Spring Migration in Patterson Park
By David Curson
BBC member and Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Maryland-DC
Patterson Park, tucked between the Baltimore downtown neighborhoods of Butcher's Hill and Highlandtown, does not have the appearance of a high quality local birding venue. Its 150 acres of neatly mown grass are punctuated with large trees, a sports dome, a newly renovated pagoda, and a small lake that swarms with families feeding the ducks on summer evenings and weekends. There are none of the areas of long grass, rough vegetation or pockets of woodland that are typically associated with urban birding sites, in fact there is very little in the way of shrub or ground level cover at all. And yet Patterson Park attracts an impressive diversity of migrant songbirds in the appropriate seasons. I monitored bird migration throughout Spring 2004 and recorded over 100 species, including 18 warblers, 4 vireos, both tanagers, and 5 thrushes.
Spring migration kicked off with the first Eastern Phoebe on March 9. By late March a typical assortment of early migrants was regularly frequenting the small community garden in the park's northwest corner that represents almost the only low cover for birds. This corner is the most productive for migrants and yielded most of those reported here. Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, and up to 5 Fox Sparrows foraged on freshly turned soil while Northern Flickers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were at times so numerous that it seemed every tree had its own woodpecker! A Merlin appeared in the last week of March and remained for 3 weeks, feasting on starlings and House Sparrows.
Early April saw the appearance of singing Palm and Pine Warblers, small flocks of kinglets, and the occasional surprise at the lake, such as a Cattle Egret, Ring-necked Duck and Rusty Blackbird. April 19th was a memorable morning. A large fallout of sparrows left mixed flocks of juncos, towhees, Swamp, Song, Field, and Savannah Sparrows crawling across the open lawns, while over 200 White-throated Sparrows fed on the flower buds of mulberry and linden trees. Hooded Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo were also seen on this date. Another fallout on 30th April introduced some later migrants, including singing Wood Thrushes, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, both oriole species, Nashville Warbler, Great-crested flycatcher, and an unusual treat, a male Summer Tanager.
May saw an increase in the diversity of migrants and daily opportunities to hear interior forest species and some breeders of the Canadian boreal zone singing in the heart of an East coast city! Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Wood-pewee and Warbling and Red-eyed Vireo were all vocally evident throughout most of the month. The warbler migration was overwhelmingly dominated by Blackpolls, whose songs abounded from May 10-22. Redstarts, yellowthroats, Yellow-rumped, and Yellow Warblers occurred daily, Parula, Black-throated Blue, Black-and-White, and Ovenbird were frequently present, and several other species yielded single records, including Northern Waterthrush, Bay-breasted, and Yellow-throated Warblers. Interesting records from late May include an American Woodcock flushed from a patch of unmown grass, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a late Common Loon flying north over the pagoda on 16 May.
What makes Patterson Park such a good place to see migrant birds? Firstly, it acts as a green magnet for birds amidst a sea of bricks and mortar, being the only sizeable green space for a couple of miles in any direction. Secondly, the open structure of the park's habitat, having numerous well-spaced mature trees, makes it relatively easy to find the birds that are present. Patterson Park is well worth a visit during migration season, and regular opportunities exist for BBC members to join local birders on their monthly bird walks led by the local office of Audubon MD-DC on Eastern Avenue. Bird walks are held on the last Saturday of every month. Details are available from the Audubon MD-DC office at (410) 558 2473.
The Terrorist Who Never Was
By Keith Eric Costley
During the workweek I carry my binoculars, a field guide and several birding-related documents in my backpack as I commute on the subway to the Inner Harbor East area. On a good day I am able to go birding in nearby parks during my lunch break. Over the years I have had great seasonal bird sightings: orioles in Patterson Park, an Orange-crowned Warbler in Federal Hill Park, and Lincoln's Sparrows at Rash Field.
On my way home one evening I sat on the platform at Shot Tower Marketplace station reading (yes, I can read!) a birding magazine. When the train arrived I continued to read as I boarded, and didn't look up until I reached my destination, Old Court Station. When I finally got up to leave, I looked down and discovered that my backpack was gone.
Before going all the way back to the Shot Tower for my bag, I decided to check with the attendant. I knocked on her window and told my little story. I must have interrupted her personal phone call because she didn't seem eager to help. But she agreed to call the Shot Tower to ask if anyone had turned in a green knapsack. No? Okay. I decided to just ride downtown and take a look. On the way back I started thinking: "Surely they would have checked the platform with the security cameras. Maybe the bag's gone?"
At Charles Station the conductor announced that the train could go no further. This was the last stop. But why? I went to the ticket booth and asked if they'd call the Shot Tower to see if anyone found the bag. I asked if the attendant would check the platform with the security camera to see if the bag was still there.
At that point, I noticed a transit cop standing off to one side. He had been listening to the whole story. When I finished he turned to another officer and said "This guy says the bag is his." He introduced himself as Officer Johnson and instructed me to come with him. He explained that we could ride in his police car.
On our way to the car, he filled me in. He said that due to a suspicious "package" on the platform at the Shot Tower, the station was evacuated and locked down. Rush hour commuters were stranded at John's Hopkins Hospital. This was the first time a subway station had been closed for such an emergency. We jumped in his squad car, and with lights flashing, sped away.
While we were driving, Officer Johnson asked me to reconstruct the sequence of events that led me to walk off without my book bag. I provided as many details as possible. We couldn't call ahead. I was told that radio silence is part of "the drill" in dealing with explosives. When we arrived, the police were still swarming around the Shot Tower while a helicopter (HELICOPTER?!) circled overhead. The Bomb Squad had already left.
