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Year 2, Issue 5

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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.
*    Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
*    Basin Bird Highlights: "Inspector" Tom Nix
*    Composite Deposit, Stat's All: Karl "Father of the Madness" David
*    Bird Brain Writer: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer
*    Set Nurse: Jeff Wells
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If March is the Month of Madness, then what the heck is May?  You've got
Cuppers piling up at City Cemetery and Mundy Wildflower Garden like
graduates eagerly grabbing for their diplomas. You've got Sapsucker Woods
kicking and screaming for attention every morning and late afternoon from
anyone who lives--or works--within a 60-mile radius.  There's Newman Golf
Course sacrificing Yellow-bellied Flycatchers and Lincoln's Sparrows to the
faithful, and Stewart Park weighing in with Forster's Terns and Bonaparte's
Gulls, not to mention the furious "oinky-lonk"s and "kik-kik-kidik-kidik"s
going down with the sun at Montezuma.  Then there was that stranded kitten
Matt Medler saved at Armitage Road.  And they call this "The Merry Month
of May"?
 
We here at The Cup hereby submit the following petition: we propose that
the unreasonably genteel and jovial slogan traditionally assigned to May be
replaced with a more appropriate tagline.  How's this: "The You-Gotta-Get-
Out-Every-Morning-Noon-And-Night-Or-Who-Knows-What-You'll-Miss Month of May"
(or simply "TYGGOEMNANOWKWYM of May" when you have to write it down.)
 
While we're drawing up the paperwork for Congress, we've provided
The Cup 2.5 for your perusal.  After TYGGOEMNANOWKWYM of May,
a little r&r--not to mention another issue of The Cup--is in order.
 
                            @   @    @    @    @     @
                              NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
                               @   @    @    @     @     @
 
WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: Actually, it's more like a re-welcome.
Former Cupper--aw, heck, once a Cupper always a Cupper, he said it himself-
-Larry Springsteen squeezed back into the Basin for a little catch-up, along
with  the Bird Dog: "We actually birded for almost 40 minutes in the Basin!
It was only a couple of hundred mile detour out of the way. Too bad the
birding began after 12 pm and it was kind of hot... Who knows what was
around that had stopped singing by then? On the weekend of the 7th we
should be in the Basin for over 24 hours! We' should also be back for
another 24 hours on the weekend of the 21st.  Mira will have a nephew
(actually a cousin's grandson) coming home with us that weekend. He'll
probably be a bird dog, too."  Cupper Scott Mardis (who let job
opportunities get in the way of his great Cup Quest and moved to
Massachusetts in January) was also spotted birding in the Basin in May.
Steve Kelling made this call: "The cemetary got real quiet, the drone of
the weeders seemed to have disappeared.  The wind even stopped.  I was
watching a Bay-breasted when all of a sudden I heard, 'What do you see?'  I
turned to see Scott Mardis walking up.  It was nice to see him and catch
up."  Says Scott: "It was good to be back, birding in the Basin if only for a
couple of hours."
 
PUTTING IT ON THE TABLE: Did you notice all the organizations that had tables
at the Ithaca Festival this year?  The Cayuga Nature Center, the Sciencenter,
the Ithaca Singles Club...the Ithaca Singles Club?  So where, pray tell, was
the David Cup table in all that education and merriment?  Next year, they'll
be no need to ask.  Here's what we at The Cup have got lined up so far: John
Greenly giving demonstrations on how to make origami swans; Ken Rosenberg
and Anne James performing the Dance of the Whooping Crane; Diane Tessaglia
serving up mouth-watering portions of Peking Duck (vegetarian version).
All this and the David Cup wood block, ah, Trophy and McIlroy shoe, um,
Award sitting regally atop back issues of The Cup!  If you'd like to contribute
your talents to next year's David Cup table at the Ithaca Festival, let us
know next April 1.
 
SCRAWL OF FAME?: Who said, "This series is certainly something I regularly
refer patrons to when they are looking for life histories.  It's really the
only place to go since nothing like it has been done since Bent.  It's a
wonderful addition to the reference collection here."  If you read the
ornithological journal The Auk (or at least the back pages) you know it was
the David Cup's own Mann Librarian extraordinaire, Marty Schlabach! Of
course, you also know that Marty's referring to the Birds of North America
series...not The Cup.
 
MEDLER OF HONOR: Who says you can't be a birder and give a hoot about cats,
too?  On the evening of May 23, Matt Medler proved it can be so.  The Cup's
Allison Wells filed this report; "Jeff, Matt and I went to Armitage Road
for the Prothonotary Warblers and as we were walking across the bridge, we
heard cries coming from beneath us.  There on the ledge of the support was a
tiny kitten, no more than a few months old, looking very frightened and
crying loudly. This was about 15-20 feet out in the river.  There was no way
this kitten got there by itself (someone very cruel had to have put it
there.) Matt volunteered to go in after the poor thing. (We didn't have to
ask him how the water was--his moans were enough to put some of our eeriest
bird songs to shame.)  He reached up Gumby-style and got the kitten. We would
bestow upon him a medal of honor except he already has one--the kitten, which
he is keeping."  By the way, Matt named her Phoebe.
 
COUNT YOURSELF IN:  Imagine a spring when no Ruddy Turnstones turned up at
Myers Point, a time when Red Knots--already rare in the Basin--had become
only memories at Montezuma.  Unfortunately, such previously unthinkable
scenarios are are now something to think seriously about.  Over-harvesting
of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay area of New Jersey has led to a 90%
decline in the shorebirds there, by some counts.  The NJ shores are a major
stop-over for vast numbers of the birds that rely on the crab eggs in order
to build up fat reserves necessary for them to complete  migration to their
arctic breeding grounds. The 60-day moratorium imposed by Governor Christine
Todd Whitman is not enough. There needs to be permanent plan before it's too
late.  If you have not done so already, we encourage you to register your
opionions to Governor Whitman by calling (609) 777-6000 or go to her website
at http:www.state.nj.us and email her a letter.  This time, the BIRDS are
counting on YOU.
 
HOW TWEET IT IS: Between now and the year 2050, what will be the only major
outdoor activity that will grow faster than the national population?
Birding!  According to Newsweek magazine, birding is expected to increase
58.5% by then, bringing the number of birders to 127.8 million.  Birding
will be followed by walking (up 52.2%) and saltwater fishing (up 51.6%).
Although golf is expected to weigh in with a mere 29.7% growth rate, the
numbers of people visiting golf courses is expected to increase
substantially.  Of course, these visitors will not be golfers, they'll be
birders.
 
MEGAN UPDATE: Daddy Runge brings us the latest news from the ever-changing
world of Megan: "A big month for father-daughter birding!  Megan increased
her life (and Basin and Ithaca) list by 33%, moving to a total of 4 with the
addition of mallard.  The criteria for inclusion, for the skeptics, is that
the bird must be within five feet and she must lock eyes onto it.  She does
not need to utter any syllables resembling the Latin name.  More
importantly, however, Meg met the Father of the Madness and the Esteemed
Editors of The Cup.  All three birding celebrities identified her without
being introduced. What gave it away?  There must be many other grad students
with binoculars cajoling four-month-old infants into walks in the woods.
The rumor that the Steves paid her to scare away a McHooded Warbler that
Allison
was trying to find is patently false."
 
