The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

October/November 1998 -- Online Edition


Deadline for next CHIP NOTES: October 25, 1998 (the next issue will be December 1998--January 1999). Send material to: or e-mail to
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May Count 1998

by Michele Melia

This year’'s State May Count was held on May 9, 1998. A total of 24 parties of 57 Baltimore Bird Club birders turned out to identify and count the birds of Baltimore City and County.

The weather was cool with rain falling off and on -- not the greatest of birding conditions. However, our cold and rainy spring seems to have convinced some of our usual winter residents to stick around a little longer than usual, and we tallied several species on this count that are more typical of our January count than the May count. These included one Red-breasted Nuthatch, two Winter Wrens, ten Purple Finches and fifteen Red Crossbills! The crossbills were reported by two parties from two different sites, both in northern Baltimore County. Some wintering ducks were apparently lingering in the area (mainly at Hart-Miller, but also at Loch Raven), as the count included reports of Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, and Red-breasted Merganser. Other sightings of interest include Horned Grebe and White-rumped Sandpipers at Hart-Miller Island, and White-crowned Sparrows in the Prettyboy Dam area. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and Bald Eagle, both absent from last year’s count, were present this year, as were Great Egret and Cattle Egret.

Some species missed on this year’s count included: all rail species, Chuck-will’s-widow, American Woodcock, Black-billed Cuckoo, Blue-headed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Wilson’s Warbler. Some of these misses were no doubt due to a lack of counters in the pre-dawn and dusk/early nighttime hours.

Altogether, a total of 162 species were identified on the count (not including the genus only reports, such as crow species). The five most numerous species on this year’s count are (from highest to lowest): Least Sandpiper, Barn Swallow, Red-winged Blackbird, European Starling, and Lesser Yellowlegs. Barn Swallow, Red-winged Blackbird, and European Starling were also in last year’s top five.

Many thanks to all of you who participated in this year’s count.

Here is the detailed count:

