Year 3, Issue 5
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*The electronic 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: Karl "Father of the Madness" David
* 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
* Payroll Clerk: Jeff Wells
Ain't spring grand? Sun, green grass, spring peepers in the evening.
Before you know it, the warblers will be arriving! City Cemetery
will be fluttering with Blackburnians, Black-throated Blues, and
Chestnut-sideds. A Golden-wing for the blessed, gleaning the
evergreens of Mundy Wildflower Garden, where, like last year
19--count 'em, 19!--species of warblers will brighten the pines
along the ridge. And everywhere you go, Cuppers will be gleefully
exclaiming, "I just saw my first-of-year Northern Parula" and "Man,
I got killer looks at a Bay-breasted in Sapsucker Woods." Heck,
soon we'll be dreaming about all the warblers we saw. Any day now
our eyes will feel like they're on fire with all those warbl--huh? What's
that? The warblers came and went already? But where were
those flocks? And the songs, where were the songs? But...
Um...we present to you The Cup 3.5.
@ @ @ @ @ @
NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
@ @ @ @ @ @
WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: Soon we'll have to start the
Allen Cup. You know, a Cornell Lab of Ornithology Cup for Lab
employees. That's right, another has joined the foray. Steve Pantle,
who works in the esteemed Library of Natural Sounds, has kicked in
his totals! "I guess this means I better get around the lake at
least once, huh?" says Steve. "With any luck I will join the 200
Club at the end of this month." Now, the rest of you Cuppers, don't panic.
Steve is nowhere near Ken Rosenberg's prime green trailer
real estate. And get this: his studio is sound-proof! Good luck,
Steve. Heh, heh, heh.
GOOD BIRDEE?: Have you seen the new movie "Hope Floats"? Well,
don't. Because Newsweek and other Cup-wannabes gave it lukewarm
reviews? No, because the main character's name is Birdee
and she's not a bird at all! Heck, she ain't even a birder! Forget it. Rent
"Bird". Again. True, the main "character" in that movie isn't a birder,
either, but since it's based on the life of jazz legend
Charlie "Bird" Parker, who cares?
WELLS SAID: Before you go wasting Dear Tick's precious time, let it
be known right now: Jeff Wells is not related to ace Yankee pitcher
David Wells. So he threw a perfect game recently. Big deal. His Basin
WARBLER WATCH: http://birdsource.cornell.edu. The breeding season
is here. Help put it on the map by reporting your warbler sighting!
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: Were we pleased that
Cupper Kevin McGowan came through on his promise to make it to the
Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson gig at The Haunt recently? You know
it! It meant we didn't have to scrap together some pathetic excuse
for a blues/jazz round-up. Kevin filed this report: "In a surprise
move that caught many cuppers off guard, blues returned to The Haunt
in May. Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson played to a less than packed house
on Friday the 16th. Three active Cuppers and one Cupper
wannabe [Cup reader Sara Barker] were in attendance and had a great time.
The electric blues rifts were as sweet to the ears as the
songs of returning warblers (but louder). The Haunt had been
bluesless for so long that I almost forgot live blues existed, just
as the tropical migrants seem but a figment of imagination during
the long winter months. Johnson displayed skills that showed why
he's won a Grammy, and demonstrated clearly that he has been with
the blues for a long time. Like an experienced Cupper knowing
just where and when to go for shorebirds, Johnson had no
tentativeness in his performance. It was obvious that he knew the
blues as well as Karl knows the Basin. The backup band was good and
the other guitar slinger had real talent. Still, it was obvious who
the star of the show was. Just as Red-winged Blackbirds, robins,
and grackles in February give one hope that winter might really end
and all the migrants return, perhaps this concert is a sign that
blues just might come back to Ithaca. It's been a long winter."
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
As April ended, I reluctantly put away fantasies of following the
waterfowl north to landscapes where human dominion is not so
devastatingly apparent. I secluded Barry Lopez's ARCTIC DREAMS on a
high shelf, and when that proved ineffective (I'm on the tall side) I
loaned the book to a friend, working up some excitement instead by
anticipating the migration of other birds into and through the Cayuga
Basin. The event may not achieve arctic grandeur, but it's thrilling
all the same for those who feel the planetary tilt tugging against tethered
hearts and lives.
Then came weeks of waiting, during which I rose every morning before
dawn expecting that a big wave of mixed migrants should have swept in
during the night. But May seems finally to have mumbled
rather than spoken. Perhaps Warbler Watch will reveal whether the big
concentrations gave our area the dodge, leapfrogged over us, or dispersed
before they reached us. The blurted leaf-out, the lapse of
the City Cemetery as migrant mecca, and the quick onset of breeding
made us scramble to locate transient species before their passage
became history, and many lists feature more holes than their keepers would
like. The disappointment echoes the earlier local fizzle of
hawk migration. But there you have it: the Cayuga Basin is not the
Yukon Delta, or even Presque Isle PA, but just a swath of inland
territory with some fortuitous physical geography that often, but not
invariably, makes for considerable traffic and interesting fallout.
