It is impossible to include all the notable reports from two of the most active months in the avian calendar, with lingering wintering birds, the arrival of summering birds, and vast numbers of purely transitory migrants. Perhaps the most notable theme for this year’s spring migration was the discovery of several sparrows rare to our area. Michigan Bar Rd in eastern Sacramento County produced reports of two Brewer’s Sparrows on 4/29 and one on 5/12, plus a Black-throated Sparrow on 5/9 along and a male Lark Bunting on 5/13. Nearby Meiss Rd produced up to four Brewer’s Sparrows from 5/6-12, as well as another Black-throated Sparrow on 5/9 (photos by Linda Pittman here: http://lsp.smugmug.com/Birds/Recent/12234071_2VqG9c#!i=1839222915&k=XGqFMZp). Meiss Rd also hosted at least two pairs of Grasshopper Sparrows for which the road is well known, and Michigan Bar Rd produced steady Lawrence’sGoldfinch reports. Blue Ridge to the northwest of Vacaville hosted one or more Black-chinned Sparrows from 5/17-28. The Harris’s Sparrow in north Davis continued through at least 4/7.
Crested Caracara - photo by Sarah Mayhew
Crested Caracara - photo by Sarah Mayhew
Most exciting were two finds that are first records for the Central Valley. The discovery of a Crested Caracara southeast of Davis along Mace Blvd on 4/16 was a major find for the area, with many observers seeing the bird through 4/17, and at least one report on 4/21. Perhaps even more out of place was a Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel found at the Yolo Landfill Pond on Rd 28H. It was seen by many on the afternoon and evening of 4/28 (Photos by Marcel Holyoak here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maholyoak/6977414574/in/photostream/). (Additional photos and details of Yolo County rarities are here: http://www.tertial.us/yolobirds/yolorare.htm)
Sacramento County’s first breeding record of Hooded Mergansers was documented last year at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) with the discovery of a female with young; this year a female was found incubating eggs in a Wood Duck box.
Female Hooded Merganser sitting on eggs - photo by Jim Dunn.
Sacramento County’s first breeding record of Hooded Mergansers was documented last year at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) with the discovery of a female with young; this year a female was found incubating eggs in a Wood Duck box. For the third year in a row, California Gulls have attempted to nest at the Davis WTP, but this year only three pairs have been detected. Other interesting reports include a late Common Loon on the American River Parkway near Upper Sunrise that was found on 6/10 downstream by Howe Ave, a Red-necked Grebe at the Lincoln WTP on 5/9, the continuing Brown Pelican in West Sacramento into early June and another over Mather Lake in Rancho Cordova on 4/22, four Willets at CRP on 4/30, a Ruff at CRP on 4/14-22 and another at the Yolo Wildlife Area on 4/23, the continuing Lesser Black-backed Gull at Folsom Lake (Granite Bay) on 4/3, a late near-adult Glaucous Gull at the Yolo Landfill on 4/27, and a Least Tern found at the Sacramento Reg. WTP on 5/21 where they have nested for the past four years.
A calling Northern Pygmy-Owl at the Michigan Bar Bridge on 4/7 was one of few records for Sacramento County. A Lesser Nighthawk found on South Shingle Rd on 5/9, just east of Michigan Bar Rd, may be the first for El Dorado County, though they are regular on nearby Meiss Rd. Two Steller’s Jays were found at Cold Canyon Reserve on 5/28, and a Brown Creeper was nest building downstream of Lake Solano on 5/16. A Townsend’s Solitaire was found on Rayhouse Rd on 4/23 and impressive movements of Swainson’s Thrushes were reported along Putah Creek and at CRP, with a high of 50-60 just west of UC Davis along Putah Creek on 5/9. A Northern Parula was found along Putah Creek between Davis and Winters on 5/30. Yellow-breasted Chats were reported at CRP on 5/11 and Michigan Bar on 5/12, but most interesting was apparent breeding by a pair at Sailor Bar along the American River, first detected on 5/30.
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 are included. Many reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserve (cvbirds.org) and eBird. It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Scott Dietrich, Chris Dunford, Jim Dunn, Todd Easterla, Gil Ewing, Cory Gregory, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Dave Johnson, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, John Luther, Don Marsh, Mark Martucci, Harry Oakes, Frances Oliver, Ed Pandolfino, Michael Perrone, Linda Pittman, Ron Pozzi, William Rockey, Diane Rose, Jim Rowoth, John Sterling, John Trochet, Bruce Webb, Magill Weber, and Ed Whisler. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.