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Photo by Tom Grey

Santa Clara County Bird List Discussion Archive 2017

| Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec |


Compiled by: Brooke Miller. Please email additions, corrections, or comments to Brooke at Monthly reports are made up of eBird sightings, postings on South Bay Birds, and direct email reports.


Please post all your sightings at and/or eBird. You can use eBird to follow first-of-the-year sightings. Due to the fact that not everyone uses eBird, not all sightings will be included, however. To see first-of-the-year sightings in eBird do the following:

  • • Click on "Explore Data" at the top of any eBird page
  • • Select "Explore a Region"
  • • Type in "Santa Clara" and wait for the page to fill it in
  • • Select "Current Year" and click "set"
  • • Click on "First Seen"

See the Santa Clara County Bird List 2017.



Happy New Year, South Bay Birders!
We started off 2017 with 162 birds seen on January 1, and a total of 206 birds for the month of January.  The average for January 1st is 153, and the average for the month of January is 199.  Thank you to everyone who birded, and took the time to report birds either on SBB, eBird, or send emails directly to me.
Of the 206 birds that were recorded for January, there was 1 bird rated as rarity (6) and 11 birds rated as rarity (5).  As a reminder, here is what each rarity code means:
**Rarity Codes:
1 = common, always seen in habitat in season.
2 = fairly common, usually in habitat in season, but missed sometimes.
3 = uncommon, always around, but sometimes you can't find.
4 = rare, occurs yearly in the county, but not always in same places.
5 = very rare, does not occur every year.
6 = casual or vagrant, generally fewer than 10 records.
Rarity Code 6:
1. Mountain Bluebird.  Several birds were found and photographed at the Sierra Road Summit on 15-January by Daniel Bump.  
Rarity Code 5’s:
1. A Tundra Swan was found at Ogier Ponds on 15-January by Mike Rogers;
2. A Pacific Loon was found at Los Capitancillos Ponds on 15-January by Ann Verdi and Mike Rogers;
3. A Red Phalarope was found at Don Edwards NWR in Alviso on 1-January by Mike Mammoser and Mike Rogers;
4. A Red-naped Sapsucker continued at Almaden Lake on 2-January, and was seen by Bob Reiling, Frank Vanslager, and Brooke Miller;
5. A Hammond’s Flycatcher, first found at Los Lagos Golf Course by Frank Vanslager during the San Jose CBC, was re-found on 1-January;
6. A Gray Flycatcher, at Sunnyvale Baylands Park on 1-January, continued from late 2016;
7. A Townsend’s Solitaire was found in Los Gatos by Garrett Lau on 21-January;
8. A Northern Waterthrush was found at Ulistac Park in Santa Clara by Richard Jeffers on 10-January;
9. A Palm Warbler was seen on 13-January at the Palo Alto Flood Control Basin by Will Brooks and Jason Vassallo;
10. A Swamp Sparrow was seen on 11-January at the Palo Alto Baylands across from the airport runway by Cynthia Berg and Mike Mammoser; and
11. Karen Burnson saw a Summer Tanager in her backyard in Los Gatos on 17-January.
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I missed one species for January, a/the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the dirt lot across from the Spring Valley unit of Ed Levin County Park, continuing on 22-January.  That increased January’s bird count from 206 to 207.
We had 4 new birds in February, bringing the total count to 211.  We are still above the average of 208 for total birds, but were below the average of 9 birds for February.  The new birds for February were:
  • • 3-Feb:  A Northern Rough-winged Swallow (2), seen by Bill Bousman, flying over the Coyote Creek Trail below Highway 237;
  • • 10-Feb:  A male Rufous Hummingbird (4), seen at a feeder at Julie and Amir Avnit’s home in the Santa Cruz Mountains;
  • • 12-Feb:  A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2), seen by Janna Pauser at the Stile Ranch Trailhead at Santa Teresa County Park; and
  • • 28-Feb:  A Pacific-slope Flycatcher (2), photographed by Tom Grey at Frenchman’s Park at Stanford.  
March, April, and May are traditionally months with quite a few new birds species, with averages of 10 for March, 24 for April, and 10 for May.


