September 2023 Yellowbill

19 Aug September 2023 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 ( Archived issues are available at

President’s Message

Hello, FAS members and friends. I hope you have all had an enjoyable summer! Though the temperatures are still very warm, fall migration is coming into full swing. Shorebirds are now being seen in Valley wetlands and songbirds are starting to make their way through on their journey to their wintering grounds. Just this morning, I stepped outside and heard the calls of a Lazuli Bunting, a Wilson’s Warbler, and two Western Tanagers. It’s definitely an exciting time of year with fall on the horizon!

We are very excited to announce the kick-off of FAS’s 2023-2024 membership drive beginning Friday, September 1. FAS annual membership runs from September 1 through August 31 each year. We sincerely appreciate all who support FAS by paying annual dues. These funds allow FAS to teach introduction to birding classes, conduct guided field trips, host monthly zoom meetings with expert presenters, maintain bird feeders at the River Center, and advocate for birds on a local and regional level. There are certainly perks for those who pay dues, such as access to the FAS Birding Resource Guide, which is a specialized guide to local birding resources, and FAS stickers. Those who join by Friday, September 30 are eligible to win a copy of their choice between David Sibley’s latest book, What It’s Like to Be a Bird and Stan Tekiela’s Birds of California Field Guide.  More information about dues and FAS membership levels can be found in this edition of The Yellowbill.

We are also very excited to resume field trips for the fall season.  We have some exciting outings scheduled for the month of September, which are listed below.

  • Saturday, September 9 ⏤ Fresno/Clovis Wastewater Treatment Plant, 7:30 AM – 12:45 PM
  • Wednesday, September 20 ⏤ Balsam Meadows Sno-Park and Forebay, 7:45 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Saturday, September 23 ⏤ Grant Grove, 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM

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

I would like to remind everyone that we are still holding Introduction to Birding classes and hikes, but the location has changed back to the River center instead of Sumner Peck Ranch. We are planning to resume when the weather is cooler, with the first class scheduled for October 21. We will keep you updated!

We still require that participants of FAS in-person events 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.

The first FAS general meeting of the 2023/2024 season is scheduled for Tuesday, September 12.  Rob Furrow, Assistant Professor of Teaching in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis, will be talking to us about using flight calls to monitor nocturnal migration. Here is the link to registration:

Please follow FAS on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube) if you’re not already. This is the perfect way to keep up with current FAS events, view past general meetings, and view fun, educational content!

To end this message, I’d like to share a photo I took recently of a male Lesser Goldfinch out at Jensen River Ranch. Note the dusky cheeks, dark cap, bright yellow underside, notched tail, and conical beak. This lively species travels in flocks, and can be found in a variety of habitats such as open woodlands, thickets, grassy fields, chaparral, parks, gardens, and backyards. Their song includes imitations of the calls of many other species. Enjoy!

Rachel Clark

FAS President

Lesser Goldfinch by Rachel Clark

Fresno Audubon Society Kicks Off Its Annual Membership Drive!

We are excited to announce the Friday, September 1, 2023 kick-off of Fresno Audubons (FAS) 2023-2024 membership drive.  FAS annual memberships run from September 1st through August 31 each year.

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, 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.

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

New This Year! Everyone who joins or renews their FAS membership by Friday, September 30 will automatically become eligible to win their choice of one of two books—David Sibleys newest book What It’s Like to be a Bird or Stan Tekiela’s Birds of California Field Guide.  (NOTE: Lifetime FAS members and those folks who have joined or renewed since June 1, 2023 will automatically be eligible for this years drawing.)

Fresno Audubon Society membership levels are:

$15 Student

$25 Individual

$35 Family

$1000 Golden Eagle (Life)

Those who wish to renew their memberships online can do so on the FAS website here, or if you wish to pay by check 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!