I finished my explanation of the incident, claimed my backpack and caught the first train out of town.
BBC 2004 Survey Results
By Joan Cwi
A great big THANK YOU to BBC members who returned their completed surveys! We received a total of 67 surveys from current members (320 individuals) for a response rate of 21%. In addition, four former members (about 10% of members who dropped out last year) also sent surveys. The results are very interesting and gave us valuable information about our members and their preferences. Below we summarize our findings, and conclude by explaining how we intend to use this information. The analysis presented below comes from data contained in the returned surveys. Although our response rate was not high enough to be conclusive, we feel it reflects the opinions of members most concerned about the BBC and its activities.
First, a little about our membership as represented by responders. Most BBC responders are experienced birders, averaging 29 years of birdwatching experience--ranging from three to 80 years! Responders have belonged to the BBC between one and 55 years, averaging 17 years of membership. About half of our responders are 61 years or older, and half 60 years or under. No responders claimed being 20 years or younger. About 18% of our responders led field trips last year, half of them leading 2 trips and the rest leading from 3 to 42 trips!
One of the questions asked was about the relative importance of six key BBC activities. An overwhelming 80% of responders list field trips as the most important activity, although only 50% of responders report attending field trips in the last year! Publishing Chip Notes and providing lectures are each listed by about 50% of responders as being important. These activities are followed in descending order of importance by publishing the Program Booklet, participating in conservation activities and bussing children.
An overwhelming majority (93%) of responders feel BBC dues ($20 per year) are reasonable. Responders have definite opinions, however, about how this money should be spent and offer many good suggestions about changes and improvements they would like to see made. We also asked several questions about the use of websites and emails as a means of communication. About half our responders visit the BBC and MOS websites; 21% only once or twice a year and 29% more often. About one-third (34%) of responders use the internet to find out about bird-related conservation activities, and most responders (80%) report that they would like to receive occasional BBC bird conservation updates via email.
Finally, except for one person, everyone reports being either very satisfied (77%) or somewhat satisfied (11%) with the activities offered by the BBC (10% did not answer this question). Responders also provide very good suggestions about how to attract new members.
The BBC Board feels that the survey will serve as an informed catalyst to improve BBC offerings to all members. Over the summer, some Board members have volunteered to review information provided by the survey to make suggestions about changes and improvements to our programs. The full Board will review these suggestions in the fall when they reconvene and make final decisions about implementation. We hope, by improving our programs, to thank survey responders for their input into this process.
Board of Directors Meetings
By Carol Schreter
The BBC Board met on March 16, April 3, May 11 and June 8, 2004.
Lake Roland Update. We postponed our March Board meeting to attend a Baltimore County Zoning hearing on March 9. On May 17, BBC sent a letter to all 7 County Councilpeople urging the rezoning of Lake Roland from residential to RC-7, a rural conservation area. On May 6, at a Baltimore City Dept. of Recreation and Parks meeting, BBC again advocated for keeping the Light Rail crossing open to pedestrian traffic. We learned that the bridge below the dam will be open this summer until bridge work starts in October, at the earliest.
As of April, the Birds of Maryland Museum relocation issue is on hold. Cylburn Arboretum Association needs three years to raise funds for Carriage House renovations.
The Nominating Committee was unable to fill some vacant positions. So our Corresponding Secretary sent an e-mail -- which reached half the membership, advertising positions available. In May the Board voted to appoint Martie Dunn as Interim Treasurer until the full board is regularized by a vote of the membership at the September Lecture. The Nominating Committee needs reorganizing.
The Budget? Again this year BBC spent the minimum necessary. We launched a BBC Membership survey to determine if members consider dues unreasonable. For the Budget Year ending April 30, 2004, we had a $4,421 surplus, including $2,100 in targeted Museum donations.
In June, Board member Joan Cwi quickly reviewed results of the BBC Membership Survey. (See related article.)
Conservation Committee Report 2003-2004
The BBC Conservation Committee goals are to increase communication both among BBC members and with the general public, and to involve more people in protecting birds and preserving bird habitat.
Members have been notified of conservation issues through articles in Chip Notes. At our suggestion the MOS website, in the Conservation Issues section, now lists Web Action Links that provide timely e-mail alerts. See: www.mdbirds.org/programs/conserv.html
Lake Roland: Bridge repair stimulated a troubling Robert E. Lee (REL) Park Concept Plan from the City in November 2003. In January and May 2004, Carol Schreter and Anneke Davis spoke at public meetings of the Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks about the importance of keeping the Light Rail crossing open to pedestrian traffic.
On the positive side, Baltimore County is paying for half of the bridge repair work. To protect its investment, the County is proposing to re-zone Lake Roland from residential to RC-7, a rural conservation area. BBC has been advocating for protected zoning for years. In March, Peter Webb, Joan Cwi, Anneke Davis, Adelaide Rackemann, Kevin Graff and Catherine Bishop attended a Baltimore County Zoning Hearing where Joan spoke in support of this zoning change. In May 2004, Peter Lev wrote a board-approved letter of support to all seven County Councilpeople.
Shorebirds need Horseshoe Crabs: In June 2003, we sent a board-approved letter to the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Service about protecting the Horseshoe Crab. In 2004 it became illegal to harvest Horseshoe crabs during the spawning season, from May 1 - June 7. Is it too late for the Red Knots who feed on Horseshoe Crab eggs on the way north to their summer breeding grounds? Come learn more about this at the September 2004 lecture "The Shorebird - Horseshoe Crab Connection."