Two late entries for January, a Kumlien’s Iceland Gull at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill (Steve Rottenborn) on 7 January, and a Black Rail at the Palo Alto Baylands (Steve Miller and Kathryn parker) on 12 January, increases January’s total from 207 to 209.  Also, two stragglers for February, a Lesser Yellowlegs at Salt Pond A12 in Alviso (Alex Rinkert) on 14 February, and a Wilson’s Warbler on the same date at Santa Clara University (Katie Grimm), increases February’s total from 4 to 6, increasing the February’s total to 215.
We had 16 new birds in March, bringing the total count to 231.  We are 10 birds above the average of 221, and are 3 birds above the average of 13 birds for March.  
The new birds for March are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 3-Mar: Bullock’s Oriole (1), Santa Cruz Mountains, the Avnits
  • • 3-Mar: Black Skimmer (4), Charleston Slough, Phil Ball
  • • 4-Mar: Cliff Swallow (1), Guadalupe Creek Trail, Janna Pauser
  • • 10-Mar: Caspian Tern (2), Don Edwards NWR, Marilyn Etherington
  • • 10-Mar: Black-headed Grosbeak (1), South County, Jean Myers
  • • 11-Mar: Warbling Vireo (2), Rancho Canada del Oro OSP, Guadalupe Creek Trail, and Don Edwards NWR, Amy McDonald, Janna Pauser, Brian Steger
  • • 12-Mar: Grasshopper Sparrow (4), Ed Levin County Park, Brian Steger
  • • 12-Mar: Cattle Egret (5), Don Edwards NWR, Dave Nickerson
  • • 15-Mar: Western Kingbird (2), Coyote Lake County Park, Angela Conry
  • • 17-Mar: Costa’s Hummingbird (5), Mountain View, David Diller
  • • 19-Mar: Purple Martin (4), Hicks/Alamitos Rds, Ann Verdi
  • • 21-Mar: Red-necked Phalarope (2), Lake Lagunita, Becca Nelson
  • • 23-Mar: Cassin’s Vireo (2), Stevens Creek County Park, Dave Nickerson
  • • 28-Mar: Ruddy Turnstone (5), San Francisquito Creek Mouth, Jasen Liu
  • • 29-Mar: American Dipper (4), Los Gatos Creek Trail Saratoga, Janna Pauser

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We had 19 new birds in April, bringing the total count to 250.  We are 7 birds above the average of 243, and are 2 birds below the average of 21 birds for April.  We’ve now recorded 62% of the birds in the county.  
The new birds for April are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 1-Apr: Swainson’s Hawk (5), Coyote Valley OSP, Bill Pelletier
  • • 2-Apr: Long-tailed Duck (5), Salt Pond A14 Alviso, Mike Mammoser & Mike Rogers
  • • 3-Apr: Common Poorwill (3), East Foothills, Bill Pelletier & Kitty O’Neil
  • • 4-Apr: Yellow-headed Blackbird (5), Coyote Valley, Dave Nickerson & Gena Zolotar
  • • 4-Apr: Ash-throated Flycatcher (2), Henry Coe SP, Bryan Kett
  • • 5-Apr: Cassin’s Kingbird (5), San Felipe Rd., Dave Nickerson & Bob Reiling
  • • 5-Apr: Red Knot (5), Salt Pond A16 Alviso, Richard Cimino
  • • 5-Apr: Yellow Warbler (1), Coyote Valley, Janna Pauser
  • • 6-Apr: Hermit Warbler (4), Santa Clara Valley Water District, Michael Martin
  • • 7-Apr: Vaux’s Swift (3), Oka Ponds, Jason Vassallo
  • • 8-Apr: Lazuli Bunting (2), Santa Teresa CP, Dave Nickerson
  • • 9-Apr: Western Wood-Pewee (2), Stanford Univ campus, Pat & Nora Devlin
  • • 9-Apr: Plumbeous Vireo (6), Overfelt Gardens, Richard Jeffers & Mike Mammoser
  • • 15-Apr: Solitary Sandpiper (5), Santa Clara Valley Water District, Janna Pauser et al
  • • 16-Apr: Olive-sided Flycatcher (3), Santa Cruz Mtns, Julie & Amir Avnit
  • • 21-Apr: Black-chinned Hummingbird (4), Los Gatos Crk Trl Meridian Ave., Bill Bousman
  • • 25-Apr: Calliope Hummingbird (5), Loma Prieta upper saddle, Dave Nickerson
  • • 27-Apr: MacGillivray’s Warbler (4), Los Alamitos Crk Trl Graystone Ln to Camden, Steve Miller
  • • 29-Apr: Swainson’s Thrush (2), Monte Bello OSP, Dave Nickerson