September General Meeting

Rob Furrow

Flight Calls to Monitor Nocturnal Migration in the Central Valley

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Robert Furrow2

Speaker Bio

Rob Furrow is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis. He has been birding since his youth and revels in early mornings with migrating songbirds. Nocturnal flight calls have long been an interest of his, so he was thrilled to take on these projects working alongside curious and dedicated UC Davis undergraduates.

Program Description

Most songbird migration happens while we’re sleeping, with warblers, sparrows, and other birds passing overhead during their nocturnal flights. These migrating birds are not entirely silent during the night; many species repeatedly make short calls as they fly, referred to as nocturnal flight calls. In this presentation Rob will outline the basics of how bird migration can be monitored using audio recordings of nocturnal flight calls. Then he will describe initial results from a pilot study of nocturnal flight calls in the Central Valley, conducted with UC Davis undergraduate Cameron Tescher, as well as more recent work recording sight-verified flight calls of western migrants at ridge migration sites. Throughout, the audience will learn about when and where they might be able to hear these flight calls, and how to identify a few of the most common calls.

To receive the Zoom link for the meeting, please register here.

Introduction to Birding Class

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 a.m. – 12 p.m., usually on the third Saturday of each month from October 2023 through April 2024. 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.

September Field Trips

FIELD TRIP GUIDELINES  ⏤ 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.

Saturday 9 September 2023 ⏤ Fresno/Clovis Wastewater Treatment Plant with George Folsom and Gary Woods

Pectoral Sandpiper by Gary Woods

Registration is required. Register here for the event here.

On Saturday September 9th we will be birding the Fresno WTP with co-leaders George Folsom and Gary Woods. The trip is limited to the first 30 people who sign up by Sept. 6th at 6pm. We will be under strict security rules limiting how many cars we can use on the grounds and registrants will not be able to leave early from the group due to multiple electronic gates that we’ll be passing through.

We will be meeting at 7:30 at the Walmart parking lot at the SE corner of Blackstone and Ashlan for preliminary carpooling and departing from there at 7:45 sharp. Alternatively, participants may go directly to the guard building at the entrance at 5607 W. Jensen Ave and tell the guard you are with the Audubon field trip. You will then be allowed to drive through the gate and will park in the first lot immediately on the right to wait for the main group. We will be leaving for the ponds by 8:15 sharp after everyone has signed the liability waiver for the city that will be passed around on a clip board. We will do a final carpooling round to get the number of cars down to 10 maximum.

We will be leaving the ponds and going back to the cars at 11:45 and proceeding to Kearney Park for lunch for those who want to continue with the group. If you carpool from Fresno be sure to bring your lunch and expect to stay with the group until mid-afternoon.

There will be one porta-potty on the ponding complex for our use. Be sure to bring sun protection, binoculars, water, lunch and an ID. We will have a couple of scopes set up for you and we’ll be looking for some of the rarer shorebirds that might be migrating through like Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Fresno meeting location

Alternate meeting location

Checklist: binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, dress in layers

Wednesday 20 September 2023 ⏤ Wednesday Walk – Balsam Meadows Snow-Park and Forebay with George Folsom

Registration is required. Register here for the event here.

George Folsom will lead this trip to Balsam Meadows Snow-Park and Forebay on Southern California Edison Company property, just off Highway168, nine miles above Shaver Lake.  The elevation is 6,500 feet.  We will be walking a loop trail of about 2 miles with very little elevation change.  Parts of this area were burned in the Creek Fire leaving a mixture of burned and unburned habitats.

There are restrooms at the parking lot and at the Forebay, about halfway through our walk.  Parking is available at the Snow-Park just off Highway168 on the left as you pass the sign.

We can expect woodpeckers, raptors, finches, warblers, swifts, sparrows among may others.

Participants should bring snacks, lunch (if desired), water, hat, sunscreen, and binoculars, and should dress in layers.  We will meet at Walmart, Ashlan and Blackstone, at 7:45 for an 8:00 AM departure.  For those driving directly to Balsam Meadows we should be there by 9:30.