If finding thrushes, warblers and such was tough this spring,
the shorebirds provided some welcome distraction, thanks to the continued
existence of two tiny patches of suitable habitat in all
the Cayuga Basin. It was nice to see spring shorebirds drop in at
Myers Point or Benning on schedule per Steve Kelling's well-known
graph, remarkably confirming the value of the copy I carry folded in
my field-guide. Although there were no Whimbrel or Red Knots, we did have
multiple sightings of WILSON'S PHALAROPE, and all of the more dependable
spring shorebirds were seen, some on their way to the
high arctic archipelagos. Shall we hope that more shorebird habitat
will be created at the mucklands property newly added to the
Montezuma Refuge? It was disappointing to see it being farmed again,
but I'm guessing (merely guessing!) that water-control structures
have to be built before it can be effectively managed as wetland.
A couple of RED-THROATED LOONS and some SURF SCOTERS
were among the waterfowl trailing behind April's northbound flocks. There
was a solitary report of LEAST BITTERN at Sapsucker Woods on
the 2nd. Dave Nutter confirmed a GREAT EGRET at a pond on South Hill
on the 12th. COMMON, CASPIAN, and BLACK TERNS filled out the expected
Sterninae. Scattered COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were seen, and one
WHIP-POOR-WILL gave this correspondent a thrilling 5-minute
performance on the 13th in West Danby.
One or more RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS turned up in the
Sheldrake area. A few OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS were reported,
and at least one ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, but no Yellow-Bellied
Flycatchers. GRAY-CHEEKED and SWAINSON'S THRUSHES stopped off briefly
or were detected by voice in night flight. PHILADELPHIA VIREO was seen on
at least 4 occasions. The PROTHONOTARY WARBLER at last year's MNWR site was
a welcome return, as was WORM-EATING WARBLER in West Danby. Thirty-one
warbler species in total turned up for one diligent birder
GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS, HENSLOW'S SPARROWS and UPLAND SANDPIPERS
were found up the east side of Cayuga Lake. Kevin McGowan had a LINCOLN'S
SPARROW drop in briefly at Beam Hill. Scattered ORCHARD ORIOLES were
reported. And of course, both RED and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, PINE SISKINS
and EVENING GROSBEAKS continued to be seen.
May wasn't much for rarities, but cheer up! Hurricane season is just
around the corner.
(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. Rumor has it Geo spent the
last six day determined to bury Kevin's 203 freeze. Of course, that comes
to us from Kevin McGowan.)
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
John Bower's Bird 100: House Wren
Nancy Dickinson's Bird 100: Northern Waterthrush
Kim Kline's Bird 100: Blue-winged Teal
Jim Lowe's Bird 100: Great Crested Flycatcher
Marty Schlabach's Bird 100: Least Flycatcher
Steve Pantle's Bird 100: Ruby-throated Hummingbird
"I had the bird prior to 100 but forgot to check it off. The bird
immediately following it was Willow Flycatcher, this is probably more
accurate for the actual 100th bird."
200 200 200 200 200
2 0 0
200 200 200 200
Geo Kloppel's Bird 200: Alder Flycatcher
Jay McGowan's Bird 200: Carolina Wren
Kevin McGowan's Bird 200: Philadelphia Vireo
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
1998 David Cup May Totals
Compiled by Matt Medler
206 Geo Kloppel
203 Kevin McGowan
200 Jay McGowan
195 Ken Rosenberg
187 Allison Wells
186 Meena Haribal
185 Chris Butler
181 Jeff Wells
179 Karl David
179 Anne Kendall
176 Steve Kelling
173 Pat Lia
173 Matt Medler
168 Alan Krakauer
161 Matt Sarver
154 John Greenly
151 John Morris
146 Jon Kloppel
137 Nancy Dickinson
134 John Bower
134 Marty Schlabach
122 Perri McGowan
118 Ben Taft
115 Martha Fischer
112 Stephen Davies
112 Kim Kline
111 Jim Lowe
102 Tom Nix
101 Steve Pantle
99 Melanie Uhler
95 Gary Chapin
85 Michael Runge
84 Carol Bloomgarden
84 John Fitzpatrick
84 Marty Schlabach
76 Kylie Spooner
74 Swift (David "Kitty" Cup)
72 Anne James
70 Ann Mathieson
50 Caissa Willmer
46 Dave Mellinger
45 Mimi Wells (David "Kitty" Cup)
42 Scott Mardis
41 Cathy Heidenreich
40 Teddy Wells (David "Kitty" Cup)
39 Kurt Fox
35 Tom Lathrop
34 Margaret Barker
26 Andy Leahy
24 Figaro (David "Kitty"Cup)
0 James "Aloha" Barry*
0 Ralph Paonessa*
0 Larry Springsteen*
0 Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen*
*Currently living out-of-state. But that's (still) no excuse.
1998 McIlroy Award May Totals
Compiled by Matt Medler
131 Allison Wells
130 Jeff Wells
129 Kevin McGowan
114 Karl David
107 Jay McGowan
104 Ken Rosenberg
96 Jim Lowe
93 Martha Fischer
89 John Bower
89 Matt Medler
80 Anne Kendall
71 Michael Runge
60 Stephen Davies
58 Ben Taft
42 Dave Mellinger
1998 Evans Trophy March Totals
Compiled by Bard Prentiss
171 Ken Rosenberg
161 Kevin McGowan
157 Jay McGowan
124 Matt Young
120 Bard Prentiss
1998 May Lansing Totals
Compiled by Matt Medler
120 Kevin McGowan
118 John Greenly
THE YARD STICK ----------------------------
By Margaret Launius
Nearly half-way through the year, the New York contingent of the
Yard Bird project is waging a fierce battle for first place with Ken Smith
of Groton just overtaking Steve Kelling of Berkshire! Six yardbirders have
already made it into the 100 Club!
