October 2019 Yellowbill

05 Oct October 2019 Yellowbill


President’s Message

In October we’ll have three field trips but no General Meeting. Our next General Meeting will be in December when Gary Woods will be presenting pictures from his most recent year of birding.

As a reminder, memberships are now due 1 September for the 2019-2020 season. Please see the article below for more information on how to join or renew your membership to Fresno Audubon Society. It’s also our annual birdathon fundraiser through October 15. Details about this fundraiser are found below the membership article.

Our surveys of the San Joaquin River Conservancy lands continue. If you want to participate, you can download the instructions from our website by clicking here. Also, we have restarted our Introduction to Birding classes at the River Center. If you want to participate as an instructor, please contact me at rsnow@fresnoaudubon.org.

Robert Snow


Growing a Climate Conscience

by Barbara Bailey

“How wonderful it is that no one has to wait even a minute to start gradually changing the world!” Anne Frank

I recently had an opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and it was sad but thought-provoking, and ultimately a powerful statement of what we can do as a people when we choose to act.

Anne, her family and four other people were shut up in very tight quarters for 2 years during Hitler’s invasion of The Netherlands during World War II. She was a teenager at the time and  kept a diary; the quote above is from her writings. Although I knew the story, during the tour I was moved to tears by her quiet determination and ability to write clearly about what she and others were going through.

In a somewhat strange coincidence, while we were in Europe another young woman was showing great courage: Greta Thunberg spoke to the US Congress about climate change and the world’s collective need to, very quickly, change behaviors both big and small. The stories of both these women stuck with me and wrought a change.

For some time now I have been thinking about climate change and its effect on birds and people. During the same years I have gotten more involved with National Audubon Society through the state office. I applaud the work Audubon does researching the effects of climate on birds, and I think they do a good job shepherding legislation that supports birds. All of the things they do fall in the category of large-scale change, which is very important. However, when it comes to suggesting ways we can change the things we do every day that contribute to climate change, I haven’t found much being said or done at the national or state organization level. 

A paper came out last week in the journal Science that reported that about 1/3 of the world’s songbirds, over 3 billion, have disappeared since 1970. If this isn’t an invitation to act, I don’t know what is. 

Each of us has a carbon footprint, and we can choose to lessen our impact on the environment, or we can choose to do nothing.  Here are some of the things we can do to try and lessen our impact on the environment:

  • Find out what your personal impact on the environment is by calculating your own carbon footprint. There are many online tools that can assist, such as this one by the US EPA, and this one by Carbon Footprint.
  • Find ways to offset the amount of carbon you release into the environment.  Some ways include planting more trees, engaging in agricultural practices that absorb carbon, and others described here.
  • Combine errands that require a car, or better yet, ride a bicycle or walk.
  • Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy.
  • Think hard about the necessity of airplane trips, and consider offsetting your impact by buying carbon offsets.

There are also some things we can do that will directly benefit birds. First and foremost, we can plant our yards with plants that are native to this region. These plants use less water than standard nursery offerings, and many offer food for our local and migratory birds either in the form of berries and seeds, or through support of beneficial insects. Audubon’s Plants for Birds website will help you select native plants for your yard that specifically benefit birds.

There are many good books that discuss ways to reduce carbon, and still more that deal with the impact native plants can have on the environment. The most comprehensive discussion of carbon reduction that I have found is Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. There is an accompanying webpage at drawdown.org. Many experts work with Hawken to calculate which solutions are best. What I find most useful about the book is that each segment begins with a chart showing ranking and results by 2050, estimated reduction in CO2, net cost to implement, and net savings.

Our personal cache of books about native plants includes Bringing Nature Home; How you can sustain wildlife with native plants by Douglas W. Tallamy; Reimagining the California Lawn: Water-conserving plants, practices and designs by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O’Brien; California Native Plants for the Garden, Bornstein, Fross, O’Brien; and Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates, East Bay Municipal Utility District. And while books are nice resources, websites are ever-changing sources of information. Don’t forget that we have some excellent plant nurseries nearby that offer native plants, in particular Auberry’s Intermountain Nursery.

It is more than a little embarrassing that it took a long airline trip to prod me into action. However, by buying  carbon offsets, I did the best I could to account for the travel. I hope you will join me in finding ways to lower our respective carbon footprints.



General Meetings

There will be no general meeting in the month of October and November. In December we’ll have Gary Woods’ bird photography.


Annual memberships now due

September brings migration and it is also time for your Fresno Audubon Society (FAS) membership renewal.  FAS’s membership year runs from September 1 to August 31 the following year.  Please join us to ensure that we can keep our organization financially healthy and able to continue our programs of field trips, speakers, and education.  Those with PayPal accounts can join or renew on our website here or you can download a membership form here and mail it and your check to our new address:

Fresno Audubon Society
PO Box 3315
Fresno, CA  93650

Thank you for supporting Fresno Audubon Society.

