Year 3, Issue 4
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*The unofficial publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.
* Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
* Basin Bird Highlights: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel
* Pilgrim's Progress Compiler: "Stoinking" Matt Medler
* Leader's List, Composite Deposit: "Shot Gun" Kevin McGowan and
* Jay "Beam Hill Me Up, Scotty" (SPECIAL GUEST: Karl
* "Father of the Madness" David--again)
* Evans Cup Compiler: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss
* The Yard Stick Compiler: Margaret "in Mansfield" Launius
* Bird Bits: Jay "Beam Hill Me Up, Scotty" McGowan
* Stat's All: Karl "Father of the Madness" David
* Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer
* Musical Coordinator: Jeff Wells
This just in! The manuscript for the hush-hush, much-hyped, over-
speculated Granddaddy of All of Prime Time Finales, the last Seinfeld,
has landed on our desk! Why are we running it here in The Cup (other
than to prove once again to our pathetic imitators--Time, Newsweek--
that we're a news force to be reckoned with)? Read on! WARNING: If
you've never watched Seinfeld (i.e., if you've been living on the moon
for the last decade or so), you might not understand some of the
references; before reading, join the rest of Cupland (and the world)
in catching the final episode Thursday May, 14 at nine o'clock.
Better yet, catch the "pre-game" highlights too, at eight, and then
and read the manuscript Jerry himself hand-delivered to Cup Headquarters!
[Taken directly from the manuscript:]
The scene: Jerry, George, and Elaine in Jerry's apartment...of course.
ELAINE: So. What are we gonna do after this stupid finale's over?
JERRY: I don't know about you, but George, Kramer, and I are gonna be
ELAINE: (With her classic shove) Get out!
GEORGE: Hey, some of my best friends are Cuppers. My coworkers are
Cuppers. My parents are Cuppers!
[Kramer makes his classic entrance]
KRAMER: Check this out! (Struts around in a David Cup t-shirt)
ELAINE: You know, don't you, that this Cup thing takes place Upstate,
in some god-forsaken territory called the Cayuga Lake Basin. Manhattan
ain't, as they say, "in the Basin."
GEORGE: You mean you gotta be in the Basin to count the birds?
(Weakly) Oh, God.
KRAMER: My friends, fear not, for Manhattan is in the Basin. I've
created a new cologne called The Basin. It smells just like the
Cayuga Lake Basin. Splash a little behind the ears and wherever you
go, you're in the Basin.
JERRY: That explains that guy I met in the park yesterday. He was
wearing binoculars and had this crazed look in his eyes. Said he was
"padding his Cup totals," yada, yada. Karl something. He must have
been wearing The Basin!
GEORGE: All right, how do I get my hands on this stuff?
KRAMER: My intern's working on the formula right now, for Kramerica's
big spring [gestures] splash! Get it?
GEORGE: You mean you haven't made any yet? [Muttering] Of course he
hasn't. He's Kramer.
ELAINE: I got news for you, anyway. You guys aren't Cup-worthy.
G, J, and K: What do you mean?
ELAINE: If you're in the David Cup and you find a good bird, you
gotta tell the whole world. They use one of those squirrelly listservs.
JERRY: What a strange word, squirrelly. What does a squirrel have to
do with something being odd? I'd like to meet the guy that invented
that word, squirrelly. I bet he's a squirrelly fellow.
ELAINE: Never mind that, what are you gonna do about the vault? You
can't see some great bird and just lock it in the vault, you'll be
banned from blues gigs! [Kramer shudders at the thought] I'm telling
you, Jerry, those Cuppers, they're very anti-vault.
GEORGE: It's already been settled. No more vaults! Jerry and I have a
JERRY: And we're hoping it's not as fatal as the last pact.
KRAMER: You know, Elaine, you should be a Cupper. You've got a
strong jaw bone.
JERRY: [Incredulously] Now, why does having a strong jaw bone make
someone a Cup contender? Not that there's anything wrong with that.
KRAMER: (Flustered) Well, I don't know! I just thought we'd up the
kitty by getting Elaine in the contest.
ELAINE: Contest? Don't tell me you're starting that again.
KRAMER: We have to. There was no winner last time.
JERRY: (With a smirk) Oh, there was a winner, all right. That Glamour
magazine had the, uh, upper hand, wouldn't you say so, Georgy?
GEORGE: Why do you do that? Just when I think I've finally escaped
the bumbling, embarrassing, vulgar cartoon that is my life, you pull
me back in!
JERRY: (Ignoring George, of course) Kramer thinks that by being a
Cupper, we'll each become Master of Our Domain. You see, Cuppers'
whole lives rotate around birds. They don't think about anything else.
They're at work, they're thinking about birds. They're eating dinner,
they're thinking about birds. They could be doing anything, and I mean
anything, and they'd still be thinking about birds. If and when they
ever get the chance to think about that, they're too exhausted to act
on it. You become Master of Your Domain by default.
KRAMER: So, what do you say, Elaine, you in?
ELAINE: Yeah, okay, put me in for $50.
[A beeper sounds. It's Kramer's]
KRAMER: Hoochie mama! My first beep!
GEORGE: Why does a man who has absolutely no responsibilities in life
carry a beeper?
KRAMER: It's my Birdy Beeper. I'm getting in shape for the QUAC
team [see previous issue of The Cup].
JERRY: Why would they want you on their team? You don't know a pigeon
from a parrot. You can't just change teams and pretend you know
something about birds.
KRAMER: Look, someone's gotta drive the fire engine!
ELAINE: Well, while you're at it, find out if there's any truth to
the rumor that there's a hot tub in the 100 Club. If it's true, I
may remain Master of My Domain after all.
KRAMER: Giddy up!
@ @ @ @ @ @
NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
@ @ @ @ @ @
WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: Was there an ulterior motive to signing
up Melanie Uhler for the David Cup? Sure, she shares a Lab of O
office with Allison Wells, but let's not get hasty here. Really, just
because there's a cut-throat office list battle going on between the
featherweights in Steve Kelling's office and the Wells-Uhler Lab
residence on the other side of the wall (you should have seen Kelling
trying to score the siskins for his office's list, hanging out his
window by his toes!)
And who's the latest kitty to take "Swift" action? Marty and
Kylie's cat, Figaro: "Yes, it's time to enter the cat's total as
well. Actually there are two cats in the household, but Greta does
most of her observation in the field and so we're not privy to what
Fig, on the other hand, is much more interested in the feeders. She
spent much of the colder months inside looking out, but now with the
warmer temperatures, she has taken to closer observation. She seems
totally surprised, though, when the birds make a rapid departure from
the feeders whenever she moves in quickly for a closer look. Her
interest is not limited to wild birds. She recently sat in a
chair for about 20 minutes watching 25 Rhode Island Red chicks in a box
near the woodstove. Both Fig's and Greta's attempts at closer
observation have been somewhat hampered by bells attached to their
collars, but we're pretty sure Fig will be quite competitive in the
STORK REPORT: A stork was seen flying to and away from Schuyler
County Hospital on April 12. Curiously, Owen Mason Davis-Bower
was born the same day. Providing parental care has been a delight, if
sometimes a challenge, since that time, reports new Daddy John Bower.
