The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

April/May 1996 - Online Edition


Deadline for next CHIP NOTES: June 25, 1996 (the next issue will be August/September 1996)
Send material to:
                   Steve Sanford
                   8412 Downey Dale Drive
                   Randallstown MD 21133
or e-mail to
Please help CHIP NOTES get out on time

We can help the C&O Canal

Sukon Kanchanaraksa

The C&O Canal is closed indefinitely in many places because of disastrous flooding. Park officials estimate damages could total more than $20 million for the 184.5 mile canal, including $8 million for the 12-mile stretch of the canal in the Washington area. Congress committed $2 million in emergency appropriations this year for repair. Additional funding is being sought from Congress.

Tax-deductible donations are being accepted to help fix the towpath. If you would like to help, you can write a check to The C&O Canal Restoration Fund or to Superintendent, C&O Canal National Historical Park. The Baltimore Bird Club (BBC) and the MOS recommend that you send the check to the BBC at

              Baltimore Bird Club
              Cylburn Park Mansion
              4915 Greenspring Ave.
              Baltimore, MD 21209
The checks will be sent en masse to the appropriate agencies under the letterhead of Baltimore Bird Club. If you would rather send the check directly to the agencies, the addresses are below:
              The C&O Canal Restoration Fund
              The National Park Foundation,
              1101 17th St., N.W., Suite 1102
              Washington, DC 20036
              C&O Canal National Historical Park
              Box 4
              Sharpstown, MD 21782
              (mark check "for canal restoration")
If you'd like further information, check out the Canal Web Page.

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The Winter Season

Steve Sanford and Leanne Pemburn

The winter season was remarkably cold and snowy. As is often the case in such winters, there were many excellent bird sightings in the area.

The big stars of the season were two Barrow's Goldeneyes seen beginning February 28 at Patuxent Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County. This was only the second Maryland record for this species. A Harlequin Duck and a Red-necked Grebe were also found there. Many thanks to Kyle Rambo and Doug Lister for escorting numerous birders onto the restricted area of the base for good looks at these birds; and many thanks to the officials of the base for allowing birders to visit.

Probably the best sighting in Baltimore - certainly the cutest - was a Saw-whet Owl. It was seen well by a number of birders for a few days in late November to early December in a tree by the entrance to a University of Maryland building in downtown Baltimore.

Hank Kaestner discovered a Northern Goshawk at a quarry off Warren Road in Cockeysville in late December. It was seen occasionally for several months, although it eluded most searchers.

The Baltimore Harbor Christmas Count on Saturday, December 30th returned an average number of species, but a fine day of birding for many people. Sightings of note include an out-of-season Great Egret at the "Oxygen Pond" near Sparrows Point (for the second year in a row), Purple Finches, Snow Buntings, and American Pipits at Fort Howard, Pine Siskins in Glen Burnie, two immature white-phase Snow Geese and two Orange-crowned Warblers at the Sewage Plant and in northern Anne Arundel County. Also, there was an immature Red-headed Woodpecker at Black Marsh, Rusty Blackbirds at Southwest Area Park, and seven Eastern Meadowlarks and three Short-Eared Owls at Cherry Hill Park in Baltimore City. Mute Swans have moved into the area in a big way, with over half a dozen seen where none have been before. See the complete species list.

Conowingo Dam hosted several Thayer's Gulls and about half a dozen Iceland Gulls in early January. Two Trumpeter Swans showed up briefly at Black Hills Reservoir in western Montgomery County in February. Four to six Short-eared Owls were again wintering in the fields off Feeser and Stonesifer Roads in Carroll County near Taneytown, along with a Rough-legged Hawk. Along the Delaware coast birders found a Painted Bunting, a Varied Thrush, and a Northern Shrike.

If you want to find out about such bird sightings before they're gone, just call our new Baltimore Birdline at (410) 467-0653.

Call the same number to report bird sightings, or e-mail them to .com (Leanne Pemburn) with the subject line "BBC Birdline Sighting." You can also see an online transcript of the Birdline report.

Also, as a reminder to field trip leaders and participants, please use the Birdline to report or learn about any last minute changes in field trips.

