An interesting thing happened after the cold snap last Wednesday night. A baby California Kingsnake, not moving, appeared to have found its way into a friend's yard near the automatic sprinklers. It was curled up by an old wooden fence and had a bump in its stomach.

To keep the dog from possibly chewing on this grey-banded reptile, I put him on a paper towel, also covered by a paper towel, into a fishbowl with a small water dish. He was definitely awake, as shown by the darting tongue that stopped after tasting a fingernail.

This snake was almost motionless until the next day. It had worked his/ her way under the handle of the water bowl. This time, when I lifted the 11'' serpent in my palm, it had a bit more life in the upper body looking about inquisitively. After heating up the fishbowl a bit, I noticed a lot more seeking behavior.
This kingsnake wanted out of the bowl. So, after giving it a measure, we released it on a nearby hillside.
Where it remained in the same general area, when we checked up on it a few hours later. So here is the question:
Should this baby snake be recaptured and force-fed? Perhaps kisnake food (baby lizards, etc) is scarce this year, like the water. Was this reptilian guy/gal looking for a way out of likely starvation?
kk
An interesting thing happened after the cold snap last Wednesday night. A baby California Kingsnake, not moving, appeared to have ... etc) is scarce this year, like the water. Was this reptilian guy/gal looking for a way out of likely starvation?

I think you did the correct thing, and the best course of action is likely to leave the little guy alone. You said he had a bump - probably a meal, and it was cold - he probably got caught out and really needs somewhere to digest and hide. If you released him in an environment where he can do that - particularly the hiding part, I'd leave him to do what he'd normally be doing.
If it's legal to wild-catch and keep kingsnakes where you are, and you really want a snake, that's a different matter entirely. If you do decide to go get him, commit to keeping him forever, do your homework about care, set up an appropriate habitat and make sure he gets checked for parasites. I wouldn't force feed him under any circumstances unless it was specifically recommended by an experienced herp vet. Snakes don't have to eat very much, it's very easy to apply mammalian standards of care to them and get overly anxious about this aspect.
I have the same impulse as you had when I come across little snakes in my yard, but I try to maintain as much of a non-intervention policy as possible.
nj"good luck"m

I do not remember any fights or fits,
just a shaky morning after calling it quits.
Nice reply. Thanks.
Who knows, it may be illegal to keep wild kingsnakes in Antioch. I'll try to find out.