Don't sell public land for commercial use: In February 2004, we sent a board-approved letter to the C & O Canal National Historical Park, urging them not to sell for commercial use a 34-mile abandoned railway line along the Potomac River.
Are songbirds dying of West Nile Virus? Six songbirds died beneath Carol's feeders in late August 2003. Necropsy (autopsy) revealed that one, a first year House Finch, died of a combination of fungal pneumonia and West Nile Virus. We alerted the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.
Migrating Chimney Swift Roost in Hampden: Our 2004 SwiftWatch team consists of Alice and David Nelson, Joan Cwi, Bryce Butler and Carol Schreter. Because our counts go to researchers in Virginia and Texas, a rehabber in Maine with 5 hand-raised birds traveled 750 miles on October 4, 2003, to release these young swifts into an active flock in Baltimore. Three heart-warming articles about the Swift release (in Hampden Happenings, Chip Notes, and the Avian Haven Annual Report) were delivered by Alice Nelson to the building managers of these two very important Hampden chimneys, the Bookbindery and the Mill Center.
Promoting Shade-Grown Coffee: A Baltimore Sun article "Let's talk for a moment about the birds and the beans," by Food Editor Rob Kasper (August 20, 2003) informed the public of the importance of shade-grown coffee to our backyard birds. Then, over the year, Carol distributed 800 copies of a 2-sided BBC flyer to a sympathetic public and to local vendors of shade-grown coffee. The National Aquarium and some retailers also distribute this flyer. One result: The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland churches voted to serve only "triple certified" coffee, certified as organic, fair trade and shade-grown.
In April 2004, MOS gave BBC a grant of $250 to continue the shade-grown coffee project, state-wide.
The BBC Conservation Committee meets monthly. Join us! Or you may bring up issues for consideration.
Anneke Davis, Chair
Dues are Due
It's time to send in your yearly membership dues. Please send them in the dues envelope mailed with your paper version of Chip Notes. If you have any questions, please contact our Membership Committee.
J. Catherine Bishop
6111 Bellona Ave
Baltimore, MD 21212
Field Trip Reports
Compiled by Cathy Carroll
Editor's Note: This will be Cathy's last Field Trip Report. Chip Notes would like to thank her for her enthusiasm and interest in reporting these results for our leaders. We wish her wonderful success and happiness when she returns to her Michigan home this July. All of us who were lucky enough to know Cathy will miss a wonderful friend and club member.
Mary Chetelat has agreed to take over the column and will be our new trip list reporter.
Thank you Mary!
March 3, Poplar Island. Sixteen members of the Baltimore Bird Club tallied thirty-eight species during a four hour tour led by Chrissy Albanese of the Maryland Environmental Service. Highlights were both the Eared and Horned Grebe in breeding plumage. Osprey seemed to be everywhere. Chrissy, Poplar Island's representative and our leader, gave us the island's future goals and showed us the impressive work that is currently being undertaken.
(Submitted by Keith Eric Costley)
March 6 - Cromwell Valley Park. Leader: Keith Costley. The 2004 spring field trip schedule kicked off with a walk by eight birders. Despite the rainy weather, four sparrow species including Savannah and Fox Sparrows were seen. Raptors were represented by a male Kestrel and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks. An Eastern Phoebe hunting in the field and a flyover Eastern Meadowlark were first-of-the-year sightings for many.
March 7 - Loch Raven Reservoir. Leader: Debbie Terry. Just as the previous day was rainy and gray, Sunday, was perfect for a field trip. A large group of birders enjoyed such good birds as Red-necked Grebe, Wood Duck, nine other species of duck including Gadwall and Redheads, a pair of Barred Owls calling through the pines, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper and Fox Sparrow. The Baltimore Bird Club was well-represented to a non-birding journalist who was writing article on outdoor activities around Baltimore.
March 27 - Cylburn. Leader: Adelaide Rackemann. Due to the closing of Lake Roland, Adelaide chose Cylburn for this first Tuesday spring walk. In spite of the cloudy, cold and miserable day, 8 participants braved the weather. They managed to uncover 28 species and were delighted to find a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Mar 31 - Loudon Park Cemetery. Leader: Joy Wheeler. A cold, blustery day. Joy's group of five birders were rewarded with a displaying Yellow-crowned Night Heron on a nest.
April 15th & 22 - Cylburn Nature Walk. Leader: Dwight Johnson led four and eight participants respectively around Cylburn Arboretum to find and identify native spring plants and wildflowers. Cylburn had a spectacular blooming season this past spring, and Dutchman's Breeches was just one of many plants and wildflowers identified.
April 17 - Southwest Area Park. Leader: Dave Walbeck. 8 participants. Highlights included Glossy Ibis, Blue and Green-winged Teal, over 100 hawks, especially Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned, heard Ring-necked Pheasant, Wilson's Snipe, many Palm Warblers including one western Palm, and Rusty Blackbird.
April 24 - Huntley Meadows (northern Virginia). Leader: Pete Webb. On this annual trip Pete was joined by eight others to find 65 species. Highlights included long and close views of two Soras as they searched for food in the shallow water often no more than ten feet from the boardwalk. Following lunch at a picnic table near the visitor center everyone traveled to Piscataway Park in Prince George's County to find drake Wood Ducks, a Red-headed Woodpecker and three Prothonotary Warblers along the "Alice Ferguson Foundation Environmental Study Area" path.
