November 2019 Yellowbill

31 Oct November 2019 Yellowbill


President’s Message

“Birds are telling us its time to take action on climate change.” That’s how David Yarnold, CEO of the National Audubon Society, introduced Audubon’s new report Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink on 10 October 2019. Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records and the same climate models used by more than 800 experts in 80 countries. Our science shows that the majority of North American bird species—even familiar and beloved birds like the Wood Thrush and American Robin—are at risk of extinction from climate change.

But the report also offers hope. It shows that if we take action now we can help improve the chances for the overwhelming majority of species at risk—but we have to move quickly. The report has excellent suggestions on how to get involved, including a Guide to Taking Climate Action, urging congress to take climate action, working locally on climate action, and planting native plants for birds. Audubon has created reports for every state describing what is most likely in store for each state’s birds. You can read the California report here.

We have three field trips this month, including two to the west side of the valley (Del Puerto Road on Wednesday 6 November with Clayton Dahlen and Panoche Valley with Rachel Clark on Saturday 16 November). Then on Tuesday (not Wednesday as usual) 19 November we will be visiting Ball Ranch on the San Joaquin River with George Folsom. There is no general meeting in November, but on 10 December at the Woodward Park Library Gary Woods will present ”Birding in southeast Arizona” with directions and photographs from 2005-2019.  You can register for the event here.

The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey for 2019 will be from 15 November to 15 December.  Fresno Audubon Society (FAS) will again be surveying routes in the Mendota Wildlife Area and the Los Banos Wildlife Area.  Surveys require two to four people to count shorebirds and to make estimations of the habitat in terms of vegetation height, percent of area covered with water, etc. Surveys can only be done on Mondays and Thursdays due to waterfowl hunting, and surveys take a full day. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at

The birdathon this year produced 193 species in Fresno and Madera Counties between 15 September and 15 October. Four rare species were recorded as well, so if you want to make the suggested donation of $0.25/species and $5 /rare species, your donation would be $68.25. You can pay your donation through PayPal here, or send a check to FAS, PO Box 3315, Fresno, CA 93650. We are close to having a balanced budget for FY 2019, which ends 31 December, and your generous birdathon donation would help us ensure this happens. We plan to present a financial report to our membership in January 2020.

Our board is looking for new members, and we also have two officer positions opening up in December. Barbara Bailey is resigning as secretary due to physical limitations, and I will be finishing my third 2-year term as president of FAS. Although I will no longer be president I will continue to serve on the board and to write this monthly blog, The Yellowbill. It has been a very interesting and rewarding job for me, but it is time for someone else to lead FAS into the future.

Robert Snow


General Meetings

There will be no general meeting in the months of October and November. In December Gary Woods will present ”Birding in southeast Arizona” with directions and photographs from 2005-2019. You can register for the event here.

Birdathon Fundraiser
Fresno and Madera Counties
Sept 15 to Oct 15, 2019

While the period for sighting birds for the birdathon is over for 2019, we are still accepting donations. If you would like to donate to this year’s birdathon, you can either make a sponsorship donation (in an amount of your choosing) or donate per species. If you choose to donate per species ($0.25/species plus $5 for rare species seen in Fresno and Madera counties between 15 September and 15 October 2019), your donation would be for 193 species plus 4 rare species, or $68.25. We appreciate your support.

Two ways to donate

  1. Make a sponsorship donation
    $25 ___$50 ___$75 ___$100   $______ other
  1. Donate per species observed.

The birdathon results:  $0.25 per species (x193=$48.25) & $5.00 per rare species (x4=$20). Total = $68.25.

You may pay  by:

  1. Mailing checks Fresno Audubon Society, P.O. Box 3315, Fresno, CA 93650
  2. Going online and using the donate button at:

Field Trips

Our website has a calendar that allows you to see all the details of upcoming trips as each become finalized. Included in the details is a link to 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, and to register for the field trip.

New for the 2019-2020 birding season, we will be adding an event registration page for each outing. This is to provide trip leaders with the expected number of participants. When you register you also sign our liability waiver, which saves both time and paper. We encourage to register for any event you plan to attend. Tickets for our events are NOT required.

