The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

December 1998/January 1999 -- Online Edition


Deadline for next CHIP NOTES: December 26, 1998 (the next issue will be February-March 1999). Send material to: or e-mail to
Please help CHIP NOTES get out on time.

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Hart-Miller Island Project a "Go"

Anne Brooks

A large contingent of MOS members from the central part of the state attended the final public hearing on the Hart-Miller Island South Cell Restoration Project on October 14, 1998. This is a joint effort including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Port Administration, the Maryland Environmental Service, and the Maryland Ornithological Society undertook the study in 1997. Upon completion, the Restoration will provide 200 acres of wetlands, 80 acres of songbird habitat, 20 acres of open water, and a one-acre nesting island with a controlled water supply. Construction is planned to begin in the year 2000.

Such a gem of a project would never have been initiated if not for the vision and painstaking work of Bob Ringler and Gene Scarpulla. In 1977 Bob Ringler began surveying the species of birds on the original Hart Island and Miller Island. Bob's surveys continued after the two islands were joined in 1983 by the dredged material containment facility dike and continued through 1991. In 1996 Gene Scarpulla began his surveys, which are still ongoing, and in 1997 Gene was asked to serve on the Hart-Miller Island study team as the MOS representative.

Their careful statistics show that 269 species of birds have been observed on or around Hart-Miller Island.

The discussion at the meeting indicated to this birder that the data gathered over these years was probably the primary driving force behind the concept of the Restoration in its present form. The presence of breeding colonies of Least Terns in the area indicated to State and Federal officials that Least Terns might again nest on the island if this kind of restoration were attempted. When completed it will be unique in the State of Maryland.

We are all the richer due to the selfless dedication of Bob and Gene. Let us extend a word of thanks and congratulations to them both on behalf of the Members of the MOS.

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Jones Falls Celebration

By Joy Wheeler

Many thanks to Brian Rollfinke for manning a display at the (First Annual?) Jones Falls Celebration. His presentation "Summer Birds of the Jones Falls" was a crowd-pleaser, directing attention to the beautiful birds, photographs, as well as some of our mounted specimens. Brian was able to distribute his whole stack of 30 BBC brochures in the first 2 hours of the affair. (Next year we'll send 130.) He is sharing the remainder of the other very interesting material he wrote for the show: a list of 60 "Summer Birds of the Jones Falls in Baltimore City" and "Good Birding Spots along the Jones Falls." You will be able to pick up a copy in the book closet in the Museum. We have his promise to lead the Baltimore Bird Club on a Jones Falls Foray in next year's program.

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Backyard Hawk Watch Report

By Kevin Graff

 Editor's note: For several years, between college classes and other activities Kevin Graff has been watching and counting hawks from his backyard on White Ave. in the Hamilton section of northeast Baltimore City. His house is near the first ridge west of the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore. His observations, especially the large number of Broadwings, are consistent with various reports by others over the years that suggest that the Interstate 95 corridor in Maryland is a major highway for hawks as well as people. Most of this time Kevin has been doggedly keeping his figures by himself. Recently other birders have joined him for short visits, and we anticipate more will do so next fall. Kevin is also investigating public support for setting up a public hawk watch area near his house. Here is his summary of the season to October 20:

   Migrating Vultures from Aug 23-Oct. 20
Turkey Vulture                 |    123
Black Vulture                  |     19

   Migrating Raptors from Aug 23-Oct. 20
Golden Eagle                   |      1 (imm. on 10/12)
Bald Eagle                     |     16 (7 ad. & 9 imm.)
Northern Harrier               |     43
Sharp-shinned Hawk             |    163
Cooper's Hawk                  |     91
Red-shouldered Hawk            |     27
Broad-winged Hawk              | 11,779
Red-tailed Hawk                |     53
Rough-legged Hawk              |      2
Osprey                         |     48
American Kestrel               |     61
Merlin                         |     10
Peregrine Falcon               |      3
Swainson's Hawk                |      1 (imm. light phrase -9/16)
Unidentified Accipiter         |      2
Unidentified Buteo             |      2
Unidentified Falcon            |      1
Total Vultures & Raptors       | 12,445

