Year 1, Issue 9
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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy
* Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
* Dialect Coach: Jeff Wells
Summer has fled. Daylight is betraying us a little more every day, leaving
less and less time after your nine-to-fiver for the thing you live for:
birding. No more "family picnics" after work, no more "taking the long way
home." Of course you've been taking your evening tea out on the door step
to enjoy the sounds of night migration, but those "bzweep"s and "squank"s
fleeting overhead in pitch blackness just don't tick it. They could be
Lazuli Buntings or Clay-colored Sparrows and you'd never know it.
Might as well read The Cup 1.9. True, you could be reading Time or U.S.
News & World Report, but why waste your time with publications that dote on
the superficiality of real life? Besides, you won't see your name in either
of those pompous publications.
Might as well read The Cup.
@ @ @ @ @ @
NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
@ @ @ @ @ @
WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: The ribbons are off the mailboxes, the
confetti's been swept off the floor, the David Cup Welcoming Committee has
packed their bags and gone home, brokenhearted. Come on, you hard-hearted
benchwarmers, take pity on them. It's never to late to get into the game...
A LUCID POINT: You all know Shannon Lucid as the astronaut who spent a
record-shattering 188 days in space. Ms. Lucid was rocketed into space atop
7.3 million pounds of force. She orbited the planet at break-neck speeds.
She hovered a thrilling 240 miles above Earth. And what was she after?
According to Newsweek, "I was very interested in being a pioneer." Poor
misguided Shannon! If only she'd asked we would have told her that the
Little Dipper is outside the Basin. Sure, she got a gigantic gold-wrapped
box of M & M's from President Clinton, but that's no comfort for the David
Cup Pioneer Prize pencil she missed out on. Shannon, if you're reading
this, don't give up. You still have a chance for TRUE glory. But from now
on, stick to Montezuma.
POETIC INJUSTICE: The Cup 1.8 was still hot on the wire when we turned on
NPR and, to our disbelief, learned that Susan Stanberg, respected NPR
journalist, had plagiarized our fair newsletter! Okay, then, let's just say
she was "inspired" by our McIlroy Musings, where a poem by Cupper would-be
John Keats ran as a tribute to the McIlroy leader's immortality. Ms.
Stanberg did a feature on some hack named F. Scott Fitzgerald in which she
played a recording of Fitzi reading his all-time favorite poem, "Ode to a
Mockingbird"--the very same poem that appeared in The Cup not a week before!
Huh. What some people will do to look Cup chic.
IMPORTANT BIRD AREA: This just in regarding IBA dedication ceremony at
Montezuma (actual press release excerpt): "Seneca Falls, N.Y., October 5 --
One of the most important sites in the world for waterfowl and other birds
was given recognition by The National Audubon Society today as an Important
Bird Area. The Northern Montezuma Wetlands Complex hosts more than a
half-million Canada Geese, over 100,000 Mallards, and tens of thousands of
ducks and geese each spring and fall. The area also provides critical
breeding habitat for many endangered and threatened species including three
pairs of Bald Eagles. 'Without the past and ongoing conservation
efforts here at Montezuma, a significant proportion of our waterfowl and
other birds would not be a part of our landscape and our world today,' said
Jeff Wells, Audubon's New York Important Bird Areas Coordinator. State
Assemblyman Dan Fessenden echoed this sentiment when he said, 'Those of us
who have lived our lives in the communities in and around Montezuma are
fortunate to see geese and other waterfowl every day but we never take for
granted what an unusual and special place we have in the Montezuma
"National Audubon's Important Bird Areas program, in cooperation with
its many partners, is developing an inventory of the key sites throughout
New York state and throughout the country that support significant abundance
and diversity of birds. The Northern Montezuma Wetlands Complex is the
first site in New York in what will eventually be a network of sites
recognized for their critical role in ensuring healthy bird populations for
"Montezuma also provides a key economic boost to the region since it
draws more than 150,000 visitors each year. 'Although it's not a well known
fact, the refuge is the largest tourist attraction in Seneca County,' noted
assistant refuge manager Bob Lamoy. Many invited speakers encouraged the
surrounding communities to consider ways to develop the economic potential
that these visitors represent. 'Economic studies in other communities where
refuges are located nearby have shown that people who come to view
wildlife, especially birds, spend millions of dollars annually,' said John
Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Good
conservation is good business.'"
THE BRINKLEY REPORT: Speaking of important bird areas, you all learned in
last month's issue of The Cup that Bird Brain Ned Brinkley considers the
entire state of Virginia an "IBA," since he's in the process of busting the
state's Big Year record. He sent us this report of the situation through
September: "I'm still looking for 20 species to tie, 21 to break the record,
which is 330. I have a reasonable chance to see 18 more species. The only
five 'fall' species I'm looking for are 5 sparrows (Clay-colored, Lark,
Nelson's, Henslow's, Le Conte's), Hud Godwit, Baird's Sandpiper, Barn Owl.
There are about 20 late fall and winter birds I would certainly see if I
didn't have a job, had plenty of money, and could get offshore (Manx,
Fulmar, Great Skua, and a murre--the first three have ALREADY been reported
this latitude this fall!), but that ain't the case right now. So I will
have to get just plug-ugly lucky." We're rooting for you, Ned!
CARD-AN'-ALL SIN: Susan Stanberg isn't the only one stealing Cup ideas
lately. Have you seen National Audubon's new sample holiday cards? There's
your standard Santa-as-Doting-Father-Nature design and of course the cuddly
chorus line of chickadees. But how 'bout that Bohemian Waxwing card, eh?
Obviously, the graphics folk at Audubon got a look at our David Cup
T-shirts--and plucked our waxwing off it. Right, so it's not OUR waxwing,
the one Cupper should-be Marie Reed captured with such artistic brilliance.
Nonetheless, should you decide to order the Bohemian Waxwing card, tell
Audubon they should give a portion of the proceeds to The Cup. Make that the
EDITORS of The Cup.
SPIES T: This time it was Kurt Fox's turn for a little luck. He was wearing
his David Cup T when in soared a Peregrine Falcon over the flats of
Montezuma's Mays Pool. Those of us present held our breath in anticipation
as the falcon locked in on its prey, wheeled around the back side of the
flats, then jetted straight in for the kill. A split second before contact,
the falcon veered away--leaving Kurt unscathed! We can only assume it was
because he was wearing his David Cup T that the Peregrine's dinner wasn't a
BIRD CUP BLUES: Another fifteen minutes of fame for Cupper Allison Wells!
And this time she actually GETS something, too. When she awoke Saturday
morning, being a good and proper Cupper, the first thing she did was turn on
WVBR's blues program "Crossroads". And not a moment too soon! "Be caller
number five and you'll win the new Sue Foley CD," the DJ announced.
Allison, having gone to hear Foley at the Haunt last year with Cuppers Ken
Rosenberg, Kevin McGowan and other infamously raucous blues rockers, grabbed
up the receiver faster than an Olive-sided Flycatcher can say "Quick! Free
beer!" Yes, fame and good fortune were hers. "I haven't had my name
announced on the radio since I was in six grade," says Wells. "I won a
coupon for a free hot fudge sundae for knowing Carly Simon sang 'You Belong
to Me'." I never picked up the coupon. I just wanted everyone to know how
smart I was. Unfortunately, it was some obscure AM station that no one
ever listened to, so I'm still trying to prove myself." On a lesser note,
we've heard rumors that B.B. KING IS COMING TO TOWN next month! We'll keep
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
Looks like Jeff Wells has got himself another 15 minutes of fame, too. Make
that, had it dumped smack into his lap by slacker Trendmaster Steve Kelling.
