30 Oct November 2022 Yellowbill
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: https://fresnoaudubon.org/event-calendar/.
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 https://www.youtube.com/user/FresnoAudubon.
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: https://conta.cc/3fJQHoC.
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!
Fresno Audubon Society President
Fresno Audubon Society Continues Its Annual Membership Drive
Fresno Audubon’s (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:
$1000 Golden Eagle (Life)
Fresno Audubon Society
PO Box 3315
Fresno, CA 93650
Thank you for your continuing support of Fresno Audubon Society!
November General Meeting
Fall Raptors of Fresno County
Tuesday, 8 November 2022
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.
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: https://fresnoaudubon.org/events.
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.
Introduction to Birding Classes at the River Center
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.
- 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 2 November 2022 ⏤ Evening Owl Walk at Jensen River Ranch with Larry Cusick
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.
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.
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.
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.
October Field Trip Reports
Madera Wastewater Treatment Plant
Wednesday, 12 October 2022
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.
Madera WTP, Madera, California, US
Oct 12, 2022 8:39 AM – 11:14 AM
Checklist Comments: Fresno Audubon Society field trip
Greater White-fronted Goose 6
Canada Goose 250
Blue-winged Teal 2
Northern Shoveler 300
American Wigeon 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
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 https://ebird.org/checklist/S120558152
Clovis Botanical Gardens and Dry Creek Park
Saturday 15 October 2022
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.
- Canada Goose
- California Quail
- Mourning Dove
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Double-crested Cormorant
- American White Pelican
- Great Blue Heron
- Great Egret
- Turkey Vulture
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker
- Northern Flicker
- California Scrub-Jay
- American Crow
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- House Wren
- European Starling
- Northern Mockingbird
- Hermit Thrush
- House Finch
- White-crowned Sparrow
- Spotted Towhee
- Brewer’s Blackbird
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
Introduction to Birding with eBird at Lost lake Park
Wednesday 26 October 2022
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.
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).
A Neotropic Cormorant at Wildwood Native Park September 24 (RC et al.) furnished the second record for Madera County.
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.
Fresno County’s eighth American Redstart, a second-year male, visited Lost Lake Park September 19 (ph. CC, ph. RS) and September 20 (DJ).
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 (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.
Birds in the News
Links to Recent Articles on Birds
Listen! Birdsong Is Good for Mental Health
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.
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.
Fossil bird’s skull reconstruction reveals a brain made for smelling and eyes made for daylight
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.
Crows Are Self-Aware Just Like Humans, And They May Be as Smart as Gorillas
Birds getting smaller, ‘wingier’ as planet warms, research finds
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 body mass of 105 bird species 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.