Message from Helene Gardel
BBC'S New President
My first exposure to birding was at Bombay Hook with a friend who had taken a Hopkins's Rick Blom spring birding class. I had looked at birds before but without a scope and with inexpensive binocs and was in awe of seeing the ducks and shore birds magnified. (Now my problem is that I still look for the birds that are out of range for my scope). I took a few classes with Rick Blom and David Holmes but was afraid to go on bird trips with the club because I knew so little and I did not know anyone.
I attended a Lake Roland Tuesday morning in migration and was welcome, accepted and helped. I no longer worry about all the birds I still can't identify. I started attending the Tuesday night presentations at Cylburn and have been going to the annual MOS conventions.
My favorite bird: Avocet. My favorite bird song: Veery. My best birding trip to date: Coos Bay, Oregon's spring shorebird festival.
I thank all who have served before me to assure that the BBC is a vital part of the community. I am looking forward to serving you in the role of President of the Baltimore Bird Club. With your support and participation we will continue to build and grow. Please feel free to call (410-889-7116) or e-mail () me with your suggestions.
Mississippi Kite at Cylburn
Going on a May Count or Christmas Count is a treasure hunt. One doesn't know what treasure is going to be in the next tree or bush, and each count seems to have something special about it which makes for a fond remembrance: An unexpected Snow Goose near Back River, a Snowy Egret flying up stream to the dam at Lake Roland, or a fallout of Cerulean Warblers that I saw with Joy Wheeler at Lake Roland.
This year was really rewarding. Our territory was Cylburn Arboretum and Lake Roland. The team was Josie Gray, Bea Nicholls, Carol Schreter, Keith Costley, and myself. It was a very hot day-over 80 degrees. We started out at 6:30 AM May 13 and had our usual species on the paths. We went to the stump dump and back up the hill. By then our crew was hot and hungry and some decided to leave---BIG MISTAKE. At 12:30 Josie, Carol, Keith and I observed two hawk-like birds flying over the mansion house at Cylburn. They were not flying fast, but tipping and twisting this way and that. We realized they were different-not any hawks we were familiar with, not an osprey or large enough for a harrier. WOW! The backs on both were soft gray and one had faint barring on the tail. The heads were a whitish-pearl gray and contrasted with the back. The shape was falcon-like, but the size and color was wrong. Had to be Mississippi Kites. WOW! OH MY!
I was the compiler for our little group and I had heard stories about how tough the MD/DC records committee was in accepting a new record. I asked each person to write-up what they saw in case we were questioned. I e-mailed Phil Davis and Bob Ringler expecting to be told to fill out an extensive questionnaire. I received a reply from Phil that the kite had been taken off the review list in February. He also said how lucky we were because he has never seen one in MD. What a relief!
That week Missisippi Kites had been seen in Woodbridge, Va., Huntley Meadows and even closer to home at Fort Smallwood. After consulting the yellow book I realized our group was indeed lucky. Miss. Kites are shown as not occurring in Balto. City/County. This would be a first and also a new bird for Cylburn's list. Needless to say, we were all smiles and glad to have been in the right place at the right time.
Birding is such fun.
Fort McHenry Wetland Update
In August, 1999 when I began monitoring birdlife at the Fort McHenry Wetland I challenged myself to find 100 species of birds in 12 months. As of June 7, 2000 I have recorded 118 species and expect to finish the year with about 125. This is an amazing number when one considers that the wetland is a mere 10 acres in size. One reason that birding is so good is that it is an oasis in an urban desert. It is a green spot surrounded by heavy industry and dense residential areas. Birds and other animals find it a mecca that serves their life needs.
To enhance the wetland I built and erected 20 habitat structures to encourage the birds to nest in and around the marsh. I have placed an Osprey nest platform on the southwest point of the marsh and erected two Purple Martin gourd colonies, one on the berm and the other near the sea wall.
From my observations I have concluded that the avifauna at the site is healthy and diverse. I am now looking for an indicator species which is sensitive to its environment and can be used to track the health of the wetland and give early warnings of changing conditions. There is a healthy population of Song Sparrows in the marsh the year round and this species may well be a good candidate for the study.
A checklist of the birds of Fort McHenry is being developed which will be distributed upon request from the visitor's center. This will be an annotated checklist that will tell seasonally what birds can be seen and the relative abundance of each species. The checklist should be ready in about two years and can be revised periodically as new birds are recorded in the Fort McHenry Wetland.
The Baltimore Bird Club has been most helpful in assisting me in monitoring avian activity in the wetland. We meet every first Wednesday of each month at 9:30 AM for about two hours of intensive birding and camaraderie. Many thanks to all who have participated this year.
Crane Creek, Ohio
On May 14th five of us Baltimore birds (Ruth Culbertson, Gail Frantz, Josie Gray, Dot Gustafson, and Bea Nicholls) headed north and west in two cars to catch up with the migrating birds in Ohio. After a pleasant 8 or 9 hour drive (depending on which car you were in, i.e. how many rest stops you made), we arrived at a clean, well kept motel in Port Clinton, Ohio. Our goal was about 20 minutes away, where Crane Creek empties into Lake Erie.
