November 2022 Yellowbill

30 Oct November 2022 Yellowbill


Editor’s Note

The Yellowbill is published monthly except in June, July and August. It is edited by Robert Snow ( except for the Member Photos section, which is edited by Clayton Dahlen (

President’s Message

Greetings, FAS members and friends. I hope this message finds you well. I hope you are all enjoying the fall weather, and all of the wonderful birding that comes with it!

Our October field trips were a big success! We enjoyed outings to Madera Wastewater Treatment Plant, Clovis Botanical Gardens, and Lost Lake. Many thanks to all who participated!

We have some exciting outings scheduled for the month of November as well, which are listed below.

  • Wednesday, November 2⏤Evening Owl Walk at Jensen River Ranch
  • Saturday, November 5⏤Potluck Lunch at Sumner-Peck Ranch
  • Saturday, November 12⏤Kings River Raptor Trail
  • Saturday, November 19⏤Introduction to Bird Class at the River Center
  • Friday, November 25⏤Opt Outside birding at Millerton Lake (Madera County side)
  • Wednesday, November 30⏤Lake Yosemite in Merced

Anyone interested in these and other upcoming  events can check out the FAS event calendar for more information and links to registration:

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.

We would like to thank those who attended the October 11 general meeting. Wildlife biologist and ornithologist Dan Airola talked to us about Purple Martin conservation. If you missed Dan’s talk and would like to view it, you can find it and other general meeting presentations on our YouTube channel at

The next FAS general meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8.  Ornithologist Homer Hansen will be talking to us about fall raptors in Fresno County. 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 a photo I took recently of a non-breeding  Black Turnstone. Note the dark head, throat, breast, and backside, and the hint of a white belly scarcely visible in this photograph. Also note the dark pointed beak with the very slight upturn. Breeding adults of this species will have a white stripe above the eye and a heavy white spot between the eye and beak.  Look for this species along rocky Pacific coastal areas.  Enjoy!

Please take care of yourselves!

Rachel Clark

Fresno Audubon Society President

Black Turnstone by Rachel Clark


Fresno Audubon Society Continues Its Annual Membership Drive

Fresno Audubons (FAS) is continuing our 2022-2023 membership drive.  FAS annual membership year runs from September 1st through August 31.

Thank you to all of you who generously support Fresno Audubon by paying annual membership dues. Your support makes it possible for FAS to host outstanding speakers on our Zoom General Meetings, maintain our website, conduct guided field trips, teach introductory birding classes, maintain the bird feeding station at the River Center, conduct multiple bird surveys, and advocate for regional and local bird-related issues. To learn more about our work, download our 2020 Annual Report.

FAS members also have exclusive access to the FAS Birding Resource Guide, an online compilation of Central Valley birding resources, and new members receive a FAS sticker that displays the Fresno Audubon logo and website.

Fresno Audubon Society membership levels are:

$15 Student

$25 Individual

$35 Family

$1000 Golden Eagle (Life)

You can join or renew your memberships on the FAS website HERE or download a membership form HERE and mail it along with your check to:

Fresno Audubon Society

PO Box 3315

Fresno, CA  93650

Thank you for your continuing support of Fresno Audubon Society!

November General Meeting

Homer Hansen

Fall Raptors of Fresno County
Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Homer Hansen

Speaker Bio

Homer Hansen grew up in Willcox, Arizona surrounded by Sandhill Cranes in winter and Cassin’s Sparrows in summer.  Homer has a passion for sharing bird watching with others and is a regular field trip leader for several festivals. He has served as chairman of the Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival for nearly 20 years.  Homer loves working with youths and co-founded the Sulphur Springs Valley Young Birders Club and the associated Arizona Young Birder’s Camp, non-profits dedicated to educating youths about birds.  He also instructs workshops on sparrows, raptors, flycatchers, warblers, birding by ear, and bird ecology, including: the Lifelong Learning courses for the Tucson Audubon Society, the Southwestern Sparrows IFO for the American Birding Association, and educational workshops for the Western Field Ornithologists (WFO) conferences.  Homer is a life member of the WFO, Cooper Ornithological Society (COS), and Wilson Ornithological Society (WOS), and just completed two terms with the WFO board as chairman of the Student Programs Committee.

