CHIP NOTES

The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

October-November 2000 -- Online Edition

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Deadline for next CHIP NOTES: October 25, 2000 (the next issue will be December 2000-January 2001). If possible, please email material to

Otherwise, mail to Please help CHIP NOTES get out on time.

(410) 922-5103

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The Summer Tanagers
of Soldiers Delight

By Gail Frantz

According to the Field List of the Birds of Maryland (The Yellow Book) Summer Tanagers have not bred in Baltimore county since 1977.

Five years ago on an outing to Soldiers Delight, Keith Eric Costley's eight year old daughter Lauren saw the "red bird." She said that the bird did not look like other red birds that she'd seen with her dad. Keith, having missed seeing the bird, questioned her carefully. Lauren insisted that the mystery bird was not a Cardinal because it didn't have a crest nor did it have black wings like a Scarlet Tanager. She was positive it was a Summer Tanager. Even though Keith never did see the bird that day, he believed Lauren.

The next spring Keith meticulously searched Soldiers Delight and successfully located a singing male Summer Tanager. During the next four years he tracked the bird, Keith noticed that it seemed to favor a section of woods at the edge of one particular power line cut. Keith was convinced that the Tanager was breeding somewhere in that area of Soldiers Delight even though he'd never seen a female.

This past summer, I enthusiastically and gratefully accepted Keith's invitation to join him on his annual search for both the Summer Tanager and the elusive nest site.* We made arrangements to meet no later than 7:15 am on July 23 at the Soldiers Delight overpass. By the time I arrived, Keith was already scouting the area. He suggested hiking one of the new trails which would take us directly to the section of woods at the power line cut where he had been seeing the male Summer Tanager dependably over the years. In less than fifteen minutes we were there.

A few moments after our arrival Keith brought my attention to the Tanager's ki-ti-tuck call. The bird drew closer but we could see nothing through the dense foliage. We waited. At last Keith spotted the impressive looking male Summer Tanager as it flew across the power line cut and disappeared into the woods on the other side. About that same time we briefly observed an unidentified bird flying nearby. Keith suspected it might be the female Tanager ( later we discovered he was correct.) Meanwhile we continued tracking the male as he flew back and forth across the cut.

Finally the bird settled in one area of the woods on the side where we were standing. His occasional call note enabled us to locate him in a nearby tree. Keith whispered that he could see the bird was carrying an insect. Suddenly another bird streaked close by the Tanager. Hoping it might be the female, we were disappointed when a clearer view revealed a Red-eyed Vireo.

By now the Tanager's call was continuous. His movements were confined to a sixty foot high Red Oak tree. Fortunately the foliage was not so thick and we were able to follow his bright, red plumage easily as he hopped and flew about in the top of the tree. We could see the bird was still holding fast to the insect. Now we were more optimistic that there would be a nest at the conclusion of his performance. Sure enough, he suddenly flew down to the nest and at long last we were able see it high above us. The Tanager leaned into it, passed on the insect to one of the chicks, straightened up and flew away. We shared a voiceless cheer accompanied with enormous grins.

In order to get a closer look, Keith decided to return to the car and bring back his scope. In less than twenty minutes he returned, quickly set up the scope and located the nest. Now we had a closer view but the tiny birds inside the nest were still difficult to see.

We grew anxious when forty minutes passed with neither sight nor sound of the adult bird. Then a soft ki-ti-tuck and the male abruptly flew onto the nest with an insect. Our relief turned to a rush of excitement when a second bird streaked in towards the nest and settled on top. For the first time we were able to see clearly enough to confirm the female Summer Tanager.

We were delighted to observe the increased activity as the two parent birds chased each other about the treetops carrying various insects to their young. The pair always vocalized upon leaving or returning to the nest. We heard the ki-ti-tuck along with a quiet Bobwhite-like call that was part of a shortened rendition of the lyrical Tanager song. We remained throughout the morning and watched the birds for three more satisfying hours before leaving.

Two days later Keith returned to the nest in late afternoon. He appreciated the ray of sunlight that illuminated the nest. The light enabled him to see the three little birds clearly. He observed that the chicks had almost no feathers. During Keith's one and a half-hours observation, the chicks were fed just two times and only by the male.

On Saturday, July 29, Carol and Jim McDaniel joined us at the site. Keith expressed amazement at how quickly the chicks had grown and changed in the five days since he had last seen them. In Keith's words: now the birds showed buffy colored breasts with brown streaks and dark heads. Their wings were a pale gray/brown with a hint of wing bars.