124 Ken Smith, Groton, NY
120 Steve Kelling, Berkshire, NY
114 Ken Rosenberg, Dryden, NY
110 John W. Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY
107 Kevin McGowan, Dryden, NY
104 John Bower, Enfield, NY
85 Bill Purcell, Hastings, NY
79 Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY
76 Mary Gerner, Macedon, NY
74 Sara Jane & Larry Hymes, Ithaca, NY
70 George Kloppel, W. Danby, NY
68 Jim Kimball, Geneseo, NY
65 Sandy Podulka, Brooktondale, NY
64 John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY
62 Darlene Morabito, Auburn, NY
59 Nari Mistry, Ithaca, NY
51 Joanne Goetz, Fredonia, NY
51 Ben Taft, Ithaca, NY
48 Ann Mathieson, Scipio Center, NY
47 Marie McRae, Freeville, NY
41 Cathy Heidenreich, Lyons, NY
40 Chris & Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, Etna NY
24 Susann Argetsinger, Burdett, NY
LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
By Karl David
We knew Kevin McGowan's once-a-week only birding with Jay (or so
he says) could only carry him so far in a cut-throat competition
like David Cup. The wonder of it is how far it did carry him. But
this month the new kid on the block finally shook him off. With no warbler
in West Danby safe from his keen eyes, is it any wonder that
the new sole leader is Geo Kloppel? Here's his list. And if you're
wondering how he could have missed Cape May Warbler ... well, he probably
didn't ... he was just loath to include it, citing "higher standards" for
Cup lists than for personal ones. We keep tellin'
ya ... this is one classy act you're participatin' in!
R-t & C Loon,P-b,Horned & R-n Grebe,D-c Cormorant,Am Bittern,
G B & Green 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 & W-w Scoter,C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,Hooded,C & 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,Ruffled Grouse,Wild Turkey,C Moorhen,Am Coot,
Semipalmated Plover,Killdeer,G & L Yellowlegs,Solitary,Spotted,
Upland,Semipalmated,Least,W-r & Pectoral Sandpiper,Dunlin,C Snipe,
Am Woodcock,W's Phalarope,B's,R-b,Herring,Iceland,L B-b & G B-b
Gull,Caspian,C,F's & Black Tern,Rock & Mourning Dove,B-b & Y-b
Cuckoo,E Screech-Owl,G H,Barred,L-e,S-e & N S-w Owl,CNighthawk,
W-p-w,Chimney Swift,R-t Hummingbird,Belted Kingfisher [did he get into
the Wild Turkey?],R-h & R-b Woodpecker,Y-b Sapsucker,Downy & Hairy
Woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,E Wood-Pewee,Alder,
Willow & Least Flycatcher,E Phoebe,G C Flycatcher,E Kingbird,Horned
Lark,Purple Martin,Tree,N R-w,Bank,Cliff & Barn Swallow,Blue Jay,
Am & Fish Crow,C Raven,B-c Chickadee,Tufted Titmouse,R-b & W-b
Nuthatch,Brown Creeper,Carolina,House,Winter & Marsh Wren, G-c
& R-c Kinglet,B-g Gnatcatcher,E Bluebird,Veery,Hermit & Wood Thrush,
Am Robin,Gray Catbird,N Mockingbird,Brown Thrasher,Am Pipit,Cedar Waxwing,N
Shrike, Eurostarling,B-h,Y-t,Warbling,Philly & R-e Vireo,
B-w,TN & Nashville Warbler,N Parula,Yellow,C-s,Magnolia,B-t blue,
Y-r,B-t Green,Blackburnian,Pine,Prairie,B-b, Blackpoll,Cerulean &
B-and-w Warbler,Am Redstart,Prothonotary & W-e Warbler,
Ovenbird,N & LA Waterthrush,Mourning Warbler,C Yellowthroat,
Hooded & Canada Warbler,Scarlet Tanager,N Cardinal,R-b Grosbeak,
Indigo Bunting,E Towhee,Am Tree, Chipping,Field,Vesper,Savannah,
Grasshopper,Fox,Song,Swamp & W-t Sparrow,D-e Junco,S Bunting, Bobolink,R-w
Blackbird,E Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,C Grackle, B-h Cowbird,Baltimore
Oriole,Pine Grosbeak,Purple & House Finch,Red &
W-w Crossbill,C Redpoll,Pine Siskin,Am Goldfinch,Evening Grosbeak,
Well, nobody sees everything, though Geo's trying. By next month he'll
have a few of these knocked off:
L Bittern,Great Egret,B-c Night-Heron,Brant,E Wigeon,Oldsquaw,
Black Scoter, BLACK VULTURE,R-s & B-w Hawk,Golden Eagle,
Peregrine Falcon,GYRFALCON,Va Rail, Sora,B-b Plover,R Turnstone,
S-b Dowitcher,Glaucous Gull,Snowy Owl,O-s,Y-b &Acadian Flycatcher,
G-c & S's Thrush,G-w, Cape May,Palm & W's Warbler,H's,L's &
W-c Sparrow,Lapland Longspur,Orchard Oriole,HOARY REDPOLL.