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: We've been hearing and reading about some
upstart guitar player by the name of Johnny Lang.  Lang has been wooin' 'em
on the blues circuit, groovin' at blues festivals, why, he's even got a
number one album on the blues charts--and he's only 16 years old! If you
have heard this bluesboy wonder live or on recordings, call the David Cup
blues hotline and let us know what you think.  Who knows, if you're lucky,
we might pay you to write a review.  Or we might just ask you to write a
review.
 
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                              BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
                                    By Tom Nix
 
      At last May! After cruel, oh, so cruel April passed on, I contemplated
the chance for a happy confluence of peak moments in three passions--the
three B's if you will: basketball, bebop and birds! Picture this: it is a
warm May night back in the late 70's when a Celtic fan on his way to watch
the NBA playoffs at Cecil's bar in North Lansing (because they had satellite
TV in those pre-cable days) the car radio playing Charlie Parker, and the
local nighthawks wheeling over the City, trips out on Bird, Bird and birds.
But alas the Celts and nighthawks have both fallen on hard times, and good
bebop is always hard to find. But wait, my 3B hat trick was not completely out
of reach. The Ithaca Festival closed out the month with some fine jazz, and
one could still get home in time to watch His Airness on the tube. While at
Tschache Pool for a few nights recently, a migrating Common Nighthawk tilted
overhead. Yes, and it counts! Speaking of the Festival, one of May's
highlights for me was Cupper Andy Farnsworth playing jazz guitar while he
checked out the sky, no doubt for late migrants.
      May is Showtime, a fast break of northbound birds, and the pressure is
on to spend as much time in the field as possible, to mount a full court
press on migration. The Net buzzes with new sightings daily, and the
competitively minded Cupper is tempted to follow every lead, wincing when a
posting is read too late to act upon. The pressure mounts:  will that
flycatcher stay until I can get out of work, and if not, will another pass
through?  Okay, relax, take a deep breath, nobody gets them all, and the fun
is in playing the game. For me, cruising the City in ol' 414, a repainted
cop car, one of the best things about this past month was the incredible
numbers of transient Blackpoll Warblers around my beat. One even sang from a
small tree in the City Hall parking lot almost beneath the Green Street
parking garage.
      While the waves of warblers, vireos, and flycatchers passing through our
Basin on their way north to their breeding grounds present a challenge of
so many birds in so little time, the true vagrant presents another challenge
altogether: to be in that right place at that right time. Another Black
Vulture, (perhaps a species some day soon to lose its vagrant status and
become a regular Basin bird?) was seen on Bostwick Road midmonth. A couple of
white herons, one with golden slippers, the other with a golden topknot, no
doubt delighted their respective discoverers. I wouldn't know, I was a day
late for the Cattle Egret that followed that tractor plowing the corner of
Armitage and 89, and three days late for the Snowy Egret at Montezuma's
Main Pool.
      But I did see the nighthawk over Tschache Pool (forgive my
self-congrats,  nighthawk was a bitter miss for me last year). And by the
way, let's all give three cheers for the incredible habitat the MNWR
managers have created at Tschache! This month the Montezuma night air
stirred with a weird marsh music featuring the soprano sax glissandos of
Soras over a rhythm section of Least and American Bitterns.
      Those flycatchers that pass on through were indeed found: a scattering
of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers showed up at Newman woods, Sapsucker Woods,
Mundy, and at Caswell Road, and Steve Kelling discovered an Olive-sided
Flycatcher in the University Avenue (a.k.a., "City") Cemetery and managed to
post it to the Net in time for others to see as well. The cemetery maintained
its local-hotspot status with a nice variety of warblers, including some
"good" warblers; Cape May, Tennessee, a couple of Bay-breasted Warblers that
stayed for nearly a week. Still, some observers noted that "it was better
last year." Mundy Wildflower Garden yielded a Golden-winged Warbler to John
Greenly and Laura Stenzler. Stephen Davies rediscovered  the Armitage Road
Prothonotary Warblers, this time at the canal bridge. Another hotspot,
Salmon Creek Road between Brooks Hill and French Hill roads, will undoubtedly
receive more scrutiny with the advent of the Lab's Cerulean Warbler project.
Already this year, returning Acadian Flycatcher and Orchard Orioles have
been reported.
      Early in the month, before the White-throated Sparrows left and as the
White-crowns were arriving, a couple of Lincoln's Sparrows were regular at
feeders at the Lab and at Chris Hymes' folks' house on Vine Street.
Grasshopper Sparrows arrived and could be found in small numbers in
appropriate habitat, but the Henslow's Sparrow spot, Caswell Road, had by
month's end failed to produce. Are they late returning or has the habitat
changed somehow?  So much of migration does seem slow this year compared to
last. It looks to me like shorebirds, always tough in the spring are even
fewer now that cars and trucks can drive out past the parking area on the
spit at Myers Point.
      Let's see, what else was there? A couple of Philly Vireos, a
Whip-poor-will sang in Lansing, a two-headed finch was reported from
Rochester. The usual unusual.  As in a well executed fast break in the open
court, like a long Coltrane saxophone solo, there's a pattern to migration,
but always a few surprises as well. You gotta love it.
 
(Tom Nix is a Liberal Arts grad turned carpenter, now a Code Inspector
for the City of Ithaca. He is Charlie Parker in another life. )
 
100      100      100      100      100      100       100       100
                               100 CLUB
100       100      100       100       100       100       100     100
 
[Sign STILL on 100 Club door: "BILL EVANS, KEEP OUT!"]
 
Anne James' BIRD 100: refused to respond to questionnaire
 
Jim Lowe's BIRD 100: Bobolink
HE THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "I started the day knowing
I was at 99 species.  We were going to one of our study sites that is
surrounded by open fields.  I figured Bobolink would be the most likely
species for number 100, and I heard one as soon as I got out of the car."
 
Michael Runge's BIRD 100:  Chestnut-sided Warbler
HE HOPED OR THOUGHT IT WOULD BE: "Lincoln's Sparrow, a life
bird, would have been nice, but that had to wait until the next day."
 
200           200          200          200           200           200
                                     2     0    0
      200             200                            200           200
 
By the end of May last year, the 200 Club was bursting with Club members,
groovin' to hot blues, chug-a-luggin' brewskies and Club soda.  This time
around, a peek inside revealed...two gentlemen birders puffing on expensive
stogies and sipping brandy, reminiscing about the good ol' days--May
migration.
 
