The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

August/September 1995 - Online Edition


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                   Steve Sanford
                   8412 Downey Dale Drive
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BBC Meets the Electronic Superhighway

by Steve Sanford

Yes, it's the biggest excitement since David met Goliath, or Bambi met Godzilla. There are now two new ways for Baltimore birders to find out what's happening in the local birding world:

  1. The Baltimore Bird Club telephone birding hotline. Now you can hear about about the latest interesting bird sightings in our area without making a long-distance call to the Voice. Our new recorded hotline reports local sightings and alerts you to major events reported on other neighboring hotlines. It also reports on recent field trips and activities and on upcoming activities. The hotline is being maintained by Leanne Pemburn. Call the hotline at 467-0653, both to listen to reports and to report your special sightings.

  2. The Baltimore Bird Club Home Page on the Internet--yes, the trendy, mysterious, intimidating Internet. Now, if you have computer access to the Internet , you can go to the BBC home page to get BBC information, a schedule of upcoming activities, transcripts of area hotlines, and hypertext that will launch you into other URLs of interest to Baltimore birders.

    Please do not be alarmed by the following unusual sentence. The URL of the BBC Home Page is

    This is a creation of Terry Ross, and will undoubtedly evolve rapidly in coming months. His article explains some of the ways you can access the Internet for birding information.

For those of you who don't care about any of this, do not despair. The traditional activities of the BBC, such as field trips and lectures, are alive and well.

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How to Net Birds on the Internet

by Terry Ross

NOTE: some of the information in this essay is now outdated (although at the time of publication is was as fresh as next week's eggs). For current links to all the places mentioned below, go to the Baltimore Bird Club home page.

Last year, Mark Pemburn's "Chip Notes" article, "Surf Birds on the Internet," described how to use the Enoch Pratt Free Library's computer system, Sailor, to locate birding resources. Building on Mark's foundation, I will explain how to subscribe to birding mailing lists and how to find and visit birding sites on the World Wide Web.

I apologize to readers for whom most of what I say will seem too basic. If you already subscribe to BIRDCHAT and BIRDEAST, and if you read "rec.birds," then the first part of this article is not for you. If you know the web, then the rest of the article will go over familiar ground. I recommend the following sites:

One of the best places to begin is Willem-Pier Vellinga's "Birdlinks" ( Vellinga seems determined to have the most thorough and complete collection of links to birding sites on the web from America and around the world. Also fine is Ignaz Wanders's "Birds, Birds, Birds" (; Christopher Majka's "Electronic Birding Resources" (; and GORP's "Bird Watching" ( Of particular interest to birders in this region is Maurice Barnhill's "Guide to Delaware Birding Locations" (, which includes much valuable information not available in the standard books. If you've been to all of those, you might visit the new Baltimore Bird Club home page (, which contains links to all of them.

If, on the other hand, the last paragraph looked like meaningless babble to you, then read on, and you may find meaningful babble.

Any birder who can receive e-mail should know about three mailing lists: BIRDCHAT, BIRDEAST, and MarVaDel. A computer mailing list is like a newsletter. "Chip Notes" is written by and for its subscribers, members of the Baltimore Bird Club, and is mailed to them five times a year. Postings to computer mailing lists are also written by subscribers, but they are mailed immediately. Someone who thought he saw the first nesting peregrines in DC sent e-mail to MarVaDel, and the news traveled very quickly to all subscribers (those "peregrines" proved to be kestrels, but more recent MarVaDel postings have reported that peregrines are indeed nesting in DC). It's as if a new edition of *Chip Notes* were published every day.

The three lists differ in their coverage. BIRDCHAT is for discussion of anything relating to wild birds and birding. If you've just returned from a birding trip to Pago Pago, send a note bragging about about your new life-birds. If you want to know what kind of oranges orioles prefer, send your question, and people will tell you what has worked for them. It is not unusual to receive 60 messages a day from BIRDCHAT. To subscribe, send e-mail to .edu Your message should read: subscribe BIRDCHAT your real name

BIRDEAST is primarily restricted to rare bird alerts (RBAs) and bird hotline transcripts covering the eastern third of the country (the rest of the country is covered by BIRDCNTR and BIRDWEST). Transcripts of the DC area RBA, "The Voice of the Naturalist," generally arrive in my e-mail box Tuesday evenings. To subscribe, send e-mail to .edu Your message should read: subscribe BIRDEAST your real name

MarVaDel is restricted to birding in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and surrounding areas. While BIRDCHAT and BIRDEAST each have about a thousand subscribers, MarVaDel has fewer than a hundred. Sometimes a week will pass without a posting, but when an anhinga was seen in Frederick County last Spring, there were detailed updates about the bird's location several times a day. BIRDCHAT and BIRDEAST are managed by a computer program, while MarVaDel is run by a person, John Tebbutt. Subscribe to MarvaDel by sending e-mail to

