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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker near Sunol
Sun, 9 Mar 2003 18:23:13 -0800
From: Mike Feighner

East Bay Birders:

Today I followed up on George Bing's Northern California Birdbox (415.681.7422) report of March 8 of a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Sunol Regional Wilderness in Alameda County. George had reported that the sapsucker was frequenting the large live oak behind the residence building with a porch near the metal bridge. This is near the first parking lot past the pay kiosk. When I had arrived just before 10 AM, I easily found the house with the porch and the large oak. There was no sapsucker at first, but I did notice that this oak has experienced some heavy sapsucker use as evidenced by the thick rows of sapsucker holes around the large upper branches. At this point I discovered the male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hanging to the trunk of a maple at the nearest edge of the creek. A Red-breasted Sapsucker then landed on the opposite side of the trunk of the same maple, and the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flew across to the opposite side of the creek to some willows. Later I viewed the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in these willows from the brown metal bridge just upstream.

I then hiked up the trail at the end of the road to Little Yosemite, checking on the possibility of finding an American Dipper there as there was a report of such from there a couple years ago, and there have been recent reports of American Dipper "flowing" out of Santa Clara County. I "dipped" on the Dipper, but there were a few White-throated Swifts flying overhead in addition to a Golden Eagle being bombarded by a Red-tailed Hawk, and a few singing Orange-crowned Warblers.

There were also quite a few White-throated Swifts hanging around the Hwy 680 / Calaveras Rd Overpass.

Mike Feighner, Livermore, CA, Alameda County

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Indigo Bunting continues in Lafayette yard
Mon, 10 Mar 2003 09:02:15 -0800
From: Maury Stern

The Indigo Bunting has appeared 7 of the last 10 days at one of our seed feeders. He is seen usually in late afternoon from 4:30 to 5:15 but may come anytime from noon on.

Please call me at 925.284.5980 if you would like to come over.

Maury Stern

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"My" Marbled Godwit, and reporting banded birds
Mon, 10 Mar 2003 22:20:19 -0800
From: Dave Quady

Hi, EBBers:

On February 8 I reported to this list a couple of interesting Marbled Godwits at Hayward Regional Shoreline:

About 1,000 Marbled Godwits foraged at the waters edge on the early afternoon rising tide near Franks Dump West. Among them was one bird that stopped me short. From a distance this godwit appeared to be all white above the base of its neck. At closer range the bird showed a few brown feathers mixed into its otherwise all-white neck and face and had a narrow fringe of brown feathers around the base of its bill. Its bare parts were colored normally. Quite striking.

Another Marbled Godwit was banded. Its left leg bore an aluminum USFWS band above its foot and a very pale green (might have been faded yellow) plastic band above its "knee," and its right leg bore an orange plastic band above its "knee." If anyone knows who has been banding Marbled Godwits in this way, please forward this note to them.

Mary Gustafson at the Bird Banding Laboratory kindly forwarded my note to Dr Cheri Gratto-Trevor, who had in fact banded the bird, and I learned its history. Larry Tunstall thought other EBBers might also be interested, so with his encouragement Ive condensed the story below

Dr Gratto-Trevor wrote me:

The godwit you saw is undoubtedly one of mine - it has lost its white flag (they are getting very brittle nowadays), but the metal on the lower left, and the colour combination assures me it is one I banded. Was there definitely one band on each upper leg? (I sometimes put two of the same colour on top of each other). In other words, did the left and right colour band look the same size, or was one twice as tall as the other?

If the same size (single bands) on each leg, it would have been a male (03148) banded in 1996 on nest (96-843) near Brooks, Alberta (about 200 km east of Calgary). He was found on nest again in 1997, but with a new mate - he had the same mate every ear from 1997 to at least 2001, when I finished that study.

Where was it seen?

Thanks for the sighting!

I responded:

There was definitely only one band on each leg; the bird was fairly nearby on the bay's exposed mud flat and I had a good look in good light with my 32 x scope. I could see that the two bands were the same height (on the leg) plus had there been two on either leg I'm confident I would have been able to discern a gap between them. The bands were about the same length (measured along the leg) [as] they were wide (i.e., their outside diameter).