Grand Total: 241
(Karl David is a mathematics professor at Wells College in Aurora,
NY, currently on sabbatical at Cornell. He was recently seen around
the Basin in wool underwear...)
< COACH'S CORNER <
< < < <
Remember Stephen Davies, the Brit with Wit who's since vanished into
the depths of marriagedom...and who knows where else? Well, his
Coach's Corner was so good last June that we're reprinting it here! By the
way, if you see Stephen around, tell him to come back.
COACH DAVIES: Okay, team, so June is with us already. What does
this mean for Cuppers and their gameplan? Seems like spring
migration only just started, and now it's already in its death throes,
except for a few shorebirds who postponed their trip to the God-
forsaken north for as long as possible. The breeding season is in
full swing from one end of the Basin to the other, and we are
deafened by the hum as every organism in it gets down to the nitty-gritty
of procreation. The fruits of their labors are already
evident. Fledgling starlings (dang Eurotrash) are decimating $10
worth of suet cakes a day in our yard. All kinds of trials
and tribulations beset the intrepid Cupper at this time.
Passerines melt into the ever-thickening canopy overhead, and birds
of field and marsh tiptoe behind a shimmering curtain of green.
Anyone venturing far from the beaten path faces hoards of voracious
blood-sucking arthropods and the prospect of losing several pints of
precious body fluids. Might as well just hang up those bins, pour yourself
a big G & T with-ice-and-slice, and wait for fall, huh?
...IN YOUR DREAMS ...err, except maybe for Tom Nix [Editors'note:
substitute Tom Nix for Geo Kloppel and/or Kevin McGowan here.] As
I see it, there are two main objectives this month:
June is the perfect time to catch up on scarce and elusive
breeders you may have missed earlier in the year. Try these on for size:
both bitterns, Sora, Virginia Rail (all at Tschache Pool at Montezuma--go
in the early evening), Upland Sandpiper (Wood Road) [Editors' note: maybe],
both cuckoos (just keep eyes & ears open), Acadian Flycatcher (Salmon
Creek), Prothonotary (Armitage Road
bridge at Montezuma), Mourning, Hooded and Worm-eating warblers
(Hammond Hill, Bio Preserve in West Danby), Henslow's Sparrow
(Rafferty Rd.). Get the picture? If there are any of these you
haven't caught up with these yet, don't let me catch you sitting out
the summer in the shade. And who knows what you might stumble across
in the meantime. Whip-poor-will? A wandering Black Vulture or rare heron?
Or even (dare I suggest it) Dickcissel? Only once all the possibilities
have been exhausted can we join Tom under the palm
tree for a cold one, complete with umbrella and marachino cherry.
Stay sharp. This perhaps is even more important that #1. Just
because summer is hot and sticky [Editors note: presumable it will be,
eventually] and birds are tough to find, don't let yourself get stale.
Spend as much time in the field as possible. Absorb all the sights
and sounds. Study those confusing juvenile plumages. Look at how
adult plumages wear. Listen to how songs and calls change as the
season progresses. Stay on top of your game through the summer,
because it's the birder with the prepared mind who will be ready to
identify the big one when things really 'heat up' in the fall. So
get out there and go nuts, sneer at the bugs, laugh at the thorns,
penetrate that impenetrable thicket. Consider the lost sweat and
blood an investment for the future.
As for me, I've got a Whip-poor-will to chase. So smoke me a
kipper - I'll be back for breakfast!
! KICKIN' TAIL! !
What better way to prove that you're still Father of Madness 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 maddened his
way to the top of the David Cup list.
That's right, Geo worked hard for his 15 minutes of fame this month,
weighing in just ahead of Kevin McGowan. But we're interviewing Karl
David anyway! Hey, Geo got his 15 minutes last month...and will
likely get 15 more next month, so did don't shed any tears for him.
Instead, sit back and suck up Karl's masterful insights...
THE CUP: There's been all of this take-no-prisoners dueling between
Mean-Machine McGowan and Cut-to-the-Quick Kloppel. Tell us wise
Father, who's going to take it in the end?
DAVID: There's a Cupper who's never been the leader yet who always
ends up scarily close at year's end. He posts his finds only when the
spirit moves him.
THE CUP: Say no more, we know who you mean.
DAVID: I swear he has a giant complex of mirrors set up around his
property so that the entire Basin is in view from his bathroom window.
THE CUP: It's true. Haven't you been to his house?
DAVID: His birds-seen-to-effort-expended ratio makes the rest of us
look like pluggers. I won't name names, but he also finds Connecticut
Warblers walking around under his office window.
THE CUP: Hmm. For a while we thought you were talking about
Ken Rosenberg, but his Connecticut was only a hallucination. Now
about you, Karl. What's keeping you from the top five?