April 25 - Patapsco Valley State Park Granite Area. Leader: Keith Eric Costley. The day started out sunny, but then turned cold and gray for the trip. But this did not deter the large group, which included two "twitchers" from England, from finding 68 species. Highlights included: Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed vireos, and nine species of warblers including Blackburnian, Prairie and Cerulean Warblers.
April 25 - Chimney Swifts in Hampden. Leaders: Alice Nelson and Carol Schreter. The gray and cloudy weather continued into the evening on Sunday,, but this did not deter leader Carol Schreter nor the 13 others who joined her to count 1,080 migrating Chimney Swifts as they swirled around and made their evening dive into the Mill Center chimney in Hampden. It should be noted that the counters included members of the Anne Arundel, Calvert, Howard and Montgomery county MOS chapters eager to observe this athletic and beautiful spectacle.
May 9, Milford Mill Park. Leaders: Steve Sanford and Simon Calle. Despite its close proximity to the beltway, this little park is very productive for a large number of migrants. Highlights for this morning trip were Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Eastern Wood Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Great-crested Flycatcher, Veery, Wood Thrush, 12 species of warbler that included Blackburnian, Wilson's and Canada, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
May 22 - Bombay Hook. Leaders: Mark Linardi, Paul Noell substituting for Pete Webb. Both Mark and Paul proceeded to enjoy a great birding day that included 83 species. These included a Ruff, and the possibility of a heard Black Rail. Even just the possibility of a Black Rail is pretty electrifying. Bombay Hook is always a great trip, and this is an early reminder for everyone to remember next year.
May 25th, Owings Mill Mall Wetlands. Leader: Keith Eric Costley. Eight birders accompanied Keith in the search for migrants and nesting birds in this unlikely, but always productive area. Fifty species were seen that included a Great Blue Heron colony of six adult and five young birds. A patriotic vireo trio was just missed when the Blue-headed failed to show with the White-eyed and Red-eyed vireos. Four Warbling Vireos filled in admirably. Blackpoll Warblers were the best of the surprisingly scant number of warblers seen.
April 13 through May 25 - Cromwell Valley Park . Leaders: Matilda Weiss, Dot Gustafson, Debbie Terry, Ruth Culbertson, Shirley Geddes, Josie Gray, and Paul Noell. Due to the closing of Roland Park, Cromwell Valley Park was used for this year's spring migration. Included in the lists during these weeks were: three Ospreys perched together, a perched and singing Brown Thrasher, Hooded and Prairie warblers bringing oohs and aahs, a field of Bobolinks!
June 16 - Mount Auburn Cemetery. Leaders: Carol Schreter, Bryce Butler. In spite of a cloudy day, nine birders found 29 species. Most exciting was hearing and seeing two adult male Pheasants and an immature scurrying into the brush..
June 19th, Patapsco Valley State Park, Granite area: Nesting Birds. Leader: Keith Eric Costley Seven birders joined Keith to confirm 15 species for the Atlas and tallied two probables. The confirmed species included a Hairy Woodpecker feeding a fledgling, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers feeding two fledglings and Red-eyed Vireo feeding a Brown-headed Cowbird fledgling. On territory were close-up looks at a singing Prairie Warbler and a displaying Yellow-breasted Chat.
Cylburn Sundays - Spring 2004
By Joseph M. Lewandowski
March 21 - It was a cold and windy day at Cylburn. The tulips and daffodils were starting to come up and the 10 birders were cold in the 40ºF temperatures. With only 19 species seen, the Fox Sparrow, Mallard Duck, Mockingbird, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were the high points of the day.
March 28 - The daffodils are up at Cylburn and the 13 birders that came out today enjoyed a mild and sunny day at the Arboretum. The prize of our 25-species count was a Great Horned Owl. Magnificent and silent are the only words I can think of to describe this great predator. Cowbirds, Wood Duck, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk were some of the other birds that graced our list.
April 11 - With temperatures in the 50's and a rainy, cloudy day, the nine birders that walked Cylburn had little to "crow" about. Only 18 species made our list. Both Kinglets, a Brown Thrasher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a Flicker were the only notables on this Sunday. Maybe next week will be better.
April 18 - Cylburn was sunny and warm, temperatures in the 60's and the garden looked fine. Trip Count: 14 Birders, 32 Bird Species. A Great Horned Owl was seen along with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, and four warbler species (Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Palm, and Parula). Cedar Waxwings were spotted, a Great Blue Heron flew over, and the Brown-headed Cowbirds were out.
April 25 - This was a cloudy and cool Sunday with temperatures in the 50ºF range. The tulips were up and in bloom, making the gardens look sunny despite the weather. Nine birders walked the trails and were delighted to see 36 species of birds. We had a good, long view of a Pileated Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrows hugged the ground, and a Brown Thrasher was spotted. The Baltimore Oriole and the Orchard Oriole were seen in the same location and a Solitary Sandpiper and Snipe topped our shorebird list. The group got some great views of a Swamp Sparrow and an Ovenbird was close enough to touch. A great day for Cylburn birding.
May 2 - While the day was muggy, overcast, and rainy, it did not deter the 21 birders who came out. Birding was slow and my count only came up with twelve species. Notables included the Parula Warbler, Mallard, Song Sparrow, Barn Swallow, and Eastern Towhee.