 36 Common Loon                 |   11 Purple Martin
  4 Horned Grebe                |  150 Tree Swallow
257 Double-crested Cormorant    |   96 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
110 Great Blue Heron            |   89 Bank Swallow
  3 Great Egret                 |   82 Cliff Swallow
  4 Cattle Egret                |  680 Barn Swallow
  2 Black-crowned Night-Heron   |  150 Swallow Sp.
  4 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  |  125 Carolina Chickadee
 36 Black Vulture               |   91 Tufted Titmouse
 54 Turkey Vulture              |    1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
241 Canada Goose                |   14 White-breasted Nuthatch
  6 Mute Swan                   |   83 Carolina Wren
 15 Wood Duck                   |   44 House Wren
  2 Gadwall                     |    2 Winter Wren
  2 American Wigeon             |   22 Marsh Wren
  3 American Black Duck         |    1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
281 Mallard                     |    5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  5 Blue-winged Teal            |   94 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  1 Northern Shoveler           |   65 Eastern Bluebird
  2 Lesser Scaup                |   20 Veery
  5 Red-breasted Merganser      |    3 Swainson’s Thrush
 32 Osprey                      |    1 Hermit Thrush
  3 Bald Eagle                  |  119 Wood Thrush
  3 Northern Harrier            |  370 American Robin
  3 Sharp-shinned Hawk          |  264 Gray Catbird
  4 Cooper’s Hawk               |   80 Northern Mockingbird
 13 Red-shouldered Hawk         |    5 Brown Thrasher
 20 Red-tailed Hawk             |  608 European Starling
  3 American Kestrel            |   17 Cedar Waxwing
  1 Peregrine Falcon            |   15 Blue-winged Warbler
  6 Ring-necked Pheasant        |    1 Nashville Warbler
  6 Northern Bobwhite           |   59 Northern Parula
  1 American Coot               |   84 Yellow Warbler
  1 Black-bellied Plover        |    5 Chestnut-sided Warbler
104 Semipalmated Plover         |    2 Magnolia Warbler
 49 Killdeer                    |    1 Cape May Warbler
  7 Greater Yellowlegs          |   43 Black-throated Blue Warbler
491 Lesser Yellowlegs           |  128 Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler
 10 Solitary Sandpiper          |   15 Black-throated Green Warbler
 33 Spotted Sandpiper           |    2 Blackburnian Warbler
 38 Semipalmated Sandpiper      |    1 Yellow-throated Warbler
756 Least Sandpiper             |    2 Pine Warbler
  3 White-rumped Sandpiper      |   15 Prairie Warbler
289 Peep Sp.                    |    2 Bay-breasted Warbler
130 Dunlin                      |    2 Blackpoll Warbler
 30 Short-billed Dowitcher      |    2 Cerulean Warbler
  1 Common Snipe                |   49 Black-and-white Warbler
  6 Laughing Gull               |   58 American Redstart
  2 Bonaparte’s Gull            |   21 Worm-eating Warbler
138 Ring-billed Gull            |   77 Ovenbird
314 Herring Gull                |    6 Northern Waterthrush
 93 Great Black-backed Gull     |   21 Louisiana Waterthrush
362 Caspian Tern                |    5 Kentucky Warbler
 16 Least Tern                  |  164 Common Yellowthroat
130 Rock Dove                   |   15 Hooded Warbler
202 Mourning Dove               |    3 Canada Warbler
  1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo        |    6 Yellow-breasted Chat
  2 Great Horned Owl            |    4 Summer Tanager
  2 Barred Owl                  |   36 Scarlet Tanager
  2 Whip-poor-will              |   80 Eastern Towhee
150 Chimney Swift               |   51 Chipping Sparrow
  8 Ruby-throated Hummingbird   |   17 Field Sparrow
  7 Belted Kingfisher           |    2 Savannah Sparrow
 68 Red-bellied Woodpecker      |  127 Song Sparrow
 22 Downy Woodpecker            |    4 Swamp Sparrow
  5 Hairy Woodpecker            |   58 White-throated Sparrow
 37 Northern Flicker            |    4 White-crowned Sparrow
  4 Pileated Woodpecker         |  247 Northern Cardinal
  5 Eastern Wood-Pewee          |    8 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
 16 Acadian Flycatcher          |    2 Blue Grosbeak
  1 Empidonax Sp.               |   42 Indigo Bunting
 20 Eastern Phoebe              |  103 Bobolink
 16 Great Crested Flycatcher    |  648 Red-winged Blackbird
 73 Eastern Kingbird            |    5 Eastern Meadowlark
 33 White-eyed Vireo            |  268 Common Grackle
 14 Yellow-throated Vireo       |   76 Brown-headed Cowbird
 12 Warbling Vireo              |   20 Orchard Oriole
  1 Philadelphia Vireo          |   90 Baltimore Oriole
130 Red-eyed Vireo              |   10 Purple Finch
110 Blue Jay                    |   88 House Finch
325 American Crow               |   15 Red Crossbill
  9 Fish Crow                   |  285 American Goldfinch
 46 Crow Sp.                    |  176 House Sparrow

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by Joy Wheeler

Mike Knott, one of our long time members, deserves our sincere thanks for the expert restoration work in our Museum of the Birds of Maryland. He came to Cylburn on July 6 at our invitation equipped with all the tools needed to replace five of the largest Plexiglas panels on largest cases of birds. The original panels were put into place during the 1983-84 renewal of the museum. They served their purpose well until two or three years ago when Cylburn's furnace stopped working for a week during a very cold winter. We believe the severe and abrupt changes in temperature caused the panels to crack around the screws and across the corners. At the May meeting our Board of Directors appropriated enough money to replace them.

Mike showed his skill as soon as he arrived at 1:30 and got to work handling those enormous sheets of Plexiglas, drilling holes at all the right places and putting the panels into place, using not only screws but also washers around the screws. This important omission in the original installation may have allowed the problem to occur in the first place. Mike also showed considerable skill at handling a crew of volunteers, among them Bix Wheeler who had constructed the cases though he was not on the committee to put the original Plexiglas in place.