DAVID: I want to see all the common birds one more time, but I find
the effort expended chasing down bitterns, rails, owls and other
cryptic species better spent bribing the editors to let me do another
KT interview in spite of the fact I haven't been a leader for a year
and a half.
THE CUP: Well, we in turn were bribed by Kevin McGowan to interview
anyone but Geo. Have you at least done anything lately to prove you're
still worthy of your title, "Father of the Madness?"
DAVID: Yes. In recognition of my reputation for being dressed
inappropriately for the weather, I've decided to do all my birding this
summer wearing long underwear, a down parka, and hat and gloves.
THE CUP: Actually, so far this spring that seems very appropriate.
(In fact, can we borrow those wools socks?) Have you been ruminating over
any particular observations lately?
DAVID: I've been thinking about the changes in the species mix that
Basin birders then and now encounter. Worm-eating Warbler hadn't been
found when I got here since a certain graduate student looked up from his
statistics text and saw one walking around under his window.
THE CUP: Yeah, and believe it or not he actually managed to continue
on and get his Ph.D. after that. And he's not even Ken Rosenberg.
DAVID: Now we know where to produce them every year. Hooded
Warbler had just been discovered, in one location; now they're just about
THE CUP: Yeah, you only have to break one leg instead of both to get them
DAVID: Raven reports were disbelieved by the powers that be back then.
On the negative side, Golden-winged Warbler may have disappeared as a
breeding species, though I have the impression sightings are up a bit again
after a low in the mid 90's.
On the subject of the birders themselves, I'm struck at how
fully-formed birders seem to emerge suddenly out of nowhere, like
Athena (?) from the head of Zeus. One year none of the "regulars" had heard
of Steve Kelling or Geo Kloppel; the next, they're kicking our tails, to
coin a phrase.
THE CUP: Ahh, Kelling had one good year, now he's whimpered out of
DAVID: Obviously, unbeknownst to the rest of us, they were quietly
honing their skills all the while. At some point, something happened
to make them want to go "public." I'd speculate why, but I'd better leave
that to the psychologists among us ...
THE CUP: Unfortunately, Margaret Launius also whimpered out of the DC
this year (to concentrate in PA, can you believe it?!) so that leaves only
Dear Tick... Karl, you'll be leaving the Basin soon, sadly
enough. What gaps will you take with you in your Basin list?
DAVID: My "Dirty Dozen" of still-wanted Basin birds are Harlequin
Duck, Black Vulture, King Rail, Purple Sandpiper, Red Phalarope,
Black-headed Gull, Barn Owl, Whip-poor-will, Loggerhead Shrike,
THE CUP: We probably shouldn't bring up last year's, huh? Since the
entire Lab of O got to hear it and--
DAVID: --Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-headed Blackbird. My philosophy is
"another state, another list."
THE CUP: Will we get to hear you play the piano before you fly away?
DAVID: You want to subject yourself to that? And I thought birders had
THE CUP: We should have brought out our port-a-piano at the Cupper
Supper! What Basin locales in particular will you miss?
DAVID: Well, I'll miss them all. But if I had to pick one ... the
lighthouse jetty, I think. Though I never saw a jaeger there, I got
to stand next to Bill Evans and Stephen Davies many a time, who did. They
were especially useful for forming a protective circle around me
on the rare occasions when I was under prepared for the weather. With
a view toward similar Lake Michigan shoreline watches, I'm packing my best
"Keds", shorts and T-shirt with special care. That's the David
Cup T-shirt, of course!
THE CUP: Bonus birds for you! Please assure our readers that you'll
continue writing for The Cup from Wisconsin.
DAVID: Of course, but will I have to pay New York or Wisconsin state
income tax on my royalties?
THE CUP: Hmm. Perhaps that too is better left for Dear Tick...
By Jay McGowan
1. How many kinds of Whistling Ducks(in the genus Dendrocygna) are their
in the world?
2. What is the scientific name of the Black-headed Duck of South America?
3. Where does the Musk Duck live?
4. There are three kinds of Eiders. Common Eider, King Eider and
Spectacled Eider. Their scientific names are Somatria mollissima, S.
spectabilis, and S. fischeri. S. spectibilis is King Eider not Spectacled
5. What Duck has the longest scientific name and what does it mean?
ANSWERS TO LAST MONTH'S BIRDBITS:
1. What bird has 'invisible' in it's common name, and why? The Invisible
Rail (Habroptila wallacii), because it lives in the impenetrable sago
swamps of Halmahera (Moluccas).
2. Which New World wren is the most widespread? The Sedge Wren,
that nests from Canada south to Tierra Del Fuego.
3. In Europe, what is the Red Phalarope called, and why? The Gray
Phalarope. The Phalarope is red during the breeding season, but
becomes gray during the winter. As a result, the bird is far better known
as the Gray Phalarope in Europe, where it is commonly observed during
4. What makes a Beardless Tyrannulet beardless? It lacks the rictal
bristles of most flycatchers.
5. Griseotyrannus auranteoatrocristatus is the longest bird
scientific name in the world. What is the longest in North America?
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus, the Cactus Wren.
