While there were breaks in the weather, the historically wet season continued to produce a lot of rain and flooding. It's fitting that many of the notable birds for the month were water birds. Among the most interesting ducks of the season was a male Eurasian Green-winged Tealat Cosumnes River Preserve from 3/5-7 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35036678). The male Tufted Duckfound on the San Joaquin River along W. Brannan Island Rd continued through at least 3/11 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35121160). A female Surf Scoter was found on Putah Creek near Fishing Access #4 from 3/4-19, and a female Red-breasted Merganser was found on Lake Natoma on 3/23. A Common Loon was downstream of Fishing Access #4 on 3/13.
A pair of Bald Eagles were seen nesting at Lake Natoma throughout the month, continuing the local expansion of this species. A Snowy Plover was an early surprise on 3/22 at Bridgeway Island Pond in West Sacramento, and an adult Slaty-backed Gull was photographed at the Scally Rd landfill off Hwy 12, east of Fairfield, on 3/5. Up to 10 Short-eared Owls(http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35082921) were reported along Metro Air Parkway between Elkhorn Blvd and Elverta Rd, and up to seven Long-eared Owls were found on private property in an olive orchard between Davis and Winters. A Merlin of the locally rare prairie subspecies was a nice find along Michigan Bar Rd on 3/9.
Before the month was over, Western Kingbirds and Bullock's Orioles were getting established on their breeding grounds and the firstPacific-slope Flycatchers andWarbling Vireos were being reported. A very early or wintering Cassin's Vireo was found in north Davis on 3/5. At least five Steller's Jays were found at Fishing Access #1 along Putah Creek on 3/13. Surprisingly early Swainson's Thrush reports by experienced birders came from Davis on 3/11 and the American River Parkway (ARP) near the Gristmill access on 3/17. A hybrid White-crowned X Golden-crowned Sparrow(http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35254881) was photographed at the west end of Rd 27 north of Winters on 3/18. Up to three White-throated Sparrows continued along the ARP between Howe and Watt Aves, and the wintering Red Fox Sparrow at the same site continued through 3/9.
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: Keith Bailey, Terry Colborn, Lily Douglas, Bob Ellis, Gil Ewing, Stephan Fettig, Frank Fogarty, Steve Hampton, Terry Hodapp, David Hollie, James Holmes, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Roger Muskat, Jason Riggio, Mark Sawyer, Craig Swolgaard, John Trochet, Charley Walker, Chris Wills, and Terry Wills. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.