Program Description

As winter settles in our neck of the woods, various species of raptors migrate into our locality, both increasing the numbers of common summer residents and adding a few overwintering species as well.  This presentation will provide comparisons of the natural history, behavior, structure, and field marks for several species, including Golden and Bald Eagles, Turkey Vulture,  Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Ferruginous, and Rough-legged Hawk, and Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawk, and American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine and Prairie Falcons.

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. Check the FAS events calendar for the latest information:

FAS Fall Potluck

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Sumner Peck Ranch

14439 W. Friant Road

11:30 am – 3:30 pm

It’s been far too long since we were able to socialize together.  So, bring your favorite dish and join FAS for lunch at noon and birding at the beautiful Sumner Peck Ranch.  There is no entry fee and parking is free.  FAS will provide drinks and table service.  Take the drive from the gates to the parking area at the end of the drive.  The picnic area is just below the parking lot, next to the river. Let’s celebrate Fresno Fall birding together! Registration is required so that we have a head count.

To learn more and to register, please see the event in our calendar here: For any questions, please contact Maureen Walsh, (559) 706-4980.

Introduction to Birding Classes at the River Center

The Parkway Trust and Fresno Audubon Society have joined forces to offer a birding class that combines instruction, exploration, and fun! Beginning birders will see and learn about local and migratory birds that might be visiting the River Center. New birders will discover easy ways to identify migrating and year-round, local birds. The class will include a walk looking for birds in the various habitats found at the River Center. We will meet at the new picnic shelter on the north side of the center. After learning about using binoculars and various aids in bird identification like guide books and phone apps, we will bird around the property. Bring binoculars, lunch, water and sun protection.  Fresno Audubon will have binoculars to loan if you do not have your own. Children are welcome! Rain cancels this event.
Class is held from 9 AM -12 PM on the third Saturday of each month from October through May. To register for a class, go to our calendar and click on the class you are interested in taking. You will be directed to a registration page for that event.

November Field Trips

FIELD TRIP GUIDELINES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ⏤ Fresno Audubon Society is offering field trips during the now-endemic COVID-19, subject to the following rules. With the continuing risks of exposure and potential illness,  everyone must determine their own level of risk aversion. The CDC has recommended 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.

  1. Participants must pre-register individually using the FAS event registration system.
  2. Participants must self-screen their own temperature before the outing and must not attend if they are feverish.
  3. Participants must consent to Fresno Audubon Society’s Liability Waiver by pre-registering.
  4. Social distancing is encouraged.
  5. Masks are not required, but participants are encouraged to wear a mask whenever they feel the need.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 2 November 2022 ⏤ Evening Owl Walk at Jensen River Ranch with Larry Cusick

Join FAS for an evening Owl Walk on the Jensen Trail.  We plan to start close to sunset to be on the Jensen Trail at dusk when the Great Horned owls and Barn owls come out to hunt. The outing should take about 1 1/2 hours.  We will meet at 5:30 p.m. the Art of Life Healing Garden next to the north east parking lot in Woodward Park.


The $5.00 City entrance fee applies if you park in Woodward Park. Alternative parking may be available in the Fort Washington Shopping Center.

Checklist: Binoculars, bird guide, water. 

Registration is required for this event. Any questions, please contact trip leader Larry Cusick at (559) 313-1777, Register Here

Saturday 12 November 2022 ⏤ The Raptor Trail Field Trip on the Kings River at Pine Flat Dam with Maureen Walsh and Wes Beal

Join FAS for birding along the Kings River. The trail begins across from the parking lot on the south side of the bridge just below Pine Flat Dam. The trail is basically an easy walk of approximately a mile and a quarter each way, but there is some uneven terrain and river rocks create a cobblestone surface in parts. Some of our target species include Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, and Osprey.

Meet in the parking lot at the south side of the bridge. If you want to look for directions from the eBird map, the Raptor Trail is just across the river from the North Riverside Access Park eBird Hotspot. GPS Coordinates 36.8298592686927, -119.33621274737327.