        Non-Vulture/Raptor Migration Sept-Oct
Common Loon                    |      2
Red-throated Loon              |      1
Double-crested Cormorant       |    141
Great Blue Heron               |      4
Canada Geese                   |  2,499 (in 75 flocks)
Snow Geese                     |     81 (in 3 flocks)
Northern Shoveler              |     21 (in 1 flock)
Common Merganser               |      1 
Chimney Swift                  |  4,463
Common Nighthawk               |    106
Ruby-throated Hummingbird      |      1 
Brown Thrasher                 |      1
Cedar Waxwing                  |      5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet           |      8
Golden-crowned Kinglet         |      5
American Goldfinch             |     40
Yellow Warbler                 |      1 
Black-throated Green Warbler   |      1
Tennessee Warbler              |      1
Total Non-Vulture/Raptors      |  7,391

Monarch Butterflies            |  7,399 (The highest dailly total was 
                                          5,883 on Sept. 17)

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Surprise at Assawoman Wildlife Refuge

by Dottee Palmer

On a cool, clear, sunny, very windy September 8, 1998, Earl and I were birding at Assawoman Wildlife Refuge in Sussex County, Delaware. It was not a good birding day. In fact, species and numbers were so low, we kept commenting that we should at least hear a Chickadee, but no luck. Standing near the levee at Mulberry Landing we saw a few Laughing Gulls, about a half dozen Shovelers and one Snowy Egret. While we were observing nothing on the bayside of the dike, a lady from Syracuse joined us.

As she and I were discussing the paucity of birdlife that day, Earl wandered back to the poolside of the dike. Casually, he called out "what is the smaller bird that looks like a Killdeer with only one band." I responded "Semipalmated Plover." The lady and I strolled over to see the bird when suddenly she exclaimed, "It's a Piping Plover!"

Until about four years ago, we saw them pretty regularly on Martha's Vineyard and that's a Piping Plover." As she was summoning her two companions, Earl and I were hastily turning to te appropriate pages in our Peterson and National Geographic field guides. The lady began describing the field marks of the bird. Her observations matched perfectly with the winter Piping Plover in the guides except there was a light brown band across the front. Our conclusion was that the bird had not completed its winter molt. (We had eliminated the Semipalmated Plover because the head and back were much lighter in color.) After a 10-15 minute look, we left the bird to its foraging in a mudflat about 15 or 20 feet in front of us.

Moving on, we discussed the joys of birding such as how rapidly a totally lackluster day can turn into a truly memorable one.

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Summer Scholarships Available

by Phyllis Gerber

Training in Ecology and Ornithology

  • Ecology Scholarships

    The Maryland Ornithological Society is now accepting applications from Maryland teachers and youth leaders for seven scholarships to attend summer ecology work shops which the National Audubon Society holds at its camps in Maine, Connecticut, and Wyoming. Each grant covers the cost of tuition, room, and board for an intensive six-day course of field study and instruction in ecology, conservation, and natural history.

  • Ornithology Scholarships

    The Maryland Ornithological Society is also accepting applications from Maryland teachers and youth leaders for two scholarships for a week of study in ornithology at the Audubon summer work shop in Maine.

The value of each scholarship is between $600 and $800. Travel expenses are the responsibility of the recipient. Requirements:

  1. The MOS requires that its scholarship recipients work with young people. This includes teachers, camp counselors, park rangers, students, and others who intend to make nature education a part of their careers.

  2. Applicants need not be members of MOS but must be endorsed by a member or a chapter of MOS.

  3. Each candidate must provide a written statement in the form of a letter showing how the Audubon experience will be used to develop in young people an appreciation of our wild heritage and a sense of responsibility for the care and quality of our natural resources and environment.