Patsy Perlman and I were there to cheer on the process, each of us wielding a mean screwdriver on command. Thanks also to Patsy for having the Plexiglas delivered from Laird Plastics Co. in time for the job. We worked steadily from 1:30 to 5:30 PM, finished the job, cleaned up the mess, and helped Mike pack his tools in his truck. Be sure you notice the difference the next time you're in the museum and thank Mike. We couldn't have done it without him.

Thanks from Calvin Rodwell School:

For the past three years we of the Baltimore Bird Club have provided 6 sets per year of Audubon Adventures to 6 different Baltimore City elementary school classrooms. We used the $200 grant made available each year from the MOS Education Committee. Audubon Adventures is a publication of the National Audubon Society to act as a "field trip within the classroom." With this project we intended to reach young children, grades 3-5, with information, stories, pictures, and puzzles about natural history in a readable format.

The following is an excerpt from a letter written on June 3, 1998 by one of the teachers who inadvertently received Audubon Adventures for the entire 3 years. (For the first two years it was addressed to the science specialist who directed it to her, knowing she would put it to good use.)

I am writing on behalf of myself and the 3rd graders at Calvin Rodwell School, #256, in Baltimore to thank you for your contribution of the subscription Audubon Adventures. The children love the "Newspapers." The articles enrich many of our science units. Since we are an M.S.P.A.P. grade we try to give the children as many opportunities as possible to read from different sources. I have saved the issues from the 3 years I have received the papers and use them whenever they fit in both science and language arts. Currently, we are studying the life cycles of butterflies and frogs, and also the habitats of both, so I have 3 different issues in my science center for the children to use. The children did a big unit on birds in the fall when we made very good use of the papers.

Thank you for thinking of us at Calvin Rodwell Elementary School.

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Postcard from Arizona

by Hank Kaestner

At the end of March I celebrated my birthday with some excellent birding in the Dominican Republic. The next week was my wife's birthday and she wanted a week at a dude ranch in Arizona. I was lucky that the ranch she picked was the Circle Z, located immediately south of the Sonoita Creek sanctuary south of Patagonia, Arizona! Although most days were spent horseback riding with my wife, I did have a few hours around lunch and dinner breaks, and one morning to bird watch, and managed 114 species on the ranch property. The best sightings were Grey, Black, and Zone-tailed Hawks, 9 hummers, including Violet-crowned, an early Elegant Trogon, 12 flycatchers including Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Hammond's, Dusky, and Pacific-slope Flycatcher, 6 wrens, Hutton's, Bell's, Cassin's, Plumbeous, and Warbling Vireos, and Five-striped, Rufous-crowned, and Black-chinned Sparrows.

Not bad for 4 days on a dude ranch. We even got a Roadrunner on the last day.

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Membership Dues

by Roberta Ross

Our 1998-99 membership year began September 1, 1998. Thanks to all who paid their dues promptly. If you have not paid your dues, please forward them as promptly as possible to

    Roberta Ross
    4128 Roland Ave
    Baltimore MD 21211-2034

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

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History Lessons

by Joy Wheeler

During the past 2 summers several incidents involving our collections at Cylburn have occurred to bring our attention to some past history of bird study in Maryland. I've already mentioned these incidents to many interested members and reported in the MOS Library Committee Annual Report. It is important for the Chip Notes to carry the record for present and future members. Some of the stories have to do with birds, some with people.


The first president of the MOS at its 1945 founding lived a long life and pursued a continuing interest in bird study. He died in 1995 as we celebrated our 50th anniversary. He supported MOS activities in many ways, writing, editing and contributing art work to our newsletter, and to Maryland Birdlife. "Duke" as he was known, led many field trips, and did much to educate the general public, adults and children alike about birds. Even after suffering several strokes, and during long terms of hospitalization, he was able to regale his fellow patients with talks and slide shows about birds. Before his death he had instructed his son David to be sure that the MOS received his bird-related materials: his original art work, a small collection of decoys, books, journals, and field notes dating back to the 1930's. At the 1998 MOS Conference we put the decoys and some of the art collection into the Silent Auction. Scott Johnson , professor of ornithology at Towson University, was grateful to get long series of the journals Mr. Hampe received during his lifetime. We feel better about dispersing these collections throughout the MOS than hiding them away in an inaccessible closet at Cylburn. We still have many items of art and will put these into next year's Silent Auction. We do intend to keep the field notes which may be seen and studied at Cylburn by appointment . Call Joy Wheeler, 410-825-1204.