If you don't have an e-mail box, you can get one easily enough. Most of the magazines I read these days have ads for America On Line. Call them up at 1-800-827-6364 and ask for their free trial membership kit. Or call the Pratt or the Baltimore County Library; they'd be glad to rent you an e-mail box. If you'd rather not pay for the privilege of receiving e-mail, look for the Sailor list of "Freenets." These are computer networks that you can use for free (although some, like DC's CapAccess, now charge a registration fee). As a member of a freenet, you can send and receive e-mail, and you will have some web access.

If computer mailing lists are like daily newsletters, usenet newsgroups are like talk radio--only without a host. People read messages on various topics and send replies. A series of messages on the same topic is called a "thread," and newsgroups are designed to make threads easy to follow. Instead of all subscribers receiving a copy of the same message, all messages are posted to the same place. "Rec.birds," the birding newsgroup, has the same breadth as the BIRDCHAT mailing list: anything concerning wild birds or birding is a valid topic. The postings on rec.birds are of a lower quality than those on BIRDCHAT, but you don't have to subscribe, and it's easier to follow a discussion if you can go back to earlier messages on the same topic. BIRDCHAT has new messages every day; rec.birds keeps the old messages for a time, even as new ones come in.

Mailing lists and newsgroups are important, but the most exciting part of the internet, if you excite easily, is the World Wide Web. The World-wide Web (also known as "WWW" or "the web") is an enormous electronic library, containing far more information about everything than any sane person would care to contemplate. Each file on the web has a unique address, called an URL (pronounced "earl"--the letters stand for "Universal Resource Locator"). There are thousands of files to interest birders, but fortunately most of the work of collecting and organizing those files has been done. I listed the URLs for some of the best web birding sites at the start of this article, but that information is only valuable if you have a web browser that gives you access to random URLs. (Wasn't the Earl of Random a character in one of Shakespeare's plays?)

Thanks to the Enoch Pratt Free Library, everybody in Baltimore (and soon, everybody in Maryland) has access to birding information on the web. On the opening menu, "Sailor's Home Port," hit the down-arrow 10 times to highlight "Other Maryland & Regional Information" and hit ENTER. On the "Other Maryland ... " menu, hit the down-arrow seven times to highlight "Culture-Entertainment-Leisure" and hit ENTER. Now on the "Culture ..." menu highlight "Baltimore Bird Club" and hit ENTER.

After a short wait we reach the BBC home page. Here we can find information about the BBC and its activities, the latest transcripts of local rare bird alerts, and assorted other goodies. There's a link to the Zippy BirdMail Reader, where we can read the latest postings to BIRDEAST, BIRDCHAT, and MarVaDel even if we don't have an e-mail box. Perhaps the chief charms of this site, other than its classy name, are its links to the birding sites I mentioned earlier. Let's try one of them: move the cursor to "Birdlinks" and hit ENTER.

The first thing we see on "Birdlinks" is a request from its owner, Willem-Pier Vellinga, to tell him about bird sites on the web that he has missed. On the next 16 pages are hundreds of links to birding sites. There are web sites for birding in different states: if we'd like a snow goose recipe, we should follow his "Nebraska" link. Follow the link to "AVES," and there are pictures of birds that may be downloaded to a home computer.

That's just the a sample of what is available from Birdlinks. There are checklists, announcements, links to other web birding sites around the world. Planning a birding trip to Costa Rica, or Northern Ireland, or Africa, or Antarctica? There are links to web sites for each of these. There are sites in foreign languages, for those who wish to brush up on Japan's birds and its language at the same time.

In fact, there is so much available at this one site, and there are so many other birding sites on the web, that sailing the net can become addictive. I encourage everyone to investigate the web, but if you find yourself spending more time e-birding than you do real birding, then it will be time to pull the plug, grab your binoculars, and go into the woods. I'll come too.

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Tales of Cylburn

by Joy Wheeler

March 27 was a cool, gray, early spring day. After a busy, light-showery morning with 48 children from Rodgers Forge Elementary School and a noon meeting with the display company working on the 50th anniversary exhibit, Patsy Perlman and I drove in Cylburn's drive to answer a question that had come up during the meeting about the exhibit.