  4. Two letters of recommendation from people who know of the candidate's interests, activities, abilities, and potential are requested. One of these letters should be from either a member of MOS or a chapter of MOS.

  5. Applicants should also submit a current resume.

  6. Applicants must be 18 years or older.

  7. Applications must be submitted by January 30, 1999.
Additional information may be obtained by calling 410-466-7377 Please submit applications and refer questions to:
    Mrs. Jean L. Fry
    1202 Ridge Road
    Pylesville MD 21132

Brochures can be obtained from the Registrar, Audubon Camps and Workshops, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, CT 06831.

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 New Arrival

by Debbie Terry

A new fledgling birder has arrived!

The Baltimore Bird Club's own Vice President, Mary Paul, delivered a baby girl on Saturday October 17. She weighed 7 pounds 5 oz. Her name is Sierra Autumn.

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Membership Dues

by Roberta Ross

Please pay your dues promptly! Notices have been sent to everyone whose 1998-99 dues have not been received. If the expiration date on your mailing label is printed in red, we have not received your dues. If the information on the label is incorrect, or your name or address is wrong, please call Roberta Ross. Unpaid members WILL be dropped from the mailing list effective January 15, 1999. Make checks payable to Baltimore Bird Club. Mail to
    Roberta Ross
    4128 Roland Ave
    Baltimore MD 21211-2034
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 a household membership. (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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 Postcards from the Edge
by Hank Kaestner

Dear Chippers,

Small islands are nice because with luck, you can "Clean up."

Today I did that on Reunion Island , a French Department in the Indian Ocean. It's a wonderful spot, very much like a French Hawaii. This morning I was up at 5 AM to bird the high altitude native rain forest. By 6:45 I had seen all of the passerine endemics: Reunion Bulbul, Reunion Stonecaht, Reunion Olive White-eye, Reunion Grey White-eye, and Reunion Cuckoo-shrike. In the PM I went to the south of the island and did some pelagic birding from the parking lot of a shopping center overlooking the Indian Ocean. From that vantage-point I saw 150 Barau's Petrels, 100 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, 5 Reunion Black Petrels, and 3 Mascarene Shearwaters, the first and third of which were the last endemics.

A clean up!

Hank Kaestner

Dear Chippers,

I've been traveling in south India in the states of Tamil, Nadu, and Kerala. This area produces most of the world's red pepper, black pepper, and cardamom. This trip yielded 89 species of birds as I visited the spice plantations, including Red-whiskered, Red-vented, Yellow-throated, White-browed, Yellow-browed, and Black Bulbuls.

Best, Hank Kaestner

Dear Chippers,

I've spent one week in Madagascar to check out the vanilla crop. This island has almost 150 endemic birds, some of which live in the vanilla plantations, such as the endemic Cuckoo-Roller, some of the endemic Vangra Shrikes (Chabert's and Blue), and the incredible Blue Coua which looks like a turkey-sized jay.

Hank Kaestner

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Community Service at Cylburn

by Joy Wheeler

Eight Poland Park Country School 7th graders, students of Martha Barss, deserve the heartfelt thanks of the Baltimore Bird Club. They were among the 2 classes from that school who came to Cylburn to work on their community service hours and to learn something about the care of an arboretum.

While most of the students were working outside on composting, mulching, and weeding, our 8 students were inside on Cylburn's third floor organizing, cataloging, and listing the portion of our collection of mounted specimens that is available for loan to local classrooms. We made use of the time to introduce the 7th graders to how field guides work and the importance of taxonomy in bird identification.

Unfortunately, we were so intent on teaching them the names of the birds that we forgot to find out the names of the 8 very cooperative girls. We apologize. We're sure they will remember some of the names of the birds and when they read this expression of our sincere thanks for their jobs well done, they'll remember that they were a part of those 2 committees of 4. Thank you very much, RPCS girls. We appreciate your teachers' introduction of Cylburn into your education at this early age and recommend that you keep it up during the rest of your lifetimes.