Never a member of MOS, Mr. Sommer had a serious interest in studies of Maryland birds, especially those of the Hamilton and Govans area of Baltimore City and parts of Baltimore County from the late 1800's to the mid 1960's when he died at age 95. Mr. Sommer had connections with some most respected names in Maryland bird study: Frank Kirkwood, Hall Pleasants, James Fischer, and Brooke Meanley among them. It was through Mr. Meanley that we were alerted to the existence of this collection. We are grateful for his gentle but persistent prodding of Mr. Sommer's heirs over a period of 10 years to relinquish this rich treasure to become a part of our collections. For many hours of mid-winter browsing and study these items can be seen by reservation: Call Joy Wheeler, 410-825-1204.

Great Gray Owl and Capercaillie

Two bird specimens can be seen when you come to browse through the Hampe and Sommer collections. They are not birds of Maryland so do not qualify to be housed in our Museum of the Birds of Maryland. As mounted specimens they are too imposing to be hidden away on a dark shelf somewhere, however.

The Great Gray Owl was given to us several years ago by Trina Comstock-Gay when she was disposing of some birds and butterfly collections that had belonged to her father. At that time Baltimore’s Peale Museum was looking for some mounted birds to fill some cases made empty by the return of birds they’d borrowed from Harvard to commemorate Peale’s 1800’s display. Our Great Gray Owl fit Peale’s needs perfectly. Unfortunately the bird exhibit at the Peale was returned to us at the closing of the entire museum. It is now on display by special arrangement in the 3rd floor landing sitting room.

Equally as impressive a mount as the Great Gray Owl is a Capercaillie, a European bird of the grouse family. The Capercaillie or Auerhahn, the largest of the grouse, lives only in mature stands of spruce and pine with some undergrowth of berry-bearing shrubs in northern temperate Eurasia. While still fairly plentiful in parts of Scandinavia and in the Siberian taiga, it is restricted to mountain forests and private preserves. Each male takes a harem of up to a dozen females. Perching in a pine tree in April and May, crowing and calling, he drives out all other males in his territory. The female nests in a crude hollow scrape in the ground, incubating alone a normal clutch of from 5 to 8 eggs for 27 days, and alone rearing the young in family groups throughout the summer.

The Capercaillie at Cylburn was the 1974 hunting trophy of Col. Clarence Hurtt during an 11-year of duty with the US Army in Germany. With the guidance of a seasoned hunter, Hurtt stalked the bird for 3 days before taking it during the April-May season of that year. Immediately after the death of the bird a 30 minute ceremony of silent respect for the bird was held. It was then mounted by a taxidermist in Bavaria and held a place of honor in Hurtt’s home until his recent death. Mrs. Virginia Hurtt gave the Capercaillie to Cylburn in 1998. It can also be seen by arrangement with Patsy Perlman or Joy Wheeler.

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Crowing about Crossbills

by Joy Wheeler

Listening to the crowing of my fellow Baltimore Bird Club members about all the crossbills being seen around the county and state on Christmas counts, Mid Winter Bird Counts, and any other count was hard to take. If you know anything about my birdwatching habits you may know that my goal would not have been just to see these uncommon birds this year, hut to see them at the focus of my birdwatching activities, Loch Raven’s Northampton Furnace Trail. I will admit that after a few weeks of reports of crossbill appearances, and still no crossbills for me, I did go to my next best site to see them, the Pine Ridge Golf Course. I did that three times, even taking a tape of crossbill sounds with me, with no luck. I was actually going to "fudge" my list if the birds in question appeared with what might be interpreted as being visible across the cove from "my" trail. I wasn’t even getting an opportunity to do that. (Please don’t assume I’ve "fudged" any other bird on my Trail list of 204.)