Participants should bring snacks, lunch (if desired), water, hat, sunscreen, and binoculars, and should dress in layers. Registration is required for this event. Register Here.

If you have any questions, please reach out to either trip leader. 


Maureen Walsh

(559) 706-4980


Wes Beal

(559) 250-2988


Friday 25 November 2022 ⏤ Opt Outside Bird Walk with Rachel Clark

As we all know, Thanksgiving this year is on Thursday, November 24, and the day after is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Instead of braving the crowds and heading into the stores on Friday November, 25, please join Fresno Audubon for our #OptOutside event at Millerton Lake State Recreation Area! We will be meeting at 8:00 at the Four Corners Park & Ride at Hwy 41 and Hwy 145 and from there we’ll carpool to the Madera County side of Millerton.

There is a $10 entry fee per vehicle (up to 9 people per vehicle). The cost for seniors is $9 per vehicle. If you have a State Parks pass, definitely bring it along! To reduce costs, we would like to encourage carpooling among members of the same households/social circles. Parking vehicles outside the entrance and walking in is not allowed per park rules. The plan is to check out the lake from various parking spots along the road and to hike on the nature trail which parallels the road. Our target species will include Bewick’s Wren, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, California Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Bald Eagle, and many more! We will likely be wrapping up at Millerton Lake around 1:30 or 2:00.

If there is interest afterward, we will visit Road 208 between Highway 41 and Road 211 to look for Ferruginous Hawks and Lewis’s Woodpeckers. Participants should bring day packs, hats, sunscreen, sunglasses plenty of water, snacks, lunch (if desired), and binoculars, and should dress in layers. Hiking shoes are recommended.

Registration is required for this event. Please reach out to trip leader Rachel Clark at or 515-357-0122 with any questions you might have. Please register here.

Even if you’re not able to join us, we hope that you are able to Opt Outside on Friday following Thanksgiving!

Wednesday 30 November 2022 ⏤ Lake Yosemite in Merced with Larry Parmeter

The Fresno Audubon Society Wednesday Walk to Lake Yosemite in Merced will be on November 30. We will meet in front of the Target at El Paseo Shopping Center(at the corner of Herndon Avenue and Highway 99 in northwest Fresno) at 8am on the 30th and go from there. Participants will be responsible for arranging their own carpooling beforehand.

Bring lunch and warm clothing. We expect to see many wintering birds, including Bald Eagles, Ospreys, several species of ducks, bluebirds, woodpeckers, shrikes, sparrows, and possibly Ferruginous Hawks and falcons, among others.

Any questions, contact Larry Parmeter at or at 559-288-3456. Register Here


Field Trip Schedule

This schedule is subject to change due to cancelations. Check the FAS events calendar for the latest information:

October Field Trip Reports

Madera Wastewater Treatment Plant

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Robert Snow

Eleven of us birded the Madera Waste Water Treatment Plant (WTP) on Wednesday 12 October 2022. This is a smaller and friendlier WTP than the Fresno/Clovis WTP, but it can be very birdy. Although there were only two ponds with water shallow enough for shorebirds on the edges as well as ducks and geese, they supported a large variety of birds. We found a total of 37 species. The highlight of the day was seeing 21 Yellow-billed Magpies, including 13 at once on power lines along the north edge of the WTP. Attached photos by Aaron Ng.

Following is the eBird list. Anyone who wants it shared with their eBird account can send a request to along with your eBird user name or account email.

Madera WTP, Madera, California, US
Oct 12, 2022 8:39 AM – 11:14 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.942 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Fresno Audubon Society field trip
37 species

Greater White-fronted Goose  6
Canada Goose  250
Blue-winged Teal  2
Northern Shoveler  300
American Wigeon  2
Mallard  2
Northern Pintail  4
Green-winged Teal  1
Ring-necked Duck  29
Lesser Scaup  1
Ruddy Duck  150
Eared Grebe  50
Mourning Dove  4
American Coot  30
Killdeer  7
Least Sandpiper  50
Western Sandpiper  1
Long-billed Dowitcher  50
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  1
Northern Harrier  1
Red-tailed Hawk  4
American Kestrel  3
Black Phoebe  6
Yellow-billed Magpie  21
American Crow  65
Tree Swallow  12
Barn Swallow  2
Cliff Swallow  1
European Starling  45
Northern Mockingbird  3
House Sparrow  10
American Pipit  7
Savannah Sparrow  10
Brewer’s Blackbird  50