This juncture of creek and lake is surrounded by the largest surviving tract of marshlands in the state, including a state park, a state wildlife area, and a national wildlife refuge. The whole region is known to savvy birders as "Crane Creek," and is one of the best spots in the midwest to see neotropical migrants who have stopped to rest and eat before flying across Lake Erie. Dot had been here before, but the rest of us had little idea of what was awaiting us.
The next morning, we hit the Magee Marsh boardwalk and found birds dripping from the trees. This is the only place I've been where Magnolia and Wilson's Warblers are "trash birds". We saw Mourning Warblers 3 or 4 times. Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, and Blackburnian Warblers showed up frequently. Orange-crowned and Nashville warblers were a little harder to find, but were seen by all of us. The Least, Yellow-bellied, and Alder Flycatchers were of special interest to us, as well as a Purple Finch, some Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and a Killdeer on her nest.
In three days, we had 103 species, 26 of which were warblers. We made brief stops at a few surrounding areas which had been productive in previous years, but on the days we were there, most of the action was around the Magee Marsh boardwalk.
Some of us are considering a return to Crane Creek next May. Anyone interested?
Bicknell's Thrush Quest
In mid June Gail Frantz, Dot Gustafson, and I went on an impromptu quest for Bicknell's Thrush in New Hampshire. We were in northern New Hampshire from about 4pm 6/10/00 through about 11am 6/13/00. This 'new' species was split by ornithologists from Gray-cheeked Thrush about 5 years ago, and has a limited breeding range in northern New England and southern Atlantic Canada.
It was a cliffhanger. The weather was generally awful for most of the period: rain, drizzle, and fog. Finally, Tuesday morning (6/13), it was clear, but we had to hit the road by 11 AM for the Manchester airport 3 hours away. We decided to give a final quick attempt at Bicknell's along the road up Mt. Washington. We had already made one unsuccessful attempt there in dense fog on 6/12, and 3 unsuccessful searches on 3 different dreary days at Jefferson Notch.
Literally as we were returning to the car on Mt. Washington - defeated - to go down the mountain for the trip to the Manchester airport, we finally heard a Bicknell's Thrush singing. It was far away, and there was no chance of seeing it, but we definitely could identify the song, having just reviewed it a few more times on tape. So we were pretty pleased and relieved.
But then, as we were driving along, a quarter of a mile down the road we heard a Bicknell's Thrush very close. We stopped and got out. Fairly soon Dot found it poised on a bare snag in plain view belting out its song: a series of phrases with an overall downward tendency in pitch for the song as a whole, like a Veery, but with each phrase ending on a long, level or rising note. Needless to say, we were elated! We enjoyed it for about 5 minutes.
As for other thrills, they were limited severely by the weather and the short time, but included an excellent look at a singing Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Jefferson Notch; several Boreal Chickadees heard-only except for a quick glimpse; a Philadelphia Vireo at Crawford Notch; many Swainson's Thrushes singing their beautiful song; and three moose on an excursion to the top of the state.
If you have Internet access, you can read a little more about the trip on Birdchat at:
and click on the 3rd week of June. Or e-mail me at , or give me a call at 410-922-5103.
Last "Postcard from the Edge"
Hello from Cairo. Incredibly, this is my LAST business trip, as I will retire from McCormick at the end of June! Will "Chippers" miss these cards?
The highlight this trip has been the THOUSANDS of European Bee-eaters that are constantly in sight - in flight and perched on wires. Also it is fun to see my all-time favorite birds - the wonderful Hoopoe with its magnificent crest.
Best for the last time,
$ DUES ARE DUE $
It's time to send in your yearly membership dues. Please send them in the dues envelope included with this Chip Notes. If you have any questions, or if the envelope was not included, please contact our Membership Secretary:
4128 Roland Ave
Baltimore MD 21211-2034
Dues are $20 for an individual or $30 for a household.
New members who joined after April 30, 2000, and paid a full year's dues at that time, have already paid for the 2000-2001 membership year and do not have to pay any further dues now.
We are sorry to learn that Raymond Lane died a few months ago. He was connected with our club for only one year in connection with the Wild Bird Center's Cromwell Valley bird walks led by Jim Meyers. Ray expressed an enthusiasm and a willing generosity to include our members in the Center's walks. In the years to come we will think of Ray often and affectionately while walking the trails of Cromwell Valley Park.
We shall miss him.