By February 28 I had begun to accept the notion that these winter finches had flown hack to the north where there was some real winter. I hadn’t needed to be so fatalistic. On March 1 as I was returning to the head of the trail after and hour and a half of pure delight (Almost any bird will do, and there had been bluebirds, three kinds of mergansers, and a Fox Sparrow, to name a few) it seemed my time for crossbills may have arrived. A tight flock of small finch-like birds, maybe 20 altogether, flew rapidly through the tops of the pines on the south side of the trail to the north side and down into the pine tops out of sight. Their chips sounded familiar from my sessions of listening to the tapes, hut not familiar enough for me to be sure. I really had no hope of seeing this small flock again they had been moving so fast. I "pished" anyway. On cue the little flock lifted itself out of the tree tops and flew in my direction. Here was a second chance, though the birds were too high and the pines were dark. I kept on pishing and the birds kept moving, this time to a tall bare tulip tree even closer, the seed pods probably attracting them more than my pishing. Only then did I allow myself to hope: plenty of light, birds hanging among the twigs digging into the seed pods. Some of them were reddish, more reddish than a house finch; some of them were yellowish, not brownish like female house finches; and none of them had just plain, stout conical bills. When I could get a steady unhurried look I could actually see the curved tips on these finches bills. I never did see any white on the wings of any of the birds, but I am satisfied – thrilled, even – to add Red Crossbills to my Northampton Furnace Trail list. This kind of proof is not required to keep me loyal to my trail, but it helps.

Now the question is, can the rest of you Baltimore Bird Club members put up with my crowing?

March 19, 1998 -- the day the swallows come back to Capistrano.

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Denali National Park and Anchorage

by Jim Highsaw and Linda Prentice

We completed a nine day trip to Alaska in late July-early August 1998. Although birding was not the primary reason for the trip, we were able to spend some time looking for birds in Denali National Park and in the Anchorage area.

Our first morning in Anchorage we visited Potter's Marsh, which is included in Scher's Field Guide to Birding in Anchorage as one of the good sites in the Anchorage area. Birds spotted here included Arctic Tern, Red-necked Grebe, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, and Common Snipe. After lunch we walked a section of the Coastal Trail near Earthquake Park (also described in Scher's book); although there was not much bird activity at this time of day, we did get our first Black-Billed Magpie and Common Redpoll, and also saw Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Lesser Yellowlegs and Semipalmated Plover.

After two days in Anchorage, we were scheduled to ride the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park However, a train derailment had disrupted service, so the Railroad sent us to Denali on a bus. Most of the following day was spent riding the North Face Lodge bus back into the park to Wonder Lake. Although Willow Ptarmigan were plentiful along the park road, and a Golden Eagle nest with young was located on a cliff below the park road, there weren't many other birds. Much more visible were the larger animals in the park (grizzlies, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and red fox). The most productive birding area near North Face Lodge was Wonder Lake, where we spent half-a-day canoeing and saw a family of Common Loons up close, a Surf Scoter, Mew Gull, Pintails, Boreal Chickadees and Greater White-fronted Goose, and had spectacular views of Mount McKinley. On a day hike near the tundra ponds we saw Northern Harriers, Savannah Sparrows, White-Crowned Sparrows, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pintails, and Ravens.

We had rain on our last day in Anchorage, but we did spot a Wilson's Warbler foraging in our host's yard. We hope to go back soon to visit other parts of the State.

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Field Trip Reports

by compiled Steve Sanford

August 15 -- Bombay Hook - No Report

August 25 -- Lake Roland -- 14 participants saw 50 species including both species of Night-Heron (immature), Great Egret, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and three species of warbler: Chestnut-sided, Black & White, and American Redstart. The weather was hot, in the 90's. Leader: Shirley Geddes.

August 28 -- Liberty Reservoir -- Sightings included Great Egret, Green-backed and Great Blue Herons, Spotted, Western, and Least Sandpipers, and Magnolia Warbler. The weather was "good." 15 participants. 42 species. Leader: Burton Alexander.

