Thursday, October 6, 2016

Winter Visitors to the Central Valley: Songbirds

Fall is an exciting time for birders in California's Central Valley: migrant birds are passing through on their way to warmer climes, and our winter visitors are beginning to return in preparation for the colder weather ahead.  The songbirds that overwinter in the Central Valley spend their summer breeding months in the northern part of the state (and beyond), as well as upslope in the Sierra.

I haven't had a chance to get out to one of our local wetlands in the past couple weeks, although I have been able to explore along the Tuolumne River, and of course, the "urban forest" of CSU Stanislaus.
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
During the first week in October, I've noticed some changes in the composition of species on campus.  The Cliff Swallows have long since departed, and it's been a few weeks since I saw the last Great-tailed Grackle at Willow Lake.  But flocks of busy songbirds are making an appearance.  So far, I've seen White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys), Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana), and Yellow-rumped Warblers (Setophaga coronata), in mixed flocks.  Look also for the arrival of Cedar Waxwings and Ruby-crowned Kinglets
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)
Soon I'll explore a couple of the nearby wetlands; 'tis the season for Sandhill Cranes, and I've heard rumors that they have arrived!

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