Kelling, you see, was just too darned lazy to write something up. Of
course, he's been camped out at the corral at Montezuma all month scoping
for Hudsonian Godwits, Western Sandpipers, and Peregrine Falcons for the
rest of us. But that has nothing to do with it. Just because he's devoted
an exorbitant amount of time to counting the shorebirds so that the great
mystery of Montezuma during migration is more clearly understood, really,
show him no mercy. But if you want to, guess it wouldn't hurt to thank him
for his efforts up there.
BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
Steve Kelling--no, no, Jeff Wells
May's Point Pool at Montezuma NWR continued to be the major gathering area
for birders throughout September as the excellent shorebirding continued.
This included a record high 5 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, several Hudsonian
Godwits, Western Sandpipers, and Red-necked Phalaropes, and, late in the
month, small numbers of Long-billed Dowitchers. At least one Peregrine
Falcon found the shorebird concentrations at May's Point very appealing as
well. A hillside in Danby hosted a calling Whip-poor-will for a few days
early in the month--only the second record for this species this year. A
few Yellow-bellied Flycatchers showed up along the walk to the lighthouse
jetty in Ithaca, and Philadelphia Vireos were seen a number of times in
Sapsucker Woods and at the Mundy Wildflower Gardens. Sapsucker Woods was
also host to a Connecticut Warbler among a large flock of warblers in
mid-month. Hawk watchers at Mt. Pleasant were treated to the spectacle of
over 3500 Broad-wings passing over on September 18, including nearly 2500 in
one hour alone. One, possibly two Laughing Gulls that made brief
appearances in the Basin during September were undoubtedly hurricane-related
vagrants but a Parasitic Jaeger that thrilled two lucky observers as it
moved down the lake and south over Stewart Park may have been here as a
result of unrelated wind conditions.
(Jeff Wells is the New York State Important Bird Areas Coordinator for the
National Audubon Society. He's always grateful when Steve Kelling can't
make his column, since he gets good money as a sub.)
100 100 100 100 100 100 100
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
(Inside the 100 Club)
"Yeah, that was quite a lecture last week, about the--what was that?" "What
was what?" "I thought I heard a knock on the door" "Really? Maybe it's
Sarah Childs, Justin Childs or Cathy Heidenreich." "Maybe. I'll go check."
(Footsteps across the floor, then the sound of a door opening.) "Hmm."
"Who is it?" "Nobody. I guess I was just hearing things." "Oh, that's too
bad. Maybe they got lost on their way here." "Yeah, maybe they asked Tom
Lathrop for directions!" (The room erupts in laughter. Tom blushes...)
200 200 200 200 200 200
2 0 0
200 200 200 200
Being last month's Coach did wonders for Bill Evans' list, he made it into
the 200 Club! Now his self-esteem is up there where it should be.
Unfortunately, so is the rest of him...
What Bill did to make it to the 200 Club: Dressed up as a dead fish and
slung himself atop the lighthouse off Stewart Park in an attempt to attract
a Parasitic Jaeger.
Bird 200: Peregrine Falcon
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
What Steve Kelling said: "I'm feeling a little strung out, I think I'll rest
at the next plateau."
What he was thinking: ("I'll let 'em think I'm wearing down, then I'll blow
by 'em just before the peak.")
What Karl David said: "Are you sure? Gee, I don't like the idea of leaving
What he was thinking: ("Yessss! Now if I could just dump HER somewhere
along the way.")
What Allison Wells said: "You know, my other obligations are weighing me
down. I think I'll take a breather right here and now."
What she was thinking: ("Little do they know my evil twin has already made
it to the summit, and she plays a mean game of King of the Hill!")
1996 DAVID CUP SEPTEMBER TOTALS 1996 DC AUGUST TOTALS
247 Karl David 237 Allison Wells
245 Steve Kelling 237 Karl David
244 Allison Wells 237 Steve Kelling
239 Tom Nix 234 Tom Nix
239 Jeff Wells 232 Jeff Wells
232 Kevin McGowan 230 Bard Prentiss
232 Bard Prentiss 227 Kevin McGowan
231 Ken Rosenberg 223 Ken Rosenberg
228 Ralph Paonessa 219 Ralph Paonessa
215 Meena Haribal 215 Scott Mardis
215 Scott Mardis 212 Chris Hymes
212 Chris Hymes 208 Jay McGowan
212 Jay McGowan 205 Meena Haribal
209 Bill Evans 202 Casey Sutton
202 Casey Sutton 196 Bill Evans
186 Anne James 182 Anne James
184 John Bower 176 John Bower
177 Martha Fischer 173 Larry Springsteen
175 Michael Runge 168 Martha Fischer
173 Larry Springsteen 164 Kurt Fox
172 Kurt Fox 164 Michael Runge
156 Rob Scott 156 Rob Scott
153 Diane Tessaglia 153 Diane Tessaglia
141 Matt Medler 134 Matt Medler
125 Jim Lowe 125 Jim Lowe
115 Dan Scheiman 105 Tom Lathrop
112 Tom Lathrop 105 Dan
82 Sarah Childs 82 Sarah
54 Cathy Heidenreich 50 Justin Childs
50 Justin Childs 35 Cathy Heidenreich
EDITORS' NOTE: Some totals still include Trumpeter Swan; others still do not
(Karl's, Steve's, Allison's, Tom's, Jeff's). Knowing that a timely decision
about the swans would give the illusion of efficiency and attention to
details, the David Cup committee unanimously decided (by default) to again
put off addressing the matter. Better luck next issue.
1996 McILROY AWARD SEPTEMBER TOTALS 1996 AUGUST TOTALS
192 Allison Wells 187 Allison Wells
179 Jeff Wells 177 Jeff Wells
176 Kevin McGowan 171 Kevin McGowan
170 Ken Rosenberg 162 Ken Rosenberg
160 John Bower 155 John Bower
153 Karl David 153 Larry Springsteen
153 Larry Springsteen 149 Scott Mardis
151 Jay McGowan 149 Karl David
149 Scott Mardis 148 Jay McGowan
146 Bill Evans 142 Tom Nix
144 Tom Nix 133 Casey Sutton
143 Martha Fischer 132 Martha Fischer
133 Casey Sutton 131 Chris Hymes
131 Chris Hymes 131 Rob Scott
131 Rob Scott 129 Bill Evans
114 Michael Runge 113 Jim Lowe
113 Jim Lowe 113 Michael Runge
73 Matt Medler 55 Diane
55 Diane Tessaglia 50 Sarah
50 Sarah Childs 35 Justin
35 Justin Childs
LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
Be it known that Karl David is the new Keeper of the Lists (Leader's and
Composite). So should you come across Eskimo Curlew in his Leader's List
below, it's not our fault.
C. Loon, P-b Grebe, H. Grebe, R-n Grebe, D-c Cormorant, A. Bittern, L.
Bittern, G. B. Heron, G. Egret, G. Heron, B-c. Night-Heron, Y-c.
Night-Heron, Tundra Swan,
M. Swan, S. Goose, Brant, C. Goose, W. Duck, G-w Teal, A. Black Duck,
Mallard, N. Pintail, B-w Teal, N. Shoveler, Gadwall, E. Wigeon, A. Wigeon,
Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, G. Scaup, L. Scaup, Oldsquaw, W-w Scoter, C.
Goldeneye, Bufflehead, H. Merganser, C. Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy
Duck, T. Vulture, Osprey, B. Eagle, N. Harrier, S-s Hawk, C. Hawk, N.