Both adult birds were occupied in feeding the three chicks approximately every fifteen minutes. The young birds begged loudly with bright, gaping, yellow mouths. They aggressively jostled and pushed each other about vying for the best position to grab food from their parent's beaks. We all gasped as one of the chicks stood fearlessly on the edge of the forty-five foot high nest flapping its wings. We stayed for almost two hours enjoying the excitement until the frequency of the feeding times gradually lengthened to half an hour, then we left.

The next day the nest was empty with only the male in evidence. By the next weekend even the male was silent and nowhere to be seen. The woods seemed empty.

*The nest as described by Hal H. Harrison in "A Field Guide to Bird's Nests" is: "a flimsy, flat, cup of weed stems, bark, leaves, grasses, and spider silk lined with fine grasses. Only the female carries material and builds."

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- A Birder's Canon -
The 10 Top Books Every Maryland Birder Needs

By Scott Crabtree

So, you've been birding for a few years, getting out on your own some, coming along on a number of Baltimore Bird Club trips. You see people bring a variety of books along on these trips, and they can point to field marks on birds that you've never heard of. And they can tell you about places to go that you had no idea even existed.

"No, Nashville warblers always have a white vent, in between the belly and undertail coverts."

"You have to remember that only Baird's and White-rump sandpipers have the wing-flag, and those with the buff wash on the breast are the Baird's."

"That probably wasn't a Tree sparrow - it's only Labor Day."

"You want to see a Red Crossbill? Go to the third white pine tree along the upper Liberty Dam Trail on December 16th. They'll be there!"

Your sister-in-law got you a forty-year old field guide at some yard sale, and you know you've got to improve upon it and develop some sort of reference library if you're going to become a better birder. But which books? The catalogs and shelves at the local bookstore are full of them. Well, here's one birder's opinion on the top ten books you need today. My opinion is free, and is probably worth the price!

A top-of-the-line field guide. Yes, there are eastern field guides that will limit the number of birds you have to sort through for that troubling ID, but they can't compare in quality to the North American guides. Peterson's is getting pretty long in the tooth, and photo-based field guides such as the Stokes's effort, just suffer from too many problems to be recommendable: lighting, molt-stage, color separation/reproduction problems, "juicing up the photos" (Stokes does that) just to name a few. Today, the 3rd edition of the National Geographic field guide is the only solid recommendation. It's been heavily revised and updated, and it is certainly worth replacing your older editions with this new one, even though it's not without its problems. The new Nature Conservancy guide also has much to recommend it. Now, in November, we'll see the Sibley Guide to Birds from National Audubon. At 544 pages, it's going to be a behemoth, but we finally might end up with a field guide that is of the same caliber that the Europeans enjoy. There is a lot of excitement about it in the community - we'll have to see. For now stick with the NGS.

The next area is that of the bird family guide - an increasingly popular kind of guide. Academic Press has such a series, and there are the highly-regarded-though-oddly-named Helms Guides, as well as others. Broadly speaking, I recommend sticking with the books written by North American writers about North American birds - not out of some sort of jingo-ism, but because they've had the time and experience with relevant birds, and will be able to communicate that well. Of course, I'll break that recommendation right after the next two books. All the following family guides are available now in soft-copy.

You need a Warbler guide, and I can seriously recommend the Peterson Guide (called, surprisingly, Warblers) by Dunn and Garrett. While I've been a big fan of the Helms Guide to Warblers of North America because of its artwork (although not as extensive), the text of the Peterson guide is much better and its artwork is certainly excellent.

Rising and Beadle's guide to Sparrows is my next recommendation. This book is indispensable if you want to sort out the "little brown jobs." The artwork and text in the Helms Guide to sparrows is equally good, but it's not portable in the least.

OK, now I'm going to go against my aversion to photo-guides. When it comes to raptors, there is nothing better than Wheeler and Clark's Photographic Guide to North American Raptors. It covers the birds of prey (no owls) with photos of all ages, color-morphs, and does so for the flying and perched bird. On top of that, it has a whole section to help you sort out the tough ID. Dunn and Sibley's Hawks in Flight is superb, but is another sort of book altogether.

Well, as long as I'm going against my previously stated aversions, I might as well keep at it. When it comes to shorebirds, the best is from the Helms Guides - Shorebirds by Hayman, Marchant, and Prater.

And, here's another retrenchment, this time because my recommendation is not by a North American. It's Gulls by Peter J. Grant. You may not be all that interested in Gulls (pace, Gene), but they and shorebirds wander widely, and you just never know what your going to run into. Grant's Gulls is as good as it gets.