Congratulations to John and wife Suzie on their little birdy.
BABY, BABY: What with spring being a time of rebirth and all, it seems
a update on other Cupper babies is in order. From Scott Mardis: "The
little one [Stover] is great. He's walking, practically running now.
He's working so hard to learn to talk. He has at least a dozen
or so words that we recognize; bird' is one of them but it's
primarily because we have caged finches. He hasn't gotten birding
much but he will point out birds when he's outside."
From Michael Runge: "Megan, now 16 months old, is delighted that
spring has arrived and she can play outside. We've reinstituted regular
walks at Sapsucker Woods, so my (and her) chances of a fair showing in
the McIlroy have increased. She can identify a few birds to genus, if
not species: crow ( caw-caw', she has yet to say this and point to a
Fish crow, so she might have this one to species), duck
( wack-wack'), goose ( ong-ongk'), gulls ( aw-aw', distinct from the
crow sound), female
chickens ('cluck-cluck'), male chickens ( er-r-roo'), juvenile chickens
( peep-peep'), and passerines ( peep-peep', granted this is not distinct
from the sound for chicks)."
From Ken Rosenberg: "Olivia saw her first bird on our Florida trip in
March (at 5 months) -- I saw her eyes follow a D-c Cormorant flying
fairly close over a pond. Shortly afterwards she definitely saw a
Muscovy (golf-course variety) at about 3 feet -- gave it the
appropriately skeptical look, thinking I'm sure that such a grotesque
creature is probably not countable. This spring, she seems to be
showing some interest in birds and squirrels at our feeders, and gets
kinda excited when I hold her up to the window and say bird.' She
definitely stared at a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak the other day and
let out an excited, one-syllable sound that sounded like bird' to
me. Rachel (3 1/2) has very keen eyes and ears and can identify quite
a few species when pressed, but doesn't show any sure signs of
birder fever. With nicer weather I'm hoping to rekindle the interest
she showed earlier by spending much more time outdoors than we could
SAPPED OUT?: If you haven't heard already, our "home-team" Sapsuckers
cleaned up the out-of-state category during the World Series of Birding.
Under grueling conditions (torrential rain, strong winds) Ken Rosenberg,
Steve Kelling, Jeff Wells, Kevin McGown, and John Fitzpatrick--Cuppers
all--saw 190 species and earned more than $90,000 for bird
conservation. They'll be sharing their story in the next issue of The
Cup, so stay
LONE STAR CZARS: Several Cuppers not only had the guts to enter the
cut-throat, mind-and-body-numbing Texas Birding Classic (a "Big
Week," during which teams do three big days in a five-day span) they
actually won the thing! Our own Andy Farnsworth and Ned Brinkley, they
of the WildBird Magazine team, saw 298 species. Congratulations!
WARBLER WATCH: And of course, all of the blazing participants have
or soon will be posting their warbler reports to Lab of O-National
Audubon's online warbler survey, Warbler Watch (see The Cup 3.3) at
If you don't want your David Cup
totals docked, you better report yours, too, ain't that right, Matt
and Geo? (See Cup Quotes, this issue.)
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: "Playing the blues is like
getting a vaccine: You play the blues to keep the blues away."
"The blues is a dialogue with tragedy."
"Even if my lady left me, I'm still gonna play the hell out whatever
I play, because you play the blues to feel happy."
--Harry Sweets Edison
Want to feel happy? Drop into the Haunt Friday night, May 15th, for
another fabulous performance by blues great Luther "Guitar" Johnson.
As Wynton might say, ain't it time for your booster shot?
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
:> :> BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
The early spring that seemed about to descend on us as April began
turned into days and then weeks of expectant waiting. A thin scatter
of early migrants had spread northward with the heat wave of late
providing some neighboring regions with surprising lists of warbler
sightings, but the overall pace of the flood was not much influenced,
and most migrant species arrived and continue to arrive in the Basin
within a few days of their expected dates.
I was out of town at the beginning of the month when an immature
gray-phase GYRFALCON, unquestionably April's most thrilling find, put
in for several days at the Savannah Mucklands. Small numbers of late-
migrating waterfowl like RED-NECKED GREBE, OLDSQUAW, SURF SCOTER, and
RED-THROATED LOON were ticked by the lucky and the watchful. A
NORTHERN SHRIKE was still to be found near Hanshaw and Niemi Rds. on
the 5th. A single GREAT EGRET showed up at the Lab, but a bird that
may have been a SNOWY EGRET got away, flying too high over Varna.
CASPIAN and FORSTER'S TERNS both appeared on several occasions, as
did AMERICAN BITTERN. Half
a dozen shorebird species had been seen by month's end, but big kettles
of BROAD-WINGED HAWKS were the spectacle-that-wasn't, nor were there
any more Golden Eagles in April.
PINE SISKINS, both CROSSBILLS, and PURPLE FINCHES continued
through the month, but the REDPOLLS and many EVENING GROSBEAKS
cleared out. A
very early pair of HENSLOW'S SPARROWS was reported near Trumansburg
on 3/31. VESPER, SAVANNAH and SWAMP SPARROWS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER,
THRUSH, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, PINE WARBLER, and
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH by mid-April, OVENBIRD, BLACK & WHITE, BLACK-
THROATED GREEN, BLACK-THROATED BLUE and a couple of other warblers
later, THRASHERS, all the SWALLOWS, CHIMNEY SWIFT, HOUSE WREN,
VIRGINIA RAIL, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK... you couldn't call it slow,
but there was
nothing else to compare with that GYRFALCON.
While looking over a catalog of mail-order fowl the other day I
located the ROUEN duck, a 9 pound roaster in Mallard plumage, which
be the bird I saw last winter among the oddities behind Wegmans, in the
tame-bird hangout that hosted April's MANDARIN DUCK. Right beside
the Rouen in the catalog is a brilliant beetle-green duck with black
feet and bill, said to be one of the few breeds developed in the
United States, and quite cold-hardy: the CAYUGA. Maybe we could have
those next April, to amuse us while we're waiting, waiting, waiting...
(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. Our prediction is that he
will hear a Whip-poor-will very soon...)
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Chris Butler's Bird 100: Barn Swallow
Karl David's Bird 100: Red Crossbill
Martha Fischer's Bird 100: Refused to respond to questionnaire
John Greenly's Bird 100: "My 100th was a
crisply-plumaged, sweetly-singing Savannah Sparrow- very nice!"
Anne Kendall's Bird 100: Swamp Sparrow
Jon Kloppel's Bird 100: " Myrtle' Warbler"
Alan Krakauer's Bird 100: "My bird 100 was a boisterous Ruby-crowned Kinglet."