Goshawk, R-s Hawk, B-w Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, G. Eagle, A. Kestrel,
Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, R-n Pheasant, R. Grouse, W. Turkey,
V. Rail, Sora, C. Moorhen, A. Coot, B-b Plover, L. G. Plover, S. Plover,
Killdeer, A. Avocet, G. Yellowlegs, L. Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper,
Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, R.
Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least
Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper,
Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper, B-b Sandpiper, S-b Dowitcher, L-b Dowitcher, C.
Snipe, A. Woodcock, W. Phalarope, R-n Phalarope, Laughing Gull, Little Gull,
B.Gull, R-b Gull, H. Gull, Iceland Gull, L. B-b. Gull, G. B-b Gull, Caspian
Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, R. Dove, M. Dove, B-b Cuckoo,
Y-b Cuckoo, E. Screech-Owl, G. H. Owl, Barred Owl, S-e Owl, N. S-w Owl, C.
Nighthawk, C. Swift, R-t Hummingbird, B. Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker,
R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, D. Woodpecker, H. Woodpecker, N. Flicker, P.
Woodpecker, E. Wood-Pewee, Y-b. Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder
Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, E. Phoebe, G. C.
Flycatcher, E. Kingbird, H. Lark, P. Martin, T. Swallow, N. R-w Swallow,
Bank Swallow, C. Swallow, Barn Swallow, B. Jay, A. Crow, F. Crow, C. Raven,
B-c Chickadee, T. Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, B. Creeper, C.
Wren, H. Wren, W. Wren, M. Wren, G-c Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher,
E. Bluebird, Veery, G-c Thrush, S. Thrush, H. Thrush, W. Thrush, A. Robin,
G. Catbird, N. Mockingbird, B. Thrasher, A. Pipit, Bohemian Waxwing, C.
Waxwing, N. Shrike, E. Starling, S. Vireo, Y-t Vireo, W. Vireo, Philadelphia
Vireo, R-e Vireo, B-w Warbler, G-w Warbler, T. Warbler, Orange-crowned
Warbler, N. Warbler, N. Parula, Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia
Warbler, C. M. 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-a-w Warbler, A. Redstart,
Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Ovenbird, N. Waterthrush, L.
Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, C. Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, Canada Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Sc. Tanager, N. Cardinal, R-b
Grosbeak, I. Bunting, E. Towhee, A. T. Sparrow, C. Sparrow, Field Sparrow,
V. Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, G. Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow, Fox Sparrow,
Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow,
D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, Bobolink, R-w Blackbird, E.
Meadowlark,R. Blackbird, C. Grackle, B-h Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, N. Oriole,
P. Grosbeak, P. Finch, H. Finch, R. Crossbill, C. Redpoll, H. Redpoll, P.
Siskin, A. Goldfinch, E. Grosbeak, House Sparrow
Total: 247 species (+ Trumpeter Swan)
Add to Karl's Leader's Lists (above) the following species and you'll
entire list of birds seen in January, February, March, April, May, June,
July, August, and September:
Ross' Goose, Surf Scoter, Whimbrel, Parasitic Jaeger, Glaucous Gull,
Whip-poor-will, Olive-sided Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Connecticut
Warbler, Yellow-headed Blackbird
Total: 257 species (+ Trumpeter Swan)
! KICKIN' TAIL! !
What better way to make your name a household word than by being featured 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, lovingly cooed and otherwise made his/her (their) way
to the top of the David Cup list.
Karl is so far the ruthless reigning King of Kickin' Tail, and now his
subjects are in revolt. Rather than giving him another chance to scorn the
peasants over whom he rules, the editors of The Cup have deferred to the
First Lady, Karl's beloved Elaine. Under, we suspect, angry protest from
Karl, Elaine has graciously agreed to offer her opinions about Karl's
illustrious success as SHE sees it. Get your highlighters ready, what
follows could include blackmail material...
THE CUP: Since January, off and on, Cuppers have been hearing from Karl
about his "beloved Elaine." You also made it into Ned Brinkley's infamous
Coach's Column last March. How does it feel to be a David Cup legend,
especially since you're not even in the David Cup?
BELOVED ELAINE: That's "Dr. Beloved Elaine" to you-all.
THE CUP: Egadz! What a gaff! Sorry, we'll try to keep that straight.
Eh-hem, about your fame--
DR. BELOVED ELAINE: Easiest notoriety I'll ever have.
THE CUP: Do you have the warm fuzzies knowing that the competition is named
after your dear husband (or maybe you're cursing the DC Committee for
putting that kind of pressure on him?!)
DR. BELOVED: I am deeply proud of my beloved Karl.
THE CUP: How sweet! We should have guessed. Now, surely you needn't be
reminded that Karl has been an avid challenger to his own list for the last
few years. From your observations, how does he compare--in mind, body,
spirit, or otherwise--this year to years past?
DR. ELAINE: (Gales of laughter.) But seriously, folks, he just keeps
getting better and better.
THE CUP: (A fine blush creeps over the faces of the editors.) Guess we
should have guessed that one, too, given his responses to past Kickin' Tail
questions. (Nervous cough.) We're almost afraid to ask, given that last
answer, but we promised our readers we would: Does Father Karl perform any
rituals--chanting, face painting, clothes slashing--before he heads off for
a day of birding?
BELOVED: He puts on old, smelly clothes and refuses to apply sunblock or
wear a hat. He also consistently underdresses for the weather.
THE CUP: Well, then, can you confirm the rumor that Karl keeps voodoo dolls
of certain Cuppers in the glove compartment of his car?
ELAINE: No. I do, however, often find strange crystals and pyramids in it.
THE CUP: Whoa. That's even more intimidating. He could be channeling
Ludlow Griscom, the father of modern field identification himself! But
then, that can't compare with being the Father of the Madness. Now, we
understand you're an avid reader of The Cup and therefore are well aware of
the whole "family time" scam used by many Cuppers to squeeze in more time in
the field. Karl has admitted guilt in this area in past interviews. Can
you share with us your favorite "family time" (or *attempted* FT) scandal
conjured up by Karl?
DR.: Karl is not that terribly creative. Typically, on the way to some
pleasant engagement or other he informs me we just have to stop at the
airport, or Stewart Park, Myers Point, Montezuma...to see the much-desired,
THE CUP: That leads to a good point. Just how "beloved" are you? (i.e., How
does Karl make amends for the exorbitant amount of time he spends in the
field? Candlelight dinners? Movie marathons? Diamond rings?)
BELOVED ELAINE: (More gales of laughter.) Karl wants me to say that we
started a really wonderful candlelight dinner a few weeks ago, but then the
power came back on...I want to say I deeply admire passion in a man...
THE CUP: Which leads nicely to our next question. How does Karl prefer his
coffee? And is there any chance we could get you to put a little something
in it some pre-birding Saturday morning? Sleeping pills, perhaps?
DR. BELOVED ELAINE: Karl prefers his coffee at 3am. I've finally trained
him to just make enough for himself and fix a fresh pot for me when he
leaves on his birding trips a few hours later.
KARL: She didn't come right out and say it, but perhaps the implication is
that it's safe to spike it now that she doesn't have to drink it, too.
THE CUP: Hey, where did you come from? This is a private gossip session,
ah, interview. Oh heck, since you're right here we may as well ask you a
question. You are Kickin' Tail, after all. So tell us, now that you've
read Elaine's point of view, do you feel naked?
KARL: No, I don't feel naked ... just exposed. Exposed for the
pseudo-feminist tail-kickin' good old boy macho male that I really am. It
takes a "woman's touch" to reveal these things, I guess. And speaking of
"touching," perhaps nobody
will touch me in the competition for the rest of the year, now that
everybody's been warned I'll probably be in old smelly clothes. What
a brilliant strategy! I really surprise myself sometimes.