Now, there are plenty of other "family" guides, but if you're going to spend your hard-earned cash on just ten books, we'll limit this section to the above five. If you're not into gulls but would rather spend your time and money on corvids or icterids, there are some fine Helms Guides available in those areas. For the rest of the tough, specialized North American identification problems, let's add to the Canon the:

Peterson Guide to Advanced Birding by Kenn Kaufman. This is an invaluable little book that you ought to keep by your bedside table to pull out at the odd moment to absorb Kenn's wisdom and knowledge of details. It addresses the really tough little problems in ID'ing North American birds - I've found it invaluable over the years.

Now we'll get to the last group of books - the regional guides. What do you expect where and when, and how do you find them. These books will tell you where to go, and will help form your search strategy and picture. That way, you won't do like I did in the past - call a dull yellow warbler, seen in October, a Yellow Warbler. Several people, more regionally knowledgeable than I, looked at me like I'd just dropped in from Mars. (It was from Texas, but that's pretty close!) These regional guides are:

The Field List of the Birds of Maryland otherwise known as the "Yellow Book."

You'll need the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Maryland and the District of Columbia. This monumental project is invaluable.

OK, now I'm going to fudge here. You need a bird-finding guide. As a dedicated Baltimorean, you gotta have the Baltimore Guide put together by our Elliot Kirschbaum. If you want to range further afield in Maryland, the Claudia Wilds' Guide to birding locations in the DC region is very useful. I just recently learned that Marshall Iliff will be publishing a Birder's Guide to Maryland. Maybe you'll have to have all three and call this article The Birder's Dozen!

Hope this helps. Have fun and happy birding!


Trinidad & Tobago Trip
Space Available

Dec. 7 through 16th. We have room for one more female participant. $1,745 includes everything. Call Bea Nicholls 410-687-1461, or .

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Birding in Southeast Asia

By Irma Weinstein

On a recent two-week trip to Southeast Asia I found a variety of birding opportunities. In Singapore, there is the Jurong Bird Park, with twenty hectares of aviaries and 600 species. In Hong Kong the Botanical Gardens also has aviaries with many colorful and exotic birds. (Caged birds don't count.)

The World Wildlife Fund runs a marsh and wetland refuge at Mai Po, just across the border from China. We took a train from Hong Kong to the New Territories and a taxi to Mai Po. There are blinds and trails through the ponds and mangrove swamps. Birding there is best in fall and spring for migrating birds. However, we did see a Common Kingfisher, Black-browed Reed Warblers, Spotted Doves, Baya Weavers, Chinese Pond Herons, Little Grebes, Great Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Snowy Egrets, a Chinese Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, a Gray Heron, and a Little Swift. Our guide at Mai Po was a young man named Zeeman Ng. His e-mail address is . He offers to guide birders in Hong Kong and other Southeast Asia locations.

In Bangkok and surrounding countryside we saw Cattle Egrets, Little Egrets, Asian Openbills, a White-breasted Waterhen, Red Turtle-Doves, House Swifts, Common Iora, Oriental Magpie-Robins, Asian Pied Starling, Common Mynas, White-vented Myans, Eurasian Tree Sparrows, and Plian-backed Sparrows. The bird book used was Photographic Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Michael Webster and Chew Yen Fook, published by Asia Books.

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From the BBC President

In July more than 20 Board members and friends met and brainstormed about the strengths of the Baltimore Bird Club, goals for the committees, goals for the Board and goals for the club. We agreed we have a great club, our publications and our devoted active members are wonderful assets. With this process we were able to get some consensus on the wants of the club at large. Some of ideas are to expand our offerings to members and youth, to actively reach out to diverse potential new members, to inform the members about Conservation issues in a timely manner and with options of actions one may want to take. Many want to revitalize the partnership with the school science programs. Many want to continue to publish bird lists for local areas. Please let any board member know if there are interests you would like to work on with us, and what information you may want from committees or board members.

We are looking for current and past teachers to consult on curriculum enhancements on birds to the standard science curriculum. New club members to participate on the hospitality committee, on the publicity committee and a helper for the president in revitalizing the Extension Service and Equipment Committee.

Helene Gardel

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BBC Fledgling

Mary Paul, the Baltimore Bird Club's Vice President from 1999, has announced that she and her husband Tim have another fledgling born on August 16, 2000. They have named this most welcome boy Dakota Dalton. Dakota was also a belated gift for Mary since he was born a day after her birthday.