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

Trip Leader: George Folsom (559)351-7192

Map to Fresno meeting location, 7:45 AM

Map to Balsam Meadows Sno-Park, 9:30 AM

Saturday 23 September 2023 ⏤ Grant Grove with Kevin Enns-Rempel

Join Fresno Audubon on Saturday, September 23, as we journey up Highway 180 to the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park and beyond. Registration for this trip is required. Register here

We will meet at 7:00 AM in the parking lot between Javier’s Mexican Restaurant (5680 E. Kings Canyon Rd.) and the Educational Employees Credit Union to arrange carpooling. See Map Below.

The group will depart by 7:15 AM. Our first stop will be Grant Grove Village, where we will bird around the meadow. We will then drive about 6.5 miles farther on Highway 180 to the Indian Basin Grove Interpretive Trail/Princess Campground. Depending on time, we may also stop at the Big Stump Grove on the way back. We will head back down by about 4 pm. Participants can certainly leave earlier if they’d prefer.

Participants should bring snacks, lunch, water, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and binoculars. Registration is required and there is a limit of 25 participants.

Please reach out to trip leader Kevin Enns-Rempel (559-313-4546 or with any questions. 

Fresno-Madera Birds

by Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis has been publishing his column on rare or unusual birds found in Fresno or Madera counties in The Yellowbill for 20 years. Owing to the increased work of his business he no longer has the time to continue with his column. We all owe Jeff our gratitude for his 20 years of effort to maintain the monthly list of rare or unusual birds. His column will be greatly missed.

Member Photographs

We have made a few changes in the photos submission process. Please note the items in red.
If you would like to share your bird photos with other Fresno Audubon Society members, submit up to 5 of your best to Clayton Dahlen at By submitting you give us permission to use your photo on our website, in our emails and on our social media platforms.
Please submit your pictures with a width of 1024 pixels and a resolution of 72 dpi. The height of the picture is not important. Thank you for your understanding.

Corrine Camarillo

Bald Eagle, Corrine Camarillo
Black Phoebe, Corrine Camarillo
Bullock's Oriole, Corrine Camarillo

Elisa Carver

American Avocet, Elisa Carver
American Coot and Chick, Elisa Carver
Green-tailed Towhee, Elisa Carver
Green-tailed Towhee, Elisa Carver
Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Elisa Carver

Patrick Cassen

Lark Sparrow, Miramonte, Patrick Cassen

Matt Milless

Anhinga, Florida, Matt Milless
Green Heron, Florida, Matt Milless
Red-breasted Nuthatch, Matt Milless
Snowy Egret, Bohicket Creek, Matt Milless
Snowy Owl, Matt Milless

Kristen McNew

Long-billed Curlew, Morro Bay, Kristen McNew

Carmen Mendoza

Black-necked Stilt, Carmen Mendoza
Black-necked Stilt, Carmen Mendoza
Black-necked Stilt, Carmen Mendoza
Blue Snow Goose among Snow and Ross's Geese, Carmen Mendoza

Mireya Linares

Saker Falcon, Mongolia, Mireya Linares
White-naped Cranes, Mongolia, Mireya Linares

Susan Rappaport

Anna's Hummingbird, Susan Rappaport
Great Blue Heron, Susan Rappaport
Red-shouldered Hawk, Susan Rappaport
Red-tailed Hawk, Susan Rappaport
Western Screech-Owl, Susan Rappaport

Chris Schwanz

Bald Eagle, Alaska, Chris Schwanz

Rick Sexty

Black Swan, Rick Sexty
California Quail, Rick Sexty
Australasian Swamphen, Rick Sexty

Birds in the News

Links to Recent Articles on Birds

New audio technique used for census of California Spotted Owls in the Sierra Nevada ecosystem

California Spotted Owl in Sequoia National Park. Credit: Connor Wood, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

For the first time, researchers have estimated the spotted owl population across the entire Sierra Nevada ecosystem. The analysis, which was led by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics, suggests that there are 2,218 to 2,328 adult owls on federally managed lands.