6. What is the common name for Psaltria exilis? Pygmy Tit.
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? Anywhere
in the Midwest. They are called trans-Gulf migrants. In the spring
they come from their wintering grounds in the Caribbean up through the
Midwest to their breeding grounds in the north. But then in the fall they
come down a more easterly route and are more numerous along the Atlantic
coast than in the spring.
8. What is the scientific name of the Iiwi? Vestiaria coccinea.
9. How tall is an African Secretary-bird? 4 feet 8 inches (1.4 meters).
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?
Although it's mostly a matter of opinion, I think
the following warblers are named appropriately and diagnostically:
Golden-winged Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated
Gray Warbler, Bay Breasted Warbler, Pine Warbler, Kentucky Warbler,
Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Waterthrush, and Red-faced
Warbler. In some warblers, like Chestnut-sided, their names fit
but Bay Breasted Warblers have the same chestnut sides as well, so
the name is not diagnostic.
(Jay McGowan is home-schooled. Isn't it obvious?)
STAT'S ALL, FOLKS
By Karl David
Recall from the Cup 3.4 that we're trying to decide if it was
(once again) a late spring. I gave my arrival dates for 1985-98 and Charlie
Smith's historical averages (not specified if mean or median) for five
early and ten later common spring migrants and promised to begin discussing
the data this month.
Everyone keeps recent copies of The Cup prominently displayed on
their coffee tables, of course, but I'll recap the data for you just
in case they're buried under too many coffee cups. Besides, I have to
rectify a major slip. I included the '98 dates in the overall range ... a
big no-no when my aim after all was to compare this year with the past.
This actually didn't change the ranges, since the closest `98
came to extending them was to tie for the late date for one species (Yellow
Warbler). It did however affect the medians, nine of which change by one
day when `98 is excised. Here then is the amended data:
species '85-'97 range | `85-`97 median | `98 date | historical avge
Turkey Vulture 3.2 - 4.7 3.22 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 3.31 3.27 3.25
Eastern Meadowlark 3.7 - 3.31 3.18 3.28 n/a
Chimney Swift 4.20 - 5.5 4.27 5.4 4.24
Eastern Kingbird 5.1 - 5.14 5.5 5.7 5.2
House Wren 4.19 - 5.4 4.29 4.30 4.23
Wood Thrush 5.1 - 5.13 5.6 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 5.7 5.8 5.2
Common Yellowthroat 4.27 - 5.11 5.6 5.6 5.1
Baltimore Oriole 5.2 - 5.8 5.5 5.7 4.30
The one of my three questions that can be answered by even a
casual look at the tables is No. 2. There is no correlation between early
and late migrant arrival times. Four of the five "early birds" beat their
median times, and the single exception (meadowlark) well might have if I
had been commuting to Aurora this year as usual. By contrast, the ten "fair
weather" migrants could do no better than tie the median in a couple of
cases (catbird and yellowthroat). This is a convincing enough difference
that no technical analysis is necessary [let's see if I can get Michael
Runge to rise to that bait ... is
this a ploy to get him to write a "Scrawl of Fame" column in response,
following my success in getting Kevin McGowan to do so last month?
Stay tuned ...].
No, the early birds clearly were not late this year. Looking at
the historical averages, one of these species cries out for special
comment. Look at my Turkey Vulture range vs. the historical average. What
is going on here? The likely answer can be found even within my
own data, were I to give it to you year-by-year. All right already, I will:
`85 - 4.7 `92 - 3.20
`86 - 4.6 `93 - 3.27
`87 - 3.27 `94 - 3.22
`88 - 4.4 `95 - 3.7
`89 - 3.27 `96 - 3.2
`90 - 3.18 `97 - 3.10
`91 - 3.13 `98 - 3.3
Remember, the historical dates go all the way back to 1903 (and
end with 1993). Turkey Vulture is one of those southern species that's been
steadily moving north throughout our era. The data reflects this
in quite dramatic fashion. Will we be saying the same thing about
Black Vulture in the 21st century? It's showing up in the Basin every year
Anyway: if the early birds weren't late, were they in fact even
*earlier* than usual? Well, with the tv data useless, and meadowlark
historical dates n/a because of overwintering "contamination," that leaves
only three species for analysis: too small a sample size. So, we'll be
content to conclude that at the front end, the migration was certainly not
late, and perhaps even a bit early. [Sidebar: are we mixing apples and
oranges by comparing dates for nonpasserine and passerine species?]
Let's move on to my third question -- thus deferring for yet another
month the actual down-and-dirty calculations needed to answer No. 1 [that
is, were the later migrants actually late?]. Anything to avoid having to
think of something new to write about!
Question No. 3 essentially was about how a single observer's
observations lag behind the aggregate first sightings. *Someone* is bound
to see a phoebe well before the end of March, but most of the
time it won't be you, and it'll be a while before all active observers have
one. The relevant columns to compare here are the second [my
median first dates] and the last [historical average first dates].
As with Turkey Vulture, though much less dramatically so, my Killdeer
and Tree Swallow dates are ahead of the average. A glance at the second
group reveals no such examples, catbird and Warbling Vireo coming the
closest at two days off. In quite dramatic fashion, progressively earlier
arrival dates clearly seem to hold for the March migrants, while no such
trend is obvious for the late April/early May bunch. I'll speculate on this
apparent discrepancy next month as well, when in conclusion I'll ask what,
if anything, all this might have to
do with "global warming" and other trendy topics.
