This month was modestly slow in the scheme of things and can't really be characterized, like some months can, as an invasion year of montane birds or one with a lot of rarities. Waterfowl numbers continued to build, Ferruginous Hawks and Merlins and other winter raptors increased in abundance, and some of the most interesting reports were of birds that lingered from September. The only Pectoral Sandpiper report of the month was from the Davis Wetlands on 10/5, while a single Red-necked Phalarope continued through the end of the month at the Woodland WTP.
Unlike the past fall/winter period, there were few reports of Band-tailed Pigeons away from typical sites on the west side of the Valley, where over 50 were reported in the Putah Creek canyon on 10/17. A Common Poorwill found along Latrobe Rd in eastern Sacramento County on 10/24 was later than most. A Red-naped Sapsucker was photographed (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S25290631) at Lake Solano County Park on 10/3.
Among songbirds, a Western Kingbird was reported along Babel Slough on the surprisingly late date of 10/8. There doesn't appear to be a repeat of last winter's Steller's Jay invasion, though singles from Fair Oaks on 10/21-22 and another Fair Oaks site on 10/31 were notable. A Sage Thrasher along Michigan Bar Rd first reported on 10/8 continued to at least 10/15 and was seen and photographed (http://ebird.org/ebird/ca/view/checklist?subID=S25346545) by several observers. A Tennessee Warbler found at Ancil Hoffman Park on 10/7 was probably the same bird found there on 9/30. A Black-and-white Warbler first reported at the UC Davis Arboretum on 9/29 continued through at least 10/1, while a late Wilson’s Warbler was found in Davis on 10/25. The Black-chinned Sparrow first found along Babel Slough on 9/30 was reported through 10/19. An impressive 9 Vesper Sparrows were at “Vesper Sparrow Corner” on Hwy 128, the first bend west of Winters, on 10/17. A female Cassin’s Finch was a nice surprise among Purple Finches at Fiske Lake in the mountains of northwest Yolo County. A flock of Red Crossbills were reported north of the American River near Hazel Ave on 10/30, and Evening Grosbeak reports included one from along Putah Creek near Pedrick Rd on 10/8, one at Effie Yeaw on 10/17, and four in Fair Oaks on 10/30.
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, Ralf Baker, Kathy Blankenship, Subhash Chand, Chris Dunford, Todd Easterla, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Ted Gilliland, Steve Hampton, Larry Hickey, Dan Kopp, Alan Krakauer, Eric LoPresti, Calvin Lou, Mark Martucci, Linda Melching, Dan Murphy, Michael Perrone, Jim Rowoth, Mark Sawyer, John Sterling, Michele Swarthout, Jim Thomas, Kevin Thomas, John Trochet and Mike Yoshihara. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.