West Nile Virus
Tony Perlman (Anthony Perlman, M.D.) made a special trip to a board meeting at Cylburn a couple of board meetings ago to deliver a copy of an article from one of his medical journals about the so-called West Nile virus. The West Nile virus has been identified as the cause of many bird deaths (mostly crows) and the deaths of a few humans in the New York City area. At the time the board was not prepared to discuss the issue and it has not come up since. However reports keep appearing in further publications and in the news media, ranging from The New Yorker, Oct 25, 1999 to a quirky little newsletter I read occasionally, the Corvi Chronicle. The New Yorker left us with the gentle reminder that while we may not be concerned with it now, we may all want to pay more attention to the subject when mosquitoes return in season, mosquitoes being the vector which transfers the virus from bird to bird to human and back, it is believed. According to Richard Preston, author of The New Yorker article and "The Hot Zone" about the Ebola virus, "the leap of the West Nile virus into North America ... if this is indeed what has happened, is one of the most important biological events to occur in the world of viruses in this century." Preston goes on to describe the effect of the virus on humans: "In most people, the West Nile illness feels like a mild flu ... You might get a headache and backache and the blahs, just another summer bug. Usually the illness lasts from 3 to 6 days and people recover quickly, without lasting effects. In people with weak immune systems West Nile can turn into encephalitis... a sometimes fatal disease. Of course, The New Yorker article centers its concerns about the disease on NYC and NJ where large numbers of dead crows were found accumulating on the streets. Its appearance here in Baltimore is documented in Tony's medical journal and in the Corvi Chronicle's "Roost Notes" column. While attention has focused on crows dying of the disease, crows being numerous and large and obvious, there is no evidence that the disease does not effect other species of birds. Preston concludes his article: "In discovering the New World, West Nile virus has killed a few humans and managed to roil the CIA (be sure to read The New Yorker for the cloak and dagger chapter in the story.) The virus itself has more important business ... to find a way somehow to keep making copies of itself. If the virus migrated south with the birds, and if it has found a place to hide this winter, the only way we will know is if it comes back this coming spring. So OUR important business is to remove as many places holding polluted water as we can where mosquitoes reproduce, (Culex pipiens) commonly known as "house mosquito", and to avoid being bitten ourselves. Get out the DEET!
Your editor apologizes for inadvertently not getting this article in the April-May issue of Chip Notes.. As of press time, it appears the virus has re-emerged this summer.
Native Plant Seminar and Sale
On Saturday, August 26th, the Irvine Natural Science Center its Annual Native Plant Seminar and Sale. This year's seminar will feature three respected experts in native plants: Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery, Inc., Martha Simon Pindale of Bluemount Nursery, Inc., and Peggy Olwell of the Plant Conservation Alliance.
A select representation of the region's native plant nurseries will participate in the plant sale held the same day.
The seminar registration is $50.00. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Registered participants may access the plant sale beginning at 8 a.m. The sale is free and open to the public from 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
The Irvine Natural Science Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education. The Center is located at 8400 Greenspring Avenue, Stevenson, MD (one mile north of the Baltimore Beltway Exit 22). Call 410-484-2413 for more information, or see http://www.explorenature.org on the Internet.
After saving a number of articles from various birding magazines concerning the Monterey Bay and Big Sur areas, Libby and I decided to do our part for ecotourism by flying in mid October to Monterey and renting a car. We carried 2 binoculars and 2 cameras, one with a long lens and one with a lens for scenics.
The motel we picked was right on the beach, and its dining room afforded us a great view of the bay where we saw many brown pelicans, assorted cormorants, scoters and, of course, gulls. There were also sea otters and dolphins on occasion. The early morning fog did partially obscure our sightings at times.
At first we checked out the 3 downtown wharves, accompanied by incessant barking of sea lions lounging on the nearby rocks. There were many Brewer's Blackbirds all around. Although Fisherman's Wharf was crowded and highly commercialized, we did pick up two life birds there: Brandt's Commorant and Heermann's Gull. There were also Western, Herring and Ringbills; and we saw an Anna's Hummingbird. At the Municipal Pier, we were pleased to spy a Western Grebe and a Common Murre. The rocks alongside the Coast Guard pier showed us both Turnstones (black ands ruddy) plus another lifer: a Surf Bird.
We had lunch one day at Lover's Point where, recently, we read about a young bride who had been washed off some rocks by a high wave and drowned. There were no such waves while we were there. However, the scenery was beautiful.
Our one big disappointment was a trip we took out some 15 miles to look for whales. We had been informed by the cruise owner on the dock that our skipper was knowledgeable about pelagics and such, but it was not the case. He told us about whales and the one humpback we saw, but said nothing about any of the birds, and we could not communicate with him. We were sure we saw a murrelet, a shearwater and a storm-petrel, but which species we did not know. We also sighted what we believe was a Parasitic Jaeger. The return was cold, choppy, fast moving and full of spray, so we could see very little.
We also visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium near the renowned Cannery Row. This is not to be missed and easily rivals or is better than our own Aquarium.
North of town was a great birding spot called the Elkhorn Slough Estuary. There, we picked up 3 more life birds: Say's Phoebe, Wrentit and Rufous-crowned Sparrow. But we saw lots of other birds, including a Kingfisher, many Acorn Woodpeckers, some egrets and herons, plus what we think was a Lewis's Woodpecker.
