The streak of rare and unusual species continued and if it wasn't for last month’s unprecedented number of rarities, this October would stand out even more. A Falcated Duck photographed at Colusa NWR on 10/30 and seen for a few days was not as bright as the bird found in the winter 2011-12 (and briefly the following winter). It is relatively early in the season, so with continued molt it could present a more striking appearance. Band-tailed Pigeons (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20036374) became more widespread in Sacramento County toward the end of the month and into November than any time on record. A Common Poorwill was foraging along Latrobe Rd in the pre-dawn of 10/9. The male Costa’s Hummingbird continued at a south Sacramento yard into November, while Lewis’s Woodpeckers and Acorn Woodpeckers continued to show up in unusual locations and the latter, especially, persisted at these sites.
An Ash-throated Flycatcher on 10/4 at “the Point” along the River Walk of Cosumnes River Preserve was unusually late. Like the Band-tailed Pigeons,Steller’s Jays staged an unprecedented invasion. Two were reported in Orangevale on 10/18 and then the floodgates opened, with reports from Fair Oaks (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20299107), Lake Natoma, the Gristmill access to the American River Parkway, Folsom, and the Putah Creek Canyon west of Winters. Chestnut-backed Chickadees continued around Davis and Putah Creek and Varied Thrushes were in good numbers at many locations throughout the region.
On 10/5, a Blackburnian Warbler was the highlight among over 130 warblers, including an exceptional 40 Black-throated Gray and 35 Townsend’s Warblers, along Wood Duck Slough near the Tall Forest at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP). A return visit on 10/6 failed to find the Blackburnian, but did produce a Magnolia Warbler. On 10/1, two Palm Warblers were found in Roseville, with one off PFE Road near the Haight Nursery and another along Country Club Ave near Acton Way. Interesting sparrows included a Vesper Sparrow along Meiss Rd on 10/3, twoGrasshopper Sparrows at Meiss Rd on 10/4, with one continuing on 10/30 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20379933), a Swamp Sparrowalong Cache Creek on 10/29, accessed from Wild Wings County Park, and theHarris’s Sparrow along Cortez Ave in North Davis, returning for its fourth winter on 10/26. Notable finches included a calling Cassin’s Finch near the Tall Forest on 10/13, another at Slide Hill Park in Davis on 10/22, a flyover Lawrence’s Goldfinchat CRP on 10/3, another west of Winters along Putah Creek on 10/8, an Evening Grosbeak at the Gristmill access on 10/3-4, and another along Putah Creek west of Winters on 10/8.
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: Dan Airola, Brent Campos, Chris Dunford, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Cory Gregory, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, Doug Herr, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Mark Martucci, Michael Perrone, Craig Swolgaard, Jim Thomas, Kevin Thomas, John Trochet, Matt Victoria, Liz West, Dan Williams, and Sharon Wisecarver. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.