While leaving St. Agnes hospital after Dakota's birth, Sierra, Dakota's two year old sister, was sitting next to her daddy in the car giving "Whoo-Whoo" sounds for no apparent reason. When Tim returned to the hospital the next day he understood how she got the idea to mimic the birds when he noticed artificial Great-horned Owls placed atop the building. Sierra had apparently seen them the day before.

The Paul's pet Nanday Conure parrots also celebrated with their own brood. After laying infertile eggs for five years they finally hatched out three chicks less than a week before Dakota's birth.

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Membership Dues

Our 2000-2001 membership year began September 1, 2000. Thanks to all who paid their dues promptly. If you have not paid your dues, please forward them as promptly as possible to:

Roberta Ross
4128 Roland Ave
Baltimore MD 21211-2034

If the expiration date on your mailing label is printed in red, we have not received your dues. Our regular dues, which include membership in the state organization, are $20 for an individual or $30 for a household. Members of another chapter or life members of MOS who joined after 6/11/90 pay the "chapter only" dues of $10 for an individual or $15 for household memberships.

Roberta Ross

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Costa Rica without a List

By Dixie Mullineaux

When my husband and I travel, it is to experience nature as closely as possible and to see as much wildlife as we can, with birds at the top of the list. We are also always interested in the local cuisine, vegetation, and native indigenous people. Neither one of us keeps a life list, even though we have both been birders for about 10 years. We are passionate about all of the natural world, especially birds, and feel like a bird makes our own personal internal "LIST" if we can bring it to mind and know it in our heart, without a list or book. We do not go in search of any specific bird or any quota, so, in this way, everything we encounter is a blessing.

We struck out on our own for a two week trip to Costa Rica, engineered by ourselves, the Lonely Planet Guide, the Internet, and just enough Spanish to keep us out of trouble. We made enough plans to not have to spend time looking for places to stay, and left enough space open to be spontaneous if something unexpected called. The plan was a great success.

Not wanting to stay in San Jose (we heard it was just a big dirty city), we arrived at the Tuetal Lodge in Alajuela, a small town near the airport, for our first night. We were surprised the next morning by one of the most beautiful birds of the whole trip, a Blue-crowned Motmot. Great Kiskadees were everywhere (and everywhere else in Costa Rica!) Other treats were the Masked Tityra, Brown Jay and Chestnut-headed Oropendola.

As with the rest of the trip, small unidentifiable birds and bird sounds were numerous!

La Catarata Lodge was next, an eco-tourist lodge near the famous waterfall by the same name. We were also close to Arenal Volcano, but couldn't see it because of cloudy weather. Some highlights from there were Laughing Falcon, Gray Hawk, Buff-rumped warbler, Black-throated Trogon, American Swallow-tailed Kite, and difficult to identify parrots.

Further north and west was the Buena Vista Lodge, very far off the beaten track, near another volcano, Rincon de la Vieja. Keel-billed Toucan, the showy and raucous White-throated Magpie-Jay, Black Guan, Crested Caracara, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Melodious Blackbird (aptly named) and Common Pauraque were some memorable sightings. We also experienced a volcanic hot springs spa near Buena Vista...first a steam in a sauna heated by boiling volcanic water, then we were slathered from head to toes with warm volcanic mud, taken from a bubbling pit near by. After the mud dried, we showered, then soaked in warm springs. An unforgettable afternoon.

Heading back down south, we landed in Santa Elena, a little town in between the Santa Elena Preserve and the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest. We couldn't resist walking through the canopy on the Sky Walk, eye to eye with all that dwells there. Santa Elena was the classic rainforest...completely soaked and brimming with life. We couldn't help noticing that every square inch was covered with lush vegetation, even the benches! It was so cloudy, rainy and dark that we didn't see a lot of birds there, except many hummingbirds at their feeders. At Monteverde, we had an exceptional guide; Alex Villegas, who can recognize 1,000 bird calls, and can imitate almost every one himself. He immediately led us to a magnificent view of a Resplendent Quetzal, which we all googled over for half an hour. Some other treats were Emerald Toucanet, Three-striped Warbler, Black-faced Solitaire, Gray- breasted Wood Wren, Common Bush-Tanager, and Spangled-cheeked Tanager.

The bus made it's way down those undulating green folds of mountains, with a Swallow-tailed Kite flying right next to us. It was difficult leaving Santa Elena, but we were looking forward to exploring a totally different landscape on the Caribbean.