Our next stop, heading south was the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park where we stayed in one of the little cabins at Big Sur Lodge. Nearby is another wonderful birding spot: the Andrew Molera State park. Here we saw many species including a handsome Black-shouldered Kite, California Towhee, Townsend's Warbler, Scrub Jay, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned and Song Sparrows and another life bird, California Quail. On a later outing, we decided to take a trail alongside the little Big Sur River. While crossing a small foot bridge, we saw 2 blackish birds perched on rocks, tails bobbing. American Dipper! - a bird we had sought for years. We also saw a Black Phoebe.
We then drove leisurely down the very scenic coast for an overnight in San Simeon so we could visit the spectacular Hearst Castle the next morning.
For our flight back we had to continue another 33 miles to San Luis Obispo. On the way we stopped at beautiful little Morro Bay State Park. A brief walk along the shore line turned out to be quite rewarding with great photo-op views of Marbled Godwits and Long-billed Curlews. We also saw Killdeer, Willets, Sanderlings, a Lesser Yellowlegs and some Whimbrels.
It was a wonderful trip with fantastic weather the whole 2 weeks. We garnered a sum of about 89 species, but I'm sure the total would have been higher if a Pete Dunne or a Pete Webb had been with us.
BBC Members Held Hostage
This desperate message was on a postcard with a photo of a Resplendent Quetzal postmarked "13 Abril 2000." We think "colones" may refer to Costa Rican money.
We're being held captive by Bob Ringler in Costa Rica. We are being forced to get great views of life birds daily. We have been subjected to the torture of identifying 27 species of hummingbirds and 26 species of tanagers, plus about 275 other birds. Send colones!
Brent and Mary Byers
Field Trip Reports
March 18 - Middle Creek WMA, Pa - Waterfowl numbers and variety were not as great as previous years, but there were thousands of Snow Geese who provided a spectacular close fly-over when aroused by a Bald Eagle. Prior to that some of the group of 7 participants managed to spot a Ross's Goose weaving in and out of some of the closest Snow Geese. While we enjoyed the great display of mounted birds in the visitor center someone announced that there was a shrike in a tree. For about a half-hour we scoped the bird as it flew from tree to tree in the distance, occasionally chasing a Bluebird ferociously. We came to the tentative conclusion that it was a Loggerhead Shrike rather than Northern. However, a few days later the compiler of the Central Pennsylvania hotline advised that it was actually a Northern Shrike that had been there for several months. We also had excellent close-up views of Tree Sparrows at the visitor center's feeder. At the end of the trip we had a good fairly close look at a pair of adult Bald Eagles at their nest. The weather was sunny with temperatures in the mid-40's made rather brisk by 5-10 mph winds. 46 species. Leader (and reporter): Steve Sanford.
March 21 - Lake Roland - Unfortunately the weather for the first trip of the season was steady rain with temperatures in the low 40's. Stalwart leader Chris Manning writes: "Met Paul Noell and called off the walk at 9:15. Even the ducks refused to come out! Had similar weather when I switched with Adelaide last fall. She must know something." 2 participants, 0 species.
March 28 - Lake Roland
The weather was nicer for this trip. Some notable early spring sightings were Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, not to mention Bald Eagle. 23 participants, 28 species. Leader: Adelaide Rackemann.
April 2 - Loch Raven
10 birders enjoyed a "great look at a Common Goldeneye; Hermit Thrush and Field Sparrows singing; first of the season Osprey and Chipping Sparrows, and 5 Common Loons." The weather was cloudy, windy, and about 50°. Leader: Kye Jenkins.
April 4 - Lake Roland
It was back to rainy weather again, but 7 hardy birders showed up and enjoyed the first warblers of the season - 2 Palm Warblers wagging their tails - as well as a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and 7 beautifully plumaged Blue-winged Teal. Leader: Patsy Perlman.
April 6 - Cylburn Nature Walk
Nine enthusiastic participants enjoyed a beautiful spring. We identified and discussed the natural history of observed wildflowers. They included Dutchman's breeches, bloodroot, cut-leaved toothwart, lesser celandine, greater celandine, wood poppy, spring beauties twin leaf, Mayapples, wild ginger, toad trilliums, and other mustards and mints. Also discussed the daffodils and Christmas rose. We also discussed tree and insect identifications. Besides identifying the birds we started discussions of their natural history. Bird highlights included Palm Warbler and fly-over Common Loons. Weather: clear, about 65º with a slight wind. Leader: Chris Manning.
April 11- Lake Roland
The "cloudy and cool" weather was somewhat of an improvement compared to the previous week. The 13 observers saw the first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron of the season at the dam. They also saw six dark hawk-like birds circling quite high - possibly Common Nighthawks. 43 species. Leader: Matilda Weiss.
April 13 - Cylburn Nature Walk
Another week of inquiring knowledgeable participants. Discussed flowering and non-flowering plants, precocial and altricial birds, and insect and tree identification. Additional flowers seen this week included dwarf ginseng, golden ragwort, round-lobed hepatica, and Greek valarian. Weather: clear, 45°. 9 participants, 45 bird species. Leader: Chris Manning.
April 15 - Fort Smallwood
Canceled due to rain.