Pat Lia's Bird 100: "Pine Siskin (Geo had to drag her out in the rain
to see it)." --Geo Kloppel
Perri McGowan's Bird 100: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Matt Medler's Bird 100: Chimney Swift "Snagged during a tennis match,
during which Allison tennised the tar out of me." --Matt Medler
John Morris' Bird 100: "It was the Savannah Sparrow that returns to the
same cherry sapling every year, and every year I have to keep one eye
to the bins and one to the neighbor's dog who insistently asks me to be lunch."
Tom Nix's Bird 100: Refused to respond to questionnaire.
Ken Rosenberg's Bird 100: Refused to respond to questionnaire
Matt Sarver's Bird 100: Gyrefalcon!
Ben Taft's Bird 100: Northern Waterthrush
Allison Wells' Bird 100: Eastern Kingbird
Jeff Wells' Bird 100: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
200 200 200 200 200
2 0 0
200 200 200 200
Sign on 200 Club door:
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
1998 David Cup April Totals
146 Geo Kloppel
146 Kevin McGowan
141 Jay McGowan
140 Ken Rosenberg
126 Allison Wells
123 Karl David
122 Jeff Wells
121 Matt Sarver
116 Chris Butler
115 Martha Fischer
114 Alan Krakauer
112 Stephen Davies
112 Pat Lia
112 John Morris
110 Matt Medler
109 Anne Kendall
106 Jon Kloppel
105 John Greenly
103 Perri McGowan
102 Tom Nix
100 Ben Taft
98 Nancy Dickinson
96 John Bower
96 Steve Kelling
85 Gary Chapin
84 John Fitzpatrick
84 Marty Schlabach
83 Kim Kline
83 Jim Lowe
72 Anne James
59 Ann Mathieson
57 Kylie Spooner
51 Michael Runge
50 Caissa Willmer
42 Scott Mardis
40 Melanie Uhler
39 Kurt Fox
35 Tom Lathrop
34 Margaret Barker
31 Dave Mellinger
33 Cathy Heidenreich
25 Carol Bloomgarden
27 Swift (Kitty Cup)
26 Mimi Wells (Kitty Cup)
26 Andy Leahy
24 Teddy Wells (Kitty Cup)
19 Figaro (Kitty Cup)
0 Jimmy Barry*
0 Ralph Paonessa*
0 Larry Springsteen*
0 Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen*
*Currently living out-of-state. They're still sleeping.
1998 McIlroy Award April Totals
101 Kevin McGowan
95 Allison Wells
95 Jeffrey Wells
93 Martha Fischer
89 John Bower
85 Jay McGowan
77 Karl David
77 Ken Rosenberg
71 Jim Lowe
62 Matt Medler
60 Stephen Davies
57 Ben Taft
51 Michael Runge
24 Dave Mellinger
14 Anne Kendall
1998 Evans Trophy March Totals
Compiled by Bard Prentiss
131 Ken Rosenberg
124 Matt Young
120 Bard Prentiss
117 Kevin McGowan
116 Jay McGowan
1998 April Lansing
Compiled by Matt Medler
80 John Greenly ("Take that, Kevin!")
77 Kevin McGowan
THE YARD STICK ----------------------------
By Margaret Launius
"Having just returned from a two-week birding trip to SE Arizona, I am
catching up on my email and yard bird stuff. I probably won't have the
list updated til this weekend so if The Cup goes out before that,
please put in a note to that effect and I'll catch up in the next
"Um, Margaret, The Cup's going out before then."
LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
By Karl David, subbing for the McGowan boys...again.
Ah, a scenario made for the movies: grizzled iconoclastic veteran and
brash young photogenic upstart team up to fight for truth, justice and
the American Pipit to produce ... a friendly tie!
Geo and Kevin both saw the following 132 species by April 30:
C Loon,P-b,Horned & R-n grebe,D-c Cormorant,Great Blue Heron,
Tundra & Mute swan,Snow & Canada goose,Wood Duck,G-w Teal,
Am Black Duck,Mallard,N Pintail,B-w Teal,N Shoveler,Gadwall,Am
Wigeon,Canvasback,Redhead,R-n Duck,G & L scaup,Surf Scoter,
C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,Hooded,Common & R-b merganser,Ruddy
Duck, Turkey Vulture,Osprey,Bald Eagle,N Harrier,S-s & Cooper's
hawk,N Goshawk,R-t & R-l hawk,Am Kestrel,Merlin,R-n Pheasant,
R Grouse,Wild Turkey,Am Coot, Killdeer,G Yellowlegs,Spotted
Sandpiper,Common Snipe,Am Woodcock,Bonaparte's, R-b,Herring, Iceland,
Lesser B-b,Great B-b gull,Caspian & Forster's tern,Rock &
Mourning dove,E Screech-Owl,Great Horned,Barred,L-e & N S-w owl,
B Kingfisher, R-b Woodpecker,Y-b Sapsucker,Downy & Hairy
woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,E Phoebe,Horned Lark,
Tree,N R-w & Barn swallow,Blue Jay,Am & Fish crow, Common Raven,
B-c Chickadee,Tufted Titmouse,R-b & W-b nuthatch,Brown Creeper,
G-c & R-c kinglet,B-g Gnatcatcher,E Bluebird,Hermit Thrush,
Am Robin,N Mockingbird,Am Pipit,Cedar Waxwing,N Shrike,Euro
Starling,[quondam] Solitary Vireo,Y-r,B-t Green,Pine & B-and-w
warbler,N & La waterthrush,N Cardinal,E Towhee,Am Tree,Chipping,
Field,Vesper,Savannah,Fox,Song,Swamp & W-t sparrow,D-e Junco,
S Bunting,R-w Blackbird,E Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,C Grackle,
B-h Cowbird,Purple & House finch,Red & W-w crossbill,C Redpoll,
P Siskin, Am Goldfinch,E Grosbeak,House Sparrow.
Unique to Geo were the following 14:
Am Bittern,W-w Scoter,Solitary & Pectoral sandpiper,Dunlin,S-e Owl
[Kevin had to pay for Costa Rica somehow!],R-h Woodlpecker,
E Kingbird,Bank Swallow,Carolina & Winter wren,B-t Blue Warbler,
R-b & Pine grosbeak.
Kevin countered with these 14:
Green Heron,B-w Hawk,Va Rail,Glaucous Gull,Snowy Owl,Chimney
Swift,Cliff Swallow,House Wren,Veery,Gray Catbird,Brown Thrasher,
W-c Sparrow,Lapland Longspur,HOARY REDPOLL.
These 19 species eluded both our sharp-eyed co-leaders:
R-t Loon, G Egret, B-c Night-Heron,Brant,Eura Wigeon [and I'm not?],
Oldsquaw,Black Scoter, BLACK VULTURE,R-s Hawk, G Eagle, GYRFALCON,
Common Moorhen,Least Sandpiper, C Tern,Purple Martin,Marsh Wren,Palm
That makes for 179 species total. And, to borrow a conceit from the
Ithaca Journal, laurels to Ken Rosenberg for seeing all three scoters
on Dryden Lake, presumably from his bathroom window. But darts to him
for not reporting them, the Black Scoter in particular! You know who
has my vote for the "slow gin" award again this year! :-)
(Karl David is a mathematics professor at Wells College in Aurora, NY,
and is currently not charging the McGowan's for his subbing services. He
asks them only to NOT see anything he won't.)
