This spring has been notable for unsettled weather, cooler temperatures, and unprecedented rain in mid-May, leaving many low-lying areas flooded into June. Redheads are locally hard to find, but continued in low numbers at the Woodland WTP, one of the few places where they are locally dependable. A male Greater Scaup was at the same location as late as 5/12. Unsettled weather no doubt accounted for the report of a Black Swift near Koobs Nature Area in Carmichael on 5/21; the few Valley records of this species typically correspond with late spring storms. A male Allen's Hummingbird (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56728309) at Brannan Island SRA on 5/25 was one of few recent records for Sacramento County, though there are historic breeding records. Calliope Hummingbird reports included one from Citrus Heights from 4/11-14, one from Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 4/19, two from Rancho Cordova on 4/26, and one from Wilton on 5/4.
Shorebirds made up the majority of highlights for the period. A Snowy Plover was found at the Davis WTP on 5/6-8. Most impressive was the appearance of multiple turnstones. Ruddy Turnstones (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55773287) were found at the Davis WTP, with one to two from 5/4-11, and one at the Woodland WTP on 5/13. Two Black Turnstones at the Davis WTP on 5/4 were even more unexpected. A Ruff was found at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) on 4/21, and at the Woodland WTP from 4/29-5/9 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55573177). A Stilt Sandpiper at the Davis WTP on 5/6 was also an excellent find. Up to four Baird's Sandpipers (regular in low numbers in late summer, but very rare in spring migration) were found from 5/3-10 at the Davis WTP. Soliary Sandpiper reports included a single at a closed portion of the CRP on 4/17, one along the Wetlands Walk at CRP on 4/20, one to two along Yolo County Rd 32A (near YBWA) from 4/21-22, two at a closed portion of CRP on 4/26, and one on Meiss Rd on 5/4. A Willet was found at the Davis WTP on 5/4, with four seen there on 5/27, and a single was at the Sacramento County Bufferlands on 5/10. A Pectoral Sandpiper was a nice find for spring (they are much more expected in late summer and fall) at Colusa NWR on 5/6.
For the 10th time in the past 12 years, Least Terns were found nesting at the Sacramento Regional WTP, with the first detection on 5/13, and two pairs present by the end of the month. Surprisingly, there was only one report of a Least Bittern, from Mather Lake on 5/17, where they have been found in the past. A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron found at a large rookery in the Pocket Area of Sacramento was a first for the county (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56028881). It was seen and photographed on 5/8, with a few reports thereafter, but was very difficult to find among the hundreds of Black-crowned Night-Herons, mostly tucked away in dense redwood trees where they were nesting. A Glossy Ibis was found at the Woodland WTP on 5/19-20, but was not as reliably seen as the birds reported there last year.
Peregrine Falcons were confirmed nesting at the UC Davis Med Center, with four chicks photographed on a building ledge. There were impressive numbers of uncommon flycatchers, with Olive-sided, Hammond's, Dusky, and Gray flycatcher reports too numerous to list. With the wide adoption of eBird, far more of these species are being reported (and documented) than even a decade ago. One of the most surprising reports was of a flyby Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Carmichael on 4/11. A Brewer's Sparrow was found at Deer Creek Hills on 4/23, and a Green-tailed Towhee was reported at Yolo Grasslands Regional Park on 5/28. A male Baltimore Oriole was a real surprise at a private yard in Wilton, and a Northern Paula at Grasslands Reg. Park on 5/17 was a nice find. A male Summer Tanager was found at West Pond in Davis on 5/8, and a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak on 5/19 near Meridian in Sutter County was also a nice surprise.
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: Dan Airola, Keith Bailey, Ian Baldwin, Max Brodie, Paul Buchanan, Lily Douglas, Gil Ewing, Stephen Fettig, Matt Forster, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, Adrian Hinkle, Terry Hodapp, James Holmes, Afton Kern, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Andrew Lee, Carol Livingston, Tim Ludwick, Phil Lutz, Mark Martucci, Ed Pandolfino, Michael Perrone, Linda Pittman, Jason Riggio, Mark Sawyer, Steve Scott, John Sterling, Mark Stephenson, Jim Thomas, Gene Trapp, John Trochet, Bart Wickel, and Dan Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.