Stephen Davies' BIRD 200: Grasshopper Sparrow
"I thought it was going to be Mourning Warbler, Hooded Warbler or Alder
Flycatcher, which turned out to be 198, 199 and 201 respectively."
WHAT HE GAVE TO GET INTO THE 200 CLUB: his castle in Wales
 
Tom Nix's BIRD 200: Common Nighthawk
"It was seen from the tower at Tschache, while I was trying to figure out
which birders were so chic as to be having an elegant wine and cheese picnic
on the dike (it was Chris [Hymes] and Diane [Tessaglia].)"
WHAT HE GAVE TO GET INTO THE 200 CLUB: his old Charlie Parker LPs
 
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
1997 DAVID CUP MAY TOTALS                       APRIL TOTALS
 
207 Tom Nix                                     138 Stephen Davies
201 Stephen Davies                              136 Kevin McGowan
199 Ken Rosenberg                               134 Bard Prentiss
192 Allison Wells                               132 Allison Wells
191 Chris Hymes                                 131 Tom Nix
186 Bard Prentiss                               130 Jay McGowan
185 Meena Haribal                               127 Ken Rosenberg
185 Jeff Wells                                  125 Steve Kelling
182 Kevin McGowan                               123 Jeff Wells
181 Anne Kendall-Cassella                       118 Chris Hymes
178 Karl David                                  116 Anne Kendall-Cassella
177 John Greenly                                116 Matt Medler
176 Jay McGowan                                 115 Meena Haribal
175 JR Crouse                                   114 JR Crouse
169 Matt Medler                                 113 Karl David
166 John Bower                                  109 Martha Fischer
147 Michael Pitzrick                            108 John Greenly
137 Marty Schlabach                             107 Marty Schlabach
122 Margaret Launius                            106 Chris Butler
122 Michael Runge                               103 Michael Pitzrick
116 Jim Lowe                                    101 John Bower
109 Martha Fischer                               89 Andy Farnsworth
106 Chris Butler                                 86 David McDermitt
101 Anne James                                   81 Margaret Launius
  96 Caissa Willmer                               78 Michael Runge
  89 Andy Farnsworth                              75 Casey Sutton
  86 David McDermitt                              71 Caissa Willmer
  85 Casey Sutton                                 69 Jim Lowe
  68 Diane Tessaglia                              68 Diane Tessaglia
  64 Jane Sutton                                  66 Anne James
  61 Rob Scott                                    61 Rob Scott
  60 Bill Evans                                   60 Bill Evans
  58 Cathy Heidenreich                            50 Cathy Heidenreich
  46 Larry Springsteen                            42 Sam Kelling
  42 Sam Kelling                                  37 Taylor Kelling
  40 Mira the Bird Dog                            36 Jane Sutton
  37 Taylor Kelling                               32 Margaret Barker
  32 Margaret Barker                              13 Dave Mellinger
  13 Dave Mellinger                                0 Ned Brinkley
    0 Ned Brinkley*                                0 Sarah Childs
    0 Sarah Childs*                                0 Ralph Paonessa
    0 Ralph Paonessa*                              0 Larry Springsteen
 
*Currently living out-of-state but anticipate at least temporary return to
Basin within the 1997 David Cup year.  They faithfully sent in their
totals though contemplated doing so under pseudonyms.
 
1997 McILROY MAY TOTALS                          APRIL TOTALS
 
178 Steve Kelling                                119 Allison Wells
174 Allison Wells                                118 Steve Kelling
170 Stephen Davies                               117 Stephen Davies
163 Jeff Wells                                   102 Jeff Wells
150 JR Crouse                                    100 Kevin McGowan
149 John Bower                                    98 Ken Rosenberg
136 Kevin McGowan                                 97 Martha Fischer
135 Tom Nix                                       93 JR Crouse
132 Ken Rosenberg                                 90 Tom Nix
123 Matt Medler                                   86 Matt Medler
119 Karl David                                    83 Chris Butler
112 Anne Kendall-Cassella                         82 John Bower
106 Michael Runge                                 81 Jay McGowan
102 Jim Lowe                                      71 Karl David
102 Jay McGowan                                   70 Anne Kendall-Cassella
  97 Martha Fischer                                60 Bill Evans
  83 Chris Butler                                  60 Michael Runge
  70 Casey Sutton                                  56 Jim Lowe
  63 Jane Sutton                                   54 Casey Sutton
  60 Bill Evans                                    51 Rob Scott
  51 Rob Scott                                     36 Jane Sutton
  46 Larry Springsteen                             13 Dave Mellinger
  40 Mira the Bird Dog                              0 Ned Brinkley
  13 Dave Mellinger                                 0 Sarah Childs
   0 Ned Brinkley*                                  0 Ralph Paonessa
   0 Sarah Childs*                                  0 Larry Springsteen
   0 Ralph Paonessa                                 0 Mira the Bird Dog*
 
*Currently living out-of-state but anticipating return to McIlroy territory
sometime in the 1997 McIlroy year.  They faithfully sent in their totals
though contemplated doing so under pseudonyms.
 
THE EVANS TROPHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here's how the Town of Dryden action is stacking up:
 
180 Ken Rosenberg
176 Bard Prentiss
163 Kevin McGowan
156 Jay McGowan
  93 Matthew Medler
  74 Anne Kendall-Cassella
 
LEADER'S LIST  LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
 
By Karl David
 
Getting his second wind in May, and finally picking up Ring-necked
Pheasant, Tom Nix moves back into the lead in the David Cup competition
with the following 207 ticks on his list:
 
Common Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, D-c Cormorant, Am Bittern,
Least Bittern, G B Heron, Green Heron, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, Greater
W-f Goose, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, G-w Teal, Am Black Duck,
Mallard, N Pintail, B-w Teal, N Shoveler, Gadwall, Eur Wigeon, Am Wigeon,
Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, G Scaup, L Scaup, Oldsquaw, W-w Scoter,
Common Goldeneye, B's Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, R-b
Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle,
Northern Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N Goshawk, R-s Hawk, R-t Hawk,
R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle,  Am Kestrel, Merlin, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse,
Wild Turkey, V Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, Am Coot, Killdeer, G Yellowlegs,
Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Semipalmated
Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Am Woodcock, B's Gull,
R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Thayer's Gull, Iceland Gull, L B-b Gull, Glaucous
Gull, G B-b Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Mourning
Dove, E Screech-Owl, G H Owl, Barred Owl, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, N S-w Owl, Common
Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker,
R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N
Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, E Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder
Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, E Phoebe, G C Flycatcher,
E Kingbird, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, N R-w Swallow, Bank
Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Blue Jay, Am Crow, Fish Crow, Common
Raven, B-c Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown
Creeper, House Wren, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, G-c Kinglet,
R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird, Veery, G-c Thrush, Swainson's
Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, Am Robin, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher,
Am Mockingbird, American (not Water, Tom!) Pipit, Cedar Waxwing, N Shrike,
Eur Starling, Solitary Vireo, Y-t Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo,
R-e Vireo, B-w Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, N Parula,
Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue
Warbler,
Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie
Warbler, Palm Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Cerulean Warbler,
B&w Warbler, Am Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, Ovenbird, N Waterthrush,
L Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, W's Warbler, Canada
Warbler, Scarlet Tanager,  Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, E Towhee,
Am Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah
Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, L's Sparrow, Swamp
Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting,
Bobolink, R-w Blackbird, E Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, B-h
Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, House Finch, Am Goldfinch, House
Sparrow.
 