For those who prefer a simple list of trips, you can view or download the one by clicking here.

November Field Trips

Wednesday 6 November 2019 – Del Puerto Road with Clayton Dahlen

American Kestrel by Clayton Dahlen

This trip will take us west of Patterson to a river canyon road that goes from the valley up to the mountain divide with varying altitude and habitat. Lunch will be at Frank Raines Park.

To register for the event, click here.

Meeting location: Target at Herndon and Highway 99
Directions to the meeting place

Secondary meeting location: near I-5 Chevron at Rogers Rd and Sperry Ave on the western outskirts of Patterson.

Directions to secondary meeting location

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

Trip leader: Clayton Dahlen (559)593-2367

Saturday 16 November 2019 – Panoche Valley with Rachel Clark

Bell’s Sparrow by Gary Woods

Join Fresno Audubon on Saturday, November 16 on a day trip to Panoche Valley. Panoche Valley is a highly renowned Important Bird Area (IBA). Expect to see Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Harrier, Prairie Falcon, Burrowing Owl, Greater Roadrunner, Mountain Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Loggerhead Shrike, California Thrasher, Bell’s Sparrow, and many others. This is a trip you do not want to miss! Participants will meet at 6:45 AM in the parking lot of the Walmart Supercenter on Blackstone and Ashlan Avenues for a 7:00 AM departure. The trip will last until approximately 4:30 or 5:00 PM. Please be sure to bring binoculars, lunch, snacks, plenty of water, hats, sunscreen, and layered clothing. For more information, please feel free to reach out to trip leader Rachel Clark at 515-357-0122 or

Sign up for this trip here

Wednesday 19 November 2019 – Ball Ranch with George Folsom

Black-crowned Night-Heron by Larry Cusick

NOTE DAY CHANGE!!!     19 November  is Tuesday 

Ball Ranch is on the San Joaquin River Parkway between Friant Rd and the San Joaquin River downstream from Lost Lake. Habitats include grasslands, oak woodlands, ponds, wetlands and riparian.  Please meet at the River Center at 11605 N Old Friant Rd, Fresno CA at 7:45 AM for an 8:00 AM departure and carpool to Ball Ranch. We will drive part of the property and may walk about a mile but you may bird around the parking areas if you prefer. There are no restrooms or picnic tables on this property.  We plan to finish by noon and will have lunch at the River Center.
Lewis’s Woodpeckers have been observed on this property along with other woodpecker species. Hawks, eagles, ducks, herons, egrets, sparrows, wrens, thrushes, gulls, grebes and many more may be seen on this outing.
Checklist: binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, radios

For a map to the meeting place, click here.


Fresno-Madera Birds
by Jeff Davis
Including reports for the period of
September 16 to October 15, 2019

A Common Ground Dove

Common Ground Dove by Gary Woods

at the FWTP September 17 (GW) was about eight miles southeast of where this species has been reported most frequently and could represent a minor range expansion for this nascent population.

Two Marbled Godwits

Marbled Godwit by Gary Woods

September 17 (ph. RS, GW) and September 18 (JN) and a Red Knot

September 17 (ph. RS, GW) marked the end of the seasonal passage of rare migrant shorebirds at the Fresno Wastewater Treatment Plant. However, they did not mark the end of rarities there for the season. A Parasitic Jaeger

there September 27 (ph. JM) provided the third record for Fresno County, and a Common Tern

there September 30 (ph. DH) was a good find as we average less than one per year in our area.

Our first rare landbird of the “winter” season was a Red-naped Sapsucker

along Old Millerton Rd between Auberry Rd and Hwy 168 October 8 (ph. JS).

Cited Observers: Diane Highbaugh, Josh McLaughlin, Jeremy Neipp, Rick Saxton, Jervy Smith, Gary Woods. ph. = photographed by.

 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

7 uncanny facts about crows

Intelligence runs in the crow family, a diverse group of more than 120 bird species. And, as with most geniuses, crows and their relatives tend to be misunderstood.