Let's wrap up this middle installment of the migration series by using
the data to try to measure how long a single observer waits
after the first report of a common species before seeing it
personally. As noted, this makes sense only for the second set of
data, though "forward creep" of arrival dates is possible here too,
just not as detectable as in the first set. And, remember we're
also comparing one person's 1985-97 with everybody's 1903-93. Nonetheless,
it's what we have to work with, imperfect as it is
(and wasn't it ever so in the funhouse world of statistics?).
But how precisely do we come up with a single number to
represent the waiting time? There's no one "right" answer, but a
simple and useful (though not always the best) rule is to perform the most
obvious calculation first and argue about its appropriateness later. Here,
that would be to simply average the difference in days between the two
(3 + 3 + 6 + 6 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 5 + 5 + 5) / 10 = 40/10 = 4 (exactly!).
By this calculation (feel free to disagree), for common migrants the active
observer can expect on average to have to wait four days after
a bird is first reported before seeing it him/herself.
And finally: statistical trivia. (1) What bird (in either group) wins
the "Turkey Vultures of Hinckley, OH" Award, i.e. has the
smallest range of arrival dates in my data set? Well, it's Baltimore
Oriole, with an awfully tight 7-day range in 14 years. (2) What bird wins
the "[Cliff] Swallows of Capistrano, CA" Award, i.e. has shown
up on the same calendar day the most times? I didn't give you that
information, but not surprisingly Baltimore Oriole wins again here
[5 times on May 7], but it has to share that honor with Warbling
Vireo [5 times on May 2].
So: was it truly a late spring this year? Next month ...I promise!
(Did we mention Karl David is a mathematics professor?)
SCRAWL OF FAME
"Bravo! A fine intro to The Cup [3.4]. Many good references. I must
add, though, that George was in fact the winner of the Contest. You find
out in a later episode, when he gets the hand-modeling job. "I
won a contest with these hands," he says. The Glamour was what
started the whole contest. Except for that one inaccuracy (which we
all expect from The Cup anyway), a very nice job."
all expect from The Cup anyway), a very nice job."
"Wrongo. He THINKS he won, but according to the Seinfeld-only edition
of Entertainment Weekly, it was never resolved. Jerry says so, so there!"
--Editors, The Cup
"What do you expect Jerry to say?! An earlier edition of EW cites the
same thing that I said about George's winning. So that means that
one of those issues of EW is printing inaccurate information. Sound
"You're going to believe a character on the show rather than one of the
show's creators/writers? C'mon!"
--Editors, The Cup
[Phone rings at Cup Headquarters after "Seinfeld" Grand Finale Episode:]
>"Uhhhh, okay, you were right..."
(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.)
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
When we started this column a few years ago, there was no such thing
as the Evans Trophy. Then Ken Rosenberg moved to Dryden. And the McGowans
followed. And with the Cup Headquarters itself about soon to make the
move, what better time for a change of pace? Cuppers, we present to you The
Cup's first ever Evans interview, with Dr. Dryden himself, Ken Rosenberg!
THE CUP: Hi, Ken. Let's talk Dryden. Do you think Dryden's going
to overtake Ithaca this year?
ROSENBERG: Here I figured that if I hid out in Dryden I could avoid being
interviewed by The Cup -- but NO!
THE CUP: Sure, that's why you've been pestering us every month for a
Dryden interview, to rub it in Kevin's face!
ROSENBERG: Hey, welcome to the Dryden elite corps. With you
two shifting your birding eastward, we just might beat Ithaca yet.
Basically it's Dryden Lake vs. the Lighthouse Jetty for waterbirds and
migrants, since we've got the edge for breeders.
THE CUP: Your yard list is pretty darned impressive, too.
>And then there's your office. Say, do you ever actually GO birding?
ROSENBERG: Actually my Basin-trip birding has been reduced to very
few days per year. For example, I've been to Montezuma twice this year
(of course we did find a GYRFALCON on one of those trips) and I haven't
been around the lake a single time.
THE CUP: Who has?
ROSENBERG: I barely even make it to Stewart Park anymore.
THE CUP: Fool.
ROSENBERG: But living on beautiful Beam Hill and working at Sapsucker Woods
has allowed me to see lots of birds and even (amazingly) remain competitive
in the David Cup. Last year I saw 206 species in Dryden
and all but 18 of these were within two miles of my house (basically Dryden
Lake or Beam Hill). Most of the remaining species were indeed outside my
famous window in the Green Trailer.
THE CUP: You should be ashamed.
ROSENBERG: Just goes to show that great birding can be found almost
>anywhere, and it's especially enjoyable when it's so close to home.
THE CUP: Do you think the legend of your Lab of O office window is
over hyped? Share your most memorable office bird memory, would you?
>While you're at it, you might mention why it is Matt Medler is always
having to post your birds for you.
ROSENBERG: My window view is actually quite unremarkable -- some old
beat-up feeders, a scrubby patch of young trees, a small patch of sky, and
a big gravel parking lot. My trick is spending ridiculous
amounts of time on the phone, which is when I see most of my birds.