! KICKIN' TAIL! !
What better way to prove you're not a recluse 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, or yard-birded his way to the top of
the David Cup list.
This month we had a tie between Mountain Man Geo Kloppel and King
of the Hill Kevin McGowan. But since Kevin also took the McIlroy
this month, we tossed the DC bone to Geo.
THE CUP: Congratulations for tying this month with last year's
chompin'-at-the-bit champ Kevin McGowan. How does it feel to be Kickin' Tail?
KLOPPEL: Ah, well, it's gratifying to have crept up from third place,
where it seemed I had taken root since January, but I'm cherishing no
illusions. My rather weak April total could have been easily surpassed
by any of various keen Cuppers.
THE CUP: Yes, of course, the ol' "let 'em think I'm a gracious leader"
routine. We get that a lot here at The Cup.
KLOPPEL: Many are sharper than I am in the field.
THE CUP: Mm-hmmm.
KLOPPEL: I suppose the aces have been too busy to spend a lot of time
birding, but I predict that my early advantage will evaporate as they
accumulate 1998 Basin birding hours.
THE CUP: Of course. (That's a particularly favored line, designed to save
face, should the Basin gods frown upon you.) You may recall that
although Jay McGowan won for "Most Likely to Take David Cup 1998"
in the Cuppers' Choice Awards, you were a mighty close second. Are you
at least going to try to stay ahead of the little sneak?
KLOPPEL: Some have suggested that it was a tactical blunder to phone
the McGs from Dryden Lake on that Monday evening when I found a
Forster's Tern there. But these armchair tacticians simply failed to
recognize that the move was an essential preliminary in the sly gambit
that ultimately netted me a Red-Necked Grebe, an easy enough bird for
Drydenites, but tough to find in West Danby! Handing Jay the
3 Bonaparte's Gulls at the same time was inadvertent (I waited until
they flew away before phoning, but then they unaccountably flew back again!)
THE CUP: That's because Ken Rosenberg's had them on tethers, so he
could see if he'd be able to scope them correctly from his bedroom two
KLOPPEL: But not a genuine sacrifice, nothing to balk at. To be
perfectly honest, I was quite happy in 1997 to have beaten Jay's 1996
tally, which was well beyond the target I had set for myself.
Similarly, his 1997 tally exceeds my modest goal for 1998...
THE CUP: Sure it does (wink, wink). What was your most productive
birding area this month?
KLOPPEL: I made substantial additions both at Montezuma and at home
around West Danby. I like to imagine that West Danby is a greatly
under-appreciated area, and that if I become a sharper, more dedicated
birder I may eventually turn up some surprises here.
THE CUP: In West Danby? Of course you will. But we're interested in
KLOPPEL: We're still building the list of West Danby birds. And as far
as I know, I'm the only Cupper who keeps a sauna list, which naturally
features some neat birds.
THE CUP: Ah-huh! So that's where the 100 Club's been moved to! What
bird are you most anticipating, that you haven't already seen, of
course, and why?
KLOPPEL: If you mean the anticipation of DELIGHT, I know I'll really
savor the Black-Crowned Night Herons again this year. Those gorgeous
birds! Even their name is shiveringly beautiful. That haunting,
unforgettable "Quok!" :-) But if you're asking instead about ANXIOUS
anticipation, I have to admit that I'm dearly hoping to distinguish a
Western Sandpiper among all the Semi-palms this year, and fearful that
I will overlook the bird again when opportunity presents itself, as I
overlooked the 2 Lapland Longspurs in that flock of 400 Snow Buntings
had staked out for the Christmas Count!
THE CUP: Don't beat yourself up about it. That's our job.
KLOPPEL: When I think of all the birds that get away from me, it's
THE CUP: What do you think Seinfeld will do now that his show is
coming to an end? Any chance he (and maybe the rest of the cast?) will
move to the Basin, you think?
KLOPPEL: You want I should be concerned about his future?
THE CUP: Not concerned necessarily, but
KLOPPEL: I play Charles Brown, Gerry Mulligan, Maria Kalaniemi so
that I won't have to be ashamed when I'm asked what's in the CD player
while I'm driving all over the Basin hunting, hunting high and low for
birds, always birds, but do I keep a television under my dashboard? Week
after week, season after season Seinfeld sells his show, a show that
he admits was always about nothing, and he makes a mint, he's RAKING
I'm tellin' ya! So I should worry about what he's going to do for an encore?
THE CUP: No, not worry, just--
KLOPPEL: I'll tell you what he's going to do, oh-ho-ho yes indeed my
friend! I'll TELL you: more of the same! more nothing!
THE CUP: For someone who doesn't keep a television under their
dashboard, that's a pretty darned good George. Costanza, that is.
What's your favorite color?
KLOPPEL: Ordinarily I say that greens are my favorites, but the
recent explosion of foliage has rendered my usual preference
out in the wilds I find myself, like biting flies, drawn to the blues
whenever I ...er, I mean wherever I SEE them.
THE CUP: Okay, we'll accept that. It's not a bird color, but, hey,
you got the blues! What's your strategy for the upcoming month?
KLOPPEL: Target the thru-traffic and chase any special-appearances of
course. Otherwise, it seems to me that May is the month to rack up all
the warblers one can, before they disappear. The foliage has expanded
quickly, and even the hilltops are closing in now. Many other birds
will fall into place just incidentally during the search for warblers.
THE CUP: Any advice for McGowan Big and Small?
KLOPPEL: Oh, they can relax, there's nothing to fear from this
minor-league birder. My April tally was a statistical aberration.
They'll be way ahead of me next month, even if they feel like taking
it easy now. This would be a good time for a nap...
THE CUP: Nice try, Geo, but doubtful they'll buy. By the way, how
long does it take you, on average, to compose your eloquent Cayugabirds
KLOPPEL: Forty-six years and counting.
By Jay McGowan
Welcome to Birdbits! Here is a chance to test your knowledge of the
world of birds. Answers next month.
1. What bird has 'invisible' in it's common name, and why?
2. Which New World wren is the most widespread?
3. In Europe, what is the Red Phalarope called, and why?
4. What makes a Beardless Tyrannulet beardless?
5. Griseotyrannus auranteoatrocristatus is the longest bird scientific
name in the world. What is the longest in North America?
6. What is the common name for Psaltria exilis?
7. The Cape May Warbler is called a Cape May Warbler because it was
first recorded in Cape May. But they are rare their in the spring.
Where would you go to see them as a common spring migrant?
