With the tail end of the Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) and periods of nice weather, there were a lot of observers in the field producing many reports of interesting birds. Among the waterfowl, a Eurasian Green-winged Teal was reported at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) on 1/3, and five Surf Scoters were found in Sacramento County on the San Joaquin River off of the Sherman Island East Levee Rd on 1/1, with reports continuing through 1/8 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S26703466). Impressive raptor numbers have been reported in recent years near Plainfield Elementary by Yolo County Rds 97 and 25A, and on 1/2, 25Red-tailed Hawks, including one dark Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, and six Ferruginous Hawkwere found there. A Swainson’s Hawk near Lake Solano on 1/26 was an interesting report, and a beautiful dark morph Rough-legged Hawk was reported throughout the month along Riley Rd north of Galt (http://ebird.org/ebird/ca/view/checklist?subID=S27125310).
Mountain Plovers used to be more common in Yolo County than in recent years, so reports from two sites were encouraging (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S26648917): eight were found northeast of Davis near Rds 102B and 27 on 1/2, with as many as 12 reported through the second week of January, and a single was found near Plainfield Elementary on 1/23. A Pacific Golden-Plover was reported from YBWA from 1/3-9. An adult Glaucous Gull found at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) from 1/17-25, initially in a closed area and later along Desmond Rd, was rare for Sacramento County, which has had far fewer records of this species than Yolo County.
Reports of single Northern Pygmy-Owls from the Putah Creek Canyon below the Hwy 128 bridge came in on 1/8 and 1/13. A Long-eared Owl was flushed from a day roost from private land near Sweetwater Creek on the 1/3 Folsom CBC. Five Long-eared Owls were found roosting in an orchard near Putah Creek between Davis and Winters, and five were also found at a closed portion of CRP on 1/4. Up to four Short-eared Owls continued in the ag fields along Yolo County Rd 30 northeast of Davis, and four were also seen on Sherman Island Crossing Rd on 1/1. A continuingHairy Woodpecker on 1/3 was a little farther downstream, near the Parkshore Dr access, than reports from Lake Natoma last winter and spring.
Just ten miles north of the typical cutoff for this column was a male Vermillion Flycatcher found at the Maxwell Cemetery, west of I-5, on 1/23 and seen by many into February. A Cassin’s Vireo was a nice winter find at UC Davis on 1/26. Two Steller’s Jays were near Michigan Bar on 1/8 and a single was along Putah Creek downstream of the Hwy 128 bridge on 1/13. It’s widely acknowledged that Common Raven numbers have been building locally, but a single group of 114 along Riley Rd on 1/4 was astounding. A MacGilivray’s Warbler found on a closed portion of CRP on 1/16 was likely the same bird found nearby on 11/29 and accounts for one of very few winter records of this species.
The Black-chinned Sparrow, exceedingly rare both for the Central Valley floor and for anywhere in the state in winter, last reported on 10/23 was refound on 1/14 and continued to be seen and photographed into February (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27053269). Two Bell’s Sparrows were found on 1/3 near Sweetwater Creek, where they’re likely resident, but often missed on the CBC. An apparent White-throated X White-crowned Sparrow of was at CRP on 1/16-18. A Swamp Sparrow was reported as a brief sighting at the William B. Pond access to the American River Parkway on 1/25. Red Crossbill reports continued, especially at the Sacramento City Cemetery, with up to 20 reported throughout the month. Red Crossbills were also found at the Sutter Cemetery from 12/29 through at least 1/24, and a single and a flock of three were in Folsom on 1/3. Twelve crossbills were also reported at the Mosquito Abatement Ponds on Bond Rd in Elk Grove on 1/4. A male Lawrence’s Goldfinch at the Sacramento Regional WTP on 1/13-14 was new for the SRWTP/Bufferlands (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S26878701), and eight to twelve Evening Grosbeaks were very cooperative in north Davis near Antelope Ave from 1/27 into February (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27190668).
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: Roger Adamson, Stuart Angerer, Keith Bailey, Mark Cudney, Laura Davis, Bruce Deuel, Lily Douglas, Todd Easterla, Bob Ellis, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Ted Gilliland, Kevin Guse, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Cliff Hawley, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Dan Murphy, Frances Oliver, Ed Pandolfino, Linda Pittman, Jim Rowoth, Mark Sawyer, John Sterling, Kirk Swenson, Craig Swolgaard, Ian Taylor, John Trochet, Daniel Welsh, Rick Williams, and Sharon Wisecarver. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.