Was it because we were birdwatchers that we noticed a rounded shape at t he tip of a dead trunk at the top of a tree standing between Cylburn and the spreading development to our right? Would anybody have braked as fast as Patsy did when I shouted, "What is that at the top of that tree?" Patsy had forgotten her binoculars but could see unaided what I was shouting about. Mine were there to help us se the vertical eye-lines of the fluffed-up falcon poised there. Was it fluffed up in the cold or was it large enough to be a Peregrine Falcon? We studied this for a while when our answer came in the form of another falcon, this one definitely a Kestrel and definitely a male from the position he assumed as he mounted the well-balanced bird beneath him, obviously a female.

He stayed, oh so briefly, and then flew down and perched on a branch of the same tree. The flight down revealed even in that dull sky the beautiful coppery colors of the wings and the fanned tail with its white-tipped feathers. Patsy and I were stunned. We sat t here for a long moment, exclaiming over the drama of it all. Our last minutes at the scene were spent vainly searching the bare trees for some signs of a nest, a search that will be continued each time we drive in this spring, you may be sure.

It has not been unusual to have seen Kestrels at Cylburn in the past. The activity just reported should assure continued habitation by this beautiful species; continued, that is, if the human habitation being prepared right at the foot of this tree does not impinge on their needs and space. Hope for the best.

Oliver Beach Elementary School fourth-graders from the Gunpowder State Park area, one of our favorite bayside birding areas, have visited Cylburn several years in a row. They are a lively, aware, well-prepared group of children. It wasn't really unexpected to me, leader of fifteen of them and their teacher, when one of them, clearly a leader among them named Nick, asked soon after we met, " Are there any birds of prey in Cylburn?," meaning in the museum. Not wanting to give away all our secrets at once, my answer was "I'm not going to answer that question now. Let's wait and you can answer it yourself when we get to the museum."

I was trying to focus their attention on the flocks of Robins on the lawn, Robins that were all busy doing something that these children could describe, probing into the soft soil for worms and grubs. As I turned back to the children, my eye caught the swift flight of a Sharp-shinned Hawk coming from the direction of the woods with its eyes focused in the same direction as ours, the flock of Robins. "Look up!" I shouted, which everyone did in time to see the Sharpie fly over, its wings flapping and gliding. As it reached the Robin flock, it circled , flapped, fanned its tail, and swooped down towards the scattering Robins. Did our presence ruin its timing? It rose up without a Robin and circled back over our heads, again flapping and gliding, back into Cylburn's forest.

"And now," I asked, "Does that answer your question?"

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School Programs

by Patsy Perlman

We are forever looking for new guides who enjoy sharing their enthusiasm for birding, botanizing, or just exploring the great outdoors at Cylburn Arboretum -- spring and/or autumn mornings, with fourth grade students. If you or any of your friends are interested, Please telephone Patsy Perlman.

Special thanks to all our wonderful and faithful school guides for the 1994-1995 school year: Candy Andrejeski, Sally Bloomer, Bill Bridgeland, Mimi Cooper, Anne Allen Dandy, Walter Dandy, Lynn DeWitt, Ellen Fink, Phyllis Gerber, Linda Groff, Jill Jones, Carol Mula, Sue Patz, Patsy Perlman, Anne Sauerbrorn, and Joy Wheeler.

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Thank You, BBC

by Helen Gardel

Thank you so much Baltimore Bird Club members and leaders at Cylburn and Lake Roland. This year birding has quadrupled in rewards to my inner peace. I hope in years to come I can be as wise as a wise old owl.

My introduction to birding is three-fold. My Dad was a keen observer of everything around him and loved nature; and thus my being outdoors and actively seeing and hearing the world comes from him. Secondly, a friend took me to Bombay Hook with a scope and introduced me to the wonders of identifying birds. Thirdly, when I work in the yard I know that I am sharing it with so many creatures with whom I have so little familiarity. To fulfill a need to learn, to be outdoors, and feel a more intimate connection to the creatures around me, I have taken several Johns Hopkins Spring and Fall birding classes. These are both terrific for the new birder and wonderful for the beginning birder.

This spring I felt a need to experience more than the three field trips that are part of the JHU course. I took off Tuesday mornings from work and went on several Lake Roland walks and, indeed, both learned more and reinforced what I have already picked up. I also attended several walks at Cylburn on Sunday mornings. I am so impressed with everyone's knowledge, experience, and abilities to hear and locate birds. I feel that I hear and see more each year. I believe I am becoming more sensitive to the sounds around me and their differences. For me seeing the movements and shapes of birds also increases with practice. I attended two lectures of the BBC. The lectures on little brown jobs and spring warblers. These lectures were well over my head after the first ten minutes; however, that's really okay and as it should be with beginners.