April 18 - Lake Roland
More rain. Nevertheless, leader Dot Gustafson and the only other participant, Paul Noell, did manage to tally 36 species, including a well-seen Blue-headed Vireo.
April 20 - Cylburn Nature Walk
Another beautiful Thursday morning walk. New for the flower list were shooting stars and foam flowers. 18 bird species. 6 participants. Leader: Chris Manning.
April 25 - Lake Roland
The weather was cold with a little rain (Believe it or not!). Some highlights were a singing Warbling Vireo, several Blue-headed Vireos, 6 species of warbler, and a Barred Owl that went after prey while the 11 participants watched. Leader: Shirley Geddes.
April 27 - Cylburn Nature Walk
Would you believe it rained a little! But it allowed a window of several rainless hours for birding and flowering. 6 participants, 14 bird species. Leader: Chris Manning.
April 29 - Liberty Dam Trail
Yellow-throated Warbler finally spotted by lingering birders, typically singing from its preferred perch in a sycamore tree. Worm-eating Warbler heard by many but spotted by few. Lots of Black & White Warblers made up for the relative dearth of warbler species. Ovenbird heard but not seen. Several Louisiana Waterthrushes displayed to good effect. Barred Owl seen by most and heard by all. Black-billed Cuckoo and Lesser Yellowlegs heard but not seen. Many wildflowers, ferns and horsetails put on a good show, the helmeted orchid (galearis spectabilis) being the highlight. Weather: clear and mild in the 50's to 60's. 20 participants. 49 species with 7 warbler species. Leaders: Greg Miller and Paul Noell. Note Greg Miller had moved briefly to our area about a year ago but then moved back to southern Maryland. Many thanks for returning to co-lead this trip.
April 30 - Phoenix Pond
Leader Michele Melia writes: "The Warbling Vireos were out in force, singing up a storm, as were the Northern Parulas. At least one pair of Canada Geese already had a brood of goslings out of the nest and paddling on the river. Our best bird of the day was a Prothonotary Warbler at the footbridge over the Gunpowder. However, there were no orioles or Worm-eating Warblers. I hope this reflects the earliness of the season and not any decline in these birds! For those who stuck around to the bitter end, we were rewarded with a little warming in the temperature and several species of raptors that were low in the sky and easy to see: Osprey, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, and Red-shouldered Hawk." The weather was sunny, breezy, and cool in the 50's. 11 participants. 51 species.
May 2 - Lake Roland
The warblers really arrived. The 18 participants tallied 16 warbler species including a Golden-winged, Wilson's, and Blackburnian Warbler, and a total of 84 species. Some of the other highlights were a Barred Owl apparently at the nest, and Scarlet Tanager and Baltimore Oriole. The weather was "perfect." Leader: Shirley Geddes.
May 6 - Milford Mill Park
19 observers enjoyed somewhat of a fallout of warblers: 15 species at the park, including the regionally uncommon Wilson's Warbler, which seems to come through this park almost every year. Most of the group had good looks there at multiple Magnolias, Chestnut-sideds, Black-throated Blues, and Black-throated Greens, as well as Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Some of the group went on a short extension to Powell's Run Road and the Liberty Dam Trail to add 5 more warbler species, including Yellow-breasted Chat, and Prothonotary Warbler, plus Orchard Oriole. The weather was sunny with temperatures from about 70 to 80 degrees. Species: 70 with 20 warbler species (including the extension). Leaders: Lenny Marcus and Simon Calle.
May 7 - Jug Bay
12 participants found 82 species if the Nursery Road Park n Ride meeting place, with the reliable Black-crowned Night-Heron is included. The highlights at this Prince George's County park and neighboring Merkle WMA were good looks at some of the more southerly warbler species: Prothonotary, Hooded, Yellow-throated, Prairie, and Chat. A big miss, though, was Blue Grosbeak. A big almost-miss was Summer Tanager which is often seen by the old Croom airport. However, leader Steve Sanford lead the few diehards who braved the 90+ heat and sun, to a "guaranteed" Summer Tanager spot, Aquasco Farm Road, which once again (to the leader's relief!) produced a singing male on a bare snag, passionately courting a female.
May 9 - Lake Roland
Leader Ruth Culbertson writes:
Jim Meyers had come earlier and had seen two adult Barred owls in the trees near to where we were. We all had wonderful looks at the adults and then were treated to the sight of two young Barred Owls through his scope. The baby would open and close its eyes as we looked at this fuzzy, downy, beautiful young creature.
A Cerulean Warbler was singing loud and clear and many people got a quick look at it. A Prothonotary Warbler along the water trail flew in with nesting material in its beak. We saw the same bird or another Prothonotary Warbler with a green caterpillar which he ate and then hopped down on the trail in front of us.
The weather was hot and sunny. There were 22 participants with 66 species including 10 warbler species.
May 11 - Gunpowder State Park (Pulaski Highway to Phila. Rd.) - Highlights were Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers with Great Blue Herons flying over almost constantly. 4 participants, 46 species. Weather: Sunny with temps in the 50's to 70's. Leader: Bea Nicholls.