THE CUP: Thanks for the insider info, Elaine. Your new Rolls Royce should
be arriving at your door within two weeks. (By the way, don't tell Karl but
we sent it COD.) And Karl, well, what can we say but "Hit the showers!"
(Make it a cold one at that...)
????????????????????????????????? PIONEER PRIZE
The editors of The Cup, through statistically significant birding polls and
by jacking car phones have determined that recognition is in order for the
Cupper who has braved wind, rain, ice, and snow in a quest for new David Cup
birds for us all to enjoy. Equally weighty in this award category is prompt
notification to other Cuppers of said sightings, be it via e-mail, phone
line, dramatic hand signals, or classified ads.
Now, you've heard that the President of the United States can destroy the
world with the simple press of a button. Well, Cupper Ken Rosenberg has
similar powers right there in his office at the Lab of O. A mere glance out
the window and--BANG!--he's upset the David Cup world by ticking himself a
Connecticut Warbler, causing other Lab Cuppers--Martha Fischer, Rob Scott,
Jeff Wells--to run for their lives, and triggering Karl David into massive
convulsions . Fortunately, Ken has not abused his considerable sway; he has
in fact been "warning" of his little explosions by posting them on
We, the editors of The Cup, hereby bestow September's Pioneer Prize to the
Cup's first armchair pioneer, Ken Rosenberg. Ken, to you a prestigious,
teal green David Cup Pencil! But you know, it wouldn't hurt you to get OUT
birding once in a while.
: >: > : > : > : > : > : > : >
: >: > : > : > : > : > : > : >
You're watching the presidential election on your leading news station,
HAWQ. There are three candidates: the democratic Hudsonian Godwits, the
republican Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and the independent Baird's Sandpiper.
So far Huddy has 41 percent of the votes, Buffy has 45 percent, and Baird
has 14 percent. Oh, Hud has won! Hudsonian Godwit is our new president!
Now for the real news. Huddy has a high-pitched call, as we found out in
the preliminary elections. He breeds on the Tundra, and during migrations
he hangs in the mudflats watching birds. As governor of the Tundra, he was
hunted down because of his controversial views, sort of like Bill Clinton.
He has sent out for extra bodyguards, and he is recovering nicely. He gets
in groups with fellow democrats when he watches migrating birds. He has a
black and white tail, a broad wing stripe, and black wing linings. His
farthest southerly breeding retreat, besides the White House, is the south
end of Hudson Bay.
(Casey Sutton, who initiated and writes this column on his own, is a seventh
grader at DeWitt Middle School. He too has been know to give a high-pitched
call, especially when the Buffalo Bills are losing.)
SCRAWL OF FAME
You say PLUH-ver and I say PLO-ver,
You say pro-THON-a-tery and I say pro-theh-NO-tery,...
If you spend time birding with other people (and you should), you will find
that not everyone agrees on how to pronounce certain bird names. The
differences can be as obvious as a southern drawl adding a few more
syllables than seems necessary, or they can be as arbitrary (and entrenched)
as the to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to debate of the old song. (My old doctoral advisor
tells the story of how in his first year in Florida from the north he was
mystified by the report from another birder of seeing a puh-ray-uh-ree. He
spent the next hour looking for this exotic sounding bird, but could only
find the common Prairie Warblers.) But even if you get past the disparate
accents and regional dialect problems, still you hear many different
versions of common birds. Is it "pa-RU-la" or "PAR-u-la"? Is it
"PIE-le-at-ed" or PILL-e-at-ed"?
If you're a beginning birder, you might be afraid of embarrassing yourself
in front of other, more experienced birders by choosing the wrong
pronunciation. Well you should be; we birders are a pretty snotty lot,
never afraid to snigger at a novice's mistakes. No, that's not true.
Actually, we're very nice and helpful. But, never fear, Dr. Language Person
is here to set you straight about these nagging doubts. I will give you the
definitive pronunciations of the most commonly mispronounced birds, as well
as some others that you never thought about mispronouncing, just to make you
self-conscious so that you'll make more mistakes, HAH-HAH! No, wait. In
keeping with the scholarly tone of this fine publication, I will give you
the information as I see it, and then you can make your own decisions.
First, English is slippery language. In fact, all language is slippery. No
accepted absolute standards exist, in contrast to official measurement
standards, like meters. So you have to rely on either (is that I-ther or EE
-ther?) some authority or on common use. Without a widely accepted
authority, all language drifts and people begin to subtly change the way
they pronounce things. Languages, like populations of organisms, change and
evolve over time.
English is perhaps more confusing than most languages, because it has a
history of change (based largely on the number of different invaders that
conquered Britain throughout the millennia) and freely borrows words and
pronunciations from other languages. "Original" or Old English is a mostly
Germanic language that came to Britain with the Saxon (and other) invaders
that drove the Celts pretty much out of England around 450 AD. When the
French-speaking Normans invaded in 1066, they added a heavy Latin influence
to the language, as well as a (still existent) snobbishness for French words
and pronunciation and a disdain for "vulgar" four-letter Anglo-Saxon words.
In the 15th century, England embraced the Renaissance along with the newly
invented mechanical printing technique, adding some standardization to the
language The fairly rigid ideas and temperaments of the 18th century led to
more standardization and eventually the language we now speak. Grammar,
inflection, case, and conjugation changed with these influences, with the
result that pronunciation shifted dramatically as well. After the 1700's
another major change in the language was the result of the large number of
English speakers in the Americas. Americans created some novel
and preserved some that became archaic in Britain. As Marie [Reed] can
we just don't pronounce things the same way. In fact, we don't share all of
our vowel and consonant sounds anymore. We'll stick with American here,
because, hey, we're in America. Also, who wants to talk like someone who
thinks Leicester is pronounced "Lester"? (Here in America we try to use
more than 2/3 of the letters in each word.)
Because languages change over time, even in the face of authority, the
adherence to a "correct" standard is difficult, and some would say
unnecessary. As a point of reference, one thinks to look in a dictionary
for the "correct" pronunciation. But dictionaries seem to have two,
divergent, aims: providing a standard, and documenting the evolving
standards. Some dictionaries seem to be most interested in adding new words
and documenting the gradually accepted changes in pronunciation and meaning.
Others try more to provide a standard and only grudgingly add words as they
become too firmly entrenched in the common lexicon to be denied. My own
personal favorite dictionary is the "Standard College Dictionary" of
Harcourt, Brace & World, which seems to follow the latter idea. The
following is their statement of policy: "A pronunciation is correct when it
is normally and unaffectedly used by cultivated people.
Strictly, any pronunciation is correct when it serves the purposes of
communication and does not call unfavorable attention to the speaker...
When two or more pronunciations are indicated for a word, the one that the
editors believe most frequent in the northern and western sections of the
United States is listed first, but other pronunciations are equally
reputable. (The dictionary does not list socially substandard
pronunciations, no matter how common they may be.)" "Pronunciations," by
James B. McMillan, Standard College Dictionary, Harcourt, Brace & World.
It sounds snobby enough to be satisfying.
So what often happens is that you go to a dictionary to find out if it's
PLUH-ver or PLO-ver and you find BOTH of them. The one listed first is not
the "preferred" one, but rather as admitted by this dictionary, the most
frequent one (with a heavy regional bias). So whom do you believe? Trust
Dr. Language Person, I'll set you straight. First, just be glad that the
one you say is there. If you pronounced it PLEE-ver, plo-VER, or
BAR-king-Duk, well then you're just hopeless. Below are the most common bird
names that receive different pronunciations. (I won't say that they are
mispronounced, no matter what Allison tells me to do.) I have stayed with
North America, but I have gone outside the Basin list of birds (no sense
being too parochial). I give the Harcourt, Brace & World pronunciations
when available, otherwise I make them up. No, I mean I exhaustively
searched for other authoritative sources, such as The Random House
Dictionary (Unabridged), Webster's International
Dictionary (Unabridged), and "The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North
American Birds" by John K. Terres. Terres does not talk about where he got
his pronunciations, so I treat them with a little skepticism.