When I was, and continue learning golfing, I was tremendously frustrated with my progress and abilities. I always reminded myself that the learning process is individual, slow, and requires practice and patience. Each stroke was a wonderful new opportunity to be in the present, focus one's whole being on the task, and be loving with oneself with the outcome of the best attempt one could make. These lessons work with birding as well. I forget my daily stresses and am totally present with the sounds and sights and challenges of identifying the birds.

With birding I am also often frustrated with my progress. Often I am heard saying vague and incomplete descriptions such as: "bird at eleven o'clock," "another black looking duck," "something singing up there," "something just flew by," "I see it and it's maybe gray-backed, white-bellied ...." And then for so long I had no idea what part of the bird book to look in, or if my choice makes sense considering where I see it, etc.

There are also spectacular moments. I actually saw a white hawk-like bird act like a helicopter over its field, fan its tail, catch its meal, and settle on a tree where I could see its black shoulders. I then enjoyed arguing over what it was with my companion who was looking in another bird book. We were both right, or so we assume. At the time all birds were firsts for me and I hadn't heard of life-lists. I now happily add this one to mine.

On my last self-guided field trip at Cylburn, there were three of us. I was shocked to feel equal to the others. I was also able to spot a Wood Thrush and two Yellow Warblers, and one of those whitish-fronted flycatchers or vireos (??) that none of us could identify.

I believe this is my third spring birding. I have seen lots of birds that you have spotted and graciously made sure that I got to see. I am grateful to each of you. I am also grateful for the reassurance when I think I know what I'm seeing, and you agree. I expect this new passion in my life will be a major part of who I am becoming.

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Field Trip Reports

edited by Mark Pemburn

In the jolly round of seasons, 'tis ('twas) Spring again. I can tell this from the pile of Field Trip reports on my desk. Twenty-one at deadline time.

March 11 - Great weather, writes Bob Rineer of his trip to the Gunpowder (Hammerman Area). Eight people saw 37 species. There were lots of Hermit Thrushes and a nice fly-over of Tundra Swans.

March 12 - If you want to bird at Loch Raven, you'd better see Steve Simon first--he knows the place. On this day, the traditional trip to the 'Old Picnic Area', the weather was clear and a light breeze was blowing. Twenty birders saw 43 birds, with Tundra Swans and Ruddy Ducks as the headliners.

March 19 - It was good and cool--but not a 'ducky' day when Burton Alexander led two other folks through Columbia's Centennial Park. They did see a number of Ring-necks among the 33 species, however, as well as a good look at a Red-shouldered Hawk. Burton says: next time send more people.

March 25 - Intensely sunny and windy! Even though Steve Sanford classed the first half of his trip to Deal Island (and Ocean City) as a 'dud' (due to the paucity of land birds), the 15 devotees of le sport managed to tote up 86 species by day's end. Now, how in the world can you complain about Harlequin Ducks, Oldsquaw and Gannets?

March 26 - Another good day of birding (are there bad ones?) -- Piney Run, Burton Alexander, and 51 species of birds divided among 7 birders. They had a Common Loon and 11 species of ducks including all of the Mergansers, set to the twittering tune of the early-arriving Pine Warblers.

Editor's Note: If you have not taken this trip yet, you owe it to yourself to do it next year.

March 26 - Cylburn Self Guided Tour - see "Spring at Cylburn" below.

March 28 - The rains must come, some days. Adelaide Rackeman led a force of ten through the trails of Lake Roland, weather and all. Thirty species were seen.

April 2 - Cylburn Self Guided Tour - see "Spring at Cylburn" below.

April 4 - Don't you love it when the Weather Service predicts rain, cold and misery--then Ma Nature provides a fine day, despite? This is what happened when Jean Worthley led a trip to Lake Roland with 17 birders available to thumb their noses at those mountebanks! Caspian Terns wafted o'er the scene and three kinds of Warblers were noted. Forty-one species in all. April 6 - As birders, we take for granted that Spring starts early in the year. The botanical world, however, is just waking up by this date. Jean Worthley found lots of Toad Trilliums and Dutchman's Breeches along with a Pileated Woodpecker on this Cylburn NHS walk. Twenty-six attendees saw a total of twenty species.

April 9 - Cylburn Self Guided Tour - see "Spring at Cylburn" below.

April 11 - The Palm Warblers were hanging off the trees, their numbers being so great this day as Phyllis Gerber led 21 through Lake Roland. Despite cloudy, chilly weather, they garnered a total 50 species. Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were also numerous.

April 13 - The Tuesday walk at Cylburn with Jean Worthley featured nineteen species. Twenty-three members were in attendance.

April 16 - Cylburn Self Guided Tour - see "Spring at Cylburn" below.