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Board of Directors Meetings

by Alan Bromberg, Recording Secretary

The Board of Directors met on September 14 and October 12. The board discussed sales of the site guide at both meetings. We will be sending copies of the guide to ABA Sales.

The board also discussed establishment of a database of bird species seen in Baltimore and Baltimore County. Anne Brooks and Dot Gustafson began a preliminary effort to establish a database using Gene Scarpulla’s Hart-Miller records.

At the September meeting, the board unanimously approved a motion to support the concept of preservation of Todd’s Plantation near Fort Howard in Baltimore County.

Volunteers are needed to assist in "gleaning" reports from rare bird alerts and other sources for the BBC Birdline.

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Field Trip Reports

Compiled by Steve Sanford with Lake Roland narratives by Peter Lev

September 8 - Lake Roland - An overnight cold front did not bring in large numbers of migrants, but the 22 birders on this trip did see some good birds. Among the highlights were two feeding Caspian Terns, four Great Egrets, and eight warbler species. Bird of the day was a well-seen Bay-breasted Warbler, which appeared at the very end of the trip. Overall, 55 species were seen. - Peter Lev

22 participants, 55 species, (8 warblers), low 80's, Breezy winds from the north. Leader Shirley Geddes

September 15 - Lake Roland - Birding was very slow today, with 35 species and only 5 warbler species. Blame it on the weather—the last cold front came through two weeks ago.

There was good news from another local birding site: Paul Noell saw a Connecticut Warbler down the hill at Cylburn on Sunday, Sept. 13. So yes, there are interesting warblers in Baltimore County! - Peter Lev

12 participants, 47 species, 5 warblers, Hot and humid, 90°. Leader Shirley Geddes

September 22 - Lake Roland - Lake Roland was quiet today, though we did round up some of the usual suspects (Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Osprey). The Cape May Warbler seen by Terry and Roberta Ross on Saturday, 9/19 was nowhere to be found. Our best bird was probably a Northern Waterthrush. - Peter Lev

14 participants, 40 species, including 7 warbler species, 80°, calm. Leader Shirley Geddes.

September 26 - Oregon Ridge 11 participants. 49 species with 9 warblers, Leader: Gail Frantz. Gail writes: "We were surprised to see a mature Bald Eagle even if he did have worn, ratty-looking feathers. No doubt he'll look fine by next spring."

September 29 - Lake Roland - Crisp, clear weather, and interesting migrants. It was a lovely day at Lake Roland. The marquee bird was a Philadelphia Vireo, seen by 6 birders in the developed "park" area. Other nice migrants were Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and 9 warbler species (notably Bay-breasted and Worm-eating). Raptors were Northern Harrier, Osprey, and Broad-winged Hawk - 1 of each. - Peter Lev

25 birders 55 species, 9 warblers, Sunny, cool, 62°. Leader Dot Gustafson

October 6 - Lake Roland - It’s getting late in the season, but good birds keep coming through. At Lake Roland today, 12 species of warbler, including Prairie and Blackburnian as well as the expected Yellow-rump and Palm. Blue-headed Vireo, both kinglets, Rose-breasted Grosbeak. At least 20 Double-crested Cormorants (unusual in a small, shallow lake). 7 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Raptors were Sharp-shinned Hawk, Osprey, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks. 47 species were seen, down from last week but still a nice day. - Peter Lev

20 participants, 53 species, 12 warblers, cloudy, about 60°. Leader Matilda Weiss.