Mira Flores Lodge, on the southeast coast, almost to Panama, was a birder's paradise. The first thing we noticed was a list of about 75 birds that someone compiled from a stay there. When we woke up the next morning , we couldn't leave our room...all we had to do was look outside and the trees were full of birds...Toucans, Fiery-billed Aracari, Hoffman's Woodpecker, Yellow-billed and Squirrel Cuckoos, Olive-backed and White-vented Euphonias, Scarlet-rumped Tanager, and many more. Howler monkeys and three-toed sloths were in the trees nearby. Sleeping in an open room (with mosquito netting) with bats, lizards, beetles, and various other noisy creatures was wonderful. We had only planned to stay there 2 nights, but extended it to 5. We also visited Indigenous Indians Preserves, and took a boat trip to see dolphins, where we also saw the Blue-footed Booby, and Magnificent Frigatebirds.

Again, it was so hard to say good-bye, but we left Costa Rica with ideas about where to go next time. With a little reading and research, our trip was easy and fun to plan......and execute!

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Early Summer Birding in Utah

By Catherine Pinckard

Most birders would not think of the region near the northern border of Utah as a prime birding destination. We certainly did not. But when we saw an advertisement for a short birding tour based at a ranch in that area and reviewed the bird sightings list for last year's tour, we knew we should go there.

The tour was billed as the Deseret Ranch Mountain Adventure, from June 23 to 28, 2000. (A second tour was from July 6 to 11.) The tour began and ended near the Salt Lake City airport. If you can resist stopping to look at birds en route (e.g. at a Prairie Falcon or a Golden Eagle) the ranch is about a two-hour drive northeast via interstate highways to Evanston, Wyoming, and then back into Utah for about twenty miles to the ranch.

Deseret Ranch consists of nearly 250,000 acres and is the largest piece of privately-owned property in all of Utah. It's boundaries are within five counties and nearly all of the habitats of the region are found there. The bird list for Deseret Ranch now numbers 254 species; over 170 species nest on the ranch.

The ranch is managed using holistic range management practices, and a healthy ecosystem is preserved. As a result the ranch abounds with wildlife. We saw herds of elk - many of the bucks having trophy-size racks, moose, mule deer, pronghorn, coyote, badger, prairie dogs, beaver, weasel, tree and ground squirrels, and a host of various species of small ground-dwelling mammals. And bats; I wish I could identify flying bats at night.

But it was the birds that we went to see, and we saw birds. During our five-night stay at the ranch, including a day trip off-ranch to the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway in the Wasatch National Forest adjacent to the High Uintas Wilderness Area, we saw 176 species. En route to the ranch on the first day we stopped at Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, where we had excellent looks at nearby Chukars. By the time we reached the ranch guest house we had seen 65 species. Each of the next four days more than one hundred species were seen.

A sampling of the birds seen on the ranch includes Western and Clark's Grebes, White-faced Ibis, Swainson's and Ferruginous Hawks (both nesting), Golden Eagles and Prairie Falcons (both nesting), Northern Sage Grouse (a recent split), Blue Grouse, Wilson's Phalaropes too numerous to count, Franklin's and California Gulls, three owl species - Great Horned, Burrowing, and Long-eared, Common Poorwill, White-throated Swift, Black-chinned (on nest), Calliope and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers, Hammond's, Dusky, Gray and Cordilleran (a split) Flycatchers, Plumbeous Vireo (another split), Mountain Chickadee, Rock, Canyon and Bewick's Wrens, American Dipper (feeding nestlings), sage Thrasher, Virginia's, Townsend's and MacGillivray's Warblers, Western Tanager, Green-tailed and Spotted Towhees (another split), Brewer's and Fox Sparrows (the Fox very different from our eastern form), Black-headed Grosbeak, and Lazuli Bunting. Black Rosy-Finch, Pine Grosbeak, and both Red and White-winged Crossbills were seen adjacent to the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway.

Access to the Deseret Ranch is tightly controlled. Guided catch-and-release trout fishing and very limited guided hunting are allowed, both for a fee. Our guide, Mark Stackhouse of Westwings (801-487-9453) has the exclusive birding concession at Deseret Ranch. His tours are reasonably priced and a good value. Mark is a fine leader and a pleasant field companion.

Send me a SASE (4" X 9 1/2") for a free copy of the Utah field checklist.

Catherine Pinckard
6227 Leith Walk
Baltimore MD 21239-1722

[]

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From the Third Floor of Cylburn

By Joy Wheeler

This is the second installment in an occasional series by this title, the title being taken from a book purportedly to have been written by, Bruce Cotton, resident of Cylburn from about 1910 to 1942. He was the second husband of Edith Johns Tyson Cotten, "first lady" of Cylburn from the time of her 1888 marriage to Jesse Tyson, Cylburn's builder. Jesse Tyson died in 1906. Mrs. Tyson married Bruce Cotten in 1910.