April 18 - The first Kingbird, the first Solitary Vireo and a Green Heron--not bad for an April trip to Lake Roland. Patsy Perlman led a phenomenal 32 birders around the course and racked up 52 species in the process. The Parulas were a-singing.

April 20 - When Jean Worthley says that the weather is perfect at this date, I'm sure you can conjure up the image. Perfect days are even more so at Cylburn, and the twenty-four species seen were gravy. Twenty-five birders attended.

April 22 - Perfect weather again. Rodney Jones writes of his trip to Rock Run and Susquehanna, Warblers scarce. No ducks. Disappointing as far as birds were concerned. Wildflowers, however, were spectacular. Still and all, the ten-member party saw a total of 45 species.

April 23 - Cylburn Self Guided Tour - see "Spring at Cylburn" below.

April 25 - We're starting to get into the thick of it, as witnessed by Catherine Pinckard's trip to Lake Roland on this date. Fifty-nine species! Twenty-five people attended.

April 27 - Oh, that perfect weather again. Jean Worthley's trip to Cylburn did not disappoint. Seventeen species, 27 birders.

April 30 - Into each field trip a little (or a lot of) rain must fall. The trip to Woodstock led by Dave Kirkwood and John Hoffman was not a wash, however. The nine birders managed to spot a total of 41 species, despite.

-------Spring at Cylburn-------
Last fall we followed Joseph Lewandowski on his weekly tour of Cylburn Arboretum on the series of walks we call the Self Guided trip. Walk with Joe again as the spring is a-borning. - Ed.

March 26th was the first spring walk at Cylburn for the Baltimore Bird Club. Seven birders began the chilly morning looking at the spring wildflowers, commenting on the number of trees that had fallen over the winter, and looking at butterflies that came out as the sun warmed a beautiful day. Yes, there were birds out, and our group encountered twenty-three species. A partial list included: Song and White-throated Sparrows, Mallards and Wood Ducks, Towhees, Titmice, Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, Flickers and Yellow-bellied sapsucker.

We did a little clean-up of the area as Joy Wheeler thoughtfully brought a garbage bag. If you want to spend some time communing with nature, join us at Cylburn. You'll be glad you did. April 2nd found seven birders again at Cylburn, this time to enjoy an overcast morning among the birds. The number of species increased to twenty-five, with the most spectacular being a fly- over of some Great Blue Herons. We saw Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Mockingbird, Cardinal and Juncos. We removed some more trash from the trails as we traveled.

April 9th saw a misty morning turn to a lovely spring day with the birds singing and the tulips just starting to bloom. Seven birders saw twenty-seven species of birds, including a Brown Thrasher, Red-winged Blackbird, Tree Swallows, Ring-billed Gull, a Palm Warbler and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. We saw an accipiter but were unable to identify it due to its uncooperative nature. Hopefully, we'll have a birds-of-prey specialist with us on the next trip.

April 16th greeted nine birders with a cool/cold overcast morning at Cylburn. The weather seemed to keep all the birds at home since only twenty species were noted during this trip. The gardens have not come into their own at Cylburn, but the wildflowers were ample, including Jack-in-the-Pulpit. The bamboo thicket near the vegetable garden had been cut down over the winter, leaving less scrub for the birds. We saw a flock of Common Loons flying over as well as a Broad-winged Hawk, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Barn Swallows.

April 23rd. The tulips are now in bloom at Cylburn and the gardens displayed their cacophony of color for the eleven birders who ventured out. We had a good view of a Yellow Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers seemed to follow us around wherever we went. The Towhees showed us some great territorial displays and even the Flickers outdid themselves. While we did see a gull and a hawk that didn't stay around for an ID, the rest of the ornithological activity made up for these shortcomings.

Note to the Leaders: My deepest thanks and admiration to the stalwart members who lead the field trips--our stock-in-trade--year in and year out. Please note also that the depth of coverage a trip receives in these pages is strongly influenced by the notes each leader supplies on the Field Trip Report sheet. If you are not receiving the blank form at least a week in advance of your scheduled trip date, please contact Mark Pemburn or Gail Frantz. Thanks again, Gail, for your help in coordinating the flow of reports to the leaders--Mark Pemburn

Reports for the rest of the spring and early summer will appear in the next issue.

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Board of Directors Meetings

Alan Bromberg, Recording Secretary

The Board of Directors of the Baltimore Bird Club met on March 14, April 10, May 8, and June 12. A major topic of discussion at all four meetings was the establishment of a telephone hotline for reporting rare bird sightings and other news of interest to BBC members. Board members Joe Lewandowski, Leanne Pemburn, and Mary Plaine explored various options for disseminating information to BBC members and other interested parties. The board approved the purchase of an answering machine with several mail boxes for reports on bird sightings, field trips, and other news. The Baltimore Bird Club Bird Line is now operational and can be reached at 467-0653.