September 1 -- Lake Roland -- The 21 participants were treated to 11 warbler species: Blue-winged, Tennessee, Parula, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Black & White Warbler, American Redstart, Yellowthroat, and Canada Warbler, plus a Caspian Tern in flight, and many others for a total of 61 species. It was clear, about 75°, with a gentle breeze. Leader: Chris Manning.

September 6 -- Phoenix Pond -- Leader Michele Melia writes the trip featured "good looks at Parula, Blackburnian, Magnolia, and Canada Warblers [plus Redstart, and Black-throated Green Warbler for a total of 6 warbler species], and 3 vireo species: Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Warbling. The Warbling Vireos were singing up a storm, just like in the spring." Total species: 39. 10 participants. The weather was "perfect!" Clear, sunny 60's to mid 70's.

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Sunday Mornings at Cylburn

by Joseph M. Lewandowski

August 23, 1998

I have heard it said that if one leaves an area for a while and then comes back to it, one notices all the little changes that have taken place. For our first walk of the Summer/Fall at Cylburn, that statement was certainly true. On this beautiful August day, seven birders saw Cylburn in all its glory. The mansion porch has been decked out with beautiful planters. An urn graces the side garden with colorful flowers growing out of it. The garden was full of color and a new pond can be seen in front of the mansion. New bird feeders have been placed along the trails; and all this with sun, blue skies, and hot temperatures made for a great summer day. Twenty-six species topped our birding list. Memorable species included a Canada Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Wood Thrush, Barn Swallow, Broad-winged Hawk, Kestrel, and Hummingbird. It was great to be out at Cylburn and this city arboretum did not disappoint us.

August 30, 1998

It was another gorgeous day at Cylburn for this second self-guided bird walk. The butterflies were out in force and the leaves were continuing their early departure from the trees and carpeting the forest floor. Despite this early sign of fall, the wildflowers were still in bloom and six birders enjoyed a pleasant morning. It was a quiet morning; quiet in that we did not hear the constant chatter of birds as we walked the trails. But, it must have been a good sign for we saw 32 species of birds. Several species of warbler were spotted including Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Parula, and Redstart. Veery, both wrens, Kestrel, Pileated Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, hummingbirds, and an Acadian Flycatcher were other notables seen. We can only hope that September will be a great birding month.

September 6, 1998

If fall is going to be this nice, I am sure that all of us would want the weather to stay this way forever. For the sixteen birders, (that's right, sixteen: a new Cylburn record?) that joined us on this self-guided bird walk, it was wonderful. Unfortunately, for those of us looking for a long bird list, it was not the best of days. The Arboretum was in great shape but bird calls were down, butterflies at a low ebb, and only 28 species of birds were seen. We did spot Flickers, a Kestrel, Killdeer, Black-and-white Warbler, Canada Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Redstart, and Chestnut-sided Warbler. Hummingbirds gave us a good look at their flying acrobatics and a brief glimpse of a Sharp-shinned Hawk capped our day. For me, the bright blue sky, forest smelling air, blooming flowers in the garden, and walk among friends made this day memorable.

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Postcards from the Edge

by Hank Kaestner

Dear Chippers,

I've just had a double dose of Australia, starting with a few days in Hobart, Tasmania. There are 13 endemics here, and most can be easily seen on Mt. Wellington, which looms over the city of Hobart. It was interesting to see wintering Parasitic Jaegers (or Arctic Skuas as they are called here) chasing terns in the estuaries around Hobart.

I ended the trip with a stay at Kingfishers Lodge near Cairns on the tropical northeast coast of Queensland. A successful night foray for Lesser Sooty Owl was one of many highlights.

Cheers -- Hank Kaestner

April 23

Once a year, I negotiate my annual purchases of basil and marjoram with my Egyptian supplier, usually in Hunt Valley, MD. This year our supplier suggested that I come to Cairo for the meeting. So I've flown here for just a 2-day stay. My favorite bird, the Hoopoe, is common in the gardens here. I've also seen lots of migrating European Bee-eaters. And last night several Senegal Thick-knees flew over our dining patio as darkness fell.

Hank Kaestner

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Baltimore Birdline: A Reminder

This is a reminder that we do have a Baltimore birding hotline, and we need your reports.