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
FATHER KARL'S COMPOSITE DEPOSIT
 
To Tom's very fine list, add the following 29 species to get the
overall list of 236 birds seen through May:
 
R-t Loon, Am White Pelican, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, B-c Night-Heron,
Ross' Goose, Brant, Black Vulture, B-w Hawk, Peregrine Falcon,
L Yellowlegs, Ruddy Turnstone, Least Sandpiper, Laughing Gull, Little
Gull,  F's Tern, B-b Cuckoo, Y-b Cuckoo, Snowy Owl, Whip-poor-will,
O-s Flycatcher, Y-b Flycatcher, G-w Warbler, W-e Warbler, Hooded
Warbler, Orchard Oriole, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak.
 
(Karl David teaches mathematics at Wells College in Aurora...but this has
not helped him this year in the David Cup...yet.)
 
                               !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                               !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !
                               !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
What better way to prove you're only willing to share up to a point than by
being featured again, after only a one-month absence, in an interview
exclusively for The Cup?  Kickin' Tail brings well deserved honor and
recognition to the Cupper who has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven, climbed,
dug, bebopped and otherwise made his/her way to the top of the David Cup list.
 
THE CUP: Welcome back to the Kickin' Tail spotlight, Tom.  Where were
you last month, anyway?
 
NIX: Well, I was lucky enough to be able to take two trips, one to Sarasota
to visit with Mangrove Cuckoo, er, I mean, with my parents. The second
one was to help scout southern New Jersey for the Lab of O Sapsuckers
World Series team in the good company of my good friends the Steves. It
was my very first trip to one of birding's great meccas and was a very
memorable one.
 
THE CUP: So we heard from last month's Leader Davies. Gotta love them Wawa's!
 
NIX: So I was gone for most of the last half of the month.
 
THE CUP:   In more ways than one. Your total, 207 isn't bad, but how do
you explain the considerable (and embarrassing)  gap between that score and
last year's May leader's total of 225--this is clearly more than a "winter
finch problem."
 
NIX: Yeah, well, last year's May leader was truly crazed with the birding
fever, as I recall, while I'm trying to keep it all in perspective.
 
THE CUP: Nice try.
 
NIX: On the other hand, as I look back at my list from last year, I find
things like Laughing Gull, Ross' Goose, Marbled Godwit and Yellow-breasted
Chat. But rarities aside, last year at this time I had picked up a bunch of
shorebirds. I don't think that it has been so easy to find shorebirds this
year. Last year on the 31st of May Myers Point hosted Short-billed
Dowitchers, Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover and Semipalmated
Plover. But it's not just me missing these things; last May there were
seven Cuppers with scores over 207.
 
THE CUP: Next you'll be saying the NBA finals aren't fair because the
Bulls have Michael Jordan.
 
NIX: Maybe it's because although the migrants arrived late this year, they
left at the same time, making for a foreshortened migration season.
 
THE CUP: What did scouting for the Sapsuckers' World Series Big Day do
for you?
 
NIX: I learned several things: one, it's possible to bird day after day while
getting four hours sleep.
 
THE CUP: Didn't Karl David prove that last year?
 
NIX: Two, not only are there other people who can do this, but they actually
enjoy doing this; and three, never let Steve Kelling choose the menu. We ate
the same prepackaged food from the NJ equivalent of 7-Eleven three meals
a day.
 
THE CUP: That's better than the turkey subs from a certain deli in
southern New Jersey, right Kevin McGowan?
 
NIX: And what is worse, after a few days I began to look forward to it.
 
THE CUP: This from a man who eats grits?  Say, Tom, we hear you'll be
vacationing in the southwest sometime this month. By "southwest" we assume
you mean the southwest part of the Basin?
 
NIX: Wrong Basin! We'll be in Arizona.
 
THE CUP: ...Oh. Don't suppose you'll be doing any birding there?
 
NIX: I'll be looking for some of the specialties of that area: some of the
southwestern hawks like Harris's, Zone-tailed and Gray Hawk--
 
THE CUP: Jay McGowan, eat your heart out!
 
NIX:  --and other things with exotic sounding names like Rose-throated
Becard and Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. I'd love to find some of the
western warblers too, Virginia's, Lucy's, Red-faced, etc.
 
THE CUP: Maybe while you're there you can find out who Lucy was, anyway.
What did you think of the jazz at the Ithaca Festival this year?
 
NIX: As you know, I'm a big jazz fan! And how 'bout that Ithaca Ageless Jazz
Band? Why was the singer constantly looking off into the fog over Lake
Cayuga? I was wondering if she could see something I couldn't, maybe a
Laughing Gull?
 
THE CUP: Our sources tell us it was a gannet. And did you catch Andy
Farnsworth jazzing it up with the Dave Navarro Band?
 
NIX:  Andy, that sly dog, he always seems so reserved, but he really has
some chops.
 
THE CUP: Now that you're back on top in the David Cup, is there anything
you can do to get the Steve's out of McIlroy territory more often?  (By the
way, have you seen Stephen Davies' new stilettos?  They totally clash with his
pink tutu, don't you think?)
 
NIX: Well, I really think Steve Kelling is trying to show us all up by winning
the David Cup while birding completely within the McIlroy boundaries, and
why not? Look at what he's got so far while saving lots of gas. Stephen
Davies, on the other hand, does get out and about.
 
THE CUP: Not nearly enough.
 
NIX: I've run into him at locations all around the lake. But I haven't
actually seen these stilettos, nor the tutu. the last time I ran into him it
was dark. We approached each other warily in the wilds of Caswell Road, each
worried about what kind of person might be out in that area alone in the
dark...
 
JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ
                                 BIRDBITS
                               By Jay McGowan
JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ
Welcome to Birdbits!  Here is a chance to test your knowledge
of the world of birds.  The answers will be in next month's issue.
 
1.  Which hummingbird has the longest bill and how long is it?
2.  Which American bird once was called "Wilson's Thrush?"
3.  What is the common name for "Streptopelia chinensis?"
4.  What is the favored prey of Wilson's Plovers?
5.  Which is often cited as the most aerial bird?
6.  Does the male Indian Peacock have the longest tail of any bird?
7.  What is the scientific name for the Eurasian Hoopoe?
8.  Where is the largest colony of Emperor Penguins located, and how many
birds occupy the rookery?
9.  What do Peregrine Falcons living in large cities prey on most?
10. Where do Marbled Murrelets place their nests?
 
ANSWERS TO LAST MONTH'S BIRDBITS:
 
1.  Which is the smallest North American wood warbler? Northern Parula.
2.  Which is the only eastern North American warbler that nests in  tree
cavities? Prothonotary Warbler.
3.  Which American wood warbler is the commonest (but still rare) vagrant to
Europe? Blackpoll Warbler.
4.  Which North American wood warbler has the highest pitched song? The
entire song of the Blackpoll Warbler is the highest pitched song, but the
last note of a Blackburnian Warbler is even higher.
5.  Which three North American warblers typically wag their tails? Palm
Warbler, Kirtland's Warbler, and Prairie Warbler.
6.  Which is the largest North American wood warbler?  Yellow-breasted Chat.
7.  Which four North American warblers have yellow rumps?  Yellow-rumped
Warbler (of course), Cape May Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Yellow Warbler.
8.  Which eight North American warblers have orange or reddish caps?
Orange-crowned Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Lucy's Warbler, Colima Warbler,
Swainson's Warbler, Ovenbird, Nashville Warbler, and Palm Warbler.
9.  Which warblers have black throats?  Black-throated Green Warbler,
Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Black-and-white
Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Bachman's Warbler, Townsend's Warbler,
Golden-cheeked Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart,
Painted Redstart.
10.  What is the common name for Granetellus venestus?  Red-breasted Chat.
 