I saw the bird at about noon Friday, February 7, 2003. It was feeding on an exposed mudflat on San Francisco Bay along the Hayward Regional Shoreline. This park is located in Hayward, Alameda County, on the eastern side of the bay. If you have access to a DeLorme atlas (Northern California), the location is shown on p. 105, square C4. The bird was approximately half-way between Hayward Landing and Roberts Landing to the north, at (very roughly) 122 deg 9 min W, 37 deg 39.5 min N.

I'm so very glad to be able to report a return on a bird you banded, and thank you for sharing its history with me. I hope it continues to commute between the same two spots for years to come.

And Dr. Gratto-Trevor finished the story:

That's great! Much appreciated. That should be all the information I need. My male godwits had a 98% annual return rate (as adults), which is pretty darn impressive. (Females were 94%). Obviously I need to go back there in 20 years and find the oldest Marbled Godwit (oldest one so far was at least 29 years old!).

Lessons for me when encountering a color-banded bird:

  1. Carefully note the placement and color of all bands, ensuring to distinguish between a single wide band and two smaller bands. (At least I did this right ...)
  2. Report your sighting to the proper persons. Kay Loughman kindly forwarded my note to Gary Page at Point Reyes Bird Observatory, thinking he might be able to help. Larry Tunstall told me about the following site for reporting banded shorebirds:
    (It turns out that Rusty Scalf had sent information on this site to Calbirds in 2001; I even saved his message. But did I track the message down and report the bird there myself? I did report my sighting to the Bird Banding Laboratory. (But had I looked up another message that I saved, one which Mary Gustafson sent to Birdchat in 1996? Nooo.o..oo.o..o)
    Official service bands of the CWS and US Department of the Interior (FWS/NBS/USGS) can be reported by calling 1.800.327.BAND from 7 AM to 5 PM EST. These bands have 8 or 9 numbers stamped on them.

    Reports of live sightings of color marked birds are best sent to me by e-mail or snail mail and not phoned in. Any band with "Wash DC", "Laurel MD", or "NBS-USA" as a legend can be reported to the 1.800 number above. This includes all federal bands.

    Have the band number, location, date, and the finders name and address (if different from yours) ready when you call. A certificate of appreciation with the original banding information will be sent by mail. Your call from the USA and Canada as well as the Caribbean is free of charge; outside this area call 1.301.497.5943.

    This number is for reporting bird bands, not for other BBL business. Pigeon bands should be reported to the Avian Service Center, Box 18327, Oklahoma City OK 73154-0327; 1.405.670.9400.

    Mary Gustafson
    BBL Biologist
    Mary_Gustafson at nbs dot gov
    Laurel MD USA

  3. Sit back and hope to learn the history of the bird you saw as I did, thanks to the many people who helped.
  4. Set aside some time the following year to look for "your" bird again as I will!

Dave Quady
Berkeley, California

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Wild Turkeys near Sunol
Tue, 11 Mar 2003 09:47:55 -0800
From: Mike Feighner

East Bay Birders:

This morning on the way to work along sluggish southbound Hwy 680 I spotted next to the freeway near Sunol just before crossing the Alameda Creek Bridge a total of 9 Wild Turkeys (one displaying tom along with his harem of 8 hens). The traffic seemed to speed up just past this location for some unknown reason.

Mike Feighner

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Re: Wild Turkeys near Sunol
Tue, 11 Mar 2003 10:06:11 -0800
From: Kitty O'Neil

Yesterday I saw an article called "Turkey Trouble in Danville."

The opening paragraph:

Some people in the East Bay are crying foul over the exploding wild turkey population. The birds are running rampant in some areas, creating problems for residents.

Here's the link:

Looks like they might get relocated.


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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Oakland
Tue, 11 March 2003 10:08:16 -0800
From: Win Kryder

I had trouble posting the following earlier:

Last Friday I had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker outside my window on the holly tree. Fortunately I had my teleflash on my camera loaded with film on my monopod and was able to sneak out and take one shot and it flew. As I sat down to finish my coffee, I noticed a smaller one was on the same tree without yellow on it's belly. Perhaps a juvenile? When I attempted to get a picture of that one alas it flew. My yard borders the creek on Larry Ln in the Montclair district of Oakland.

Win Kryda

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