A lot of my volunteer time is spent on Cylburn's third floor. I should be writing about it more because what happens is so interesting. I must let you about July 28, 2000 because it is about birds.

Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) have been living at Cylburn from the building of the first barn, no doubt. Each summer of the Tyson's and the Cotten's residence, Cylburn's spacious lawns would have been perfect places for swallows to have collected insects rising in the warmth of days. We know swallows now nest under the eaves of the greenhouses and have probably done so since their 1960's construction. During many early spring days we often see them swoop under and out of the mansion's porch and into the vestibule if the front door is open. So more than just birdwatchers are familiar with these dark blue, pink-footed, fork-tailed birds.

On this day in July I walked into our third floor museum workroom and had my attention drawn immediately by birds soaring and swooping outside the large west window. Right out there on a narrow roof ledge were two chipping, fluttering, fuzzy-feathered young barn swallows, dark heads moving busily back and forth keeping two flying adults in sight. Yellow gapes and downy bellies affirmed their youth; a few short, weak flights out and back to the ledge affirmed their inexperience. Adults flew by, not stopping with the hoped for insect, probably because of my image in the window. Stepping to the side of the window I came closer to the scene, catching a glimpse of an adult approaching a wide open beak, putting some thing in and flying off... Could these small birds have flown all the way up here from a nest in the greenhouse, resting on an electric wire or garden fence on their way? Even with binoculars we had not located a Barn Swallow's distinctive way nest of dried mud anywhere under the eaves of the mansion.

Soon after we first caught sight of these two baby swallows, one small swallow which had shown the stronger wing flapping, flew off and did not return. The second, seemingly weaker bird was still up there on the roof when we left our "job" at 3 o'clock. The adults remained faithful to their last young one, continuing to deposit the hoped-for food in the waiting beak. The next time we came to Cylburn the window ledge was empty. We like to think that the From the Third Floor of Cylburn includes both those young, fully independent Barn Swallows, scooping up their own beakfuls of insects as they fly over the spacious lawns.

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Editor's Plea

Here are some requests concerning your submissions to Chip Notes that would aid in the timely processing and delivery of Chip Notes.

MOST OF ALL, PLEASE BE ON TIME!

Please, please try to get your material in by the deadline, which is in each issue. The deadlines are: June 25 for the August issue, August 25 for the October issue, October 25 for the December issue, December 25 for the February issue, and February 25 for the April issue. This may seem very far in advance, but I usually type material up as soon as I get it, if it's not already in electronic text. Due to the curse of having a full-time job, it takes me about 10 days from the time I have ALL the material assembled until I finish pounding it into the newsletter's mold (Microsoft Publisher) and deliver it to the printer. Then it's about another whole week from the printer to Terry and Roberta Ross who prepare and deliver the mailing to the post office almost instantaneously (Hooray!), but up two weeks before they all are delivered to your door.

Electronic text is preferable to paper text since I don't need to type it from paper. You can e-mail it to me at as an attached file or just as text within the e-mail message itself. I can take MS Word files up to the Office 97 version, and most equivalent word-processing files. I usually use 11-point Times New Roman font.

Paper text. If you can't send electronic text, the next best is neatly typed text. I can often put that in a scanner which does a pretty good job of converting it directly to electronic text, especially if there are no extraneous marks or handwritten corrections, and if the paper is not too thin.

Other media. If the above options are not practical, the following be used in descending order of preference: hand-printed text, long-hand text, stone tablets (expensive to mail!), skywriting, and smoke signals.

Capitalization of bird names:

Many birding publications follow an unofficial convention for capitalization of bird names. I have chosen to follow this convention in Chip Notes because it makes the name stand out and it honors the objects of our devotion. If you would follow these "rules" in your submissions it would save a lot of time. The "rules" run something like this:

  • All non-hyphenated parts of a bird's name are capitalized.
  • The hyphenated parts that are a type of bird are also capitalized.
  • The hyphenated parts that are NOT themselves a type of bird, such as "-bellied" or "-tailed," are not capitalized.

A good illustration of all these principles is "Yellow-crowned Night-Heron." When in doubt, check a current field guide such as the National Geographic guide. A web reference listing, including it's own version of the "rules" is: http://www.audubon.org/bird/na-bird.html. (Thank you Terry Ross for this reference.)