(Jay McGowan, age ten, is home-schooled.  His next assignment is to create
lifelike renditions of all the birds in his Birdbits columns using his Legos.)
 
492x837-48576+5764.679/4905%8677-34566.578+04869409087+8987
                       STAT'S ALL, FOLKS
                         By Karl David
6879403+58673.6978/4857694~58674%x98458.6059679+697-9877890
 
      No winter finches ... poor spring shorebird habitat ... how could this
year come anywhere close to last year for the grand total of species seen so
far?  Well, somehow, we're not doing badly, we're only four behind (236 vs.
240).  This isn't really that surprising when you think about it. For
example, the winter finch situation: Common Redpolls were trash birds last
winter, and all but invisible this winter. Ah, but a single bird was in fact
seen, and that's all it takes.
      The leaders, on the other hand, are considerably behind this year.
Compare Tom Nix's 206 to Allison Wells' 225 and you'll see that the pack
leader's work is really cut out if last year's winning total of 251 (c'est
moi!) is to be exceeded. Still, it's too early for me to declare my first-
year record safe by any means.
      Changing the subject, in what month should Cuppers expect to get the
most year birds? In an all-out, all-year effort, a little thought reveals it
should be January. But reviewing my data, I was surprised to find that in
five of the thirteen years I've been doing this, May actually outdid January
(these two months have always been 1-2). The most in January is 86 (in
1995); the most in May 75 (in 1996).
      However, another way to quantify a year of birding is to record the
total number of species seen every month. Of course, this takes a lot more
work, but it can be done, and in fact I did it my first year in the Basin
(1985), just to get a feel for what's around when. This is how that year
broke down month by month:
 
January - 60                 July - 106
February - 63                August - 105
March - 68                   September - 125
April  - 110                 October - 108
May - 147                    November - 82
June - 111                   December - 62
 
The total number of species for the year was 213. Though that was a modest
effort by Cup standards, I think the relative differences in the months
would hold up even now, when I'm much more cued in about where to go when to
see the most birds. For example, at first one might wonder how August could
be lower than July, what with shorebirds and early fall passerine migration.
But, other birds that are easy to find in June and July can be hard to find
in August, having stopped singing and in some cases departed by then (how
many August records of Louisiana Waterthrush do you have?). Nonetheless, were
I to do this again, I think August would handily outdo July, since back then
I hardly went to Montezuma at all in August, so who knows what I missed? One
thing for sure, though: May should always be No. 1 in this listing.
 
(Did we mention Karl David is a mathematics professor?)
 
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
                         SCRAWL OF FAME
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
On Aesthetics and Listing: My Two Cents
                           By Dave Ross
 
      Aesthetics and listing?  The thrill, fun, challenge, game, sport,
endeavor, maybe, but the aesthetics of listing?  One might view listing as
an advanced stage of that at-times debilitating affliction known as
birding--yet another symptom, along with compulsive book buying ("Should I
get that copy of the Birds of New Guinea?") and the neurotic freaking out
mid-conversation with the unafflicted as a bird flies by in the distance,
and the seemingly psychotic chasing of birds with binoculars for 24 hours
in New Jersey, armed with little more than a pad and pencil.  What about
standing outside in the winter for countless hours waiting for waxwings to
return for a photo, or crouching near a particular curving vine in a
tropical rainforest waiting for something called, of all things, a
"manakin"--oh wait, maybe that counts as work!  I've a close friend who,
along with his total
life list, has a list for any state he has been in.  Typical of the breed,
he knows off the top of his head when and where a bird is new to each of the
respective lists.  He has a television list which includes all and any
species not seen on a nature documentary, and a mute list--yes, and a list
of those species he's seen defecate!  This same individual who casually reduced
his first and only look at Ruddy Crake somewhere roadside in Mexico as bird
number 1000 before we even got back into the truck, can romanticize about a
Merlin or even a sharpie playing the winds in an October sky. This is after
serving as the "counter" at Cape May Point.  Should we call this birder's
birding poorer or richer than those who do not bother with numbers?  While
such emphasis on numbers might appear cumbersome or distracting to some of us,
so might chasing birds with microphones and lenses to others.  Come to think
of it, perhaps my friend enjoyed his lifer Ruddy Crake even more than I did
mine.
      Personally, I've a mental list of any coffee mug I've used in the Lab of
Ornithology kitchen.  While I do not have the exact mug total etched in my
memory (it would be easier if there was a checklist), I know darn well when
there's a new mug to have a cup out of! I figure I enjoy my coffee as much
as the next person--come to think of it, perhaps just a little more when
it's a new mug.
      Could this listing behavior be merely an extension of a repressed nature
in the hunter-gatherer turned 9-5 office-human?  The office-humans' way of
bringing the kill home to the tribe and parading it around for the hungry to
admire?  And perhaps admire we should.  Fess up: how many of us wish we'd
been the one to bring that carcass (in this case rare bird sighting) back
to the communal fire.
      Which brings us back to the aesthetics of listing and perhaps the concept
of cyber-carcasses.  The birder's list then perhaps should not be viewed so
cynically by the less infected as something synthetic and far removed from
the organisms themselves, but more along the odor on a dog that rubs its
neck and face in something ripe and then struts it back to the pack as a way
of conveying information or a story.  What could be more aesthetic than
that?  And those of you that cannot appreciate that fine smell, simply are
not dogs and probably will never be!
 
(Dave Ross works in the Library of Natural Sounds, at the Cornell Lab
of Ornithology.  He may or may not see a new communal mug appear in the Lab's
kitchen, for sharing this column.)
 
(If you have an opinion about the art, science, and/or esthetics of birding
or birding-related topics, write it up for the Scrawl of Fame.)
 
 
                        <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                      <  COACH'S CORNER        <
                     <           <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                     <           <
                      <         <
                        < < < <
 
When we invited last month's Kickin' Tail Leader, Stephen Davies, to strut
his stuff as Coach this month, he sent along this addendum to his column:
"You might want to attach a disclaimer explaining that Coach Davies is a
foreigner who doesn't have a clue what he's talking about and that the
editors of The Cup accept no responsibility for any harm Cuppers may come
to while following his advice!"  No need, really.  The editors never accept
responsibility for anything that appears in The Cup.
 