Note, pronunciation is difficult to express via the Internet where all the
neat characters (like upside down e's) aren't available. I have tried to
express long vowels by either doubling them (ee), adding a terminal e (o_e,
_ie), or adding a terminal y (ay); short vowels either do not have these
additions, or have an h associated with them. ALL CAPS indicates the
strongest accented syllable, while a Single capital letter indicates a
secondarily accented syllable. If multiple pronunciations are listed,
that's because both are "reputable." Therefore you can use either one and
feel okay. If someone tries to correct you when you use one of the listed
pronunciations, you can give them that haughty, look-down-your-nose
expression (add a touch of a pitying look for best effect), make a short
laugh, and then tell them that despite their pretensions you as an informed
birder in fact know more than they do. Cite Dr. Language Person as your
source, and watch them cringe in abject apology and obsequious acceptance of
your vastly superior intellect (or not). If your favorite pronunciation is
not there, well, you'd better learn something and change, or we'll be
laughing behind your back constantly.
Is this the way YOU say:
BECARD (as in Rose-throated Becard) - BEK-ard. I admit right at the start
that I say be-KARD, but I'll try to mend my ways from here on.
BEWICK'S (as in Wren and Swan) - BYEW-iks. Like the car, not the
BUDGERIGAR - BUJ-e-ree-Gar (remember BUJ-e as the short name). Where I come
from, we just called them parakeets.
CALLIOPE (Hummingbird) - keh-LIE-eh-pee; KAL-ee-ope. Despite its being
accepted by the dictionaries, I have almost never heard the second version,
so avoid it unless you want to attract attention to yourself.
CORDILLERAN (Flycatcher) - Kor-dil-YAR-ehn, kor-DILL-er-ehn. Since it
comes from the Spanish, I recommend staying with the Y sound of the
GOSHAWK - GOS-hok. From goose-hawk; separate the s from the h and say
"Gosh, I saw a Gos-hawk."
GUILLEMOT - GIL-eh-mott. This is English from the French; avoid the urge to
do a Spanish double l "y" sound, and keep that terminal "t" on there, it's
not THAT French.
GYRFALCON - JUHR-Fal-kehn. From gir[vulture]-falcon. An easy way to
remember juhr not jeer is that an old alternative, but now unaccepted, way
to spell it is Gerfalcon.
HARLEQUIN (Duck) - HAHR-leh-kwin, -kin. Add that w sound at your own
JABIRU - JAB-eh-roo. (Tupi Indian, via the Portuguese)
JACANA - Zha-seh-NAH. (Tupi Indian name) I can almost guarantee you that you
will be corrected on the pronunciation of this name, no matter HOW you
pronounce it. I don't think I have EVER heard anyone pronounce it
"correctly" as the dictionary lists it. Terres gives four pronunciations,
two as "many American ornithologists" do it: jah-KON-ah, Yah-sah-NAH; and
two dictionary pronunciations: Zha-sah-NAH, JAK-ah-nah. Then he proceeds to
pronounce the family jah-CAN-ih-dee.
JAEGER - YAY-gehr, JAY-gehr. Stay with the first pronunciation; think
Swedish, even though it's German.
MURRE (Common or Thick-billed) - muhr. NOT myuhr, he was the Sierra
PARULA - PAR-you-lah. From the diminutive form of Parus, meaning little
titmouse, even though it's a warbler. I couldn't find a listing for the way
I usually say it, pah-RU-la, so I guess I'll have to change the way I say
this one too (hah!).
PHALAROPE - FAL-eh-rope. NOT BAR-king-Duk
PHAINOPEPLA - fay-no-PEHP-lah. No PEEPing!
PILEATED (Woodpecker) - PIE-lee-ay-tid, PILL-ee-ay-tid. (having a pileus or
cap) This and the next two are commonly pronounced as the two alternate
versions listed from the dictionary. If it bothers you when people say it
differently than you do, lighten up. They're just birds, for goodness
sakes, and THEY don't care what you call them.
PLOVER - PLUHV-er, PLOV-er. Sorry, Allison, the uh's are first, although
the second is a more American, less British version.
PROTHONOTARY (Warbler) - pro-THON-eh-Ter-ee, Pro-theh-NO-the-ree.
SABINE'S (Gull) - Named for Sir Edward Sabine, we would have to know how he
pronounced it, which might have nothing to do with any other pronunciation
of the word. My dictionary lists s-a-b-I-n-e as being pronounced variously:
SAB-in (a shrub), SAY-bine (the Italian people, you know, the famous rape
painting), seh-BEEN (a river in Texas). Terres and Websters give the gull
SAB-in, so SAB-in it is. (Sorry Allison, I'm not playing favorites here.
You'll have to go to Texas to say it the way you want.)
VAUX'S (Swift) - Here again we have a bird named for a person, this time
William S. Vaux, and we need to know how he pronounced it. Those of you
with training in French probably, and understandably, think you pronounce it
as would the French - "vo" with a silent x. But, you are WRONG (and
probably pretentious too). Terres and Websters lists it as "vauks." I
talked to someone once who knew some relative of William Vaux and said that
they pronounced it "vauks."
There you have it, the final word on pronunciation of all the birds you
always wondered about. If you have others that you are nervous about, or
feel like you're pretty creative with, keep them to yourself. Next month,
it's how to pronounce the Latin names! (It's easy; all the Romans are
dead, so pronounce them any way you feel like! Maybe even BAR-king-Duk!)
(Kevin McGowan is curator of the Cornell Vertebrate Collections. He was a
linguist in another life.)
(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 <
< < < <
You probably know Ithaca has tons of hoity-toity bigshot birders--big enough
even to write a Coach's Corner for The Cup. But did you know we've just
adopted one more? Actually, it's more like a re-adoption, since this
month's Coach was here during the pre-David Cup dueling, before Ned Brinkley
gave the Basin the heave-ho. (Supposedly, our new Coach came the first time
to get his B.S. in natural resources at Cornell, but, well, they don't call
it B.S. for nothing.) You may recall that Coach Evans mentioned Andy
Farnsworth in passing last month, but since he's the new kid on the block
(again) we thought we'd give him a more honorable introduction by insisting
he write this month's Coach's Corner. Despite the fact that it's really too
poetic ("I strain my eyes in deep, blue skies" "I seek out patches of old
field" "flames of fiery autumn foliage"--give this guy an M.F.A.!)--i.e.,
too good--for The Cup, given our recent penchant for McIlroy poetry, we're
going to go ahead and run it. Without further ado...
COACH FARNSWORTH: October is, hands down, my favorite month. Every year I
wait with anticipation for its arrival. It is a time for casual autumn
strays, some undoubtedly bizarre accidentals and hopefully some impressive
migration spectacles. I gear up for a big Red-tailed Hawk flight by the
middle and end of the month; I sit patiently as Golden Eagle numbers
steadily increase through the passing weeks to their peak toward month's
I hone my counting skills to prepare for thousands of loons, geese and
blackbirds, which will soon be upon us; I strain my eyes in deep, blue
for a glimpse of a White Pelican or Sandhill Crane; I seek out patches
field and hedgerows to pillage for landbirds; I drive and hike all over the
Basin excited by the possibility of large concentrations of birds; and I
reread old issues of Birding magazine, gleaning all I can about confusing
plumages and key field marks so that I am prepared for whatever October
throws at me. But I have a few tricks that I always remember when the leaves
begin to glow. Here are some more specific thoughts that might help
still-fairly-zealous-but-nearly-burnt-out Big Year birder in what
be one of the last hurrahs of what has most likely been a long season. How's
that for a mouthful! Set your controls for fun and your sights on 260!!!
