“The Birds of Putah Creek” is the title of the final CreekSpeak lecture of the season, at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Club Room at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St. in Davis.
Marilyn Ramenofsky will offer a look at behavior and physiological characteristics of the migratory Gambel’s sparrow, in comparison with the resident Nuttall’s white-crowned sparrow, to understand the critical role of Putah Creek for wintering migrants.
The white-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichialeucophrys gambelii, a prominent bird species that frequents the Putah Creek watershed during the winter, migrates long distances to breed in the Arctic. They need plenty of fuel and power for each flight, and rely on ecological sites for sufficient food and cover, without which they perish.
The Putah Creek watershed has been a traditional wintering site for white-crown sparrows. However, changes in land use have had a dramatic effect on wintering populations of many bird species. Restoration efforts along Putah Creek have had a big payoff in terms of viability of these bird populations.
Ramenofsky, a bird researcher and adjunct faculty member at the UC Davis department of neurobiology, physiology and behavior, studies the effect of the environment on the behavior and physiology of both the migratory white-crowned sparrow and its resident cousin, Nuttall’s white-crowned sparrow. Her research takes her from Putah Creek to the Arctic, following the migrant birds to study their behavior and characteristics in their different habitats.
CreekSpeak is Putah Creek Council’s six-month series of community talks about the nature, culture and history of the region. Talks are free to Putah Creek Council members and open to the public. A $5 donation is requested from those who have not yet joined the council.