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Baltimore Harbor 1995 Christmas Bird Count

Here are the results of the Baltimore Harbor Christmas Count held December 30, 1995. The average number of each species for the period 1979-95 is shown after the figure for 1995. This includes species not seen in 1995. Unusual species or species with unusually high numbers are marked with an asterisk (*). Some disappointing misses are marked with an "M".

                      |Dec 30|Average                        |Dec 30|average
SPECIES               |  1995|1979-95    SPECIES             |  1995|1979-95
Red-Throated Loon     |   1 *|   0.2|   Mourning Dove        | 394  |  560.6
Common Loon           |   - M|   1.5|   Barn Owl             |   -  |    1.0
Pied-Billed Grebe     |  19  |   8.2|   Screech Owl          |   - M|    2.3
Horned Grebe          |   1  |   4.8|   Great Horned Owl     |   4  |    3.2
Great Cormorant       |   -  |   0.1|   Snowy Owl            |   -  |    0.1
D-C Cormorant         |   5  |   1.6|   Barred Owl           |   2  |    0.5
Bittern               |   -  |   0.1|   Short-eared Owl      |   4 *|    1.4
Great Blue Heron      |  74  |  49.9|   Saw-whet Owl         |   -  |    0.0
Great Egret           |   1 *|   0.1|   Belted Kingfisher    |  14  |   14.8
B C Night-Heron       |   1  |  31.4|   Red-headed Woodpecker|   1 *|    0.4
Tundra Swan           |   - M|  10.7|   Red-bel. Woodpecker  |  76  |   38.7
Mute Swan             |  17 *|   2.6|   Sapsucker            |   4  |    3.5
Brant                 |   -  |   0.1|   Downy Woodpecker     | 124  |   79.6
Snow Goose            |   2  |   0.3|   Hairy Woodpecker     |  20  |   10.4
Canada Goose          | 532  | 107.5|   Flicker              |  77  |   53.1
Wood Duck             |   -  |   0.5|   Pileated Woodpecker  |   1  |    0.4
G W Teal              |   -  |  60.7|   Tree Swallow         |   -  |    0.1
Black Duck            | 185  | 155.2|   Phoebe               |   3 *|    0.7
Mallard               |1186  |1065.1|   Horned Lark          |   -  |    2.2
 Black x Mallard hybr.|   -  |   0.2|   Blue Jay             | 308  |  170.6
Pintail               |   -  |  23.8|   American Crow        | 421  | 1146.2
Shoveler              |   -  |  45.5|   Fish Crow            |  17  |   63.5
Gadwall               |  36  |  38.9|     Crow Sp.           | 596  |  363.5
Wigeon                |  52  |  16.8|     Crow Total.        |1034  | 1573.2
Canvasback            |4261  |3495.5|   Black-cap Chickadee  |   -  |    2.5
Redhead               |   -  |   1.7|   Carolina Chickadee   | 301  |  250.6
Ring-necked Duck      |   - M|   3.4|   Titmouse             | 195  |   91.1
Greater Scaup         |   1  | 393.0|   Red-br Nuthatch      |   1  |    4.3
Lesser Scaup          | 803  |1305.1|   White-br Nuthatch    |  66 *|   24.5
   Scaup Sp.          | 902  |1416.9|   Brown Creeper        |  14  |   13.2
   Scaup Sp.          |1706  |3114.9|   Carolina Wren        | 203  |  149.2
Oldsquaw              |   -  |  30.0|   House Wren           |   -  |    0.2
Surf Scoter           |   -  |   0.1|   Winter Wren          |  18 *|    5.2
White-winged Scoter   |   -  |   0.1|   Marsh Wren           |   1  |    3.4
   Scoter Sp.         |   -  |   0.1|   Golden-cr Kinglet    |  37  |   22.8
Goldeneye             | 292  | 156.3|   Ruby-cr Kinglet      |   6  |    8.2
Bufflehead            | 417  | 238.2|   Gnatcatcher          |   -  |    0.2
Hooded Merganser      |  66  |  21.4|   Bluebird             |  25  |    9.2
Com. Merganser        |  28  |  32.1|   Hermit Thrush        |  49 *|   16.8