Known as corvids, this family of birds includes not just crows, but also ravens, rooks, jays, jackdaws, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and choughs. They range from the 1-ounce dwarf jay, a small forest bird found only in Mexico, to the 3-pound common raven, a wily opportunist found across the Northern Hemisphere.

Corvids are incredibly clever overall, with the largest brain-to-body-size ratios of any birds, but those in the genus Corvus tend to be especially brainy. This genus includes the crows, ravens, rooks and jackdaws, accounting for about a third of all corvid species. Read more…

Chicks born with ability to distinguish and avoid different dangers

Chicks are born with the knowledge to flee from predators rather than learning it from experience, according to a study by University of Trento and Queen Mary University of London.

The researchers also found that new-born know to slow down or stop moving to avoid being noticed when a predator is far away.

The study, published in the journal PNAS, shows that these responses do not require learning but are known by the chick before it is born. Read more…

The Best Photography Tips for Bird-Watchers

Photographing wild birds is a challenging pursuit. It presents even more hurdles than other wildlife photography: Not only are the birds able to fly away as soon as you’ve set up the perfect shot, but they’re often obscured by branches, twigs, and foliage, or silhouetted against a bright sky. But the challenge is part of the fun, and when you get that one magic shot out of the 400 you took, it’s all worthwhile.

The tips here are not for professional wildlife photographers who use equipment that easily costs north of 10 thousand dollars. They’re for the birder who goes on walks trying to see and document as many new species as they can. You’re in good hands, because I’ve made all the mistakes. I hope I can save you from falling victim to the many pitfalls I’ve suffered. Read more…

Why Indiana is putting “backpacks” on birds

Throughout the Midwest and even up and down the Western Hemisphere, birds are flying around with “backpacks” on and it’s all thanks to Indiana University researchers who are looking to get a bird’s-eye view of our environment.

“We go out and catch these birds mostly in the spring using almost invisible nets that are specially made to catch birds,” says Alex Jahn, who is a migration patterns fellow at Indiana’s Environmental Resilience Institute. “And, when we have the bird in the hand, we attach GPS tracking devices to them, to understand their movements throughout the entire year. And these are just like a little tiny backpack. They weigh less than two grams, and they give us an idea of exactly what the bird is doing on a day-to-day basis. The bird doesn’t even notice it’s there, but it gives us very valuable data.” Read more…

Nightjars time their epic migration flights using a lunar calendar

The European nightjar, which migrates from northern Europe to sub-Saharan Africa, seems to synchronise its flying with phases of the moon. It is the first time an animal’s migration patterns have been shown to be associated with the lunar cycle.

“Most birds migrate at night, therefore the effect of moonlight on migration has always been an open question,” says Cecilia Nilsson at Cornell University in New York. 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 with your permission.

Rachel Clark

Pacific Wren by Rachel Clark, Sequoia National Park, October 2019


Wrentit by Rachel Clark, Midpines, October 2019


Canyon Wren by Rachel Clark, Midpines, October 2019


Hermit Thrush by Rachel Clark, Midpines, October 2019

Cecelia Sheeter

Anna’s Hummingbird by Cecelia Sheeter, Madera County


Anna’s Hummingbird by Cecelia Sheeter, Madera County

Larry Cusick

Spotted Sandpiper by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019


Nuttall’s Woodpecker by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019


Western Bluebird by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019


Golden-crowned Sparrow by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019


Yellowlegs sp. by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019


Ruby-crowned Kinglet by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019


Pied-billed Grebe by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019


Yellow-rumped Warbler by Larry Cusick, Lost Lake Park, October 2019

Larry Parmeter

Hooded Oriole pair by Larry Parmeter, Fresno yard, June 2019.

Micki Beston

Burrowing Owl by Micki ‘
Beston, Fresno/Clovis Wastewater Treatment Plant


Great-horned Owl by Micki Beston, Merced NWR


Long-earred Owl by Micki Beston, Mercy Hot Springs


Western Screech Owl by Micki Beston, Madera yard


Barred Owl by Micki Beston, Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada


Burrowing Owls by Micki Beston, Lost Lake Park


Northern Saw-whet Owl by Micki Beston, Shaver Lake


Barn Owl by Micki Beston, Arizona


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