May 9 - Today is a nice birding day at Cylburn. Partly cloudy and temperatures in the 60's met the eight birders that ventured out. We had 31 species with swallows, warblers, and shorebirds on our list. A Spotted and Solitary Sandpiper were our shorebirds; Redstart, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat were our warblers; and Barn Swallows and Rough-winged Swallows made up our swallows. Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos, Veery, and Chipping Sparrow rounded out the list. A good season of birding at the Arboretum. Till Fall.
Baltimore May Count
May 8, 2004
Organized by Debbie Terry, Compiled by Steve Sanford
56 people in 23 parties explored almost every corner of the city and county and came up with 158 species of birds (versus 166 in 2003 and 165 in 2002). It was a pleasant day with high temperatures in the mid-60's, cloudy in the morning but clearing in the afternoon. Passerine numbers were generally down, consistent with the widespread perception that land-bird migration was pretty poor this spring. On the other hand shorebird numbers were way up on Hart-Miller Island. Three Summer Tanagers and eleven Blue Grosbeaks at various locations added some southern flavor to the count.
Many thanks to our participants: Stan Arnold, Jennifer Bowers, Jeanne Bowman, Marty Brazeau, Anne Brooks, Don Burggraf, Brent Byers, Mary Byers, Lisa Byrd, Paul Canner, Cathy Carroll, Cathy Carroll, Rebecca Cooley, Keith Costley, John Dennehy, Mark Eanes, Rebecca Eanes, Kevin Graff, Josie Gray, John Hoffman, Bill Hubick, Kye Jenkins, Lori K Brown, Sukon Kanchanaraksa, Ruthanne Kaufman, Elliot Kirschbaum, Nancy Kirschbaum, Kate Manrodt, Taylor McClean, Daniel McDonald, Georgia McDonald, Chris McLamb, Colin Meeks, Michele Melia, Jim Meyers, Lisa Murphy, Scott Nichols, Paul Noell, Patsy Perlman, Barbara Pilert, Vicky Poole, Steve Sanford, Steve Sarro, Gene Scarpulla, Carol Schreter, Wendy Scollins, Mary Ellen Smith, Nina Storch, Rebecca Storch, Brian Sykes, Kim Szawan, Debbie Terry, David Thorndill, Julie Tomita, Pete Webb, and Marion Wilson.
Although we try to accommodate all reports we receive, registering with the count organizer in advance is strongly urged to avoid duplicate coverage and to aid in the compilation.
The List:Common Loon 2 Double-crested Cormorant 48 Great Blue Heron 56 Great Egret 5 Snowy Egret 2 Cattle Egret 28 Green Heron 4 Black-crowned Night-Heron 7 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 1 Black Vulture 28 Turkey Vulture 131 Canada Goose 310 Mute Swan 4 Wood Duck 14 Gadwall 4 American Black Duck 17 Mallard 252 Lesser Scaup 6 Red-breasted Merganser 2 Ruddy Duck 11 Osprey 31 Bald Eagle 9 Northern Harrier 3 Sharped-shinned Hawk 4 Cooper's Hawk 8 Red-shouldered Hawk 22 Red-tailed Hawk 30 Peregrine Falcon 1 Ringed-necked Pheasant 3 Wild Turkey 4 Sora 1 American Coot 2 Black-bellied Plover 88 Semipalmated Plover 136 Killdeer 21 Greater Yellowlegs 32 Lesser Yellowlegs 104 Solitary Sandpiper 34 Spotted Sandpiper 40 Semipalmated Sandpiper 78 Least Sandpiper 793 Dunlin 177 Long-billed Dowitcher 6 Wilson's Snipe 3 Bonaparte's Gull 96 Ring-billed Gull 166 Herring Gull 859 Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 Great Black-backed Gull 170 Caspian Tern 223 Least Tern 15 Rock Pigeon 194 Mourning Dove 220 Yellow-billed Cuckoo 4 Barred Owl 1 Common Nighthawk 4 Chimney Swift 150 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 20 Belted Kingfisher 5 Red-bellied Woodpecker 98 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 Downy Woodpecker 41 Hairy Woodpecker 13 Northern Flicker 43 Pileated Woodpecker 14 Eastern Wood-Pewee 8 Acadian Flycatcher 24 Eastern Phoebe 29 Great-crested Flycatcher 31 Eastern Kingbird 56 White-eyed Vireo 47 Blue-headed Vireo 2 Yellow-throated Vireo 10 Warbling Vireo 41 Red-eyed Vireo 279 Blue Jay 133 American Crow 214 Fish Crow 22 Horned Lark 2 Purple Martin 2 Tree Swallow 178 N. Rough-winged Swallow 99 Bank Swallow 27 Cliff Swallow 41 Barn Swallow 314 Carolina Chickadee 89 Tufted Titmouse 102 White-breasted Nuthatch 26 Carolina Wren 89 House Wren 64 Marsh Wren 6 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 165 Eastern Bluebird 34 Veery 3 Swainson's Thrush 1 Wood Thrush 189 American Robin 604 Gray Catbird 551 Northern Mockingbird 103 Brown Thrasher 19 European Starling 595 Cedar Waxwing 84 Blue-winged Warbler 6 Tennessee Warbler 1 Nashville Warbler 1 Northern Parula 81 Yellow Warbler 137 Chestnut-sided Warbler 13 Magnolia Warbler 14 Cape May Warbler 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler 52 Yellow-rumped Warbler 164 Black-throated Green Warbler 17 Blackburnian Warbler 2 Pine Warbler 4 Prairie Warbler 32 Bay-breasted Warbler 3 Blackpoll Warbler 23 Cerulean Warbler 2 Black-and-white Warbler 17 American Redstart 45 Prothonotary Warbler 5 Worm-eating Warbler 17 Ovenbird 120 Northern Waterthrush 6 Louisiana Waterthrush 16 Kentucky Warbler 5 Common Yellowthroat 218 Hooded Warbler 6 Wilson's Warbler 4 Yellow-breasted Chat 10 Summer Tanager 3 Scarlet Tanager 77 Eastern Towhee 70 Chipping Sparrow 132 Field Sparrow 28 Savannah Sparrow 4 Grasshopper Sparrow 3 Song Sparrow 153 Swamp Sparrow 13 White-throated Sparrow 45 White-crowned Sparrow 1 Northern Cardinal 368 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 20 Blue Grosbeak 11 Indigo Bunting 84 Bobolink 287 Red-winged Blackbird 563 Eastern Meadowlark 2 Common Grackle 546 Brown-headed Cowbird 94 Orchard Oriole 46 Baltimore Oriole 106 Purple Finch 1 House Finch 109 American Goldfinch 282 House Sparrow 328 gull ssp. 3 crow ssp. 18 blackbird ssp. 2 Total individuals 13606 Species Total 158 # Parties 23 # Observers 56 Miles in Car 192.4 Hours in Car 14.45 Miles on Foot 90.4 Hours on Foot 106.25 Miles Owling/Night 0.5 Hours Owling/Night 0.5