View this checklist online at

Clovis Botanical Gardens and Dry Creek Park

Saturday 15 October 2022

Susan Heidebrecht

The morning was warm and sunny with temperatures in the 70’s. Myself and 10 other participants began our walk in the Botanical Gardens.  The well planned gardens, made up of drought tolerant and low water need plants attract a good variety of birds. Anna’s Hummingbirds were in abundance, drawn by the flowering sage and Desert Willows. There were numerous yellow-rumped warblers and several spotted towhees both in the gardens and along Dry Creek. In an especially densely planted area a hermit thrush foraged on the ground.

The riparian environment along the Dry Creek trail sheltered ruby-crowned kinglets, bushtits, a nuttall’s woodpecker, northern flickers and a white-breasted nuthatch. Multiple “kettles” of migrating turkey vultures were seen throughout the morning.

Thanks to Larry Cusick for maintaining the eBird list. 26 species were sighted.

  1. Canada Goose
  2. California Quail
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Anna’s Hummingbird
  5. Killdeer
  6. Double-crested Cormorant
  7. American White Pelican
  8. Great Blue Heron
  9. Great Egret
  10. Turkey Vulture
  11. Nuttall’s Woodpecker
  12. Northern Flicker
  13. California Scrub-Jay
  14. American Crow
  15. Bushtit
  16. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch
  18. House Wren
  19. European Starling
  20. Northern Mockingbird
  21. Hermit Thrush
  22. House Finch
  23. White-crowned Sparrow
  24. Spotted Towhee
  25. Brewer’s Blackbird
  26. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Introduction to Birding with eBird at Lost lake Park

Wednesday 26 October 2022

George Folsom

Seventeen birders turned out for a cool, clear and rewarding morning of birding.  After introducing the basics of eBird and Merlin sound ID we birded the Nature Trail and then drove to the north end of the park and birded the campground and Fins Trail.  Merlin sound ID picked up an infrequently seen White-throated Sparrow and it was found and photographed by Larry Cusick.  An Osprey put on a show of its hunting skills on the pond north of the campground.  Bushtits were numerous in several locations and sharp eyes spotted a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher among them.  Phainopeplas were numerous offering nice photo ops.  As usual, Lost Lake and this enthusiastic group of birders tallied an impressive list of 53 species.

Link to the eBird checklist.

Fresno-Madera Birds

by Jeff Davis
Including reports for the period of

September 16 to October 15, 2022

A Cackling Goose at Woodward Park September 16 (ph. CC) made a surprise appearance among the usual park geese, providing our first September record.

Aleutian Cackling Geese by Larry Parmeter

The fall passage of rare shorebirds concluded with a Marbled Godwit at the Fresno WTP September 20 (ph. RS), a Baird’s Sandpiper there October 4 (ph. JH), a Pectoral Sandpiper there September 20 (ph. RS), and two others at the Madera WTP October 5 (ph. JH).

Marbled Godwit by Rachel Clark, Morro Bay, 20 November 2019
Baird's Sandpiper by Gary Woods
Pectoral Sandpiper by Gary Woods

A Neotropic Cormorant at Wildwood Native Park September 24 (RC et al.) furnished the second record for Madera County.

Neotropic Cormorant by Rachel Clark

On the heels of Fresno County’s first Pinyon Jays were four others at Huntington Lake September 20 (ph. EE). Like other corvids, this species is prone to wandering in response to low food availability in its normal range. Such an irruption occurred in southern California this fall, with birds appearing in numerous atypical places.

A “Pink-sided” Dark-eyed Junco at Devil’s Postpile National Monument September 19 (BC-B, SB) established the first record for Madera County.

A hatch-year Tennessee Warbler northeast of Oakhurst September 17 (NJ) established a second record of this species for Madera County.