Important!  Annual Dues Increase

Wanting to better ensure support for the many activities conducted by Fresno Audubon Society (FAS) and realizing that there had not been an increase in dues in many years, the FAS Board of Directors recently voted to raise the club’s annual dues beginning this September 2019.

The new dues are:

Student   $15 annually
Individual   $25 annually
Family   $35 annually
Life    $1,000

Members using PayPal’s automatic renewal feature will want to cancel their current payment (automatic payments cannot be changed, only canceled) before renewing their memberships.  Then you can set up a new automatic payment, or make a one-time payment on our website here. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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

It’s time again for Fresno Audubon Society’s (FAS) annual Birdathon. The Birdathon is a key source of the donations we need to keep our budget balanced and to avoid drawing upon our reserve funds. Last year’s event was a big success, and we would like to do even better this year.

To participate, get out there, enjoy fall birding and see how many species you can find; then, report your bird lists on eBird. Challenge friends, family and colleagues to pledge or make a sponsorship donation to help you raise money for FAS, and please consider making a pledge or donation yourself. At the end of the 15 September to 15 October period we will tally the bird sightings in eBird for the counties of Madera and Fresno.  We will add together all the sightings reported in eBird during this period, and pledges will be calculated based on this total number.  Alternatively, you can choose to “sponsor” the Birdathon by paying a fixed amount.

All funds will go to FAS to carry out our mission: “Engaging local communities in building a sustainable environment for people, birds and other wildlife through education, science, and advocacy.”

Here’s a list of the key accomplishments of FAS in the past year, funded by your donations.

  • Built a bird feeding site at the River Center, including a bird-friendly fountain
  • Partnered with the River Parkway Trust and an Eagle Scout to install 8 Barn Owl boxes on the San Joaquin River Parkway
  • Began monthly bird surveys on the Parkway restoration properties
  • Conducted our first beginning bird classes and purchased binoculars for use by students.

Two ways to donate

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

The pledge categories:  $0.25 per species – $5.00 per rare species

If you choose to pledge per species observed, the species list will be published at the end of the Birdathon for calculating your total donation. Last year a total of 232 birds including 6 rarities were recorded making a per-species pledge $58 and a rarities pledge $30.

You may pay or pledge by:

Emailing pledges to:  admin@fresnoaudubon.org

Mailing checks P.O. Box 3315, Fresno, CA 93650

Going online and using the donate button at:  fresnoaudubon.org/donate/

Field Trips

Our website has a calendar that allows you to see all the details of an upcoming trip as they 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.

October Field Trips

Wednesday 2 October 2019 – Avocado Lake/Choinumni Park with Larry Parmeter

Red-tailed Hawk eating gopher by Cecelia Sheeter

This often overlooked little jewel of a birding site has a large open lake, riparian areas along the Kings River, and oak woodlands. It’s a great place for fall migrants, woodpeckers, nuthatches, sparrows, finches, including Lawrence’s Goldfinch, towhees, and raptors. Early wintering waterfwol may be on the lake, along with possible Common Loons. We’ll meet at 7:45am aat the Walmart parking lot at Ashlan and Blackstone for an 8am departure.
Checklist: binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, radios
Trip Leader: Larry Parmeter (559)276-8753, lanpar362@gmail.com

Saturday 12 October 2019 – Kaweah Oaks – Tulare County with Kevin Enns-Rempel

Great-horned Owls by Cecelia Sheeter

Kevin Enns-Rempel will lead a field trip to Kaweah Oaks Preserve in Tulare County on Saturday. Meet at the Ashlan/Blackstone Wal-Mart in Fresno at 6:45am so that we can leave promptly at 7am. The trip should wrap up early afternoon, so bring along food and drink for lunch. Expect to walk for a few miles on flat terrain.
Kaweah Oaks Preserve, a 344-acre nature preserve, protects one of the last remaining valley oak riparian forests in the San Joaquin Valley. When you walk along the trails at Kaweah Oaks Preserve, you can easily imagine how this area looked before it was settled 100 years ago. More than 300 plant and animal species live, feed or reproduce at the nature preserve, including gray fox, great horned owl, Nuttall’s woodpecker, wild grapevines, willow thickets and majestic valley oaks.


Wednesday 23 October 2019 – Cricket Hollow/Kings River with Larry Parmeter

Lawrence’s Goldfinch by George Folsom

We will go visit Cricket Hollow Park along the Kings River in Reedley. This is a very productive area that promises many riparian birds, as well as raptors, towhees, and finches. There is also a trail that goes from the park along the river near Reedley College that is also rich in birds. For FAS it’s a new and somewhat different site that should be exciting and engaging. Meet at 7:45am at the WalMart parking lot.