May 16 - Lake Roland
Leader Shirley Geddes reported that the adult Barred Owls were still easily visible, and the Cerulean Warbler was still singing from the same area as last week. It was a sunny day with the temperature about 70°. The species count was 73 with 14 warbler species. 21 participants.
May 23 - Lake Roland
Migration was almost over but there were still 7 warbler species including the Prothonotary seen in previous weeks. A Barred Owl was still to be seen. The weather was cloudy with a slight drizzle with temps in the 50's and 60's. 18 participants. 60 species. Leader: Josie Gray
May 25 - Gunpowder State Park (Pulaski Highway to Phila. Rd.) - Activity was a little slow. Highlights were a Baltimore Oriole nest with a female actively puttering about, and about a dozen Green-backed Herons. Weather: 60's and 70's with a little rain. 4 participants, 36 species. Leader: Bea Nicholls.
May 27 - Owings Mills Wetlands
Sightings at this productive area across from Owings Mills Mall included a Blue Grosbeak in the scope, Willow Flycatcher, multiple Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, and Green Herons. 4 participants, 59 species. The rain held off until 11:30. Leader: Keith Eric Costley substituting for Gail Frantz.
June 3 - Day's Cove
Leader Glenn Swiston writes: "Nesting Starlings appeared to outnumber the nesting Bank Swallows. The Willow Flycatcher, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles were quiet but the Blue Grosbeak sang loudly." 7 participants, 43 species.
June 4 - Jones Falls
A beautiful morning in a little-known birding oasis in the middle of Baltimore. Highlights included 4 Black-crowned Night-Herons, numerous Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and excellent long looks at a male Orchard Oriole and male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Several pairs of Baltimore Orioles were seen at close range and 2 active nests were found, as well as an active Eastern Kingbird nest. Some other highlights were Willow Flycatcher, Veery, and Warbling Vireo. 5 participants, 45 species. Weather: mix of sun and clouds with temps in upper 60's. Leader: Brian Rollefinke.
Cylburn - Spring 2000
The year 2000 has special significance, and for us bird watchers, it was the start of the Spring Cylburn Self-Guided walks. With temperatures in the 40 degree range, the partly cloudy day turned sunny for the four birders that walked the paths of the Arboretum. Cylburn has a unique characteristic this early in the season. You can see the bare trees, the start of buds and blossoms, and the contour of the land. But, most of all, you get some great sights of birds. Sixteen birds dotted our bird list. We had the usual Cardinal, Chickadee, and Titmouse, but also saw a Wood Duck, Red-tailed Hawk, and Pileated Woodpecker. Cylburn was starting off a great birding Spring. Come join the naturalists that love birds and the taste of the great outdoors. Walk Cylburn with us.
A slight wind and temperature in the 50's greeted the five birders that ventured out on this beautiful sunny day at Cylburn. The woods of the Arboretum are awash in daffodils and the tulip leaves are beginning to show. The bird life was also cooperative with nineteen species being spotted. Among the notables were Tree Swallows, Mockingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black and Turkey Vultures, Mallard Ducks, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Of course, Cylburn would not be unique with a special bird and on this walk we spotted a perched Cooper's Hawk ten feet above the ground and only twenty feet away from us. It was a breathtaking sight to see. It was a great day at Cylburn and a delightful birding experience.
For the four birders that walked Cylburn on this morning walk, it was a cloudy, cool day with a slight wind and temperatures in the 40's. The tulips were starting to show their leaves in the garden and along the circle and daffodils were plentiful. Twenty-one species dotted our tally list with a Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglet as being a prime finds. We saw our first Sapsucker of the spring on this trip and an unidentified acipiter flew by the area. I keep repeating that Cylburn can not be outdone, and today was no exception. Our group saw two male Pileated Woodpeckers going through, what we determined to be, a territorial display behavior. They hopped from tree to tree, calling and posturing. While I can say that our groups, so far, have not spotted a warbler; I am sure that warblers will soon be showing themselves at Cylburn.
April 9 - Even Joe declined to go to Cylburn due to the unseasonable snow(!) and cold.
The weather played tricks on us today as five birders started a walk of Cylburn under cloudy skies and a cool temperature. But, Mother Nature was not one to disappoint us as the sun came out later in the morning to brighten up the day. Eighteen bird species were seen today with such notables as a Loon, Osprey, Hermit Thrush, Barn Swallows, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Cylburn is perking up for a big May showing and it is our hope that the birds will come out in force. Even on those days that have a less than eventful showing, Cylburn is a natural delight to behold.
On this last self guided bird walk of Cylburn, one lone birder walked the trails of Cylburn on a beautiful, warm, sunny, Spring day. With temperatures in the high 60's, seventeen birds graced the binoculars of the lone birder. Barn Swallows, Rough-winged Swallows, Cowbirds, and Chimney Swifts flew the Arboretum. A flock of Cedar Waxwings made a racket as they perched in a tree. A Carolina Wren sang it's heart out. But, Cylburn again had a surprise. A Bluebird visited the Purple Martin house behind the Mansion. While I have been told that Bluebirds have been seen at Cylburn, they are not a common bird here. It was a true delight as it perched on a nearby trellis, enjoying the sun. Time has come to close this spring season at Cylburn. Now is the time to brush up on the fall warblers and get ready for that migration to occur. Till the fall, Enjoy Birding.