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We had 8 new birds in May, bringing the total count to 258.  One of these birds was a new bird for the County! We are 7 birds above the average of 251, and are 1 bird below the average of 8 new birds for May. We’ve now recorded 64% of the birds in the county.  
The new birds for May are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 1-May: Yellow-breasted Chat (5), Llagas Creek/Gilroy Water Treatment Plant, Gena Zolotar
  • • 18-May: Lesser Nighthawk (6), Ogier Ponds, Steve Rottenborn
  • • 21-May: Blue Grosbeak (4), Sargent Creek/Railroad Tracks (Hwy 129/101 area), Will Brooks
  • • 22-May: Common Loon (4), Los Capitancillos Ponds, Steve Tucker
  • • 23-May: White-eyed Vireo (6), Lower Berryesa Creek Trail, Andrew Ford (First County Record!!)
  • • 28-May: Indigo Bunting (5), Old Calaveras Road/Ed Levin County Park, Melissa Kung
  • • 29-May: Willow Flycatcher (4), Monte Bello OSP Gates 4/5, Garth Harwood
  • • 29-May: Tropical Kingbird (6), Don Edwards NWR Alviso Entrance Road, Frank Vanslager


We had 3 new birds in June, bringing the total count to 261. We had a new bird for the County, a Wood Thrush, found by Mike Mammoser on June 1! We are 6 birds above the average of 255, and 1 bird below the average of 4 new birds for June. We’ve recorded 64% of the birds in the county.  
The new birds for June are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 1-Jun: Wood Thrush (6), Old Oak Glen Ave., Mike Mammoser
  • • 4-Jun: Black Swift (5), Henry Coe State Park, Will Brooks
  • • 11-Jun: Northern Parula (6), Alamitos Creek Trail, Chris Johnson

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We had 7 new birds in July, bringing the total count to 268. We are 9 birds above the average of 259, and 7 birds above the average of 4 new birds for July. We’ve recorded 66% of the birds in the county through July.  
The new birds for July are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 2-Jul: Semipalmated Sandpiper (4), New Chicago Marsh (Don Edwards NWR), Mike Mammoser
  • • 12-Jul: Least Tern (4), Salt Pond A2E, Frank Vanslager
  • • 13-Jul: Elegant Tern (4), Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant, Bob Reiling
  • • 20-Jul: Common Tern (4), Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant, Pete Dunten
  • • 22-Jul: Bar-tailed Godwit (6), Salt Pond A17 (Don Edwards NWR), Will Brooks
  • • 30-Jul: Little Stint (6), New Chicago Marsh, Will Brooks
  • • 31-Jul: Pectoral Sandpiper (4), New Chicago Marsh, Dave Nickerson

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We had 5 new birds in August, bringing the total count to 273. We are 8 birds above the average of 265, and 1 bird above the average of 6 new birds for 
August. We have recorded 68% of the birds in the county through August.  
The new birds for August are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 9-Aug: Dave Weber found a Black Tern (5) on a piling at Salt Pond A2E
  • • 12-Aug: Phil Ball found a Baird’s Sandpiper (4) at Salt Pond A3W
  • • 14-Aug: Will Brooks found 5 Black Turnstones (6) in Charleston Slough
  • • 18-Aug: Bill Bousman found a Bank Swallow (5) at the Mountain View Forebay
  • • 21-Aug: Dave Weber found a Stilt Sandpiper (4) on Island 20 in Salt Pond A16 at Don Edwards NWR