COACH DAVIES: Okay, team, so June is with us already.  What does this
mean for Cuppers and their gameplan for DC '97? Seems like spring
migration only just started, and now it's already in its death throes,
except for a few shorebirds who postponed their trip to the God-forsaken
north for as long as possible.  The breeding season is in full swing from one
end of the Basin to the other, and we are deafened by the hum as every
organism in it gets down to the nitty-gritty of procreation (the Big Nasty,
as Coach Kelling calls it). The fruits of their labors are already evident.
Fledgling starlings (dang Eurotrash) are decimating $10 worth of suet cakes a
day in our yard.  All kinds of trials and tribulations beset the intrepid
Cupper at this time.  Passerines melt into the ever-thickening canopy
overhead, and birds of field and marsh tiptoe behind a shimmering curtain of
green.  Anyone venturing far from the beaten path faces hoards of voracious
blood-sucking arthropods and the prospect of losing several pints of
precious body fluids.  Might as well just hang up those bins, pour yourself
a big G & T with-ice-and-slice, and wait for fall, huh? ...IN YOUR
DREAMS ...err, except maybe for Tom Nix.  As I see it, there are two
main objectives this month:
 
Objective #1
      June is the perfect time to catch up on scarce and elusive breeders
you may have missed earlier in the year.  Try these on for size:  both
bitterns, Sora, Virginia Rail (all at Tschache Pool at Montezuma--go in the
early evening), Upland Sandpiper (Wood Road), both cuckoos (just keep
eyes & ears open), Acadian Flycatcher (Salmon Creek), Sedge Wren (talk to
Chris Hymes), Prothonotary (Armitage Road bridge at Montezuma), Mourning,
Hooded and Worm-eating warblers (Hammond Hill, Bio Preserve in West Danby),
Henslow's Sparrow (at the Sedge Wren spot). Get the picture?  If there are
any of these you haven't caught up with these yet, don't let me catch you
sitting out the summer in the shade.  And who knows what you might stumble
across in the meantime.  Whip-poor-will?  A wandering Black Vulture or rare
heron? Or even (dare I suggest it) Dickcissel?  Remember last summer's
belated Anhinga?  Only once all the possibilities have been exhausted can we
join Tom under the palm tree for a cold one, complete with umbrella and
marachino cherry.
 
Objective #2
      Stay sharp.  This perhaps is even more important that #1.  Just because
summer is hot and sticky and birds are tough to find, don't let yourself get
stale.  Spend as much time in the field as possible. Absorb all the sights
and sounds.  Study those confusing juvenile plumages.  Look at how adult
plumages wear.  Listen to how songs and calls change as the season
progresses.  Stay on top of your game through the summer, because it's the
birder with the prepared mind who will be ready to identify the big one when
things really 'heat up' in the fall.  So get out there and go nuts, sneer at
the bugs, laugh at the thorns, penetrate that impenetrable thicket.  Consider
the lost sweat and blood an investment for the future.
 
As for me, I've got a Whip-poor-will to chase. So smoke me a kipper - I'll
be back for breakfast! This is Coach Davies signing off...
 
(Stephen Davies, who hales from Wales,  is a grad student in the Cornell
Veterinary School.  Given his current allotment of daily birding time, he
is expected to remain in the Vet School until sometime in the mid-21st
century.)
 
                          mmmmm
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
                          mmmmm
 
Despite Allison Wells' best efforts, she could not maintain her McIlroy rule
two months in a row.  Brant, Forster's Tern, Grasshopper Sparrow, not to
mention that darned Iceland Gull--these are only a few of the birds Steve
Kelling was able to shoo out of McIlroy territory before Allison--and just
about every other Cupper--could get her bins on them.  Hmmph.
 
THE CUP: Welcome back, Steve.  Where were you last month?
 
KELLING: April was hard birding in Ithaca.
 
THE CUP: Yes, yes, of course it was, dear [snicker.]
 
KELLING: I had very few warblers and little luck.
 
THE CUP: Shame.
 
KELLING: I actually checked my database (BasinBirds) to see if it was a late
year for arrivals.  This is what I found for 1997:
      1. The number of passerines that arrived EARLIER than Charlie Smith's
          average (over @70 years) arrival date was 17.
      2. The number of passerines that arrived LATER than Smith's dates
          was 17.
      3. The number that arrived on the average date was 6.
So the arrival pattern for this spring was about average...1/2 earlier,
1/2 later.
 
THE CUP: No way!
 
KELLING:  So then I asked, What made it seem like a late spring?  And
this is what I thought I found using the BasinBirds databases, which was
interesting (what I looked at was the first date of multiple reports of
a single species):
      1. For 21 species, the multiple date was later than the past three
          years' results.
      2. For 12 species, I couldn't decide (not enough data in the database
          for previous years.)
      3. For 7 species, the first date was earlier.
I did some more things but I won't belabor you.
 
THE CUP: Looks like you could be a sub for Karl David's Stat's All, Folks,
if he ever needs a sick day.
 
KELLING: It's my thinking that when someone says that it is a "late
migration," what is meant by "late" is not the first arrival, but when enough
of a species comes into a region that they are easier to find.  This year
weatherwise indicated that migration was late (not good conditions for
migrating).  But the first arrivals seemed to be about average.  We just
did not get big influxes of birds until later (based on the past three years).
 
THE CUP: Now you've got us all frothing at the bit wondering how next
year will size up.  You know, 178 at the end of May--Allison Wells' had 181
last year at this time, and you've got a lot of McBirds she didn't have last
year and may well make up those winter finches later this year. So the
question no longer is, "Will you kick Allison Wells' 200 McBird record out
of the sky?" but rather "When will this happen?"
 
KELLING:  Oh, I don't know if anyone will kick Allison's record out of the
sky, but I think I have a good chance of getting ahead of it.  It all depends
on shorebirds and lake water level.  Currently the water level is high, and
the jetty at the red lighthouse off Stewart park is almost underwater. There
were very few shorebirds on it during spring migration (just a Dunlin.)  I
hope we have some dry weather.
 
THE CUP: Any guesses on what your McBird 200 will be?
 
KELLING: I'll guess Sanderling
 
THE CUP: Not a bad guess. Santa came through for Allison and dropped a
couple of Laughing Gulls around the golf course area last year for her
McBird 200. Are there any McBirds you missed that you will probably not
be able to recoup?
 
KELLING: Glaucous Gull, I always worry about nighthawk and Golden
Eagle. Black Vulture.
 
THE CUP: We happen to know that you're a jazz fan.  If you could go
birding with any of the following, would it be Charlie "Bird" Parker, Dizzy
Gillespie, or Count Basie?
 
KELLING:  None of those, I'd take Thelonious Monk!  I mean, it would be
great birding with an individual who was crazy and wrote music that nobody
could play (Brilliant corners).
 
THE CUP: Sounds like Andy Farnsworth. Your recent posts to Cayugabirds
don't mention Taylor's and Sam's sightings so much lately.  Have they
become antilisters? Maybe you should read Dave Ross' Scrawl of Fame
piece to them as a bedtime story.
 
KELLING: We are still out birding quite a bit, and we have been checking
our feeders a lot. But passerines are hard, especially for Sam (age 4).
Taylor, Sam, and I will be driving in together all summer, so we should
start seeing more birds.
 
THE CUP: Do you think either of them has a chance of one day becoming
a Sapsucker?
 
