is required for all participants.
April field trip reports
Fresno/Clovis Wastewater Treatment Plant
Saturday 9 April 2022
Thirteen birders, including a few first-timers with FAS, braved steady 30 mph winds to bird the WTP last Saturday. The reward was 55 species, including a Peregrine Falcon that harassed the large flocks of Dowitchers and Least Sandpipers. Other highlights were three baby Barn Owls in a nest box, Swainson’s Hawks and a few Dunlin in breeding plumage. The Ruddy Ducks were transitioning to breeding plumage with some sporting blue bills and red feathers. The staff at the WTP were very accommodating. We want to especially thank Jennifer Loving for allowing us to enter the plant with our group and for providing a PortaPotty on the site!
Following is the eBird list for the day.
Apr 9, 2022 8:31 AM – 12:50 PM
Checklist Comments: Fresno Audubon field trip
Greater White-fronted Goose 12
Canada Goose 16
Cinnamon Teal 4
Northern Shoveler 50
American Wigeon 1
Northern Pintail 1
Ring-necked Duck 2
Lesser Scaup 2
Ruddy Duck 100
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Eared Grebe 100
Clark’s Grebe 1
Rock Pigeon 5
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Mourning Dove 2
Anna’s Hummingbird 1
American Coot 500
Black-necked Stilt 25
American Avocet 30
Least Sandpiper 65
Western Sandpiper 10
Long-billed Dowitcher 500
Greater Yellowlegs 7
California Gull 21
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 6
Cattle Egret 2
White-faced Ibis 5
Swainson’s Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 5
Barn Owl 3
Peregrine Falcon 1
Black Phoebe 2
Western Kingbird 2
American Crow 4
Horned Lark 10
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3
Tree Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 3
Cliff Swallow 200
European Starling 2
House Sparrow 2
American Pipit 15
House Finch 1
White-crowned Sparrow 5
Golden-crowned Sparrow 5
Savannah Sparrow 4
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Brewer’s Blackbird 25
View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S106638762
Wednesday 13 April 2022
The April 13th Wednesday Audubon outing began on the River Parkways Sumner Peck Ranch property. The morning was sunny, cool and breezy. As a group we tallied 46 species. We walked a total of 2.6 miles and finished our outing at around 11:45am. While still in the parking area located near the river the group observed a Lewis’s Woodpecker perched in an Oak. This was a first sighting for a number of the participants. A pair of Hooded Orioles were seen in the same area. As we made our way along the trail to the river we heard and observed White-crowned Sparrows and an Ash-throated Flycatcher amongst the Willows. Numerous Tree Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows flew overhead. A 2nd year Bald Eagle glided above and lingered long enough for us to observe the longer juvenile feathers among the shorter new ones along with the white belly and extensive white on the wings. A Red-tailed Hawk was also seen hovering above the young Eagle. From there we continued on to the Ball Ranch property where we followed the trail that moves through an extensive grove of Valley Oaks where we saw many Yellow-rumped Warblers and heard but didn’t see a Red-shouldered hawk. A Western Kingbird was spied across the river and on the water there were seen both Hooded and Common Mergansers.
One of the highlights of the walk was a group of 9+ Lewis’s Woodpeckers flying and vocalizing animatedly for several minutes in a large Oak. Thank you to all who participated. It was a grand day outside.
Saturday 23 April 2022
Lost Lake Park
Wednesday 27 April 2022
Introduction to Birding Classes and Field Trips at the River Center
Introduction to Birding at the River Center
Saturday 21 May 2022
9:00 – 11:00 am
Introductory Bird Walk at the River Center
Saturday 28 May 2022
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
by Jeff Davis
Including reports for the period of
March 16, 2022 to April 15, 2022
Reported less than annually in our area, four Greater Scaup visited the California Aqueduct near Russell Ave March 25 (ph. GF); three were found there March 26 (CH).
Also less than annual, a Red-necked Grebe was photographed at Bass Lake April 6 (ph. PS).
Much more regular though still rare, a Horned Grebe was at the Fresno Wastewater Treatment Plant April 11 (ph. GW).
Madera County’s first Common Ground Dove was spotted April 12 by out-of-state birders (KJ, AS) near Ave 176 and Rd 16 ½, about 20 miles northwest of previous observations near Biola in Fresno County. This observation also represents the northernmost record of this species for the Central Valley.
A Black-throated Sparrow, our first this season, was at Big Dry Creek Reservoir April 6 (ph. N,SO).
Cited Observers: George Folsom, Chris Hiatt, Kent Jensen, Ng,Sze On, Allison Shorter, Penny Stewart. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please send your photos in jpeg format with a width of 1024 pixels and a resolution of 72 pixels/inch to email@example.com 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.
W. Timmothy Brox
Ng, Sze On (Aaron)
Birds in the News
Links to Recent Articles on Birds
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The California condor, one of the rarest and most majestic birds on the planet, hasn’t flown over Northern California for more than a century. That will soon change. Members of the Yurok Tribe recently transported four condors, secured in dog crates in the back of SUVs, from the Central Coast to Redwood National and State Parks in Humboldt County, where they’re acclimating before being released into the wild later this month.
Environmental activism can do wonders for your mental health
Melanie O’Driscoll was studying zoology at University College Cork when she had a first-hand encounter with the mental health impacts of climate change. A nature enthusiast since childhood, she loved learning about different species and their habitats. But as she studied, she became increasingly worried about warming global temperatures and the existential threat they posed to the planet’s ecosystems.
Birds are Nesting Almost a Month Earlier Due to Climate Change
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A wind energy company has pleaded guilty after killing at least 150 eagles
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Researchers claim to have sighted a bird not seen since 1944
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An outbreak of avian flu that has been spreading across the United States and Canada over the past six months only seems to be getting worse. First appearing in Canada last fall, the flu has ravaged industrial flocks and has now been detected in a wide variety of North American wild birds, raising alarms among ecologists. Read more…