Slate of BBC Officers 2004-2005
PRESIDENT Pete Webb VICE-PRESIDENT Peter Lev TREASURER Martha Dunn RECORDING SECRETARY Carol Schreter CORRESPONDING SECRETARY Roberta Ross MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY Dorothy Gustafson BBC DIRECTORS Joan Cwi Elfriede Carney Mark Linardi Joel Martin Georgia McDonald Pete Webb David Thorndill STATE (MOS) DIRECTORS Jeanne Bowman Mary Chetelat Helene Gardel
Cylburn Museums Closed
By Joy Wheeler
The boards of directors of both the Baltimore Bird Club and the Cylburn Arboretum Association have been presented with the problem of having their "museums" * closed. You may have read the Sun article by Michael Ollove, which outlined the history of the "museums" and the process by which they have been closed. The action was taken because the exhibits are inaccessible to the handicapped.
Since September 2003, William Vondrasek, Director of Horticulture Division, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, has been discussing ways of moving the collections.
One solution would be to install a chair lift from the first to the third floor in the mansion. Mrs. Edyth Johns Tyson Cotton, Cylburn's owner, had done so in her later years. Some of the structure is still visible. This method provides one disabled person at a time to access the upper floor exhibits. It is not clear that this method would meet the law's requirement for even an interim solution.
Another more permanent solution is to renovate the Carriage House with space for meetings and work rooms. Displays would be placed throughout the various rooms. This would require a vigorous campaign to raise money to redesign and renovate the Carriage House. The Cylburn Arboretum Association is entering into this process in their plans to expand the opportunities for educational programs. Which would include urban ecology, the environment, Jones Falls Valley, forestry, horticulture and bird studies.
It is hoped that the Baltimore Bird Club will be able to assist in these coming changes and will be able to continue the long association that the club has enjoyed at Cylburn and with the Arboretum
*Joy Wheeler explains that the museums are actually exhibitions since technically a museum needs a curator.
Cylburn Arboretum Association Celebrates 50th Year
By Joy Wheeler
Baltimore Bird Club members are invited to join Cylburn's 50th year celebration this October 2, 2004. Don't miss this opportunity to spend a morning birding at Cylburn.
The schedule is as follows:
8:00 am - Breakfast With the Birds
8:30 am - Bird Walks
10:00 am - A tally of all the groups
10:30 am - Speaker Bruce Beehler, ornithologist and tropical ecologist, will relate his experiences, "On the Trail of Birds from Cylburn to the Birds of Paradise of New Guinea"
Bruce's mom Carey Baxter Beehler, long time member of the Baltimore Bird Club, remembers taking seven year old. Bruce with her when they attended meetings at the Pratt Central Maryland Academy of Sciences rooms at Pratt Central Library. Bruce often shared his observations with other members at the meetings.
In 1959, when MOS (later renamed the BBC) moved to Cylburn, Martha Shaeffer gave the precocious youngster added support and encouragement. At that time, Ms. Shaeffer and Bruce explored the newly developed trails and mostly undisturbed forest of Cylburn.
Don't miss this opportunity to share Mr. Beehler's fascinating experiences.
Make your reservations now at: 410-367-2217 (Office of Cylburn Arboretum Association)
Fort McHenry Report
By Jim Peters
New fall visitors at Fort McHenry
At the start of each new monitoring year, birds from the Maryland check list that are possible visitors to the Fort are noted. In addition, the most probable species not yet seen, are listed.
In 2002-03, fifteen new species were added to the Fort list. This year, we expected to see eight new species. Already last fall, seven new species were added, bringing the Fort total to 216. The new birds are: Snow Goose, Black Scoter, Lesser Yellow-legs, Black-tailed Gull, Ash-throated Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, and Cape May Warbler. Two of these species, the Black-tailed Gull and the Ash-throated Flycatcher, are extremely rare.
The Black-tailed Gull from Asia was sighted September 16 in a large mixed flock of gulls on the Middle Branch. On December 3, an Ash-throated Flycatcher from Southwest United States was found in the wetland. Over the next few weeks, many birders came to view and photograph the bird. The snowstorm on December 5 apparently drove the flycatcher away. It was not see again.