8. What is the scientific name of the Iiwi?
9. How tall is an African Secretary-bird
10. Lots of warblers have yellow rumps. Lots of warblers have yellow
throats. Palm Warblers are hardly ever found in palms. Which North
American warblers are named appropriately and diagnostically?
ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS BIRDBITS:
1. The Solitary Vireo is no more. The American Ornithologist's Union
recently split it into three separate species. What are these three
species called, and where in North America do they live? Blue-headed
Vireo (east of the Rockies), Plumbeous Vireo (in the Rockies), and
Cassin's Vireo (west of the Rockies).
2. What do a Loon, an Eider, a Goldeneye, a Merganser, a Snipe, a Tern,
a Raven, a Yellowthroat, a Grackle, and a Redpoll have in common? The
word "Common" in their name.
3. How many falcons in the world have only one word in there name?
Five. Merlin, Gyrfalcon, Lanner (Falco biamarcus), Laggar (Falco juggar),
and Saker (Falco cherrug).
4. Which birds have X as the first letter of there common name? Xantus'
Murrelet, Xantus' Hummingbird, and Xinjiang Ground-Jay. If you know
of any others please let me know.
5. What North American bird is sometimes called a "man-o-war-bird"?
6. What is the common name for Paradoxornis atrosuperciliaris?
7. Which North American bird has all five, but only five vowels in its
name? Mourning Warbler.
8. What bird is sometimes called an Acadian Owl? Northern Saw-whet Owl.
9. What is the scientific name of the Drab Water-Tyrant? Ochthornis
littoralis. Gr. Okhthe, a hill or mound; ornis, a bird; the Drab
Water-tyrant frequently perches on sandbars. L. littoralis, littoral,
of the shore (litus, litoris, seashore, beach.)
10. Why is the Obscure Berrypecker obscure? The Obscure Berrypecker
(Melanocharis arfakiana) is only known from two specimens ca 1900 from
the mountains of New Guinea.
(Jay McGowan is home-schooled. Isn't it obvious?)
STAT'S ALL, FOLKS
By Karl David
This month, a few innocent enough sounding questions quickly led me
into an almost unnegotiable thicket of data, so that it will take two
(three, if I'm really lucky) columns to sort it all out. This month,
I'll state the questions, feed you some raw data, and let you ruminate
over it before subjecting it to some rudimentary statistical analysis
As April turned into May and City Cemetery kept yielding up nothing
but Chipping Sparrows, the perennial question once agian came up:
"Where are all the birds?" Nobody asked it openly on Cayugabirds-l,
perhaps because such questions in the past have always been answered
by "Just wait, they'll be here" ... prophecy that of course always
came true in due course. Still, it *has* seemed like a late spring
our memory have deceived us again?
Question No. 1: Was this in fact a late spring?
Subjective [i.e. before looking at the data] Answer No. 1: Yes.
From a psychological standpoint, I think the sheer length and pace
of spring migration plays a big role in forming our impressions. The
pace is fairly slow and measured through March and April and then
in May. Do we in fact impatiently anticipate that big explosion at the
end too eagerly? [Note: this may apply chiefly to male birders; for a
discussion, see Virginia Rail in "The Sexual Politics of Birding,"
Journal of Applied Feminism," Fall '96.]
Question No. 2: Can one slap a single adjective
[early/average/late] on a phenomenon that after all encompasses a
little more than three
months? In particular, is there any connection between arrival times
for March migrants and May migrants in a particular year?
Subjective Answer No. 2: No.
In my analysis, I'll be comparing my arrival data for selected
species with Charlie Smith's list of historical averages. I'm sure
we've all observed that the time between the first report of a
species and our own first encounter can be quite long, ten days or so
not being uncommon. This year for example, the first Chimney Swift
was reported pretty much on
schedule c. April 24, but widespread reports didn't start to appear until
about May 4.
Question No. 3: Do a *single* observer's first arrival dates provide a
better idea than the *aggregate* dates of when the bird "truly"
arrives, i.e. is present in significant numbers?
Subjective Answer No. 3: Though I formed the question so as to sound
like a paradox (a least ingenious paradox?), of course I say: yes.
Now for the data to play with. I selected five March and ten late
April/early May migrants, the criterion being that they are so widespread
and hard to miss when here that your first sighting will usually be
species | my range '85-'98| my median date |my '98 date| historical
Turkey Vulture 3.2 - 4.7 3.21 3.3 4.5
Killdeer 2.24 - 3.24 3.9 3.6 3.13
Tree Swallow 3.19 - 4.6 3.30 3.28 3.31
Eastern Phoebe 3.26 - 4.8 3.30 3.27 3.25
Eastern Meadowlark 3.7 - 3.31 3.19 3.28 N/A
Chimney Swift 4.20 - 5.5 4.28 5.4 4.24
Eastern Kingbird 5.1 - 5.14 5.6 5.7 5.2
House Wren 4.19 - 5.4 4.30 4.30 4.23
Wood Thrush 5.1 - 5.13 5.7 5.8 4.30
Gray Catbird 4.28 - 5.7 5.1 5.1 4.29
Warbling Vireo 4.23 - 5.9 5.2 5.3 4.30
Yellow Warbler 4.25 - 5.6 4.30 5.6 4.27
American Redstart 5.2 - 5.13 5.8 5.8 5.2
Common Yellowthroat 4.27 - 5.11 5.6 5.6 5.1
Baltimore Oriole 5.2 - 5.8 5.6 5.7 4.30
I should add that the historical data is for 1903-1993. E Meadowlark is
not given because of overwintering birds (though I have seen clear winter
Killdeer more often (twice) than Meadowlark (once).
(Did we mention Karl David is a mathematics professor? If we didn't, we
hereby mention it.)
SCRAWL OF FAME
"Stat's Quite Enough of Stat"
By Kevin McGowan
In last month's "Stat's All, Folks," Karl predicted my (non)leader
list, based on likely probabilities. Unlike most of his columns,
however, this one was testable. So, how well did he do? Here are the
birds he predicted I had:
First of all, I'm not sure what bird was missing from my list
(the correct total after Feb was indeed 88), but I didn't see the
Lesser Black-backed Gull until 15 March, so this is kind of a
lose/win thing. We'll count it as a success, though. One of one.
The "no brainers":
All correct. Give him 7 out of 7 so far.
The winter finches:
Oops, missed one. I got both crossbills the last day of March, but
didn't see Purple Finch until 1 April. 9 of 10.
Non-automatic, but not too hard:
Only 2 of 3; I didn't get Fox Sparrow until 1 April. Does everyone else
always get a bird or two on the first of each month? 11 of 13.
The late-month trip to Montezuma:
Pretty good guess. Ring-neck fell on 18 March, but a 27 March trip to
Montezuma netted the others. 15 of 17 so far.
Nope. We had Saw-whet in February and missed the Short-eared. 15 of 19.
Lake time and Hawk-watching:
Ouch! Only one of four here. I got the gull, but still have none of the
others (ask Jay about the hawk). 16 of 23.
