This interior-type Sage Sparrow was found by
Dan Williams at Sherman Island, in southwestern Sacramento County, on private
property. He was able to arrange access for people to see this bird through
11/22. Photo by Linda Pittman on Nov 17, 2011, with additional photos here. Photos by John Sterling are here.
Click on photo to enlarge.
This Winter Wren was found on a monthly bird survey
at a closed portion of Cosumnes River Preserve on Nov 27, 2011. Image taken
from a video by Chris Conard. Additional images and videos of this bird, which
include characteristic calls, as well as Pacific Wrens for comparison are here.
Despite decades of observation, it is quite remarkable that new species are
added to the state, the Central Valley, and the local counties each year. The
most recent example is a bit different, since it was assisted by the 2010 AOU
split of “Winter Wren” into three species: Eurasian Wren, Pacific
Wren, and Winter Wren (or “Eastern” Winter Wren). Pacific Wren is
the regular breeding bird along the coast and in the mountains of California,
which regularly winters in small and varying numbers in dense riparian forest at
sites like the Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP). On 11/27, a Winter Wren
(looking and sounding like a bird from eastern North America) was recorded at
CRP. This was at a remote site without regular public access, but recordings of
the call and video were obtained, which can be viewed at the Web link below. If
accepted by the California Bird Records Committee, this would be a first for the
Central Valley and one of a handful so far for the state.
Among the best
finds of the month were an American Golden-Plover and a Pacific
Golden-Plover at the Farmer’s Central Pond of Rd 102, south of Woodland, on
11/4. The former was refound on 11/5. A juvenile sapsucker was seen in
downtown Sacramento on 11/2. Only Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are known to
retain juvenile plumage into the fall and away from their natal grounds, so it
would appear to be that species by default. A Sage Sparrow (interior
type) was discovered on private property at Sherman Island on 11/7.
Fortunately, limited access was obtained and the bird was seen through 11/22.
In addition to the expected chaparral species, a ten-mile hike up
Rayhouse Rd on 11/27 produced 75 Band-tailed Pigeons, four Northern
Pygmy-Owls, four Hairy Woodpeckers, 20 Purple Finches, and
four Thick-billed Fox Sparrows. The latter birds, of the type breeding
in the mountains of California, are rarely detected in our area. Additional
birds of note include the continuing Brown Pelican in West Sacramento, a
White-winged Dove in Solano County at Birds Landing and Montezuma Hills
Rds on 11/17, 65 Band-tailed Pigeons coming to Putah Creek for water at
the Hwy 128 Bridge below Monticello Dam on 11/18, a Short-eared Owl along
Desmond Rd at CRP on 11/5 (there have been few recent Sacramento County
reports), the continuing Black-throated Sparrow in Esparto, an apparent
Red Fox Sparrow found singing in north Davis on 11/25 and continuing into
December, and at least two different Lapland Longspurs found in a field
north of Rd 27, between Rds 102 and 102B, from 11/17 through the end of the
Many of these reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird
Club Listserve. Visit cvbirds.org and click "Listserve" for details. With over 100
reports, it is impossible to list everyone; however, I want to thank the
following for reports on the above species and for providing additional
information: Todd Easterla, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, Dan Kopp, Sami
LaRocca, Michael Perrone, John Sterling, Zach Smith, Magill Weber, Dan Welsh,
and Dan Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this
column would not be possible.