Red-br. Merganser     |  14  |  74.4|   Robin                | 257 *|  203.6
   Merganser Sp.      |   -  |   0.2|   Catbird              |   5  |    2.7
Ruddy Duck            | 107  |3724.4|   Mockingbird          | 166  |  147.5
Black Vulture         |   -  |   0.1|   Brown Thrasher       |  CW  |    0.8
Turkey Vulture        |   2  |   4.8|   Amer. Pipit          |   1  |    9.2
Bald Eagle (adult)    |   - M|   1.3|   Cedar Waxwing        |   2  |   88.2
           (immature) |   -  |   0.4|   Loggerhead Shrike    |   -  |    0.1
           (TOTAL)    |   -  |   1.6|   Starling             |2696  |35863.7
Harrier               |   3  |   5.6|   Orange-cr Warbler    |   2 *|    0.2
Sharp-shinned Hawk    |   9  |   7.1|   Vermivora Sp.        |   -  |    0.1
Cooper's Hawk         |   8  |   3.3|   Myrtle Warbler       |  92 *|   36.0
Red-shouldered Hawk   |  18  |  10.4|   Pine Warbler         |   -  |    0.1
Red-tailed Hawk       |  40  |  31.6|   Palm Warbler         |   -  |    0.2
Rough-legged Hawk     |   -  |   0.4|   Yellowthroat         |   -  |    1.1
Kestrel               |  24  |  32.2|   Wilson's Warbler     |   -  |    0.1
Merlin                |   -  |   0.1|     Warbler Sp.        |   -  |    0.1
Peregrine             |   5  |   1.5|   Cardinal             | 291  |  361.0
Pheasant              |  11  |  12.6|   R B Grosbeak         |   -  |    0.1
Bobwhite              |  13  |  57.7|   Towhee               |  46 *|   16.8
Virginia Rail         |   3  |   4.0|   Tree Sparrow         | 257 *|   60.3
King Rail             |   -  |   0.1|   Chipping Sparrow     |   -  |    0.6
Sora                  |   -  |   0.1|   Field Sparrow        |  35  |   57.4
Coot                  |  30  |  35.2|   Vesper Sparrow       |   -  |    0.2
Killdeer              |  20  |  88.1|   Savannah Sparrow     |   8  |   13.4
Greater Yellowlegs    |   -  |   1.1|   Fox Sparrow          |   5  |    5.1
Lesser Yellowlegs     |   -  |   0.4|   Song Sparrow         | 547  |  515.2
Marbled Godwit        |   -  |   0.1|   Swamp Sparrow        | 177 *|   84.3
Sanderling            |   -  |   0.1|   White-throat Sparrow | 669  |  983.6
Western Sandpiper     |   -  |   2.9|   White-crown Sparrow  |   - M|    2.1
Least Sandpiper       |   -  |   0.8|   Junco                | 576  |  427.6
   Peep Sp.           |   -  |   0.1|   Snow Bunting         |  23  |   88.2
White-rumped Sandpiper|   -  |   0.1|   Red-winged Blackbird |2106  |24354.8
Dunlin                |   1  |   3.2|   Yellow-head Blackbird|   -  |    0.1
Snipe                 |   -  |   2.6|   Meadowlark           |   7  |   12.7
Woodcock              |   -  |   0.8|   Rusty Blackbird      |   7  |   10.5
Laughing Gull         |   -  |   3.6|   Brewer's Blackbird   |   -  |    0.1
Black-headed Gull     |   -  |   0.2|   Common Grackle       | 739  |23946.5
Bonaparte's Gull      |l304  | 657.9|   Cowbird              | 113  | 1305.2
Ring-billed Gull      |4778  |6806.3|   Purple Finch         |   2  |    3.4
Herring Gull          | 938  |4022.6|   House Finch          | 112  |  196.2
Iceland Gull          |   -  |   0.2|   Common Redpoll       |   -  |    6.1
Lesser Black-bk Gull  |   -  |   1.4|   Hoary Redpoll        |   -  |    0.1
Glaucous Gull         |   -  |   0.1|   Pine Siskin          |   4  |    2.6
Great Black-bk Gull   | 157  | 314.9|   Goldfinch            |  91  |  121.2
   gull sp.           |   -  |  88.9|   Eve. Grosbkeak       |   -  |    0.9
Rock Dove             |1817  |2143.4|   House Sparrow        | 588  |  732.0
Ringed Turtle-Dove    |   -  |   0.6|

