June and July can feel like the doldrums for birding around Sacramento, but it is a critical period for many of our local nesting species. By the end of June, shorebirds begin returning and early songbird migrants arrive a month later. Up to three Least Bitterns were reported throughout July (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S47349653) from the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) and the Glossy Ibis continued at a nest from May through at least 7/19 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S47195531) at the Woodland WTP.
Among the shorebird highlights, YBWA hosted a Pacific Golden-Plover from 7/12-13 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S47154979) and a Snowy Plover on 7/18. Marbled Godwits are rare elsewhere in the Central Valley, but are fairly regular in Yolo County. They were reported throughout the period, with a high of 21 at YBWA on 7/7. Single Semipalmated Sandpipers were found among large flocks of peeps at YBWA on 7/25, White's Slough (Lodi) WTP (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S47546458) on 7/30, Woodland WTP on 7/28, and Abel Rd at Colusa NWR on 7/29. The only Solitary Sandpipers reported were singles at the Anatolia Vernal Pool Preserve on Sunrise Blvd from 7/27-28 and the Arbuckle WTP on 7/29. A Franklin's Gull was seen and photographed by many at the Woodland WTP from 6/26-29 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46854534). Four Least Terns were found at the Sacramento Regional WTP on 7/3. One pair stayed to nest along with a single adult that was regularly seen.
As has become expected, Allen's Hummingbirds turned up on private property along Putah Creek between Davis and Winters in late June to early July; one was a green-backed male. Indicating a possible breeding season range expansion, in addition to the Yolo and San Joaquin County records mentioned in the previous column, two Say's Phoebes were found in Elk Grove near Bilby Rd, not far from the small town of Franklin on 7/15. A single Say's Phoebe was also found on 7/28 near Rancho Cordova along the dirt portion of Kiefer Blvd. A "Solitary Vireo" (Cassin's or Plumbeous) was reported on 7/18 at the South Fork Putah Creek Preserve off of Mace Blvd. A juvenile Steller's Jay in Davis on 7/8 was a real surprise and likely wondered down from the Coast Range. A Gray Catbird on 6/19 was a late vagrant downstream from Stevenson's Bridge near Winters, and an adult male Chestnut-sided Warbler along Putah Creek downstream from Pedrick Rd was a surprisingly early vagrant on 7/31, continuing into August. Also downstream of Pedrick Rd were a surprisingly early immature Golden-crowned Sparrow on 7/22 and a male Indigo Bunting(https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S47481959) from 7/26 into August. The male Summer Tanager continued from May through at least late July at the Orr Ranch portion of Cosumnes River Preserve, but despite much singing, did not appear to have attracted a mate.
The Sacramento Area is roughly defined as lying between Hwy 20 to the north, Hwy 12 to the south, and the 1000’ contour to the east and west, plus all of Sacramento and Yolo Counties. Many reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserve (cvbirds.org) and in eBird (ebird.org). It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Stuart Angerer, Keith Bailey, Mario Balitbit, Kathy Blankenship, Holly Coates, Ore Carmi, Dan Cook, Lily Douglas, Andy Engilis, Stephen Fettig, Robert Furrow, Douglas Hall, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Terry Hodapp, Joan Humphrey, Stanton Hunter, Logan Kahle, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Calvin Lou, Tim Ludwick, Mark Martucci, Bruce Mast, Michael Perrone, Steve Scott, Dan Singer, Shannon Skalos, John Sterling, Kirk Swenson, Jim Thomas, John Trochet, and Liz West. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.