Spring-like weather for much of the month allowed for a lot of activity outdoors, but rekindled fears of continued drought. By the end of the month, Sandhill Cranes were seen in high circling flocks on their way north and the first of a wave of returning Swainson’s Hawks were reported. Surf Scoterscontinued on the San Joaquin River near Sherman Island, with six seen on 2/15, and a female Red-breasted Merganser was a nice find among Common Mergansers on the American River near the Upper Sunrise access on 2/21.
The dark morph Rough-legged Hawk continued throughout the month along Riley Rd north of Galt and another was found on Meiss Rd on 2/13. Five Mountain Plovers continued on Yolo County Rd 103 through at least 2/9. Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were reported at Folsom Lake near the Granite Bay boat ramp on 2/3, an adult and a first-cycle, with the adult continuing on 2/6. At least three Short-eared Owls continued in the ag fields along Yolo County Rd 30 northeast of Davis, and two were found along Waltz Rd, west of Dowd Rd, just north of Lincoln from 2/20 to at least 2/25. ANorthern Saw-whet Owl was found along the American Parkway bike trail just downstream of the Nimbus Hatchery on 2/10, and was seen by many (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27430046) through 2/12. A continuing Hairy Woodpecker was at the Young Wo access to Lake Natoma through at least 2/29.
The Black-chinned Sparrow (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27801261), exceedingly rare for the Central Valley floor, continued until at least 2/27. A Grasshopper Sparrowphotographed at close range at Deer Creek Hills on 2/20 was a nice find for winter (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27719133). A Red Fox Sparrow was reported from CRP around the Tall Forest on 2/28. Two Swamp Sparrows continued from the Sacramento CBC just off the auto route at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on 2/13. While caution is advised with rare out-of-range races of Dark-eyed Juncos, a Pink-sided Junco was well-described near the Mace Blvd bridge over Putah Creek on 2/14. Lawrence’s Goldfinches showed up several times this month, including two flyovers in Davis on 2/7, four in Fair Oaks on 2/13, a male at the Folsom Rodeo Grounds on 2/21, and a flyover at the Orr Ranch at CRP on 2/27. Red Crossbill reports began drying up in Sacramento, with the last report from the Old Cemetery on 2/5 and a report of two flyovers near Sac State on 2/9. Up to 10 Evening Grosbeaks continued in north Davis until mid-month (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27584102). Based on their call-type, they are not birds that summer in the Sierra, but are from farther north.
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. It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Ralf Baker, Virginia Bonham, Dan Cook, Lyann Comrack, Lisa Couper, Laura Davis, Lily Douglas, Todd Easterla, Gil Ewing, Claire Gallagher, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, James Holmes, Jeri Langham, Amy McDonald, Ed Pandolfino, Michael Perrone, Ron Pozzi, Dave Quady, John Robinson, Jim Rowoth, Mark Sawyer, Mary Schiedt, Judy Spitler, John Sterling, Craig Swolgaard, John Trochet, Amy Welsh, Daniel Welsh, Deb Weston, and Mara Weston. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.