                             |Dec 30|Average|
                             |  1995|1979-95|
                Total Species| 100  |  100.5|
                Total Birds  |2979  |19647.2|
                YEAR         |1995  |Average|
                DATE         |12/30 |  12/28|
                Observers    |  41  |   34.6|
                Paid Obsv.   |  27  |    8.2|
                Parties      |  14  |   14.8|
                Total Hours  | 117  |   98.2|
                Foot Hours   |  82.5|   72.5|
                Car Hours    |  34.5|   25.1|
                Boat Hours   |   0  |    0.6|
                Owl Hours    |   2  |    1.0|
                Total Miles  | 350.5|  275.2|
                Foot Miles   |  66  |   62.6|
                Car Miles    | 284.5|  211.9|
                Boat Miles   |   0  |    0.7|
                START TIME   | 7:00 |  492.6|
                STOP TIME    |17:10 | 1424.4|
                Min Temp     |  21  |   24.7|
                Max Temp     |  49  |   38.2|
                Min Wind     |   0  |    2.8|
                Max Wind     |  10  |    9.9|
                Direction    |  NE  |    NW |
                Sky AM       |  MS  |    MC |
                Sky PM       |  MS  |    MC |
                Snow Cover   |   0  |    0.1|
If you would be interested in a spreadsheet showing all the years' results, get in touch with Steve Sanford (E-mail ), or with Pete Webb, who compiled the count list. We can send you a printed copy, or a Microsoft Excel copy via disk or e-mail.

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Field Trip Reports

Mark Pemburn

If you should be reading this years after the fact -- say you found it in an old stack of mail that slipped over the edge of the desk and wedged against the wall -- let me remind you that this was a winter to remember. On the other hand, if you're reading this in March of 1996, we now conclude a winter best forgotten.

Mind you, this is coming from a man who loves winter. Birding has shown me the real value of the season. Nothing else gives me the sense of vitality I feel when crunching over frozen grass in the January dawn, breathing air that tastes like cold water. But there's also too much of a good thing.

Jan 13 - Lancaster County: Cancelled due to snow.

Jan 20 - Conowingo Dam: Cancelled due to snow.

Jan 27 - Gull Day: Cancelled due to snow.

Feb 10 - By this date, most (not all) of the worst of the winter of 1996 has subsided. This day is partly to mostly cloudy with temperatures in the 40s. It provides a preview of that 5th season, the one known as "Mud". Jim Wilkinson and 14 others made the annual pilgrimage to New Design Road and Frederick County. A total of 43 species fell within their collective gaze including Lapland Longspurs near Walkersville and a Brown Creeper with some Golden-crowned Kinglets at Noland's Ferry.

Feb 17 - Cape Henlopen-Ocean City: Cancelled due to snow.

March 2 - In the early dawn, it looked very much as if we'd have to stamp "Cancelled due to snow" on our trip to Baltimore Harbor, too. By 7:00, however, Leanne and I had received enough calls to warrant making the trip.

Our scouting mission of the week before had demonstrated that there was little point in making the traditional march up Cherry Hill for Short-eared Owls. The one example of the species we found was highly deceased (though in good enough shape to retrieve for the museum). One thing that heartened us was the appearance of around a dozen Pipits.

Thus, at 8:30 AM, we were joined by four others, stomping and clapping in the cold. Cherry Hill offered little. I don't know where Pipits go when it snows but it isn't there. Swann Park was something of a bust as well. You can usually get Hooded Mergansers under the trestle but today there were only Mallards and the three standard gull species. Things started to look up a little when we spotted a Fox Sparrow at Ferry Bar Park. It was kind enough to stick around for all to see.

The last stop was Southwest Area Park -- which I will maintain is the best place to bird in the city (even though it technically in the County). We added Red-shoulders, Red-tails, a Harrier and a Kestrel to the list but the greatest reward for our efforts were eight Snipe, flying in formation overhead.