Mt. Pleasant: I personally think that this site never gets the recognition
that it is due. Yes, it can be awfully cold and lonely to sit up there day
after day with hopes dashed, dreaming in vain of a big hawk flight that
comes. But it builds character (boy, I sound like my parents)--it is a
challenge. Picking through thousands of clouds and miles of deep, blue sky
gives you bloodshot eyes indeed, but the possibilities alone elicit euphoria
(at least for me). I most certainly advise persistence (and a big supply of
donuts and handwarmers)--I envision some lucky folks up there watching a
high-flying Sandhill Crane on a cool October day. I see delusions of Western
Kingbird zipping south down the ridge; I conjure a Swainson's Hawk, wings
tucked, gliding over the observatory to screaming (or mumbling, depending
on the air temperature) fans; perhaps something like a flock of scoters or
eiders. Or a Yellow-headed Blackbird. And this in addition to the largely
unknown and unseen flight of Red-tailed Hawks at the end of the month,
which can be quite spectacular. And do not forget the Golden Eagles. . .
we all could use some more quality time with a Golden Eagle. So my
suggested play of the day (to refer to football, if I may): with 4th and
inches, run the ball at Mt. Pleasant!!
As an aside, an area near Mt. Pleasant that I have never birded enough
autumn is north of the NYSEG plant on Route 13 (the Lower Creek Rd area).
This area is certainly good for sparrows in the spring and I imagine it
also be quite productive in the fall. I plan to check these fields for more
glorious possibilities like Yellow Rail, LeConte's Sparrow, or perhaps a
"sharp-tailed sparrow". But I digress. . .let me continue.
Lake Ridge Road: This is another of my favorite areas. No matter what the
season, this road seems to have an abundance of birds. In October, this is
especially true: large flocks of bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows, Yellow-rumped
Warblers and goldfinches feed in the overgrown fields several miles north of
the intersection of Lake Ridge and Route 34; Ring-billed Gulls by the
thousand (mainly adults) congregate to feed in the plowed and rocky fields
near Don's Marina. This shear number of birds just invites investigation for
rarer vagrants such as a Clay-colored Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak,
Franklin's Gull or some other thrilling find. I suggest spending those warm
Indian summer days of light south winds patrolling this road rather than
sulking because Mt. Pleasant is not producing anything. My play of the day:
bases loaded, one out and a 2-2 count, throw 'em the curve and head here
(you will quickly realize that these sports analogies mean nothing--just go
As an aside here, I think the area around Long Point is well worth
examination as well. In the fall of 1992 I saw Lark Sparrow here in between
Long Point SP and Aurora. Again, the fields look good for sparrows, and the
fencerows look nice for perching birds. Plus you have the added benefit of
lake viewing at Long Point SP which can be good for raptor and waterfowl
flights as well as scoters or gulls flying just off the point. So I guess
this would be another good bet. . .
Union Springs Railroad Tracks: This area is dear to my heart, though for a
funny reason. I have always had high hopes for these tracks that cross the
north end of Cayuga Lake. I spent many mornings walking back and forth, over
and through and around the shrubs and small groves of trees though usually
with little success. But I still have high hopes. This area looks prime for
vagrant landbirds in late October (Ash-throated Flycatcher or Yellow-headed
Blackbird would be nice). It even looks prime for a good hawk or waterfowl
flight. But as I said, I have had numerous let downs here. However, if you
call me on any given morning in mid October and get my machine, chances are
good that I am out not at the lighthouse jetty, nor at Myer's Point, nor
Pleasant but that I am stalking the Union Springs tracks for some funky late
migrant or transient wanderer (and probably wishing I had a cellular
I were to find one).
Montezuma NWR and Savannah Mucklands: We all know how good the birding is
here. But October can be wonderful. Shorebirds often linger well into the
flames of the fiery autumn foliage. Mays Point Pool can be a gold mine: late
godwits, dowitchers and Stilt Sandpipers; White-rumped, Baird's and Pectoral
Sandpipers all hanging tough. . .with luck a phalarope here and there, the
chance that it might be a Red Phalarope nearly realistic. Waterfowl begins
arriving. The mucklands undoubtedly hold several Ross' Geese every fall.
Once the Snow Geese come in, start checking. . .it's a lot easier to see
a Ross' Goose here than flying at 3000 feet over Mt. Pleasant (though you
might not want to rule that out either!). A Sandhill Crane would not seem
out of place to me at all in the mucklands north of Montezuma. Early flocks
of buntings, longspurs, pipits, and larks begin to appear later in the
And blackbirds. . .let us not forget blackbirds. With large concentrations
in this area, the likelihood of Brewer's, Yellow-headed or. . .well,
hmmm. . .
something else is greatly increased. Check the fields with care. Skulking
treasure (not just hidden but skulking) lurks among the weeds and rotting
The Bonus Factor: The uncertainty and raw energy I feel that comes to me
every fall does not have anything to do with some old college phobia, but it
does directly correspond to the potential for weird and wild birding
adventures. The Cayuga Lake Basin, though under appreciated in my
full of these. I am energized by the mere thought of standing out on the
lighthouse jetty looking for a jaeger; the thought of thousands of loons and
millions of blackbirds streaming over Taughannock causes me to lose sleep;
even the potential for a Townsend's Warbler, a Northern Wheatear, or a
Mountain Bluebird keeps me forever on my toes (did I say I was a dreamer by
the way??. . .well, "I'm not the only one".)
October is a month of great potential. The best suggestion I have is this:
spend every last minute out in the field, although I would probably say that
if I were writing for July as well. But seriously, this month offers so much
for everyone. . .just go out and find something exciting! And if this isn't
enough information (or schlock) for you, feel free to email me. I have a
nearly endless supply of wild goose chases and grand plans. Good birding!
(Andy Farnsworth is a part-time tour leader for VENT, and sings and strums
around town with his band, the name of which he neglected to give us,
probably for fear of an infamous Bird Cup Blues review, and even though he's
a northerner at heart since his mom lives in Rye, NY, he's spent time in
Austin, TX, but says, "The Basin Rules" and that the musical chemistry is
better here, too and...and...he freely admits to using run-on sentences as a
means of circumventing the one-sentence bio.)
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
We suspect that many of you slept during your requisite English Literature
class in college and therefore didn't "get" the poem we ran here in the last
issue. Kevin McGowan has redeemed himself by writing a scholarly Scrawl of
Fame this month; he gets an "A". We thought we'd give the rest of you a
chance to improve your grade point average as well by running another poem
that offers the perspective of those still struggling for McIlroy fame. This
one is a little less challenging but should be--mind you, SHOULD be--equally
(Or, "Meditation for the McIlroy Leader")
When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For they sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
That I then scorn to change my state with kings.
(William Shakespeare was an aspiring poet who hailed from England. Although
he was widely published, his work did not received proper respect until the
press leaked that this poem, Sonnet 29, would be appearing in The Cup.)
BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
What does it take to be a Bird Brain? Nobel Prize nominations? Generous
monetary donations to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology? Well, it
wouldn't hurt. But to secure yourself a place in the prestigious Bird Brain
Hall of Fame, just be the last person to sign up. It's hard work, but the
rewards are priceless!