An additional capitalization complication is that when referring to a bird by its generic name rather than its proper species name, it is not capitalized. For example, "The only chickadees we saw were Carolina Chickadees."

Chip Notes Editor - Steve Sanford

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Field Trip Reports

Compiled by Steve Sanford

August 27 - Cylburn - A lot has happened during our absence from spring to fall at Cylburn. Storms have taken out a number of trees at the Arboretum. Looking through the woods, one can see open patches of sky where once the canopy was thick. Some paths have become blocked with trees and the wet summer that we had has resulted in some paths being overgrown with vegetation. For the three birders that walked the trails of Cylburn, the day took on an omen of good things to come. Twenty-seven species dotted our list today. A hummingbird flew stationary in front of us, a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks circled the gray sky, and three warbler species; Redstart, Black-and-White Warbler and a Yellowthroat hit the list. Young Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Solitary Sandpiper, and a Cooper's Hawk helped make our day a success. With a gray sky and temperatures only in the 70's, one could say that it was not the most picturesque day; but for us, it was a great birding experience.
Joseph M. Lewandowski

August 29 - Lake Roland - The first Lake Roland trip of the fall season featured 4 Caspian Terns, a Green Heron a Black-crowned Night-Heron, and a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. There were 36 species. 6 participants. The weather was gloomy with a threat of rain. Leader: Adelaide Rackemann.

September 3 - Loch Raven Picnic area and Paper Mill Flats- Leader Debbie Terry writes that the best birding was at Paper Mill Flats with a Glossy Ibis, an immature Little Blue Heron, and a White-rumped Sandpiper. 48 species. 9 participants. Weather: 78 and oppressively humid.

September 3 - Cylburn - The weather this past week has been rainy and the hot muggy temperature and overcast skies did not keep the birders away from Cylburn. Seven birders joined our group as we toured the grounds, two of them (birders) were newcomers to our regular Sunday walk. I don't think that Cylburn disappointed our newcomers and for us veterans, it didn't disappoint us either. Thirty-three species of birds topped our list. A Black and White Warbler, Redstart, and Chestnut-sided warbler hit the ever-popular warbler list. We again saw the Solitary Sandpiper, Mallards, Red-shouldered hawk, Hairy Woodpecker, Pewee, and Osprey. Common birds were seen in the woods, including a Wood thrush, Flickers, and Catbirds. As with the song of the Carolina wren that we heard, we are anticipating great things from Cylburn and hope all of you come out and join us.
Joseph M. Lewandowski

September 5 - Lake Roland - Leader Chris Manning writes "Just a perfect morning for birding! A cold front had moved in and 17 people were treated to 58 species including 13 warblers. We started out seeing a Great Blue Heron, A few Great Egrets, a Green Heron, and a Pileated Woodpecker. From there on it just got better and better. One highlight occurred on the path leading to the dike. In a water-filled rut, we observed a Black-throated Blue and a Chestnut-sided Warbler taking a bath, side by side. They stayed there long enough for all to get a really good look." The temperature was about 68 with a slight breeze, partly cloudy to sunny.

September 3 - Cylburn - Eleven birders showed up this beautiful Sunday morning. We were greeted by Hummingbirds, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a Pileated Woodpecker. A total of 26 species were sighted as we enjoyed Cylburn's paths. Warblers seen included Magnolia, Redstart, Prothonotary, Common Yellowthroat, and Canada Warbler. Besides the Pileated, four other woodpeckers observed were Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, and Flicker.
Chris Manning

September 12 - Lake Roland - Leader Paul Noell writes: "Great Egret has been conspicuous company for Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (adult and immature) added a nice touch. The Double-crested Cormorant made another appearance. Only 4 warbler species graced this lull before the next wave appears: Parula, Black-throated Blue, American Redstart, and Chestnut-sided in good numbers. Most notable sighting: a "Calico" Tanager (Scarlet Tanager in molt with red, green, yellow, and black - blotched appearance." 47 species. 15 participants. Weather: 70-80, humid, cloudy then sunny.

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WANTED

USED BINOCULARS to have on hand for school children touring Cylburn, 4th graders through college age; also for adult, beginning birders, touring Cylburn's gardens and trails.

PICTURE BOOKS about birds and other forms of nature, for children. These would be used with younger children brought to Cylburn by their day care centers, recreation centers or by teachers of the early grades.

A BUYER for a piece of BIRCH PLYWOOD, 2ft. by 8 ft. The other half of a 4ft. by 8 ft. piece of this high quality plywood is being used in the museum to extend the eagle/turkey shelf. $10. This can be seen on meeting nights (see program) or on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00AM to 3:00 PM.