Fort McHenry wetland sustains serious damage from hurricane Isabel
On September 18 and 19 strong winds and heavy waves pushed timber and debris over the top of the marsh then deposited it at the base of the berm as the water receded. The wetland survived well in spite of this first onslaught. The real damage came later as wind and waves increased in strength and power. Timbers were pushed into the base of the berm, soil was eroded from trees and shrubs. The marsh was battered mercilessly.
When the storm moved on, the entire habitat on the east side of the berm was devastated for a quarter mile. The worst damage occurred from the tunnel ventilation building to the Port. Part of the nature trail was washed out and the water quality station was destroyed.
The waves and winds were so strong they pushed timber and rip rap through the chain link fence into the container yard of the Marine Terminal. The trail shelter, used for banding birds, was uprooted by a gust of wind and rolled down the slope onto the berm. Interestingly, the furniture stored in the building remained exactly where it had been placed before the storm.
The clean-up process and rebuilding have begun, but it will take several months of work to set things right in the wetland and for nature to heal the scars left by Tropical Storm Isabel.
Baltimore Birders in the Wilds Of Ohio
By Georgia McDonald
Three Baltimore Bird Club birders put together a last minute trip to Crane Creek/Magee Marsh near Port Clinton, Ohio. This Lake Erie wetland is a rest & replenishment stop for warblers and other passerines before they make the jump across the lake to Point Pelee. We missed the warbler peak, but were rewarded with small numbers of wonderful leftovers such as three Mourning Warblers and 25 other warbler & vireo species. The second morning at Crane Creek quickly showed that all the previous days "good birds" had taken off during the night. We did some serious regrouping of our plans and headed for a number of nearby sites to see what else might be in the area. Our efforts paid off with a total of 128 species and yielded such highlights as: a series of repeated flight displays by a Marsh Wren, a nice flock of Dunlin in breeding plumage, breeding Lark Sparrows and Prothonotary Warblers, an orange-variant Scarlet Tanager, a close-up and personal view of singing Gray-Cheeked Thrush, singing Rose-breasted Grosbeak and singing Mourning Warbler. A fantastic time was held by all and Gail & Georgia are endlessly appreciative of Dan McDonald's great bird-spotting eyes and chauffeuring skills.
Kites in Cecil County
Probably the biggest birding sensation in Maryland this spring was a remarkable appearance of kites in Cecil County in late May and early June.
On May 22 Sean McCandless, an avid Cecil County birder who lives a few miles southeast of Elkton, announced on MDOsprey " I have a pair of Mississippi Kite's feeding, courting and chasing each other around in my neighborhood, here in Elkton." Sean continued to see the kites most days during the next week, sometimes three at one time.
Then on Saturday, May 29 the spectacle became even more remarkable when a Swallow-tailed Kite passed close overhead. As the day progressed there were three Mississippi Kites again as well as several re-appearances of the Swallow-tail.
For the next few weeks visitors were often treated to sightings of both kite species, with up to 12 Mississippi Kites at once. Around the third week of June they disappeared. This supports the theory that it was the 17-year cicadas that drew them here. Normally Mississippi Kites are quite rare in Maryland, and Swallow-tailed Kites are extremely rare. In addition to being rare here, the Swallow-tailed Kite is arguably America's most graceful and beautiful raptor.
New BBC Trips for 2004-05
Hampton National Historic Site. On two Wednesdays in each month of September, October, April and May, you will have the opportunity to explore 70 acres of easy walking over woods, fields, pasture land and formal gardens in Hampton. This is Jim Peter's first year of monitoring this interesting site. Along with Jim, Mary Chetelat will be leading some of the walks.
Oct 11, Hart-Miller Island. Enjoy a half-day bus trip around Hart-Miller
Join falconer Joe Platek and his Harris' Hawk on Nov 13, for a Flying Hawk Demonstration.
SeaWatches at Ocean City Inlet. Kevin Graff will be leading two exciting trips. For description, check out November 27 and March 25.
An all day trip to Middle Creek WMA will be led on March 13 by Steve Sanford. This Pennsylvania sanctuary gives birders a chance to observe a major gathering place north of Lancaster, PA. for Snow Geese and other waterfowl.
Poplar Island is an environmental restoration project near Tilghman Island. It is similar to Hart-Miller. Presently the area provides nesting sites for terns and other shore birds. Many migrant species use the island for a stopover. Trips are scheduled on March 12 and May 13.
To learn more about the Poplar Island and Hart-Miller projects visit: http://www.mpasafepassage.org/projects/projects.htm
Join Bryce Butler on May 15 for a trip to Oregon Ridge for Bluebirds, migrant warblers and other songbirds.
Family Birding at Banneker Park on July 9. Bring your favorite youngster(s) and join Keith Eric Costley for an experience in birding and nature. All ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Back Yard Birding and Beyond
Back Yard Birding and Beyond
By Gail Frantz
Baltimore City, Ednor Gardens
March 22: Anna Mae Becker called Paul Noel to tell him she had a "large bird" sitting in her front yard crabapple tree eating a small bird. Paul ran for his binoculars, took a quick look and identified the bird as Sharp-shinned Hawk munching on a small bird. Due to the "grisly condition of the small bird" Paul was unable to identify the carcass.
March 26, Ken Lewis: This afternoon there was a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron perched in the oak tree on Banbury Road in Stoneleigh. This is the 5th year they have come to this tree and they are six days earlier than last year. We welcome them back.