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May Count

The May Count, a part of International Migratory Bird Day, will take place on Saturday May 11. Call Leanne Pemburn to participate in the count for Baltimore City and County.

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Nominations for BBC Officers

The Nominating Committee submits its list of nominees for the Board of Directors for 1996-97. All members (except juniors) with dues paid for 1995-96 are eligible to vote. Husband and wife membership entitles each spouse to one vote. Please mark your ballot. Ballots must be received by Brent and Mary Byers by April 24, 1996.
Mail ballot by April 24 to

              Brent and Mary Byers
              1104 Engleberth Road
              Baltimore MD 21221-2008
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Book Review

Ben Poscover

Bodsworth, Fred. Last of the Curlews. Washington, DC: Counterpoint. 1995. Illustrated by Abigail Rorer, 186 pages.

Counterpoint press has again reissued the excellent book, Last of the Curlews. It is a story within a story. It first traces the experience of a lone Eskimo Curlew, responding to its reproductive urge, as it migrates to its breeding ground. The author's descriptions of this long and arduous journey give the reader a sense of being there.

The second story is what Bodsworth calls "The Gauntlet." It is entwined throughout the narrative of the first story and is an account of situations that brought about the decline of the Eskimo Curlew's population to its present state.

Knowledge of the life of the Curlew, of bird migration, and of conservation awareness is enhanced. As stated in a recent review in BIRD DIGEST, "It is beautifully written and ornithologically accurate . . . a must read for birders and bird watchers alike." Reader level is middle school through adult.

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BBC Homepage Spans the Globe

Terry Ross, Webmeister of the BBC Homepage on the Internet received a message from Durban South Africa:




We look forward to further communications.

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Central California: Moss Landing, Los Banos, and Monterey Bay

Jim Highsaw and Linda Prentice

In October 1995 we had the opportunity to spend a few days birding in the Monterey, California area. An itinerary which included stops at Moss Landing and Elkhorn Slough on the coast, the San Luis and Merced National Wildlife Refuges near Los Banos in the Central Valley, and a boat trip on Monterey Bay, enabled us to sample different habitats.

The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (1,400 acres) has an extensive trail system and is a very pleasant place to bird; on a weekday there were few visitors. The upland areas contained birds such as Acorn and Nuttall's Woodpecker, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Anna's Hummingbird, California Towhee, Lesser Goldfinch, and Black Phoebe. The main channel of Elkhorn Slough was full of shorebirds, including Avocets, Willets, Long-billed Curlews, Long-billed Dowitchers, and Marbled Godwits. At the Moss Landing area nearby we found more shorebirds as well as a Black-shouldered Kite.

At the San Luis and Merced Refuges, the birding is mostly from the car on the auto tour routes. Both refuges were loaded with raptors, mostly Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers. We also had great looks at a Black-shouldered Kite at San Luis, as well as our first sighting (and photographs) of Yellow-billed Magpies. Sandhill Cranes were numerous at the Merced Refuge.

The highly touted pelagic trip on Monterey Bay was a disappointment. The boat was rolling so much in the swells that it was difficult to view the Shearwaters and Storm-petrels with binoculars. We hope to visit the area again and bird the coastal areas south of Monterey and Carmel!

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Membership Reminders

Roberta Ross

Please don't forget to notify us of address changes, so we will be able to send you information about the 1996-97 membership year, which will begin September 1, 1996.

If you know people who would like to join the Baltimore Bird Club, tell them to join now. If they pay a full year's dues ($20 for an individual or $30 for a household) now, this amount will be applied to the 1996-97 year, so their dues will actually cover the period from May 1, 1996 to September 1, 1997.

Address changes or applications for membership should be sent to

              Roberta Ross
              4128 Roland Avenue
              Baltimore MD 21211-2034
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Joe Lewandowski Provides Technical Assistance

Joy Wheeler

Many thanks to Joe Lewandowski for transferring the old recordings of British bird songs from 78 RPM records to cassette tape. You may remember that Dorothy Scott of Towson gave them to us. They had been part of her father's collection since the 1920s or '30s. According to the labels they were recorded by Dr. Ludwig Koch and the British Broadcasting Company.