Hm, that's only 70%. That would be superb in baseball, but barely passing
in school. What about Karl's projected DIDN'T SEE list?
We stumbled on a Hermit Thrush on 31 March; 2 for 3 here.
Great Horned Owl
I got a passage goshawk, but not the others. (I still don't have
Carolina Wren!) 4 of 6.
Got the yellowlegs. 5 of 8.
Although he hoped he was wrong about the last three, he was,
unfortunately dead right. We looked for the wigeon and the grosbeak
without success, and didn't try for the others. So for this stage Karl
got 9 of 12, or a slightly better 75%.
What did I get that he missed?
American Woodcock (Karl, how could you forget this one?)
So, from this testable exercise we see that Karl's predictions have a
probability of being right 70-75%. Keep that in mind when you look
over your next big lark flock looking for those sneaky Snow Buntings and
(Kevin McGowan is the Curator of the Cornell Vertebrate Collections.
He can play harmonica through his nose, but that doesn't mean he's full
of hot air.)
(If you have an opinion--or insider information--about the art, science,
and/or esthetics of birding or birding-related topics, write it up for
the Scrawl of Fame.)
< COACH'S CORNER <
< < < <
Since Matt Medler is never, ever going to get Kickin' Tail glory (he can't
seem to drag himself out of bed in the morning), we thought we'd
allow him to be Coach this month. Let us know how this rookie does.
He's not tenured yet and can be easily gotten rid of. (In truth,
proud of our boy.)
COACH MEDLER: At first glance, giving coaching advice during the month
of May might seem like a no-brainer. The simple, two-word strategy: go
outside. There are birds everywhere in May. Ahhh- but upon further
reflection, I would argue that May might be the hardest month for
to write Coach's Corner (this, of course, is why the Editors selected
me for the task. It has nothing to do with the fact that Stephen
Davies recently got married and has subsequently disappeared off the
face of the Basin). While May is undoubtedly the birdiest month of
the year, it is easy to get swept up in the excitement of spring
migration and focus on
the "wrong" birds. Personally, after the long Ithaca winter, I am
very happy to sit and watch a beautiful male Yellow Warbler sing his
"sweet sweet sweet he's so sweet" heart out. That sentiment comes
birdwatcher in me. The Cupper in me says, "Forget about Yellow
Warblers." Why? Not because I don't appreciate them. It's just
that I know I can
see plenty of them in June. If I'm going to compete seriously in the
Cup, I've got to go after birds in May that I'm not likely to see at
any other time during the year. I can then go back to concentrating
breeding species during the early part of June. The following is the
list of migrants that I would concentrate on picking up now, along
with likely spots for seeing them:
Cape May, Bay-breasted, and Blackpoll Warblers: These birds should
be arriving any day now. They all seem to be spotted every year at
the City Cemetery, located below Stewart Ave. Or, in the case of
try camping out on the Editors' famous fire escape.
Golden-winged Warbler: While at least two birds were seen last year
in June or July, the most reliable spot (if there is such a thing for
this species in the Basin) for this stoinker seems to be in the
hemlocks found closest to Fall Creek in the Mundy Wildflower Garden.
Nashville & Tennessee Warblers, Northern Parula: These birds are
all listed as fairly common migrants, and I agree in the case of
but I've had my problems with Tennessee and parula. Ask the experts
for good spots for these two. [NOTE: The editors have had good luck
these species along the road out to the jetty. And, of course, in
their near and dear Sapsucker Woods.]
Lincoln's Sparrow: This bird should be passing through the area
now. Sapsucker Woods is usually a good place to find them, and Ken
Rosenberg could make it easy by turning one up at "his" feeder, and
then PROMPTLY posting it to Cayuga Birds.
White-crowned Sparrow: Did these birds already pass through? If
so, you've always got a shot at them in the fall.
Gray-cheeked and Swainson's Thrush: There always seems to be a
few days in May where the City Cemetery is just crawling with
Swainson's Thrushes. As for Gray-cheekeds, assistant coach Curtis
Marantz says, "Where there are Swainson's, there are Gray-cheekeds.
It's just that the ratio is about 50:1."
Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers: Look for
Olive-sideds at the top of dead snags, at Sapsucker Woods or in the
vicinity of the City Cemetery and Cascadilla Creek. Yellow-bellieds
have been reported in recent years from Sapsucker Woods (both sides
of the road), Mundy, and from a wooded area on Caswell Road.
Ruddy Turnstone: At least last year, this bird was reported in
the springtime, but not in the fall. Check the sand spit at Myers
Point for this bird and any other late northbound shorebirds.
Brant: This species is one of the latest spring migrants, and
definitely the last waterfowl to move north. Although this species
seems to be easier to pick up in the fall, keep an eye out for them
if you are along the lake at the end of May.
Once you've gotten all of these species covered, it's time to
move onto Basin breeders which you missed during migration. We'll
leave that topic for next month's coach.
(Matt Medler works at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's esteemed Library
of Natural Sounds. He suffers from an acute case of green trailer
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
THE CUP: Painful as it is for us to bring you this news, Kevin,
you're leading in the McIlroy this month!
MCGOWAN: What's the matter with you guys? How can I be the leader in two
THE CUP: Um, er, ah...
MCGOWAN: I guess when the rest of the world slacks off I'm the closest
thing to a non-slacker left. Man, that's a scary thought!
THE CUP: You ain't kidding! What does the McIlroy contest mean to
you, anyway? We know it's not Dryden, but...
MCGOWAN: Everything, just everything! I'd sell my children to be the winner!
THE CUP: Ah, just give us their bird lists.
MCGOWAN: Actually, I'm not really trying to add McIlroy birds. I just
keep track of the ones I see. The only really good reason to compete
strongly in the McIlroy competition is to annoy Allison--
THE CUP: [*#&%*#! in the background] Um, that was Jeff.
MCGOWAN: --and that's going to disappear soon when she moves to
THE CUP: That's Etna to you! How hard do you bird in McTerritory,
anyway? Tell the truth.
MCGOWAN: Not hard. Stewart Park is there, of course, and lots shows up
at Stewart Park that is worth looking at. Other than that, it's just
where the crows live.
THE CUP: How sweet. Which town will boast more species this year, Ithaca
or Dryden, and should Ken Rosenberg be allowed to contribute to
Dryden's when he identifies those Dryden Lake birds by their
his scoped-up bedroom two miles away!
MCGOWAN: I find the parity of last year's results from the two towns
interesting. (And Lansing could be just as high if anyone would try to
THE CUP: Yuh. Like you're not.
MCGOWAN: I don't know if that reflects something about the areas
themselves or rather says something about the effort that can be
expended by small numbers of people. It will be close, but I vote
THE CUP: Fool!
MCGOWAN: Ken is a valuable contributor. Hey, he's got phenomenal
eyes! Besides, my Dryden Lake scoping area is farther away than Ken's.
THE CUP: In other words, Ken's ice-chunk "Snowy Owls" (remember, Bard?)
are just blurs from your deck. What's on your CD player?