Let us hear about your sightings. Naturally we want to hear about uncommon birds and "rarities." But also let us know about highlights of your birding in the region, as well as interesting yard birds, seasonal arrivals, and nesting. We urge field trip leaders especially to report trip highlights directly to the BirdLine in addition to mailing in your reports. You can call in your sightings to (410) 467-0653. You can also e-mail your sightings to the BirdLine at . For best results, please include the specific words: "BBC BirdLine Sighting" on the subject line.

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Back Yard Birding

by Gail Frantz

Baltimore City

Georgia Blowen, physical therapist at Sinai Hospital, was curious about an aggressive bird that was attacking everyone who dared use the sidewalk that leads to the hospital cafeteria. She described the bird as being robin sized and having a long, grey, white edged tail with white stripes on its gray wings. What do you think? Mockingbird? Got to be.

 Roland Park

The following detailed observations were made by Tom and Doris Simpson from May through August of this year.

"Our home is located in central Baltimore, just north of the Johns Hopkins University campus and across the street from a heavily wooded tract in the Roland Park area. Tributaries of the Jones Falls waterway flow southward through the neighborhood.

"For the first time in the twenty-seven years that we have lived here, we have Yellow-crowned Night Herons (Nyctanassa violacea) flying across the street intersection at dusk as singles, pairs, or in groups of three to five. They first appeared on May 14th and we have seen them here, as well as on the Homewood campus on more than half of the evenings until June 18th.

"While we had suspected from their behavior and flight paths that the Night Herons were nesting somewhere along Tuscany Road, we did not locate a nest until the evening of August 7th. The large rack of sticks was situated about 50 feet up in an oak tree and, at the time, an adult and one immature heron were standing upright on the nest. Since we had seen as many as five herons cavorting between Tuscany Court and the Ridgemede intersection opposite our front porch, we assume that more nests may exist. We will continue to search for them here and on the nearby Johns Hopkins Homewood campus.

"Along with the rather easily identifiable Night herons, another wader that cannot be identified with certainty has appeared during this same observation period (May 14 to June 18).

"We (saw) it on six occasions at dusk, flying high, independently and usually across the flight path of the herons, often reversing its course back into the woods and out again.

"We have never seen this bird at close range in good light, but have watched it through 8 and 9 power binoculars on occasion. While we have seen the bird mostly as an evening silhouette, its appearance is unmistakable — about the size of a Night Heron (or Snowy Egret), it is thin and gangling, with long legs railing and its neck outstretched like a crane. Its plumage is quite pale with light tan or grayish streaking or mottling (difficult to visualize at sunset or against a gloomy evening sky.) The narrow bill is relatively straight or slightly decurved. We have not seen this wader since June 12th.

"We believe (it to be) an immature White Ibis (Eudocimus albus.) We sighted this bird on six evenings between May 14th and June 12th. It came into the neighborhood during a period of rough weather and may have been blown in from the coast. An escaped captive exotic species is less likely. Dr. David Johnston, Dr. Dick Miller, Bob Ringler and Joy Wheeler have all made helpful comments and we extend our thanks."

BYB extends its thanks to you too for sharing your meticulous observations.

Baltimore County

Philadelphia Rd -- August 26

"Last evening, between 7:15 and 8:15, I observed 18 nighthawks from my home just east of Baltimore. They were heading southeast toward Baltimore. This week is typically one of the best to see migrating nighthawks in the Baltimore area. Last evening, between 7:15 and 8:15, I observed 18 nighthawks from my home just east of Baltimore. They were heading southeast toward Baltimore. This week is typically one of the best to see migrating nighthawks in the Baltimore area."

Bob Rineer


Anne Brooks writes of her absorbing backyard bird feeding experiences this summer.

Always A Surprise

"I had decided to continue seed feeding all summer this year just to find out what would turn up at the feeder. But never imagined this--

"In June Mama and Papa Downy Woodpecker brought their fledglings to the trunk of the large Poplar which holds the feeder. They then proceeded to make many four foot forays to the seed feeder, filling their beaks, flying back to the fledglings and placing the seed into their mouths. This event repeated every afternoon at about the same time for about a week.