Now, we've grown fond of the "We said, s/he said" format inspired by Ned
Brinkley's generous concession to be last month's Bird Brain. As Ned
gracefully demonstrated, this format allows for a more organic atmosphere by
allowing the unique personality of the Bird Brain to come shining through in
his/her own words. Besides, it means less work for us.
WE SAID: How does if feel to be one of The Cup's elite, a Bird Brain?
SHE SAID: Astonishing, humbling, great--I'll try to live up to the calling!
WE SAID: What made you decide to join the David Cup--for heaven's sake, you
didn't jump in till August!
SHE SAID: Admittedly, I refrained at first because I thought I was
out-of-Basin and therefore out of the competition before I began. Then I was
intimidated by the Plethora speciosa on Cayuga birds each day, but I
thought-"Why not? At least I'll get to learn some hot tips on birding and
hopefully be challenged to get out there and see some new birds." And I
to admit-Allison has become my inspiration--go get 'em Allison!
WE SAID: Aw, shucks. Do you mean that? You're really rooting for--I mean,
how and when you did become interested in birds and birding?
SHE SAID: I've been interested in birds since I was a child and spent many
happy hours watching them (sans bins, regretfully) where I grew up on the
fringes of the Adirondacks. Since coming to Geneva I have fallen under
the insidious influence of several birders (Yes, Kevin Colton, Ann
Cobb--you're the ones) at the NYS-Cornell University Agriculture Station
where I work and have been so reckless as to attend various Eaton Bird
Club functions when I can. We've started an Occasional Ornithologists
club at work. We bird at lunch when weather/field work permits), mostly
at Seneca Lake Park, or watch Audubon videos. We've manage to nab an
occasional speaker from Eaton or elsewhere. We've also made trips to
Montezuma, the Girl Scout Camp on Rt.. 318, and the Lab of O. We even have a
joint subscription to Birder's World which we circulate in house; but
regretfully, we never seem to be able to meet more than occasionally...
I also asked for and received my first pair of binoculars as a birthday
gift from my brother two years ago (Tasco). Before that I was using a pair I
borrowed from my father (originating from Paris where my great-great uncle
purchased them during WWI!). Not many life birds with those babies!
WE SAID: How much time per week would you estimate you spend birding? Does
anyone else in your household bird (if there is anybody else in your
household, that is)?
SHE SAID: I try to spend at least an hour a day watching my feeders at
checking out hedge rows, etc. on the drive to and from work. I also
(hopefully) take one trip somewhere every couple of weeks to check out
what's moving through (Montezuma is my favorite place close by). Although
I have to admit I have slacked off a little lately being a newlywed and
all...My husband Gregg was not a bird watcher when I met him but he has
since become interested (get tough or die?!?) enough to point out birds
he sees and TO assist in hanging various feeders, houses, etc.(we still have
all the cats, however...) I did persuade him to look at a few gulls and
such while we were on our honeymoon in Niagara falls this March- is that
love or what! And after using my binoculars for this event he's announced
that he'd like to get me a really NICE pair of binoculars for Christmas
WE SAID: What do you do professionally, and how have you been able to use
this to your advantage in the David Cup?
SHE SAID: Believe it or not, I'm a plant pathologist/technician for
NYSAES-Cornell University, Geneva Campus- and I used to be on the look out
for fungi in much the same way I'm now out scouting for birds... I guess all
those years of spotting conks on trees along the road have finally paid off
("Hey was that a Snowy Owl on that phone pole?").
WE SAID: Have you seen any life birds this year? What's your favorite bird
SHE SAID: Since I have had very little experience identifying birds at
are lifers for me--I've seen Tufted Titmouse, Eastern Phoebe, Indigo
Bunting, American Kestrel, Caspian Tern, American Bittern and several others
this year, to name a few. My favorite bird is and always has been the
Black-capped Chickadee. Those were the ones that fascinated me when I was a
child and I am always amazed at their tenacity in getting those seeds open
and their fearlessness when perched on people's heads, etc.
WE SAID: What's it like living and birding in the nether regions of the
Basin? Do you feel like a frontierswoman? Do you have a favorite "David
Cup" moment relating to this?
SHE SAID: I am really glad to be back in the country after my sojourn in
Geneva (big city for me...), nice though it was. It's an awesome
to be birding out here on the edge but I'll try to leave no tree or bush
unturned?!? I did have to stop wearing my coonskin cap a while back--
the cats were avoiding me. I guess my favorite David cup moment was when
the male American kestrel perched in the apple tree in our front yard--at
first I thought it was a robin and then realized the coloring was
wrong. Then when I realized all the other birds I had been watching had
disappeared I knew it was something different. And wow! What great
coloring! I watched him for an hour and guess what? I was finally pretty
confident I had identified him after watching for only 30 minutes!
WE SAID: If you could bird anywhere in the world (besides the Basin, of
course) where would it be and why?
SHE SAID: Alaska. I've read so many of the magazine articles and seen so
many of the specials about those birding trips ( does pelagic apply
think it would be an incredible place to bird, polar bears withstanding, of
course. When I was a kid I read a book that mentioned Winter ptarmigan.
I've wanted to see one first hand ever since.
WE SAID: Now that you've been christened a Bird Brain, how will you use this
to get ahead in life?
SHE SAID: Short-term, I'm off to Jersey in two weeks to give a seminar
American Phytopathological Society, Northeastern Division meeting on
fruit russet of apple. I'm hoping they'll give me a room discount upon
presentation of my Bird Brain issue of the Cup so I can stay longer and
hopefully seem some "good birds" while I am there. Any suggestions on
locations or what might be there then, folks? (It's in Longbranch...)
Long-term, I'm hoping to write an autobirdographical book after I get into
the 200 Club (15-20 years from now at this rate...) and this will fill out
one of the chapters nicely...
WE SAID: Thanks a lot! Have fun!
SHE SAID: The interview was great fun. I hope no one is asleep at the
after reading it. I am very honored to have been chosen to be a "BIRD
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...
I am writing to ask you to settle a dispute involving me and a certain
who works at the Lab of Ornithology. Let's call him "Ken." When I was
all around the Basin this winter and spring, everywhere I went, I
ran into "Ken." I think he was following me. I'm pretty sure he watches me
from his bathroom window when I'm at Dryden Lake. (That's why I deflated my
inflatable Ross' Goose whenever he was around, but please don't print that.)
By the way, let me say that, because I live out of the Basin, I mostly
the David Cup for a lark (which I found this spring). After all, people
"Ken" know all sorts of technical bird terms, like "feathers" and "lips."
Birders like "Ken" have far more experience; when I say, "That big, fat
over there with all the red on its tummy," they say, "You mean the
know I can't compete with that. But, Dear Tick, I finally realized there IS
one way I CAN compete with "Ken": irresponsibility. Yes, "Ken" has many
responsibilities that keep him from birding. He has to fix his roof when it
leaks, and he has a secretary who makes him stay in his office. To which I
say, "NYAH NYAH!! HA HA HA, 'Ken.' HA HA!"
BUT HE'S CHEATING! Every time I look at CayugaBirds, there are postings
like this from "Ken": "While gazing out my office window pretending to do
work to fool my secretary, I saw a coyote drop a Wilson's Storm-petrel on
the ground, and the bird flew away, so tick off another on my list! NYAH
NYAH!! HA HA HA, 'Ralph' (made-up name). HA HA." Or something like that.
The next thing you know, he'll get to see Gyrfalcon or Connecticut Warbler
out his window.