My most memorable memory was in September a few years back when lots
of warblers were swarming through the scrubby trees behind the
trailers -- I was on the phone (of course) with a colleague in Wash. D.C.
when a Connecticut Warbler hopped out of the bushes and perched in full
view below my window!
THE CUP: Yes, we remember that. A certain Cup editor got that bird, too,
and a certain other one went chasing it and despite arriving at
the scene within minutes, has yet to see a Connecticut Warbler.
ROSENBERG: The parade of Cuppers that appeared later in the day had
no luck, either. They did turn up a Golden-wing, a parula, and Philly Vireo
in the same flock, though. Lately, I'm not seeing as much (not for lack of
phone time), and now that Steve Kelling and the BirdSource crew are in the
trailer next door I've got some stiff competition. Of course, half of
their birds are fabrications of fancy based on songs that Tom Fredericks
secretly plays on his computer.
THE CUP: That's true for the office at the end of the hall, but not
for the one beside it. Their list is 100% bird. What's your best "family
time" birding experience this year? Not that anything can possibly top that
Long Point Whimbrel.
ROSENBERG: With an 8-month old, most of my "family time" this year
has been right at home. So probably my best experience was scoping Dryden
Lake and valley from my bedroom window one afternoon while
Olivia napped -- picked up about 10 yard and year birds, including
THE CUP: Since we may never get to ask you this as an official KT
question (you keep falling just shy of the leader), we'll ask you here:
What's your favorite color?
ROSENBERG: Cerulean blue.
THE CUP: Of course! What do you think happened to Stephen Davies?
>ROSENBERG: There was a guy jet-skiing around the lighthouse jetty in
a wet suit during the Ithaca Festival, and I was wondering if that
was him. Or maybe he's gotten wind that Steve Kelling has finally learned
to count to 200+, and nobody else has a chance this year.
THE CUP: And then there's Bill Evans...
BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
By Caissa Willmer
This month Caissa pulled a no-brainer. Literally. See you next month!
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, like these...
I saw an Empidonax flycatcher sitting on a wire but it wasn't singing.
Nearby, a Brown Thrasher was imitating a Willow Flycatcher. Doesn't
that mean the afore mentioned Empidonax had to have been a Willow
and I can tick it off on my Basin list?"
--Ghostwriter, respectfully submitted for Steve Kelling
Dear Ghostwriter...and Steve Kelling:
Please pass this on to the thrasher: Songs are protected under the
copyright law of the United States government. They are the sole property
of the singer/songwriter. Unauthorized duplication is an infringement
punishable by law. Just ask Nike. Their thievery of the Beatles
"Revolution" turned into a nasty and embarrassing mess. So cease and
desist...or at least steal a song that's a little more
musical than Willow Flycatcher's before they throw you in the slammer.
If I continue to write for The Cup after I move from New York state, will I
have to pay income taxes to New York?
Taxing in Ithaca
Let's put it this way: You send me an even grand, care of The Cup,
and I'll file all of the necessary paperwork for you.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""
"Hey, the Seinfeld bit was a stitch. Nice work!"
"Great Cup...even though I'm not a Seinfeld fan."
>"Please, please, please re-add me to the distribution list for The
Cup. (But don't enter me in the competition; my totals are 0 and 0!)
I hope all's going well in the Basin."
"Rob! Where the heck are you these days?"
--Editors, The Cup
"Gotham City. A place where fledging Red-tails draw crowds. Where
you can take the subway to look for shorebirds. Where Peregrines
snatch fat pigeons from midair while yellow taxis slide by unperturbed.
Where Black-billed Cuckoos perch high in easy branches near manicured
lawns. Where coworkers bring window-killed migrants for you to
identify. Where Blackpolls are sometimes the most common warbler.
Oh, and where you can easily visit Manny's Car Wash."
Oh, and where you can easily visit Manny's Car Wash."
"Where ARE those flocks of warblers, which are usually everywhere
"I headed up the west side of the lake and stopped by Sheldrake for
the Orchard Oriole. Unfortunately, I neglected to print out the exact
directions, and did not see it."
"Benning Marsh at Montezuma around 11:30am was covered with
Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers with one Dunlin in
breeding plumage. It really is a treat to get to see these birds in
all their finery!"
"This weekend I spent the most of my time birding on my property in
the town of Caroline. I had 85 species by Sunday evening."
"Had a Hooded Warbler singing at dawn this morning outside my bedroom
"As I went out to pick up the paper this morning (Beam Hill, Dryden),
I decided not to go looking for any birds before work. At that point
I heard a Mourning Warbler singing along the driveway. When I got to
the end of the drive I flushed up a Lincoln's Sparrow."
"...At one point I was hearing 4 cuckoos of both species singing
simultaneously. Where was the LNS gang when I needed them?"
"A Black-billed Cuckoo added its voice to the dawn chorus in my yard
(in Trumansburg) this morning at about 5:45! Nice to have him back!"
> --Annette Finney
"As I have apparently learned to count higher than 25, I respectfully
submit my new, albeit somewhat disappointing, Tick Total of 84."
"I am a long way off the leaders but ecstatic about birding and
learning, just the same."
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
Allison and Jeff