In 2000, 2001 and 2002 a pair successfully nested in the tree mentioned. Last year eight birds appeared in the area. There appeared to be some territorial debates and finally two pairs nested in the same tree and a third pair nested in a tree several blocks away. One pair here successfully fledged two chicks. During the summer while we were away a tragedy happened to the second pair. One of them flew back to the tree with a fishing line trailing him. It tangled in the tree and left him dangling. Neighbors report that the fire department came with a ladder truck and released the bird, but the pair abandoned the nest.
April 3: There are now two YCNH in the tree on Banbury Road. One is standing by each of the two nests in that tree that were used last year.
June 8: We just noticed two chicks in the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nest on Banbury Road behind 6909 Kenleigh Road.
Tim Carney: On March 24, I was pulling onto my driveway when I noticed a Red-shouldered Hawk perched in the backyard. I quickly parked the car, ran in the house, grabbed my new binoculars, and went outside to check out the magnificent bird. I climbed into my old playhouse and watched it for a good ten minutes. It began vocalizing and another hawk flew in. They, well...mated. I definitely felt a little odd and somewhat intrusive sitting there watching them, so I decided to let them have their privacy and went inside. The next day, I saw one of the hawks sitting on a nest in my neighbor's yard. I'm extremely excited at the possibility of seeing hawk babies in my backyard within the upcoming months!
A few days after that, I got up very early and discovered a nice mixed-species flock foraging in the woods. It consisted of about a dozen Golden-crowned Kinglets, two Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Brown Creeper (which I've never seen in my woods before), two Eastern Phoebes (also new for the woods), White-throated and Song Sparrows, and plenty of American Robins. My best friend came over the next day and I showed her the phoebes (who were still there) and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, which is always a good bird.
Here's hoping to some great sightings from spring migration 2004!
(Tim is attending Essex Community College and will be transferring to Towson U this fall.)
From Wendy Taparanskas, April 12: I am continuing to have some really great backyard birding at my new home....as I was digging a plot for a vegetable garden in my backyard (discovering that grass just simply be raked out!) yesterday, I heard what I thought was a REALLY loud and obnoxious flicker in the woods. It was a Pileated Woodpecker....first one that I have seen in 5 years. That's one big woodpecker! I also had a Chipping Sparrow at one of my feeders earlier in the day.
March 25, Steve Sanford: I stopped for about an hour and a half at Soldiers Delight in early afternoon. Spring was finally exploding on this warm day, despite the late hour. A vocal Phoebe was around the visitor center. Down the path I heard several renditions of "Who-cooks-for-you" from a Barred Owl. As I walked down the trail past Red Dog Lodge I started hearing a Pine Warbler, a Bluebird, and a Field Sparrow or two. In the first set of pines beyond the power lines there were at least ten Golden-crowned Kinglets. A pair of Hairy Woodpeckers were flying around. Large spiders were emerging from the leaf litter! Chickadees and at least one Towhee were singing.
On the way back I sat by Red Dog Lodge for awhile and soon had close looks at a Phoebe, a male/female pair of Bluebirds and a Pine Warbler. I Also saw two close Fox Sparrows.
April 4 report from Elliot Kirschbaum: A beginning birding student in Brent Byers class reported two active Great Blue Heron nests across from Owings Mills Mall. The directions are as follows: From Reisterstown Road, travel south on Painters Mill Road. Pass Dolfield Road and the MTA Station, and continue under 795. As you pass the large parking lot on your right, which has the movie, you will cross a bridge over a stream. Go about 100', passing on your left a telephone pole, a yellow pole marking a gas line, and finally a white pole with a yellow top. If you look to your left, you should see some trees. The two nests are on the left side of one of the trees. The first is about 15' from the top and the second is about 20' down and to the right of the first. There is a lot of traffic on Painters Mill Road, but if you go past the nests you should be able to find some parking in one of the nearby developments and then walk back along the sidewalk to view the nests at your leisure.
April 7, Keith Costley: three Palm Warblers lighted my afternoon walk in Patterson Park today. All three, yellow Eastern Palms were singing while foraging around the boat lake. Nine Ruby-crowned Kinglets and three Brown Creepers stayed close and it appeared that they were traveling companions. I also saw a female Merlin, a male Kestrel, a female Ring-necked Duck and several Song Sparrow.
April 19, Georgia McDonald: An unprecedented six-ten Baltimore Orioles, including one female, an Orchard Oriole, a Yellow Warbler and three Yellow-rumped Warblers!!! ALL in the 2 trees on either side of our modest-sized Towson backyard, simultaneously!! To view the sycamore tree, one had to turn one's back on the elm tree and I was the only viewer so, with the leaves also complicating the viewing, it was difficult to get an exact count. As I kept trying to find more goodies, a Mockingbird gave a sudden sharp alarm, joined by the other birds and "something" came barreling thru and everything disappeared. I didn't get any visual on "something". I suppose it was a Cooper's or Sharpie. I hope it came out empty from the oriole diner. Orchard Oriole is new yard bird #88! This past week, we also toted up #85, 86 and 87 with a flyover Common Merganser, a Prairie Warbler and a White-eyed Vireo!
On June 14 while checking for a possible Yellow-billed Cuckoo nest in Leakin Park, Paul and Elise Kreiss saw something much better - a Barn Owl. "This was a life bird for us; in our Atlas block in safe dates. What could be sweeter?"
Let us hear about your Back Yard and Maryland Birding too!!!
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