Joe worked on them whenever he could, finding it was not such an easy task. He apologized that he was not able to keep the background noises from being picked up by the tape. However, I found that once my ear was tuned to the bird songs I could ignore the background.

Just reading Joe's list of birds on the tape activates the imagination and memory. Bird # 1 is the Blackbird. The Blackbird of my memory was sitting on a window ledge on a weathered stone house on Shomer Island off the coast of Wales. No Blackbird in my experience ever had such a musical repertoire. My one visit to England was not long enough to familiarize myself with any of the other songs on the tape except for the Great Spotted Woodpecker: unmistakable in any language.

Today, February 17, as I am writing this, one of the great mysteries of these records was solved. "Actually recorded in Beatrice Harrison's garden," they said on the label. "Nightingales," "English songbirds awakening." Nothing more. Now, I haven't lost sleep over these labels, but I have been puzzling over this. Who was Beatrice Harrison? Was she some legendary designer and planter of gardens? A Gertrude Jekyll type? Was he a Beatrix Potter teller of garden tales about little rabbits?

I never had a clue until today. I heard the name of Beatrice Harrison on the radio this morning. Julian Lloyd Webber, a contemporary British musician, was telling her story on NPR's Weekend Edition. She was a musician, a cellist in the 1920s and '30s in England who was so attuned to the morning music in her garden that she took her cello outside and played along with the birdsong: the finches, the warblers and sparrows, the blackbirds and robins. In the evening it was the nightingales she accompanied. She then invited the British Broadcasting Corporation to come to her garden and record her music, possibly the first outdoor recording session up to that time.

I listened to the tape with new interest. Was I missing something? There was no cello music, but I did detect a cuckoo from the distance, and in the "Awakening Songbirds" section I could hear roosters crowing. This revelation about Beatrice Harrison, my "awakening," illuminated an otherwise dull day (too snowy for birding).

Joe made a duplicate of the original tape and a careful list of the birds you will be hearing. They can be found in the book collection at Cylburn. If you are well acquainted with British birds you may enjoy listening to this.

Does anybody out there know anything more about Beatrice Harrison? Let us know.

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The Art and Romance of Birdwatching

Joy Wheeler

Jean Worthley, our close reader of newspapers, sends us another clipping, that, in the aftermath of Valentine's Day as I write this, is proof that birdwatching does not need to consume all our energies, but can allow some room for romance. The birdwatcher is Norwegian ornithologist, Kolbjorn Skipnes, and his romantic interest is Dr. Ingrid Catherine Alexander, art conservator from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. They met last July at an international museum conference in Stavanger, Norway, and found that walking on the nearby beaches, birdwatching, foraging for raspberries, and enjoying each other's company was every bit as interesting as the conference meetings, if not more so.

Dr. Alexander was asked what it was like to date a birdwatcher. "A lot of the time we're looking up," she said. But not so much that they were not able to make plans to marry on January 20 in Freeport, Long Island, NY. From there, plans include moving to Stavanger. The bride will learn Norwegian and "learn to recognize the song of the blue jays." It is the notice of this marriage in the February 4 New York Times that caught Jean's attention.

We're sure Dr. Alexander will be able to teach Mr. Skipnes, the ornithologist, some other valuable arts (other than our favorite art of birdwatching) during those long, dark Norwegian nights when birdwatching is not possible. Thanks to Jean for letting us know that romance among birdwatchers is alive and well.

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Board of Directors Meetings

Alan Bromberg, Recording Secretary

The January 8 Board of Directors meeting was canceled as a result of the blizzard. The board met on February 12. It further considered the donation for the purchase of land at Dr. Alexander Skutch's preserve in Costa Rica and voted to contribute the money through the Tropical Science Center rather than the Nature Conservancy.

The board heard a report on preparation for the June MOS conference and considered proposals to donate the money from the silent raffle to the restoration of the C&O Canal, to have BBC T-shirts made up for the field trip leaders at the conference and for sale, and to sponsor a hospitality suite with refreshments. The board approved recommending to the MOS that the silent raffle money be used for the canal and approved the purchase of T-shirts and the hospitality suite, pending a report on costs. BBC members are urged to make contributions for the restoration of the C&O Canal; contributions may be made through the BBC.