MCGOWAN: I think it's the Stokes bird song guide (Lang Elliot's).
THE CUP: What are some Mc birds that you don't have in Dryden, and will
you get them there?
MCGOWAN: Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Canvasback, Redhead, Broad-winged
Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Merlin, American Coot, Iceland Gull, Lesser
Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Veery, Pine Warbler, Louisiana
Waterthrush. I'll eventually get most of them in Dryden, but some of
the ducks are surprisingly difficult. I mean, Dryden Lake is pretty
small, after all. Unless we get another field full of rotting fish,
the odd gulls are a low probability.
THE CUP: Do you think you'll be able to keep Bill Evans under control
and make it a Grand Slam victory (David, Ithaca, Dryden, and Lansing)
MCGOWAN: Evans is no problem; he's just a legend in his own mind.
THE CUP: Disillusioned. Alarmingly desperate. Delusional.
MCGOWAN: A Grand Slam could be fun. If I was a truly competitive person,
which I'm not
THE CUP: Ha! Ha! Ha!
MCGOWAN: --I might even try for it. After all, my support team is my
entire Cupping family. Nah, it can't be done. [Insert the usual
THE CUP: We'll wait for Jay to make the clean sweep as soon as he gets
his driver's license. See ya at the Haunt Friday for Luther "Guitar" Johnson?
MCGOWAN: You mean live blues? It has been so long I can't remember
where the Haunt is. I'll try to be there!
BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
By Caissa Willmer
April's Bird Brain has been a birder for about 25 years, but,
she adds, "I didn't get really serious about it until I came to
years ago. The Cayuga Bird Club and Cornell Lab of O and its
associated staff intensified my interest."
She is Anne Kendall, mother of a six- and a four-year-old, whose
voice has become a familiar one on the Cayugabirds listserv. The
Dietetic Program Director in the Division of Nutritional Sciences
here at Cornel, she teaches undergraduates about the applied aspects
of nutrition such as meal planning, food preparation and
presentation, and clinical
dietetics-planning diets for various health disorders and delivering
nutritional care in clinical settings.
She became interested in birds when she became a serious gardener.
"I would be working in my garden and notice the birds flying and
singing. I got a bird feeder and began watching the birds more
intently, becoming fascinated with the predictability of some of
their behaviors. The cardinals, for example, would be the first to
come to the
feeder in the morning and the last to feed at night.
"The most exciting of my early birding memories were when I
first identified, on my own, birds that, for me, were out of the
ordinary and that I had never noticed before. I was out in the woods
one spring day,
and a Black-and-white Warbler was foraging on a tree right next to
me. I was so astounded that I had even seen this little bird. I can
also remember my first Rose-breasted Grosbeak in a tree on the
Charles River in Natick, Mass, and being struck by its dramatic
beauty. I recall visiting
my parents in Rochester and going hiking in a little nature center in
Irondequoit where I grew up and coming upon a Fox Sparrow. This was
the first sparrow outside of Song and White-throat that I had ever
identified, and I was so pleased to have recognized it as something
"My most memorable birding experience, though, took place about
12 years ago in Indiana Dunes State Park at the end of the second
week in May. Indiana Dunes is a migrant trap--the last land at the
south end of Lake Michigan. I was there on a sunny windless early
morning when the neotropical migrants landed to feed after flying all
night. In the space of about 100 yards I saw an incredibly diverse
collection of warblers,
flycatchers, and vireos. I collected about 15 life birds. I have
never since experienced anything like that morning.
"Another favorite birding memory is a Cayuga Bird Club field
trip to Amherst Island during the years that Ned Brinkley and Adam
Byrne were club members. They always managed to find any bird there
was to be found. On Amherst Island, we saw six different owls and
after circling the island Sunday morning and finding our sixth, a
Great Horned Owl, Ned proposed
that we drive to Ottawa to look for the Northern Hawk Owl that had
been found along the river all winter. So we drove 2 hours to
Ottawa, arriving around 4 pm at the owl spot. We tramped along the
were having no luck. Some of us began grumbling about obligations
back in Ithaca (me among them), when all of a sudden the owl flew in
to its customary perch. We had really great up close looks and
headed back to Ithaca with the great satisfaction that only a manic
bird chase can give.
"In many ways birding is a spiritual experience for me. It is
one of the ways that I get in touch with the natural world and the
cycle of the seasons. I do a lot of solitary birding, and it's a time
to contemplate the beauty of the world around me and my place in it.
"Birding has come to have a daily impact on my life. I am always
noticing the birds around me. I carry my binoculars almost
everywhere. However, I don't chase unusual birds if it is not
convenient because the children make lots of demands on my time. I
don't see many of the one day wonders, but if a bird stays around, I
often will make a trip to
look for it, if it's relatively close by. I certainly did a lot more
chasing last year for the David Cup than I ever have before.
"I am a lister to a certain extent. And this year and last I've kept
a David Cub list--the most fun list I've ever kept. I keep a life
list, although I have no idea how many birds I have on it. I keep a
yard list, and I bird the same territory for the Christmas Count and
keep a comparative list for that. I always keep trip lists whenever
I travel, especially if it's a birding trip. I kept year lists for
about three years, but gave that up when I realized that the length
of my year list depended more on where I traveled that year than
anything else. My greatest birding triumph has to be making it into
the 200 club in the
David Cup competition last year. I worked very hard on that and only
made it by the skin of my teeth with 205 birds. I don't expect to make
it this year because I'm not putting in the time that I put in last
year. I did become a much better birder, though, and I also got 7
life birds doing all the chasing that I did last year.
"Still, my favorite birding spots in the Basin are the familiar
places that I go all the time--my own neighborhood in Ellis Highlands;
Hurd Rd. which I try to walk the length of every weekend; the Cornell
Plantations which I walk through nearly everyday during the
week while I'm at work; and Old 600, my favorite warbler spot in the spring.
"Even though I'm a frequent solitary birder, most of my
memorable Basin recollections have to do with social birding
occasions. The first Cayuga Bird Club field trip I went on was one
of my most memorable. It
was led by John Confer, and Sandy Podulka and I were the only people
who showed up for it. My life list probably has 10 birds on it from
that trip alone. We did the round-the-lake trip and because we had only
one car, we spent the entire day and really did all of the spots in
'Birding the Cayuga Lake Basin. John really knows the habitats and
is a great trip leader.
"The first time I ever saw and heard a Barred Owl was at Marty
Schlabach's old house on Ringwood Rd. After calling in the bird in
the early morning, Marty cooked pancakes for all of us, served with
"One time when Ned Brinkley was the field trip coordinator for
the bird club, he organized a trip aboard the Loon-A-Sea to find
Red-throated Loon. I saw my first and only Red-throated Loon on this
trip. It was a gorgeous, warm fall morning out on Cayuga Lake and
the red-throat was in amongst a crowd of Common Loons, giving us a
great opportunity to contrast its diminutive size and head and neck
shape with the larger
"I bird everywhere I travel. The first thing I usually do when I
know I am going somewhere is to check Mann Library for birdfinding
books. They have a good selection that is almost never in use. If
Mann doesn't have anything, I check the American Birding Association
catalogue and buy a birdfinding guide for the area.