Foray into Western Maryland
On Thursday, June 8 I had a wonderful day exploring for the first time parts of Allegany and Garrett Counties. This was not planned as a big listing trip but primarily an attempt to bag a few western specialties and cover some new ground. Highest on my list was Henslow's Sparrow, a bird that's fascinated me for a long time because of its decline from a widespread breeder to a tenuous hold-out in Western Maryland.
Setting out in the dead of night, I arrived before sunrise at a field on Old Legislative Road near Frostburg recommended by J.B Churchill. This is an amazing field, very birdy, filled with more Grasshopper Sparrows than I've ever seen in one place. While approaching one of them to get a good scope view, somewhere beyond it I picked up that unmistakable "se-lick." Henslow's! It seemed to be right in front of me but in fact was a hundred yards or more away. It took a while but the bird finally moved and I was able to get it in the scope. I just watched him sit there and sing for the next half hour. What a satisfying way to get such a prized life bird. This field also produced Wild Turkey, Chat, Cedar Waxwing, Thrasher, Meadowlark, Field and Chipping Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting. Didn't find any Vespers.
With the day hardly begun I moved on to Dan's Rock Road to search for my second target, Golden-winged Warbler. This road was very rich in numbers, if not variety of warblers: Cerulean, Chestnut-sided, Ovenbird, Hooded, Yellowthroat, but I could not find Golden-wings there. So, on a hot tip from Steve Sanford, I drove down to Jennings Randolph Lake in Garrett County, stopping at the first scenic overlook. As soon as I was out of the car I heard a "beee-bzz-bzz" from the trees along the road. I managed to see this bird well, if only briefly, feeding in its acrobatic style. Lifer #2 for the day!
From there I spent some time driving up through the rugged and scenic Savage Mountains. I had another sure-fire tip from Steve for my third target, Least Flycatcher. Not surprisingly, I found them in the very TREE that Steve had described at the corner of Westernport and Savage River Roads. Who could ask for more?
The day was getting late but I wanted to see Finzel and Wolf Swamps. At Finzel, a burry "rrrreee-BEE-a" from deep in the willows told me I was close to another potential life bird, Alder Flycatcher. But it was too far and never showed itself. Maybe another day. At Wolf Swamp I had two singing Willow Flycatchers right beside the road -- why couldn't THEY be Alders?
I finally headed home, tired but very satisfied. One thing I learned -- Garrett County is a BIG place and requires a lot of time to do it right. Many thanks to J.B. Churchill, Steve Sanford and Jim Stasz for making my first trip so successful. I'll be back!
New Bird on My Trail
It was less than a month ago that I remember thinking how I would just love to see an American Pipit along Loch Raven's Northampton Furnace Trail somewhere. (My trail.) Today, February 27,2000, after 25 years of hiking and watching and listing over 200 other birds, I did!
On the wide sandy shoreline of the south side of the peninsula I was attracted to the deep furrows dug into the loose sand by some mindless motorcyclist. But not for long, horrified as I was. On the very edge of the lake was a small, moving, robin-sized clump of a bird, bobbing slightly, walking, one foot in front of the other, running now and then. My first thought was Pipit, but I haven't seen that many Pipits that I was immediately sure. It's buffiness fit right in with the sandy shoreline. Light markings showed faintly in its face; dark stripes on its breast extended part way down its belly; its bill showed yellow in the cold sunless morning. Wing bars were fairly prominent and a lightness showed on its outer tail feathers. The bird walked back and forth allowing me to see it from both directions before it flew, slightly undulating into the fog, giving a high-pitched 2-note call.
Robbins describes its incidence as "common in flocks during migration and in winter on muddy shores and plowed fields". Where was the rest of the flock that Pipits usually travel in? Do I have the mindless motorcyclist to thank for simulating its preferred habitat, "plowed fields" and bringing it to my attention? I don't thank mindless motorcyclists for anything on the Northampton Furnace Trail. But you know how adding a new bird to your list makes you feel. I loved it!
The Baltimore Bird Club is now offering its merchandise for sale through its mail order section. The following items are available. All prices include shipping costs.
Baltimore Bird Club's Birding Site Guide - $12.00
Baltimore Bird Club T-Shirt - $18.00 (only XL left)
MOS Patch - $3.50
MOS Decal - $3.50
Please make your check or money order payable to "The Baltimore Bird Club" and send your order to: Joseph Lewandowski, 3021 Temple Gate, Baltimore, Maryland 21209.
Back Yard Birding
By Gail Frantz
We have credited my daughter (b. 9/23/1997) with the first bird on her lifelist. On December 18, 1999, my daughter (Phoebe) correctly identified an American Crow.