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

Trip Leader: Larry Parmeter (559)276-8753, lanpar362@gmail.com

To sign up for this walk click here
Directions to the assembly point are here.


Fresno-Madera Birds
by Jeff Davis
photos by Gary Woods
Including reports for the period of
August 16 to September 15, 2019


A Common Ground Dove

Common Ground Dove

near Biola August 19 and August 28 (ph. GW) provided further evidence that this newcomer is resident in small numbers in that area.

Rare but regular transient shorebirds in our area included a Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover

at the MWTP August 29 (ph. GW); a Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

there August 20 (ph. GF), four there August 29 (ph. GW), and one there September 7 (KER), September 8 (ph. GF, LH, GW, JL, FO), and September 10 (ph. KO, EO, GW) plus two at the FWTP August 26 (ph. GW), one there September 4 (GF, et al.), and two there September 11 (ph. GW, RS, JN) and September 14 (ph. EE); two Baird’s Sandpipers

Baird’s Sandpiper

at the MWTP August 20 (ph. GF) and August 26 (GW), and one there August 29 (ph. GW) and September 8 (GW, GF, LH, JL, FO) plus two at the FWTP August 27 (ph. GW), August 29 (ph. JN, JM), and August 30 (ph. RS), and one there September 7 (GW); a Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

at the MWTP August 20 (ph. GF) and August 27 (ph. GW), six there September 6 (JL), five there September 7 (KER), one there September 13 (RN), and two there September 14 (LY) plus two at the FWTP August 27 (ph. GW, DH, ph. RS) and one there August 29 (JN); and three Semipalmated Sandpipers

Semipalmated Sandpiper

at the FWTP August 27 (ph. GW) and one there August 27 (ph. RS).

Madera County’s first Red Knot

Red Knot

was photographed at the MWTP September 4 (ph. NO) but was not posted or identified until it was found and reported there September 8 (ph. GW; ph. GF, LH, JL, FO).  The bird was last reported there September 10 (ph. GW, ph. KO, EO).  Another ultra-rarity there was Madera County’s second Red Phalarope September 5 (ph. KO, EO, ph. GW, ph. GF, LH), September 6 (JL), and September 7 (ph. KER). A Purple Martin there September 8 (JM, FO, JL) was also a good find as this species is observed less than annually in our area.

Cited Observers: Elias Elias, Kevin Enns-Rempel, George Folsom, Lynn Hemink, Diane Highbaugh, John Lomax, John Luther, Jireh Mukawa, Jeremy Neipp, Richard Norton, Frances Oliver, Eric Ongman, Kurt Ongman, Nancy Overholtz, Rick Saxton, Jeff Seay, Gary Woods, and Lowell Young. FWTP = Fresno Wastewater Treatment Plan, MWTP = Madera Wastewater Treatment Plant, 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, jndavis@ucsc.edu), the Fresno County Birders e-mail list, or eBird.


Birds in the News
Links to Recent Articles on Birds

The Quiet Disappearance of Birds in North America

Though the continent has 3 billion fewer birds than it did in 1970, those losses are hard to glean because it’s the commonest species that have been hit hardest. Read more…

8 simple ways to help the birds

Bird populations in the US and Canada have plummeted by 30 percent since 1970 – here’s why, and what we can do. Read more…

SciFri Extra: Bird Nerds Of A Feather Flock Together

New York’s biggest bird enthusiasts discuss their favorite birds to see in the city and how to protect them from urban hazards. Read more and listen…


Five years ago, an ANU biologist proved that most female songbirds sing, but it’s a finding that many people are struggling to accept. Read more…

Tech that helped me fall back in love with birdwatching

A few months ago a friend of mine mentioned on Twitter she was getting into birding. And I thought, “I used to love birdwatching when I was little!” I’d go out and wander around with my little Golden Nature Guide and record sightings of the avians that made my large backyard their home. I rarely saw any birds and when I did see them, I had no idea what they were. I was a terrible birdwatcher. But now that I want to get back into the hobby, I don’t have to be, thanks to modern technology that makes it feel more like playing a really advanced game of Pokémon Go. Here are some of the tools I’ve found most useful while walking through parks and forests searching for feathered friends. Read more…

Thinking Like A Parrot: How Do Parrots View The World?

This fascinating and meticulously researched book explores the astonishing levels of cognition and intelligence of wild parrots, especially in the context of their complex social lives. 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 rsnow@fresnoaudubon.org 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.

George Folsom

Red Knot, photographed at Madera Wastewater Treatment Plant September 2019

Red Knot by George Folsom

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