At the April, May and June meetings, the board considered a proposal to participate in the creation of a wildlife habitat in the Gwynns Falls-Leakin Park area. The project is being supported by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Baltimore Department of Parks and Recreation. The board approved participation in an ongoing bird census of the area to begin formally in July. The developers of Woodlands, the housing development adjoining Cylburn, want the homeowners to become involved with the arboretum and have requested copies of the BBC program book and membership brochures.

At the April 10 meeting, the board agreed to provide membership brochures at cost, as well as the 1994-95 program book, but decided that the developers will have to purchase memberships in the BBC for homeowners to get the 1995-96 program book.

At the May 8 and June 12 meetings, the board considered the purchase of CB radios or walkie-talkies for use on field trips. Joe Lewandowski researched the types of equipment available and presented a report on June 12. The board decided to defer further discussion until September.

On June 12, the board approved a motion to donate $1,000 from the Dorothy Blake Martin Fund for acquisition of additional land for Dr. Alexander Skutch's preserve in Costa Rica. Dr. Skutch is a world-renowned ornithologist and author. The board also authorized giving $100 to Maureen Keefe, the Cylburn naturalist and MOS scholarship winner, to cover travel expenses to Maine to use her Scholarship grant.

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Winter Birding in New Mexico

by Jim Highsaw and Linda Prentice

Looking for an alternative to Florida or South Texas for winter birding? Try New Mexico's Rio Grande Valley, south of Albuquerque. In 1994 we visited the area for six days during late January-early February and had some enjoyable birding in a very scenic setting.

The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the two and a half days spent at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro. In addition to the thousands of Sandhill Cranes which winter there, along with a few Whooping Cranes from the Idaho flock, the refuge holds numerous raptors (we saw Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles, Harris' and Red-tailed Hawks, and Kestrels), ducks (including Cinnamon Teal, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and Hooded Mergansers), and Snow Geese. After a short time around the Visitor Center we had four new species for us--Gambel's Quail, White-crowned Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, and Curve-billed Thrasher. Opportunities for Photography were good; we were able to photograph Ring-necked Pheasants, Western Meadowlarks, Great Blue Herons, Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese and Bald Eagles from the car, and White-crowned Sparrows at the feeding ares by the Visitor Center. All in all we found ten new species for us at this refuge. It was hard to tear ourselves away from this place!

From Bosque del Apache we headed south down the Rio Grande Valley to Percha Dam State Park and Caballo Reservoir near Truth or Consequences. At Percha we had our first-ever looks at Verdin, Western Bluebird, and American Pipit, as well as an assortment of more familiar birds such as Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and Spotted Sandpiper. Caballo Reservoir provided looks at Bald Eagle, Eared Grebe, and American Coot.

From Perch we continued south to Las Cruces, where we spent half a day birding in the foothills of the Organ Mountains just east of town. We persevered in the face of some morning snow, and were able to observe Black-throated Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, and Loggerhead Shrike. That afternoon we headed back up the Valley to Truth or Consequences, and the next morning looked around Elephant Butte Reservoir and State Park. On the final day of the trip we spent an enjoyable morning at the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque, observing Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and Mallards on the waterfowl pond from the comfort of an observation room complete with piped-in sounds from the pond; we also enjoyed walking the trails before flying out that afternoon.

This trip yielded 16 new species for our life list, and featured wonderful looks at a variety of birds in uncrowded, scenic settings. The only drawback was the weather - daytime temperatures were colder than expected. We would recommend this trip to anyone looking for a winter escape, especially anyone who wants to see some Western birds (but take some warm clothes). We would love to return to Bosque del apache for another shot at misses such as Yellow-headed Blackbird, Mountain Bluebird, and Golden Eagle.

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Help Birds Live in Your Yard

compiled by Joy Wheeler

Here are some suggestions from Partners in Flight on how to plan your yard to be hospitable to migratory birds:
  1. Think Variety! Providing the variety of food resources that birds require is the most challenging aspect of landscaping for migrants:
  2. Go Native! Grow native species wherever possible; they are best adapted to local soils and climates, require less fertilizer, water and pest control. Native plants also offer the best overall food sources for birds. Moreover, the dispersal of their seeds by avian foragers will help to insure a healthy forest community in future years.
  3. Plan Creatively!
  4. Dangers in the Garden: Now that you have invited migratory birds into your yard, you have a responsibility to protect them from the hazards they will face due to close association with the human community:
Support the work of conservation throughout the Northern Hemisphere that seek to strictly preserve large, intact ecosystems and promote the sustainable use of existing unprotected forest land. Become politically aware, stay politically active. For starters, support Maryland's non-game program, and demand a strengthened Endangered Species Act.