Edwin, our Red-shouldered Hawk has crashed into the windows. (I am setting up streamers to break the reflection.) Oh, Edwin and Grace (his "wife") had 2 babies last Wednesday! And...we have 3 pairs of Yellow-crowned Night Herons down the street. This place is a zoo....
From Elise Kreiss: Early this afternoon I hear the familiar and long absent sound of a House Wren who was perched above the nesting box on my back porch in Baltimore City. He took the time to pop inside before taking off.
Our male Red-bellied Woodpecker has learned a new trick. A long time visitor to our suet feeder; he had also learned to land squarely in the middle of the small hanging feeder that barely accommodates him, taking a peanut, and flying directly off. Yesterday, however, he clung to the edge of the swaying feeder, his stiff tail pressing against thin air, and ate quite a substantial amount before he flew to the next feeder and performed the same trick. THEN, he landed by the ground feeder, walked around it, sticking his long beak in various depressions under the feeder, presumably looking for insects. He's never done more than made a brief visit and taken off before. Recent visitors: Red-breasted Nuthatch, a male and female Towhees and Black-and-White Warblers last weekend.
April 30, from Jeanne Bowman: Good Morning from the high country. I have been doing the mowing this morning, just took a break, sitting on porch eating cookies and had a real treat. The female Rose-breasted Grosbeak came into my little watering hole, then to the feeder for sunflower seeds. I'll keep and eye out for the male and let you know. Both female and male Ruby-throated Hummers came to the feeder, also saw a female Indigo Bunting sitting about two feet from window on the mock orange. May 13: Highlight of the day so far, two male Brown Thrashers both in the top of a black locust tree trying to out sign/mimic each other. I just stood and listened for a good ten minutes.
From Bea Nichols: Yesterday (April 18), I heard a bird screaming and then jays shrieking in front of my house on Middle River. When I looked out, there was a Sharp-shinned Hawk under the overhang of some cedar bushes. He was mantling what was apparently a still very lively bird. The Bluejays were being somewhat successful in dive-bombing the hawk, but were somewhat hampered by the overhanging cedar bush. As the Sharpie tried to move farther under the bush to avoid the attackers, his prey escaped and zoomed into the depths of the bush. At this, the hawk hastened off in the other direction. I don't know what species the captured bird was, but I did see that it had what seemed to be a black tail-perhaps a Grackle or Starling. Today (4/24), I had a Common Loon swimming on the river, next to my wharf and close to my bulkhead.
From Steve Sanford: On May 5 I heard some suspicious sweet songs in my densely suburban backyard. I went out and saw a Baltimore Oriole and a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak virtually in the same binocular field. A rare treat! House Wrens occupied the wren house that I moved to the secluded backyard from the front where there had been no takers last year. In the first week of May several vociferous males were apparently battling for possession. By the end of the month there was still a lot of singing but no obvious dueling, with a bird occasionally seen at the entrance. Having that bubbly song right outside my window is certainly a pleasure. From May 16 through May 25 I was serenaded every day by a migrating Swainson's Thrush. It was the best opportunity I ever had to hear and enjoy their pretty Veery-in-reverse song.
June 13 -Upon returning home from New Hampshire, flushed with joy at our sighting of Bicknell's Thrush, I experienced another joy: I'm a father! Yes, I heard some little peeps and squeaks from inside my wren box in the backyard. The House Wren parents have been busy going in and out of the box for the last few days to feed their brood -- my brood. They hardly have any time left for singing now.
April 21, Carol Schreter writes: My favorite summer yard birds, a pair of House Wrens, who sing brilliantly, usually arrive between April 25-April 28. This year, first seen April 15, nearly 10 days early.
Monday, May 1: First I heard it, sounded like a Golden-Winged Warbler, on the edge of a small urban woods, in my yard in Mount Washington. I envisioned Herrigton Manor State Park, Garrett County, where I have vacationed, and got to know the bird's song. When I looked off my deck, below, in clear view, I saw a wonder. A Brewster's Warbler in my yard, just like pictured in the book. It went deeper into the woods, out of sight, out of hearing .... Reappeared at 6 PM, much higher in the trees, on the wood's edge.
Joel Martin relates a March 26 backyard sighting : Late this afternoon I looked out my front door to see what appeared to be a small, pale, short-tailed Song Sparrow feeding on the scattered millet and sunflower seed. But it was moving oddly -- walking and running through the grass, head down, instead of hopping. I grabbed the binoculars and discovered I had . . . a Savannah Sparrow. It was my first of the year and probably the "best" yard bird in my brief history of luring birds to this rather sterile patch of suburbia just off the Baltimore Beltway. Maybe there are possibilities here after all.
Georgia McDonald reports her spring yard birds of note: A backyard first for our yard on March 21 was a Red-shouldered Hawk. April 19, the 2nd time we've had a Brown Creeper. First time visitors were: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-headed Vireo and a Red-breasted Nuthatch that stayed around all day at the feeder! Had our first Veery visit today, including a wee bit of singing to confirm the ID.
Let us hear about your Back Yard Birding too!!!
Call or write to:
13955 Old Hanover Rd.
Reisterstown MD 21136