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I missed an entry for May 5, 2 Sandhill Cranes vocalizing overhead in the early morning hours in Willow Glen (my own observation), and there was a report for August 25, of a Franklin’s Gull on Salt Pond A18 by Rich Ferrick, that was originally reported as a Bonaparte’s Gull. These two reports increased our end-of-August total from 273 to 275.
We had 7 new birds in September, bringing our end-of-September total to 282. We are 7 birds above the average of 275, and 2 birds below the average of 9 new birds for the month of September. We’ve recorded 70% of the birds in the county thru September. For the final 3 months of the year our average number of new birds is 11.  
The new birds for September are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 3-Sep: Dan Wenny entered a Black-throated Sparrow (6), with a photograph by Josh Scullen, into his eBird list, a bird that was netted at CCFS;
  • • 5-Sep: Garth Harwood saw and heard 17 Red Crossbills (5) at Monte Bello Gate 4/5;
  • • 12-Sep: Chris Johnson discovered a Tennessee Warbler (6) at Ulistac Natural Area;
  • • 17-Sep: Mike Rogers and his Varied Twitchers found a Brewer’s Sparrow (5) at Alviso Marina County Park;
  • • 19-Sep: Alex Rinkert found a Sage Thrasher (6) in a closed area of Salt Pond A3W;
  • • 19-Sep: Pat Kenny found a Chestnut-sided Warbler (6) at Sunnyvale Baylands Park; and
  • • 28-Sep: Pete LaTourrette found a Blackpoll Warbler (5) at Ulistac Natural Area.

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We had 5 new birds in October, bringing our end-of-October total to 287.  We are 7 birds above the average of 280, and right at the average of 5 new birds for the month.  We’ve recorded 71% of the birds in the county thru October.  For the final 2 months of the year our average number of new birds is 6 – 3 for each month.  
The new birds for October are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 2-Oct: Rob Furrow found a Bobolink (6) at Lake Lagunita on the Stanford Campus;
  • • 5-Oct: John Moore found a Rose-breasted Grosbeak (5) at a feeder in his San Jose backyard;
  • • 14-Oct: Eve Meier found a male Black-throated Blue Warbler (6) at the Santa Clara Valley Water District Headquarters;
  • • 27-Oct: Elinor Gates found an Evening Grosbeak (5) at Lick Observatory; and
  • • 30-Oct: Max Tarjan found a Sabine’s Gull (5) on Salt Pond A2W.

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There was a late entry for October that didn’t get into my October report. It was a sighting of a Clay-colored Sparrow (5) at Ulistac Natural Area on October 7, 2017, by Marc Simmel. That increased October’s total to 6 new birds, for a total of 288. For November we had 2 new birds (1 below the average of 3), bringing our end-of-November total to 290 (8 birds above the average of 282). For December, the average number of new birds is 3, but we have had as many as 7.  
The new birds for November are, in chronological order, with rarity codes:
  • • 4-Nov: Dave Nickerson found a Ruff (4) at Don Edwards NWR; and
  • • 12-Nov: Steve Tucker got on and photographed a Zone-tailed Hawk (6) flying Westward over Laguna Avenue in Coyote Valley
I am aware of the taxonomic changes made recently, and I will be “reorganizing” the list starting in January.


During December I was forwarded 2 species to add to the cumulative list for 2017. These were:
  • • 8-Sep: Green-tailed Towhee (6) found at Anderson Dam near Morgan Hill by Steve Rottenborn. This bird was found in sensitive habitat, and therefore was not reported to the public at that time.
  • • 29-Nov: Lapland Longspur (6) found by Stephen Peterson and also seen by Bridget Sousa at Moffett Field in Mountain View. The airfield is not open to the public, therefore it was not reported to the public at that time.
There were 2 new birds for December. They were:
  • • 22-Dec: Barrow’s Goldeneye (4) found at Shoreline Lake in Mountain View, by both Frank Vanslager and David Zittin.
  • • 30-Dec: A male Vermilion Flycatcher (6) found in Coyote Valley, by Ryan Phillips and his team, during the Calero-Morgan Hill CBC. This is a new bird for Santa Clara County!
The final cumulative list tallied a total of 294 species of birds in Santa Clara County for 2017 (8 birds above the average of 286). This is the largest number of species ever detected in the County for a single year!