The board discussed potential means of obtaining publicity for the BBC and the possibility of doing projects with the Baltimore Zoo, including a field trip to the zoo.

The Dorothy Blake Martin Fund has received a request for money to start off a project to produce a tape, CD, and CD-ROM collection of music intended to inform listeners how sounds from nature, such as bird songs, have influenced musicians. The proposal was not accepted because of insufficient information and its tenuous connection to the goals of the BBC.

The board appointed a budget committee to prepare next year's budget.

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Back Yard Birding


Joan Justice of Reisterstown decided to put out 1 lb. of warm, ripely rotten hamburger for the birds during the week of the "96" blizzard. Crows and Starlings appeared almost immediately but were so busy fighting each other that they didn't get to the eating. After several minutes passed, she was amazed to see 3 Turkey vultures circling the treat. One of the vultures floated onto the bird feeder, pushed all comers to one side and made a hobble-hop over to the rotten meat. Noticing his peculiar gait, she ran for her binoculars to take a closer look. He was missing one leg! Not only that, but he ate the whole pound of meat unchallenged.

Harry Frantz writes: "I was scanning our backyard with my new Christmas binoculars when I noticed a fairly large form perched about 15 ft. above the ground in a Mulberry tree. It turned out to be a Sharp-shinned hawk clutching a House finch in its talons. I stood there for the next 30 minutes or so and watched in fascination.

The hawk removed the feathers quickly and proceeded to devour the finch, bones, and all. He cleaned his talons with his beak, wiped his beak on a branch and finally rested comfortably on one leg with the other leg tucked into his feathers.

A Dover Publication, Hawks, Owls and Wildlife, by John J. Craighead and Frank C. Craighead Jr., state that hawks tear their prey into bits and swallow relatively small pieces, ingesting varying quantities of bone. I have to assume that the hawk I observed ingested all of the bones of the finch since I found no evidence of bones at the site. The authors also noted, after comparing owl and hawk pellets, that hawks digest a larger percentage of bones than do owls. Ruth Lang of Kingsville called in about her great BYB in the summer of 1995. During those warm days she caught a good look at a turkey walking through her yard and later that same season she identified a Barn owl calling.

More recently (January 1996), Ruth observed a Red-shouldered hawk, sitting in a tree about 15 yards from the house, shaking something. This uncharacteristic behavior intrigued her. A closer look revealed that the "thing" being shaken was not a woodpecker, which was Ruth's first thought, but one of her wire basket suet feeders. Ruth felt that this shaking technique was probably an effort to extract the suet. She decided to oblige her visitor by cutting the suet into strips then threading it through the wire. As of February2, the bird was still coming to feast.

Eighteen year old Kevin Graff of the Gardenville Section in northeast Baltimore city recorded some super BYB. In the 1996 blizzard he had a Common Redpoll and 3 Purple finches at his feeders. From his backyard, during 1995 fall migration from Sept. through November, Kevin recorded over 500 raptors including 4 Merlins, 6 Osprey, 2 Harriers, 109 Sharpshins, 86 Coopers, 98 Red-tails,1 Kestrel 109 Broad-wings, 49 Red-shouldered and 9 Rough-legged hawks. Great birding Kevin!

Jim Peters of Reisterstown writes "I started feeding around October 15...had a rare visitor, a Clay-colored sparrow, show up on November 8 to spend one day at the feeder." (Jim reported one last winter too). Jim left for a West coast birding trip and upon his return, around December 9, resumed feeding. His yard list of 42 species to date includes Coopers, Sharp-shin, Red-shouldered, and Red-tailed hawks, an enviable list of woodpeckers - Hairy, Downy, Pileated, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, N. Flicker, and Red-bellied. Jim also spotted Rusty blackbird, Evening grosbeak, White-crowned and Tree sparrows and a Winter wren.

Akira and Keiko Shimaoka of Morven Road in Baltimore sent in their Autumn backyard bird feeder list of 15 species which included a Purple finch.

From Winand Elementary:

Do you have any suggestions for gourmet bird food recipes, favorite feeder shapes, squirrel proofing tricks, Starling stumpers, etc. Please write or call about your ingenious idea! We'll put it in next season's Chip Notes.

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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