"My first serious birding vacation was a trip to Yellowstone and
back by car. I camped out every night and saw some amazing
some great birds. I really enjoyed the prairie landscape of the Dakotas.
I camped out in the Badlands and went to sleep with coyotes howling
and woke to the sound of Western Meadowlarks singing everywhere.
Lark Buntings seemed to be on every fence post and Yellow-headed
Blackbirds and Upland Sandpipers were easy to find. I camped out in
Custer National Forest in Montana on the way back and saw my life
Bunting--a gorgeous bird. In the prairie pothole area of North
Dakota I saw my life Common Nighthawks and heard them doing their
"booming" display as they foraged over my camp site. It was light out
until 10:30 because
I was on the western edge of the Central Time Zone. I found ducks
everywhere I turned, many of which were life birds for me at that
time (I had only just moved to Ithaca). I saw a breeding-plumaged
Chestnut-collared Longspur on a fencepost, a really striking bird and
Pelicans on the Missouri River, the first time I had ever seen pelicans
at an inland site. I would love to do that trip again now that I am a
much better birder, know about birdfinding guides and have much
better optics and knowledge about how and when to find birds.
"I've been to southeastern Arizona twice. On my first trip, I think
I saw 80 life birds. The landscape in Arizona is astonishing. The
bird life is wonderful and easy to see compared to many other
places, and the birding hot spots have wonderful accommodations-the
Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, the cabins in Ramsey Canyon at the
Nature Conservancy preserve and the Southwest Research Station in the
Mountains. Every birder should go to Arizona! Even non-birders
would enjoy these places.
"My other really memorable vacation was a trip to Paris and to
Spain with my husband who was attending a conference and working with
colleague in Paris, during the second and third weeks in April. The
second week in April in Paris is like the second week in May here, with
all the trees beginning to leaf out and the birds singing. Every morning
I went to the Bois de Boulogne to look for birds. It is terribly
disorienting to hear bird song everywhere and not recognize any of
the songs. By the third morning, though, I knew most of the songs I
was hearing and was able to identify all of the common urban birds. I
also had a brief trip in the countryside around Rouen where I found
birds not found in Paris. In Spain, the weather was really terrible,
but my last day there the weather cleared, and I went birding and found
all kinds of birds I hadn't seen in France because the landscape was
much drier and the vegetation more sparse.
"One of the most fun birding activities in my life now is watching
my kids learn about birds. They can recognize many of the birds that
come to our feeders and can name many of the birds in some easy bird
that they own. It's great fun to introduce them to something that gives
me such pleasure. They are already far more aware of birds than I
was until the time I began to notice birds in my 20s.
(Caissa Willmer is a Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of
Development. She's also theater critic for the Ithaca Times. Read it.
Your bird verse here
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,
With the final (sob! sob!) episode of Seinfeld impending, I need to
know: Is our own Father of the Madness Karl David related to
of Nothingness (cocreator) Larry David?
--Nothing to Lose in Dryden
Dear Nothing to Lose:
The real question is, is Larry David related to our Karl? But I won't be
able to ask him, his stardom may have put him out of even my grasp,
believe it or not. But I'll see if I can track down Larry, instead.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""
Ouch! Ok, maybe I deserved it, but Karl's column really is interesting.
Still, Scott Mardis calculates his monthly totals in Base 2 and _I'm_
the geek? Excellent issue, once again. Kudos."
"RE: earlier mention of the elusive Pileated Woodie - I've seen 3
this year! I've only spotted them twice before *ever*."
"There should be a name for this aspect [heard-only] of the contest.
How about the "Ray Charles Trophy'? The Blind Lemon Jefferson Prize'?
Or maybe the Barn Owl Laurel'?"
"A single male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was seen below our feeders
by my wife yesterday.... After preening it flew up to a tree and started
singing like a slightly mad robin."
--- Nari Mistry
"I went to the Cemetery later in the afternoon.... I've never seen
more Juncos acting like warblers! It was annoying."
"Well, I went out yesterday to try and reap my share of the recent
warbler bonanza, and like the City Cemetary folks, I pretty much struck
out on the new migrants."
"Oh, the shame! My David Cup total is still hovering at ... Zero! Zip.
Nada. Aucune des oiseaux. Bird-challenged. This could be in part due to
the fact that I am currently in the California desert and have not yet
set foot in the Basin this year. On the other hand, maybe that's just
so much whining. Besides, I prefer to hover high overhead, observing
everyone else from afar and then, when the time is ripe, stooping down at
>blood-curdling speed to claim my prey. So, watch your backs."
--Ralph "The Peregrine" Paonessa
"Still zero on this end for both Mira (the Bird Dog) and me, unless
she snuck off to the Basin without telling me."
"I got to thinking about poor under-birded Dryden Lake yesterday
afternoon. I've heard that Dryden birders have become so casual about it
that they rely on Ken Rosenberg to scope the lake once in a while from
his bedroom window two miles away."
"After meeting up with Allison Wells and John Bower, I learned that
there are Pine Siskins hanging out over at Ken Rosenberg's feeders,' so
I was able to go over and see them, together with some beautiful male
American Goldfinches. I'm sure Ken was just about to post something
about the siskins, so that he won't win the Slowpoke Poster award again,
but I thought I'd mention them just in case."
"[The scoters] were still [on Dryden Lake], along with a Ruddy Duck,
at dusk tonight, Wed. But I can't vouch for tomorrow."
"Was thrilled to hear a Louisiana Waterthrush singing his little heart
out this afternoon in our gorge. When Susie and I got out of the car
to look at this house the first time, a Waterthrush sang. That was
enough for me, didn't even need to go inside to know I wanted to buy
"Yesterday, we managed to add a few new species to our year lists. Most
have already been reported by others. One that has not was a bright
fawn-colored Veery in Sapsucker Woods."
"Dave Ross and I went to Salmon Creek this morning yadda yadda yadda.
This is what we heard: ... Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat
(both warblers will of course be dutifully noted on Warbler Watch)."
"So far today I've had Black & White, Blue-Winged, Black-Throated
Green, Chestnut-Sided and Yellow-Rumped Warblers, American Redstart,
Ovenbird and Common Yellowthroat. Like Matt, I recognize my duty, and
fill out a daily WARBLER WATCH form, available at
"Get the hint?"
"Why didn't the Northern Waterthrush cross the road? Because he didn't
want to become a McIlroy bird, of course. This morning, he, a Great
Crested Flycatcher, a Swamp Sparrow, and a Common Yellowthroat were
all singing on the wrong' side of Sapsucker Woods Rd. All four were
potential McIlroys, but only the yellowthroat crossed over. And Happy
90th Birthday, Dorothy!"
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
Allison and Jeff