Tennessee Warbler by Gary Woods

Fresno County’s eighth American Redstart, a second-year male, visited Lost Lake Park September 19 (ph. CC, ph. RS) and September 20 (DJ).

American Redstart 9/18 Lost Lake by Larry Cusick

Cited Observers: Stephen Bylin, Corey Chen, Bonnie Clarfield-Bylin, Rachel Clark, Elias Elias, John Harris, Nina Jones, and Rick Saxton.  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 (

Member Photographs

Please send your photos in jpeg format with a width of 1024 pixels and a resolution of 72 pixels/inch to 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.

Jim Curnyn

Hawk & Ground Squirrel, Jim Curnyn
Cooper's Hawk & Ground Squirrel by Jim Curnyn
Yellow Warbler, Jim Curnyn
Yellow Warbler by Jim Curnyn

Clayton Dahlen

Killdeer with Sandpippers, Clayton Dahlen
Yellow-bill Magpie, Clayton Dahlen
Northern Flicker, Clayton Dahlen
Spotted Towhee, Clayton Dahlen

George Folsom

Prairie Falcon, George Folsom
PrairieFalcon, George Folsom
Great-horned Owl at Sunset, George Folsom

Deborah Weber

Wilson's Warbler, Deborah Weber

Birds in the News

Links to Recent Articles on Birds

Listen! Birdsong Is Good for Mental Health

The present study suggests that listening to birdsong reduces anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants. Image is in the public domain

In the study, the researchers examined how traffic noise and birdsong affect mood, paranoia, and cognitive functioning by carrying out a randomized online experiment with 295 participants. These heard six minutes of either typical traffic noise or birdsong with varying numbers of different traffic sounds or birdsongs. Before and after hearing the sound clips, the participants filled in questionnaires assessing their mental health and performed cognitive tests.

 Read more…

Listen to a stunning symphony of bird calls

In the late 1950s, former CBS Radio musical director and composer Jim Fassett collaborated with CBS radio technician Mortimer Goldberg on a masterpiece of tape music, Symphony of the Birds. It’s quite literally a collection of bird songs recorded in the field by Jerry and Norma Stilwell that Fassett and Goldberg cut up and manipulated into a captivating and complex piece of musique concrète. You can spin your own copy of the original LP for $15 via Discogs.

 Read more…

Fossil bird’s skull reconstruction reveals a brain made for smelling and eyes made for daylight

Artistic reconstruction of Jeholornis in life. Credit: Michael Rothman

Jeholornis was a raven-sized bird that lived 120 million years ago, among the earliest examples of dinosaurs evolving into birds, in what’s now China. The fossils that have been found are finely preserved but smashed flat, the result of layers of sediment being deposited over the years. That means that no one’s been able to get a good look at Jeholornis’s head. But in a new study, researchers digitally reconstructed a Jeholornis skull, revealing details about its eyes and brain that shed light on its vision and sense of smell.

Read more…

Crows Are Self-Aware Just Like Humans, And They May Be as Smart as Gorillas

rows Are Self-Aware Just Like HumansAndreas Saatze-Stein / 500px - Getty Images

Crows are extremely intelligent. They can use tools to get what they want, like New Caledonian crows in a single South Pacific island of the same name, which shape twigs into hooks to catch grubs from rotting logs. And according to new research, crows are even smarter than we thought.

Read more…

Birds getting smaller, ‘wingier’ as planet warms, research finds

Migrating waterbirds over South Dakota’s Huron Wetland Management District on North America’s Central Flyway. Sandra Uecker, USFWS via Flickr under Public Domain

A UCLA-led study published today reveals that migratory birds across North America are getting smaller, a change the researchers attribute to the rapidly warming climate. The research, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, found that over the past three decades, the of 105 in the analysis declined by an average of 0.6%—but by as much as 3.0% in some species. Tree swallows, for example got 2.8% smaller, American robins got 1.2% smaller and downy woodpeckers got 2.2% smaller.

Read more…

A Beginner’s Guide to eBird

Downy woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens) like this one drum rapidly on trees and gutters to compete for territory. A new study has shown that this behavior involves regions in the brain that closely resemble brain regions used by songbirds to learn songs. MARY KEIM/FLICKR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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