KELLING: Sam has a real nature drive.  At his pre-school the teachers ask
him what birds they are looking at, and he often tells me when he sees one of
Kevin's Crows.
 
THE CUP: What McBirds will you be targeting in June?
 
KELLING:  Virginia Rail, Caspian tern and early fall shorebird migrants
 
THE CUP: See you at Stewart Park!
 
=========================================================
                    BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
                        By Caissa Willmer
=========================================================
 
A dimly lit cafe, the smell of decaf mochacino and warm orange-coconut
bread wafting through the air, a hopping rhythm section and beboppin' horns
grinding out Parker's "Ornithology"--what better place to do a Bird Brain
interview than at the ABC Cafe during their Wednesday night jazz jam?
Knowing Caissa's subject had unexpectedly left town during interview
time, I, Allison, decided to subject my own Cupping company to the BB
probe.  Who is this jazz-loving Bird Brain?  It's Jane Sutton!  (a.k.a.,
"Casey's Mom," though perhaps not for much longer...)
 
WE SAID: Why did a responsible mother like you decide to join the rowdy
free-for-all of the David Cup?
 
SHE SAID: For fun and profit. I've been having fun but so far I have not
seen the profits.
 
WE SAID: Has anyone ever called you "bird brained" before?
 
SHE SAID: Just my kids, when I try to go in the wrong door at McDonald's.
 
WE SAID: How did you get interested in birds?
 
SHE SAID: Allison made me go birding with her. Also, my son Casey got
me interested.  We put up a birdfeeder, and he was involved in Project
FeederWatch, so I helped keep track of the birds that came to the feeder.
When I first got interested in birds last year, he and I went birding on
Connecticut Hill.  He showed me lots of birds...but we ended up getting lost.
 
WE SAID: Do you have a favorite bird?
 
SHE SAID: Yes, Tufted Titmouse, because they're cute.  They're also
my six-year-old daughter's favorite bird; she likes their big, dark eyes.
 
WE SAID: If you could beat any Cupper in the David Cup, who would it be
and why?
 
SHE SAID: Bill Evans, because he's all talk, no action.  He got all those
votes for the Cupper's Choice Awards and yet his performance so far has
left a lot to be desired.
 
WE SAID: How will you use being a Bird Brain to your advantage?
 
SHE SAID: I'm hoping to earn the respect and admiration of all the other
Cuppers.
 
WE SAID: Now that you've been so honored, will you honor us at the next
Cupper Supper by performing a song by your musical idol, Patti Smith? If so,
what song will it be and why?
 
SHE SAID: Of course I will! She's got a song called, "Wing," but I think
I'd rather do "Ravens".  This would bring more seriousness to the frivolities
of last year's Cupper Supper, since it's a very sobering song. Cuppers don't
seem to have the correct amount of solemnity and I think that song would
help.  I just hate how much fun Cuppers have!
 
WE SAID: If being featured as a Bird Brain doesn't do it, what would be the
best way to get birders to stop referring to you as "Casey's Mom"?
 
SHE SAID: They should come watch me on the dance floor at a Singles'
Club dance.
 
WE SAID: Where will you be next Wednesday night at 9:30?
 
SHE SAID: At the ABC Cafe!
 
WE SAID: See you there.
 
                    BIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRD
                              BIRD VERSE
                   VERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSE
 
Since her last poems we published in The Cup seem destined for a Pulitzer
(thereby increasing The Cup's prestige factor), we cannot help but
run another selection from the poetry collection of Cupper Sarah Childs.
 
                            Blue Bird
 
              Blue bird, blue bird, flying in the air.
              Out back of my house; I see him there.
              Or up in the trees that have a heavenly breeze
              He sings his song that will make you freeze
              And listen through the brush.
              But still it is a hush, hush, hush.
              Nothing interferes with his song that whistles,
              His eyes shining like a polished nickel.
 
(Sarah Childs, the niece of Allison and Jeff Wells,  is a Cupper who lives
in Winthrop, Maine.  An eighth grader and published poet, she has replaced
her fondness for her Alannis Morrisette tape with the Birding By Ear
collection...sort of.)
 
                      @#$$%#%$^!(*$)%^@>(#?@<$&%^@(
                                   DEAR TICK
                          @#%$^!)$(%*&^>$*%?<!>*%^#*%(*&
 
Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations, The Cup has
graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and intuitive columnist,
Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions, like these...
 
DEAR TICK:
 
Since March I've been struggling with whether or not to tick off Northern
Goshawk on my David Cup checklist.  I saw it, but I didn't really see it.
Does that make sense?  You see, one day in March I was up on Mt. Pleasant
watching for raptors alongside some very experienced raptor watchers.  I
spotted a raptor and watched it glide along for several seconds.  The tail
looked rather odd, appearing to be forked.  I called this to the attention of
the experts and, upon looking, they declared it was a Swallow-tailed Kite.
Well, I'm not so much a novice as to have believed that!  But, nothing
more was said and we kept searching the skies.  After half an hour or so, I
heard someone telling a newcomer about an earlier Northern Goshawk
missing its tail feathers.  I realized then I had earlier been looking at a
Northern Goshawk, but didn't know it at the time.  Now, I can't make up
my mind if I should count it on my DC list, not to mention my life list.  My
chances are slim for spotting another one this year.  What do think I should
do?
                         --Struggling to Remain Respectable in Ithaca
Dear Struggling;
 
You should count it as both a Swallow-tailed Kite and a Northern Goshawk
and get two ticks out of the one bird.  You count it as a goshawk because
that's what it was and as a kite because the experts, who should know better,
led you astray.  In the future, however, should someone try to, say, sell
you "a lovely island property just offshore from Myer's Point," don't buy it.
 
DEAR TICK:
 
While birding at Monkey Run South recently, I saw a bird flit out of a bush
and over the creek bank out of sight.  It landed in a tangle of roots
overhanging the creek.  While trying to figure out how I could get another,
better look, I realized I could see the bird's reflection in the water. Upon
closer examination with my binoculars I was able to identify the bird
as a Common Yellowthroat.  Since I didn't actually see the bird, but only
its reflection, can I count it?
 
                   --A Reflective Birder, Birding Near Varna (nirvana)
Dear Nirvana:
 
I'm afraid I'll have to say no.  Otherwise, you and other desperate Cuppers
might be tempted to litter Sapsucker Woods, Mundy Wildflower Garden and
other choice birding locales with full-length mirrors. As you know, Cuppers
are not the most fashion-conscious bunch.  Catching a glimpse of themselves
in those mirrors may cause them to crack--and the mirrors might break, too.
 