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North American Migration Count

by Leanne Pemburn

Baltimore County, as well as the rest of the state, was blessed with beautiful weather and a very good Warbler flight this year. Some of the better finds included Tundra Swan, Sora Rail, Red-headed Woodpecker, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Summer Tanager, and Grasshopper Sparrow. There were also high counts for Bank and Cliff Swallow -- and the highest number of individuals was not European Starling, but Semipalmated Sandpiper, with 1362 counted on Hart-Miller Island!

This year also set a record for participation. Baltimore County boasted 58 birders in the field for the May Count, putting us ahead of all other counties whose results have been returned to date. A heart-felt thanks to all who counted.

Next year we can look forward to a re-designed, and (hopefully) more coherent count form. It will be published, as usual, in the March/April Maryland Yellowthroat. Good Birding till then.

         TOTALS    SPECIES
              4   COMMON LOON
            147   DOUBLE-CREST CORMORANT
            169   GREAT BLUE HERON
              3   GREAT EGRET
             11   SNOWY EGRET
             12   GREEN-BACKED HERON
              7   BLACK-CROWN NIGHT-HERON
              3   YELLOW-CRWN NIGHT-HERON
              1   TUNDRA SWAN
            274   CANADA GOOSE
             54   WOOD DUCK
              4   AMERICAN BLACK DUCK
            186   MALLARD
              2   BLUE-WINGED TEAL
              2   GADWALL
             30   LESSER SCAUP
              4   RUDDY DUCK
             14   BLACK VULTURE
             99   TURKEY VULTURE
             29   OSPREY
              1   BALD EAGLE [adult]
              2   BALD EAGLE [imm]
              1   NORTHERN HARRIER
              3   SHARP-SHINNED HAWK
              8   COOPER'S HAWK
             27   RED-SHOULDERED HAWK
             15   BROAD-WINGED HAWK
             18   RED-TAILED HAWK
             12   AMERICAN KESTREL
              2   MERLIN
              8   PEREGRINE FALCON
             13   RING-NECKED PHEASANT
             10   WILD TURKEY
              3   NORTHERN BOBWHITE
             35   VIRGINIA RAIL
              4   SORA
             60   BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER
              6   SEMIPALMATED PLOVER
             28   KILLDEER
            270   LESSER YELLOWLEGS
             39   SOLITARY SANDPIPER
             57   SPOTTED SANDPIPER
             27   LEAST SANDPIPER
              1   WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER
            100   PEEP sp.
            227   DUNLIN
              1   AMERICAN WOODCOCK
            184   BONAPARTE'S GULL
            197   RING-BILLED GULL
            239   HERRING GULL
            137   GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL
            140   CASPIAN TERN
              4   FORSTER'S TERN
             22   LEAST TERN
            282   ROCK DOVE
            444   MOURNING DOVE
              2   BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO
             22   YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO
              1   EASTERN SCREECH-OWL
              2   GREAT HORNED OWL
             10   BARRED OWL
              3   COMMON NIGHTHAWK
              7   WHIP-POOR-WILL
            265   CHIMNEY SWIFT
             18   BELTED KINGFISHER
              1   RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
            178   RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
             72   DOWNY WOODPECKER
             22   HAIRY WOODPECKER
             97   NORTHERN FLICKER
             18   PILEATED WOODPECKER
             76   EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE
             66   ACADIAN FLYCATCHER
              6   WILLOW FLYCATCHER
              1   LEAST FLYCATCHER
             53   EASTERN PHOEBE
             60   GREAT CREST FLYCATCHER
            181   EASTERN KINGBIRD
             50   PURPLE MARTIN
             52   TREE SWALLOW
             61   N ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW
           1043   BANK SWALLOW
             90   CLIFF SWALLOW
            312   BARN SWALLOW
            284   BLUE JAY
            499   AMERICAN CROW
             21   FISH CROW
             34   CROW Sp.
            253   CAROLINA CHICKADEE
            239   TUFTED TITMOUSE
              2   BROWN CREEPER
            175   CAROLINA WREN
             98   HOUSE WREN
             63   MARSH WREN
             10   RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET
            154   BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER
             85   EASTERN BLUEBIRD
             51   VEERY
              1   GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH
             23   SWAINSON'S THRUSH
              1   HERMIT THRUSH
            205   WOOD THRUSH
            643   AMERICAN ROBIN
            689   GRAY CATBIRD
            133   NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD
             14   BROWN THRASHER
            386   CEDAR WAXWING
           1213   EUROPEAN STARLING
             67   WHITE-EYED VIREO
              2   SOLITARY VIREO
             14   YELLOW-THROATED VIREO
              9   WARBLING VIREO
            328   RED-EYED VIREO
              3   BLUE-WINGED WARBLER
              5   TENNESSEE WARBLER
              5   NASHVILLE WARBLER
            106   NORTHERN PARULA
            123   YELLOW WARBLER
             42   CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER
             83   MAGNOLIA WARBLER
              4   CAPE MAY WARBLER
            163   BLACK-THRT BLUE WARBLER
            170   YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER
             50   BLACK-THR GREEN WARBLER
             13   BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER
              7   PINE WARBLER
             19   PRAIRIE WARBLER
              1   PALM WARBLER
             10   BAY-BREASTED WARBLER
             77   BLACKPOLL WARBLER
              3   CERULEAN WARBLER
             58   BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER
            232   AMERICAN REDSTART
             13   WORM-EATING WARBLER
            123   OVENBIRD
             10   NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH
             27   KENTUCKY WARBLER
            274   COMMON YELLOWTHROAT
             14   HOODED WARBLER
              2   WILSON'S WARBLER
             28   CANADA WARBLER
             10   YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT
              1   SUMMER TANAGER
            117   SCARLET TANAGER
            418   NORTHERN CARDINAL
             34   ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK
              1   BLUE GROSBEAK
            170   INDIGO BUNTING
            113   RUFOUS-SIDED TOWHEE
             72   CHIPPING SPARROW
             19   FIELD SPARROW
              2   SAVANNAH SPARROW
              2   GRASSHOPPER SPARROW
            200   SONG SPARROW
             59   SWAMP SPARROW
             64   WHITE-THROATED SPARROW
              2   WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW
            389   BOBOLINK
            739   RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD
              8   EASTERN MEADOWLARK
            643   COMMON GRACKLE
            182   BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD
             33   ORCHARD ORIOLE
            142   BALTIMORE ORIOLE
              1   PURPLE FINCH
            355   HOUSE FINCH
            329   AMERICAN GOLDFINCH
            239   HOUSE SPARROW