So, my question is: Would it violate any David Cup rules if I sneak
replace his window with a stained glass scene of a flock of Starlings?
reply soon, because this is really ticking me off! Just sign me...
--"Laughing Gull" (HA HA HA, "Ken." HA HA!) in Endicott
Dear Laughing Gull:
Despite your valiant attempt here to demonstrate anger and frustration, your
admiration for "Ken" cannot be suppressed. I'll see what I can do about
getting him the Pioneer Prize this month, just for you.
As much as I hate to exhume the McIlroy/David Cup boundaries issue,
I need your ruling. Are the Lab of O trailers to the east of Sapsucker
Woods Road within the McIlroy boundary? Thanks for your answer, I want to
make sure I count the flamingos on both lists if they're hanging out within
--Pencil Sharpened and Waiting at Cornell
Dear Sharpened and Waiting:
Whether or not they're actually in McIlroy territory is not the issue. To
my knowledge, all of the Lab of O Cuppers have given the flamingos a double
tick, and as Lab Cuppers go, so should go all Cuppers. By the way, they'll
be skinny dipping in the Sapsucker Woods pond sometime next week.
I recently got singled out by someone for "mispronouncing" a bird name.
(Actually, the scholar who corrected me accused me of saying "sa-BEEN's"
gull when in reality I've always said "SAY-bine's," which makes much more
sense. Either (pronounced EE-ther, not EYE-ther) way, according to him, I'm
wrong. My quandary is this: I'm married to the dialect coach named in the
newsletter's masthead, so naturally, any mispronunciations are his fault.
Of course, I'm petrified that, because of this, more devastating fumbles are
on the way. I'm wondering, before that happens, should I divorce him?
--Tongue-tied in Sapsucker
It all depends on how much money he has. If he's a dialect coach, he's
probably not worth much. On that basis, no one should have to put up with
public humiliation. On the other hand, if he's got old family money in his
bloodline, embarrassment builds character.
One evening, along with a former Coach and others I went to Mount Pleasant
and heard lots of Swainsons Thrushes and other birds. After hearing many, I
could sort of say who was who, with a success rate of about 60%. But if I
am alone I can't say for sure whether I was right or wrong in my Swainson's
identification. So the question is, is it countable or not? It all depends
on your rules.
--Sincerely Trying To Be
Count it. Unless you're in "danger" of becoming the Kickin' Tail Leader,
your list will never see the light of day, so one will ever know the
difference. Now, in case that doesn't make it clear enough, let me
emphasize here that honesty is not an admirable quality in a Cupper. You
and Sleepy in Ithaca better get your priorities straight and quit being
Since entomologists have not yet followed ornithologists' lead in
capitalizing proper names, I can accurately say that I had a crane
fly in my kitchen this morning. I admit it was acting strangely; it
kept bumping into the light. However, I'm completely certain of my
identification. Can I count Sandhill Crane?
--"Grus Gott" from Aurora
Dear Grus Gott:
Last I heard, crane identification relies on a little more than behavioral
characteristics. For example, there's derrick length and horsepower to
consider. Otherwise, I don't see how you can rule out a Caterpillar or even
a John Deer.
Say it isn't so, Tick! For month's now I've been counting
the Great-horned Owls on top of the DeWitt Mall for both my
David and McIlroy lists. Last time I looked, it struck me that
those darned owls are always roosting in the exact same place.
Who is the evil person who put those bogus owls up there? It
was probably the Republicans*, wasn't it?
--Down and Out on Buffalo St.
*Or Democrats, depending on your point of view...
Dear Down and Out:
No, it was Tom Nix.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup, care of Jeff's e-mail.)
\ """"""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""
"Another super issue. I liked Bird Brained Ned... I had always heard
"Reeeeaaaaaallllly good job with the David Cup competition' and newsletter.
P.S. "Add Blackburnian Warbler and Ruby-throated Hummingbird to my dream
"I guess this means I'm your new whipping boy..."
(See The Cup 1.8)
"I don't know if you have finished composing the September masterpiece
yet, but if you have finished with the latest issue of The Cup, could you
please send it to me?...Thanks a lot! No totals to report, since I'm
of the Basin, almost in Canada."
"I already have an excuse [for getting back to the Basin], a conference
around Oct. 20 in Rottenfester, so I'll at least get to Montezuma
I'm not sure if Mira [the Bird Dog] can come then - I'd better bring her or
she may accuse me of cheating her out of Oct. birds."
--Larry Springsteen, who "moved to Connecticut" last month
"Wow, I finally understand crippling views--and no less of something new for
me!...Boy, am I excited--I saw a plover!"
"After receiving Karl's timely note on the Laughing Gull at Myers Point, I
went to look for it. Not only did I see it but I was also able to
photograph it; it is good to get as much documentation as possible on ANY
rare sighting. Thanks go to Karl David for his rapid informing of a REAL
"I wonder if the dowitchers sit around wondering if we are watchers from
Tioga County, PA or Ithaca, NY? We (humans) are such an interesting
"A first-year male Common Yellowthroat's attempts at song this morning
reminded me of the continual problem of trying to identify songs in the
fall. Young birds often are singing at this time, but can't quite get
things together enough to be completely "normal." ...So for those of you
to the art of bird song identification, don't get too discouraged in the
fall. Everyone has problems with some of these birds...Then there are other
problems with youngsters. While we were on a walk recently my son Jay
discovered how to rub his arm on the side of his binoculars and reproduce a
squeak almost exactly like the call note of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak."
"Not much happening up here [in Maine]. The bird migration has slowed
(former Temporary Cupper)
"Oh dear! If "grebes submerge by squeezing all the air out from their
plumage and also expelling all the air from their internal air sacs, then
they 'slowly sink into the water as their specific gravity increases,'" how
do they replenish the air sacs so they can rise? I do like birding on the
list; I'm awfully afraid, though, that I am rapidly becoming a vicarious
birder rather than an actual one!"
"Once again I was the only person to show up at the lunchtime
seminar at Mays Point today."
"Ralph Paonessa, Michael Runge, and I constituted
the three intrepid fellows' that were trying very hard to turn an
ordinary bird into an extraordinary one. The final conclusion was that
the bird was not a Ruff (of any sort). This mystery bird kept us
occupied (and entertained) for well over an hour. It started out at the
back of the pond and wandered in and out of the weeds...I must say that
all of that time spent was worth it if only for one comment Ralph made.
During the time that the bird was still a Ruff and just prior to the
Pectoral hypothesis, I asked Ralph to take his scope off the Ruff to check
out some nearby Pecs (for comparison, of course) and he said, I'm looking
and you're giving me Spam.' Turns out, he only had hamburger."
"On either Saturday and Sunday, I can't remember which -- the shorebird days
are starting to merge -- we were treated to the immature Peregrine Falcon
repeatedly stooping on a resourceful Lesser Yellowlegs, who repeatedly dove
beneath the surface when it really counted; annoyed gulls finally chased the
predator away empty-taloned."
"I looked out the window about ½ hour ago and groggily saw 8 Black-capped
Chickadees and 4 Tufted Titmouse (s) - I think!!! Hard to tell if you
pressed grapes until 3:30AM in the morning..."
"I saw the Buff-Breasts - quite a showing, too. But, that is now allowed
according to state law. I missed the "indecent" bird showing its White-Rump
(See "News," The Cup 1.8)
"Just to whet your appetite: 7 Common Loons floating S on the water just
south of Taughannock SP. at noon. Surely a sign of thousands to come,
in a month. Harbingers nonetheless, though!"
"Please put me on your mailing list . This sounds too good to pass up!"
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
Allison and Jeff