DEAR TICK:
 
Last Sunday afternoon, while keeping an eye on the feeder outside, I was
watching the LPGA Skins Competitition on TV.  Did you see it?  You should
have, because there was a lot of great cup action!  I was really thrilled by
Laura Davies' 10th hole play.  Can you believe she sank a putt for birdie
and won $140,000!?  As she raised her arm in jubilation, a Great Crested
Flycatcher sang out.  What a moment!  (Too bad the GCF wasn't in the Basin
or I could have ticked it off ... or on second thought, maybe it was in the
Basin because it was on my TV which is in the Basin).  I wish I could be
like Laura Davies and garner $140,000 for every "birdie."  I would be richer
than Michael Jordan by now!  By the way, do you think "cupper" Laura Davies
might be related to our own Cupper, Stephen Davies?  They seem to have so
much in common---especially the fact that they both like to play for high
stakes.
                                           --Wondering in Ithaca
 
Dear Wondering:
 
What were you doing in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon when you
should have been out in the field?  As for the $140,000 birdie, maybe
we could recruit the fair Laura to the Sapsuckers team for World Series '98?
Regretfully, your GCF doesn't count at the moment, though the rules may have
to change in the future if Cuppers are to stand a chance of burying
Brinkley's record-setting 255.  Our sources indicate there may indeed be
some taxonomic relationship between Laura and Stephen - their shared
affinity for golf courses is immediately obvious.  However, even badboy
Davies hasn't resorted to thrashing birdies out of the undergrowth with a
golf club.
 
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at jw32@cornell.edu)
 
               """""""""       CUP QUOTES      """"""""
 
"I'm still loving The Cup. I wish I was still in Ithaca. So far,
only one life bird here in Massachusetts - Kentucky Warbler."
 
                                              --Scott Mardis
 
"This morning as I stepped out at 7:30am I was greeted by the 'sree-bzzzz'
of a Blue-winged Warbler in the tangled shrubbery...Seemed like things
were looking up after the doldrums."
                                               --Nari Mistry
 
"I found the following in Dryden this AM:  2 Green Herons, 1 Osprey,
and 1 each:  Palm Warbler, Black and White Warbler, N. Waterthrush,
and Yellow Warbler.  I think it's heating up."
                                               --Bard Prentiss
 
"There was a Little Gull at Long Point State Park...This sighting continues
the rich tradition of finding 'good' birds while the Sapsuckers are off
scouting in New Jersey."
                                               --Karl David
 
"Karl, only one Sapsucker has actually left for NJ...The rest of us head
down tomorrow morning and Wednesday, so I guess Basin birding should
pick up even more."
                                               --Ken Rosenberg
 
"I'm a modern woman, I didn't have to scheme to catch up with Bill Evans."
 
                                                --Jane Sutton
 
"I've been on a roll lately, having tried for and not succeeded in seeing
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (twice), Hooded and Mourning Warblers (twice),
Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and others in the past 24 hours.
Let me know if you would perhaps like to go look for Prairie Warblers,
grassland sparrows, or something else.  If I'm along, chances are
we won't see them!"
                                                --Matt Medler
 
"After watching three Swaison's Thrushes hopping around my driveway and
a male Indigo Bunting on my deck Saturday morning, and being told that my
wife, Yasko, had a Golden-winged Warbler yesterday, I would say it would
be an unforgettable weekend."
                                                --Mat Uemura
 
"Like Karl, I went to the wildflower garden yesterday and, as would be
expected, saw fewer birds than he did- I missed the starling.  BUT- took
an early lunch break today at the Stewart Ave cemetery, and wow!"
 
                                                 --John Greenly
 
"Today was a great birding day for Jeff and me, with many 'first of the
year's' for us, including...13 different species of warblers at City Cemetery.
And here's the quote of the day, from Jeff: 'Ouch, I've got a kink in my
neck and I can't understand why.'"
                                                 --Allison Wells
 
"Speaking of kinks in necks, when we were down in Venezuela so many
times we saw hummingbirds zoom by and we had to twist our neck so
quickly that one of our friends once had a kink in the neck as he had to turn
it so fast. So he called out that he has 'hummingbird neck.'  Well, now I am
getting 'computer neck.' I better go home and hope for warbler neck
tomorrow."
                                                 --Meena Haribal
 
"There was a single Philadelphia Vireo singing in the rain from a low branch
along the creek. After listening to his song for a while, I felt sure I could
differentiate the song from the Red-eyed's. Shortly thereafter, however, I
was fooled."
                                                  --Tom Nix
 
"At Tschache Pool, a Least Bittern flew up from close to the trail as I
minced along in my new stilettos. "
                                                  --Stephen Davies
 
  "I stopped to look at some Yellow-rumped Warblers in a tall cedar above
someone's house. The occupant of the house came out and asked if I was
looking at the baby cardinal...Now, just think about what these cardinals
put up with to hatch this youngster:  it SNOWED on April 1 and again two
weeks later! If this one survives and breeds, it will be passing on some
outstanding survival genes!"
                                                  --Laura Stenzler
 
"Could someone please direct me [to Mundy]?...I keep hearing about all
these warblers and other birds that I have never seen before and want to
find them too!"
                                                  --Michael Thomas
 
"I had my life Karl David sighting at the cemetery. It was so amazing!
We called him in from a distance of about a hundred feet and he approached
to within about ten feet from the four of us."
                                                   --Chris Butler
 
"After leaving City Cemetery this morning, happy to have finally made
Chris Butler, et al's check list (!), I began a leisurely commute to Aurora
via Salmon Creek Rd."
                                                   --Karl David
 
"I was walking in Mundy Wildflower Garden yesterday afternoon, and I
saw and heard a Meena Haribal--which was a first for me."
 
                                                   --Caissa Willmer
 
"Many thanks to those who posted the Lincoln's Sparrow at the Lab of
O feeders...I've had numerous maybe's, but this was my first good look and
the first one I'm counting. It was in marvelous light...Quite a handsome bird."
 
                                                   --Jim Goodson
 
"About a week ago I ran into a couple...and showed them a male
Yellow-rump. 'Wow! Look at that! I've never seen one of them! Isn't he
beautiful?' And indeed he was...When you've seen a few thousand of them,
you tend to forget how beautiful they are. You have to see common birds
through beginners' eyes to appreciate them again."
                                                    --Tom Lathrop
 
"This afternoon while taking a break from tying vines at Six Mile Creek
Vineyard, I did some birding...The craziest thing was I heard this squawk
and looked up to find two Great Blue Herons circling and flying at each other.
It made me wince nearly to see this behavior; whether it was territorial
and mating I don't know, but they looked like all 'skin and bones' -- it was
like two stately Professor Emeritii having a row."
                                                     --David McDermitt
 
"It's been apple blossom time for an extended three-week stretch due to the
cold temperatures and we plant pathologists are in our glory (but sadly
over worked) so the birds have had to wait...Perhaps now that we're in petal
fall I'll be able to beat the bushes more for those new feathered finds
needed to get me into the 100 Club!"
                                                    --Cathy Heidenreich
 
"Oh, the merry month of May, indeed - bloody too much work and too little
birding!"
                                                     --John Bower
 
"It sure makes working around the yard more pleasant when you can take a
break and enjoy this kind of activity in the tree tops and bushes. And yes,
I did manage to still get some work done. Enjoying spring!"
 
                                                       --Ken Smith
 
"Isn't spring fun?  New birds, new flowers...it's like getting a surprise
gift every day!"
                                                       --JR Crouse
 
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
 
Allison and Jeff