Joy Wheeler
410-825-1204

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BBC Mail Order

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.

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Back Yard Birding

By Gail Frantz

 

Baltimore City

Carol Schreter describes a Chimney Swift Event: Went to 32nd and Elm streets in Hampden, Baltimore City, where Frazier's Restaurant used to be. Free State Bookbindery has a great chimney. Saw about 2,000 Chimney Swifts fly in there this evening, Friday, Sept. 8, between 7:25 and 7:45.

More Shireen Gonzaga animal adventures in the city: Oh, you may be amused to hear...the dimwit Mamma Mallard returned in secret to the 4th floor balcony, and hid under a rosemary bush where she incubated her eggs and produced eight chicks on June 14. She then went waddling about the balcony, trying to figure out what to do, with all eight little ones trailing behind. We called Gerta Deterer who sent a volunteer--she scooped up the family with a big net, and relocated them to a stream behind our building in Wyman Park.

Happy ending. Lucky duckies.

Cheers, Shireen

On July 18 Mimi Cooper was visited by two Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. She couldn't believe her eyes when she saw that one of the little hummers was an albino! Mimi said the bird looked like an angel.

Dale Melinda Dixon writes: On May 27 an event occurred in my city back yard. Our 1/2 acre property which includes two small man-made ponds, backs up to a one acre forested area. Looking out my kitchen window I initially ignored what I thought were juvenile female Cardinals. It was their numbers that caught my attention, four to five in a row. Looking through my binoculars the surprise came into focus-Cedar Waxwings-final count of thirty-five. My husband called me to come to the bathroom window which has a direct view of the three foot stream connecting the ponds. My heart quickened --twenty-two Cedar Waxwings filled the three foot stream all bathing in unison.

On August 21 Paul Noel observed a Barred Owl near the Roland Park area flying across the St Paul bypass.

On July 7, Keats Smith from Roland Park was delighted to see an albino White-breasted Nuthatch coming to her squirrel proof peanut feeder. The little bird appeared over the next two weeks. Keats also enjoys watching the acrobatic maneuvers that the Goldfinches perform on her upside-down feeder.

Baltimore County

From Erana Lubbert: Friends of mine from Idylwood district told me about a pair of Yellow-crowned Night Herons that arrived in their neighborhood approximately May 1. They first noticed three young Herons sometime at the end of May. They took me to see the family. The birds were in a very large tree and very high tree. The birds appeared only sporadically after the end of July.

Jeanne Bowman noticed that: Sometime between last Wednesday and this Saturday the Barn Swallows at Mom's farm and the Tree Swallows in the field behind my house headed south. Now, there's nary a one in sight.

Near the end of July Eric Spenser found an injured Black Vulture at the side of a road near Hampstead. Unfortunately, the bird was so badly injured that it had to be put down. Several weeks later while riding down Glen Falls Road, Eric had a happier encounter - a flock of more than thirty Bluebirds perched on the telephone wires and flying over the fields.

Stopped in to get some butterfly plants at Simmond's Nursery on Berryman's Lane in Reisterstown. The clerk, Wendy Heilman, showed me a for sale sign on one of the hanging basket of Impatiens. She told me she couldn't sell it because a House Finch built a nest in it and now she was incubating four eggs. Just the day before a customer wanted to buy the hanging plant and assured Wendy that she'd take care of the little birds when they finally hatched. Wendy pointed out that raising baby birds was a full time job and might be better left to the mother bird ('specially the incubation!) The customer appreciated Wendy's sensible advice and picked a different hanging basket. UPDATE: All four eggs successfully hatched. Presently the birds are enjoying the sunflower seeds from the coach light shaped bird feeder hanging outside the store's entrance. (GF)

From Anne Brooks: On August 4 I noted large numbers of Ruby-throated Hummers at my feeder in the past 12 days-it appears that fall migration is already beginning.

Shirley Geddes was surprised when: On September 3rd when I cleaned my Purple Martin house in Anne Arundel County, I found the remains of a Great Crested Flycatcher nest. No Martins had used the house, but I saw the Flycatchers there several times. (We only go on weekends.) I've often read, in the nest field guides, that the birds will use a snake skin. Sure enough there was a bit of a snake skin in the Martin house about the size of a thumbs nail, but still - a snakeskin!

Let us hear about your Back Yard Birding too!!!

Call or write to:

Gail Frantz
13955 Old Hanover Rd.
Reisterstown MD 21136

Tel: 833-7135
e-mail:

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