"Well worth the cost of the extra seed!

"I noticed that the Woodpeckers have continued to arrive daily all summer, augmenting their diet of insects.

"This has also been a busier than usual year for Hummingbirds. As the fall migration began the resident 5 were joined by the transit crowd adding 7-8 birds to the total. I was using 3 cups of nectar a day!"

(Banders from around the south -- * The Hummer Bird Study Group -- have reported a larger number of migrant Ruby-throats this season. GF)


From Steve Sanford, August 22:

"I am now getting very frequent visits to my hummingbird feeder from at least one bright adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird and an immature/female type. They fight a lot with each other and with other species. After a long hiatus, my upside-down feeder is also now deluged with beautiful Goldfinches.

"I saw my mailman 'go postal' today. A Mockingbird was buzzing him across the street, causing the mailman to wave a towel at him and finally to get out a can of god-knows-what and spray it at the bird."

Let's hope this guy doesn't find a gun, Steve. (GF)


Margaret Mays reports seeing a Redstart on July 30. This is the earliest sighting she's ever had in her yard of that species. She spotted the first juvenile Goldfinches on Aug. 18.

 Out of State



In June of last year, I received a call one evening from Nancy Kempler, a dear friend from high school days in Ohio. A mature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird had just hit her living room's picture window. Nancy explained that when she picked him up he was limp and lifeless. She placed him in a small box to recover, but when he finally began to move, he was unable to stand, let alone fly. Who could help? Nancy lives in Kentucky and didn't know of any rehabilitaters or birding groups that she could call on for help.

A call was made to our local rehabber in Dundalk, Gerta Detterer,. Gerta suggested that Nancy try to find a wildlife or birding organization to get some advice. By this time, Nancy's daughter Mary Ellen had arrived and they started making phone calls.

It took the two women till the middle of the second day to locate someone to help in their area. By this time Rudy was in pretty bad shape. Next problem: None of the four rehabbers they talked to were able to take the bird into their care. They were all swamped with critters to care for and could not give the hummer the constant attention that they knew he would require. One of the rehabbers asked if Nancy or Mary Ellen would be willing, with help, to attempt the rehabilitation. Mary Ellen volunteered because she is not only a stay at home mom but also an animal lover.

Someone suggested that Rudy needed a special preparation that would better suit his nutritional needs. A rehabber gave Mary Ellen the recipe. She mixed it up and fed the little bird with an eyedropper. She was told to find suitable flowers in the neighborhood and offer those to him also.

On day three Mary Ellen was referred to a vet in the area who, along with his regular practice, cares for wild animals and birds free of charge. He gave Rudy the first of several check-ups and showed Mary Ellen how to keep Rudy's feathers meticulously clean. The vet impressed upon Mary Ellen that this cleaning process would be just as important as proper nutrition for the bird's complete recovery. During the next critical days, Mary Ellen also received much needed moral support from this vet

Finally, with his new diet and Mary Ellen's constant attention (always supervised by the vet and rehabbers), the little guy began to show improvement. Happily, after 10 days of all this TLC, the hummer made a spectacular recovery and was successfully released.

Rudy visited Mary Ellen everyday for the remainder of the summer. He followed her around the yard, zipping out from unknown places when she whistled softly or called his name. Mary Ellen saw Rudy for the last time during the first week of September.

Update-Summer of '98: RUDY'S BACK! He appeared in the yard sometime around the 1st of May. Mary Ellen reports that he's up to his old tricks. Pigging out at the feeder, darting from bushes and humming around her head whenever she "calls" him. She also noticed that he seems to be staying clear of picture windows. * (GF)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

* More fascinating information about hummers may be found on the two following web site pages.

  • Bob Sargent's Hummer Bird Study Group (Bob Sargent also publishes The Official Poop Sheet of the Hummer/Bird Study Group, Inc. called "Netlines." This paper is informative, witty and on occasion, spiritual. Netlines" snail mail address is: HBSG, PO Box 250, Clay AL 35048-0250)
  • Lanny Chambers’s Hummingbirds!.
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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