            169   TOTAL NUMBER OF SPECIES

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Back Yard Birding


During late April, a new dimension was added to the expression "Shop till you drop" when Glenda Weikel and a friend decided to do some birding at the Owings Mills Mall. They headed for the wetland area on Red Run Boulevard and were treated to Yellow and Myrtle Warblers, Canada Geese on a nest, a Green Heron, a Singing Orchard Oriole, and the most exciting of all--an American Bittern! Not bad for a Sunday morning's shopping. Glenda is an apartment dweller and enjoys finding local spots that will extend her "back yard" birding experiences.

Mark Letzer of Cockeysville reports having a Red-headed Woodpecker at his feeder during eight days in April. At first, the bird came in at regular intervals, but it finally settled into a pattern of feeding once in the early morning and twice during the late afternoon. The last time Mark remembers seeing a Red-headed Woodpecker in Baltimore County was ten years ago.

Speaking of Red-headed Woodpeckers, Dixie Mullineaux and John Corame from the Milford Mill area had their first one ever sometime around April 21. John was home that day and was delighted to see this rare visitor peck through sunflower seeds strewn on the ground.

During April, Phyllis Grimm of Reisterstown wrote: "My husband and I have been enjoying a male Pine Warbler which has been visiting our seed and suet feeders." Phyllis noticed that the bird became less wary as the days passed. The warbler came as close as three feet from her kitchen window, which enabled her to take some wonderfully close looks. Around this same time the Grimms also enjoyed visits from male and female Purple Finches.

Harry Frantz, retired instrumental teacher, decided to clean out the basement. Underneath a pile of boxes he discovered a decrepit bass drum with a rip across one head. To expedite his cleaning efforts, he moved the drum outside of the basement's large double doors and left it under the porch deck.

Several days later, when it was time to move the drum back inside, he was amused to find a Carolina Wren with a lovely nest and four eggs. About three weeks later, all the little birds were successfully hatched and fledged, and the drum, none the worse for wear, was returned to its original spot in the basement.

During mid-June in Reisterstown, Eileen Berlin watched a pair of Downy Woodpeckers excavate a nest hole in her redwood deck. Days later, she was able to see that some eggs had been laid. She graciously accepted the damage to her porch and stated that she didn't really mind the hole. Eileen hopes that the birds fledge successfully and she is confident the damage to her porch will be easy to repair.

Let us hear about your Back Yard birding too. Call or write

                  Gail Frantz
                  13955 Old Hanover Rd.
                  Reisterstown MD 21136

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