Ospreys Breed in Ireland for the First Time in More Than 200 Years

Osprey by Brian Johnson

A pair of ospreys has successfully bred in Ireland for the first time in 200 years, according to a statement from local conservation organization Ulster Wildlife. The birds produced at least two—possibly three—chicks at a confidential location in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.


Birding hasn’t always been inclusive. New books show it can be

Anna's Hummingbird by Catherine McNally

In recent years, especially after the pandemic began, an increasing number of people have been keen to spend more time outside and connect with the natural world. I know few better ways to do so than birding. As I write these words, I can hear the soft song of a yellow-rumped warbler coming from a nearby tree and bellowing croaks of common ravens in the distance. Knowing birds and their songs and calls adds such rich meaning to one’s everyday life.

But to know birds, one must have safe access to the outdoors, resources that are relatable — and affordable. When asked in an interview why birding has been an almost exclusively White hobby in the United States, Christian Cooper, the author of the new book “Better Living Through Birding” (Random House) pointed first to a simple matter: the prohibitive cost of good, new binoculars.

Read more…

‘Adorable fluffballs’: Baby condors defy the odds, thrive in California national park

Condor biologist Rose Fielding holds condor nestling No. 1215 in Pinnacles National Park

Two baby condors are defying the odds from their cliff-top nests in Pinnacles National Park. Almost 3 months old, both nestlings were born to condors that had been raised in captivity. It’s only the second time the San Benito County park has had two condor nestlings survive to this stage since the critically endangered species was reintroduced there in 2004.

Read more…

Flock together: Sparrows drift from favored spots after losing friends

Immature Golden-crowned Sparrow by Rachel Clark

Losing long-lasting flockmates may drive a golden-crowned sparrow to stray from its favorite overwintering spot, a new study says, suggesting that friendly, familiar faces help anchor it to familiar spaces.

Read more…

Electrocution Isn’t the Main Thing Killing Birds Along Power Lines

A radiograph of a red-tailed hawk that had been shot while perched on a utility pole. “We really need X-rays to understand fully what may have happened,” the study’s lead author said.Credit...Eve Thomason

Birds get electrocuted on power lines. But people shooting at birds perched on power poles may be even more of a problem. In a survey of five sites in the western United States, two-thirds of birds found dead beneath power lines had been shot.

Read more…

Evidence Ravens Share A 30,000-Year-Old Relationship With Humans

Norse God Odin with his ravens Huginn, Muninn. Credit: Adobe Stock - Karrrtinki

Why Ancestors Of Modern Birds Survived When All The Dinosaurs Died

Illustration of what a newly hatched Enantiornithine bird may have looked like. Photo: Yu Chen and Shundong Bi.

Every bird you’ve ever seen— every robin, every pigeon, every penguin at the zoo— is a living dinosaur. Birds are the only group of dinosaurs that survived the asteroid-induced mass extinction 66 million years ago.

But not all the birds alive at the time made it. Why the ancestors of modern birds lived while so many of their relatives died has been a mystery that paleontologists have been trying to solve for decades. Two new studies point to one possible factor: the differences between how modern birds and their ancient cousins molt their feathers.

Read more…

The wizardly owl brain uses “Bayesian inference” to find prey

Credit: Great gray owl, Arne List / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Great Gray Owl is listening, always listening. Its head rotates to glean the source of a sound. Its ears are so acutely tuned, it can discern the faint footfall of a shrew in the forest, the wingbeat of a Canada Jay, the muffled rustle of a vole tunneling deep beneath the snow. It will fly to the spot, hover over it, head facing down toward the sound, then just before impact thrust its legs forward and punch through snow more than a foot and a half deep to seize its prey.

To be able to hunt by sound alone, owls need not only supersensitive ears but also the ability to locate the source of a faint noise in three‑dimensional space sometimes from a distance and sometimes through a thick layer of snow, soil, or leaves. The late Masakazu (Mark) Konishi tackled the problem of how an owl might do this.

Read more…

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