October 13 - Lake Roland - We saw one stunning bird today: a Peregrine Falcon which perched obligingly for several minutes. 20+ birders got terrific looks. Other fall birds of note were Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shin, many kinglets (40-50 Ruby-crowned, perhaps 12 Golden-crowned), Blue-headed Vireo, brown creeper. Warbler diversity was way down (approx. 20 Yellow-rumps plus 1 Common Yellowthroat). Total species count was 46, about the same as last week. - Peter Lev

Leader Ruth Culbertson commented: "The Peregrine Falcon was the highlight of this walk. He was perched high in a tree, but everyone got a good look. Then he flew and we followed his flight to another tree where he perched and gave us an excellent chance to see his black wedges. Lots of Kinglets, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned. Gave us all good practice in using our binoculars."

26 participants, 46 species, 2 warblers, variably cloudy and sunny, and mild. Leader Ruth Culbertson.

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Cylburn Field Trips: Fall 1998

by Joseph M. Lewandowski

September 27, 1998

For the ten birders that walked the trails of Cylburn on this beautiful autumn day, the day was quiet. We did not see a lot of activity as far as birds go, but when the day ended; we came up with 34 species of birds seen. A great, close up view of a Yellowthroat, Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Cooper's Hawk topped our list. The gardens are beginning to wane but Cylburn still holds that cornucopia of nature that we all enjoy. I don't know what is better, to see the trees full of birds or to glimpse a bird now and then. I do know that hearing the whistle of a Morning Dove's wings in flight brightens my spirit and that is what birding is all about.

October 11, 1998

Fall seems to make the spirit soar. At least, that is the way I felt as I walked the trails of Cylburn on this beautiful day in October. With temperatures in the 70's, eleven birders watched as leaves twirled, twisted, looped, and soared through the sky on this somewhat windy day. But that is not the only thing that took to the sky. Vultures and hawks, geese and herons, sparrows and warblers, flickers and Blue Jays all took to the sky in aerial displays of flight. 36 species topped our bird list with such notables as Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, Winter Wren, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue Warbler, Swamp Sparrow and Sapsucker. The sky was blue, the moon looked white, the birds cooperated, and the day was the best. Cylburn still has plenty of flowers in bloom and the trails, with their natural allure, are beckoning to all birders to come and enjoy the experience.

October 18, 1998

If this is a typical fall day, I am sure that everyone would want fall to last forever. With temperatures reaching the 70's, the walk along the trails was tranquil. The ten birders who walked this Sunday had a quiet birding experience. We did see 28 species, with sparrows topping our list, but it was a slow paced birding experience. A bird would come and go, giving us time to enjoy that species before another showed up to attract our attention. Good looks at the Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, and Song Sparrow were tops on this trip. It was a lazy day for birding, but one where each species seen brought out the best in that species.

October 25, 1998

Cylburn greeted us this morning with a beautiful fall day and showed off her colors as only Cylburn can do. The trees were all dappled in red, gold, brown, yellow, and green; giving the appearance of a large coloring book open to the splendor of nature. For the seven birders that were out this morning, it was a wonderful walk in the arboretum. Thirty-four species hit our tally sheets with some interesting finds. Field, Song, Chipping, and White-throated Sparrows were hopping about. A Red-headed Woodpecker flew from tree to tree. Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, and Red-tailed Hawks soared above us and Hermit, Swainson's, and Gray-cheeked thrushes were spotted in the woods. Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers were still about as were the kinglets. It was a great day to commune with nature and a great day to be out at Cylburn.

November 1, 1998

This was the last bird walk of the season for the Baltimore Bird Club at Cylburn and it seemed almost poetic that one lone birder walk the trails. It seemed fitting that a different route be followed on this last day, so the trails behind the mansion were explored. Cylburn takes on a different quality as one walks into the interior of the forest. The quiet, the rustling of footsteps through the leaves, the serenity, all are a part of Cylburn. The tranquility of the stream at the bottom of the hill; slowly making its way toward the great bay, has one realize the many forms that nature takes. Fifteen species were seen and they were all old favorites. Cardinals, juncos, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Hermit Thrushes said their hello and then were gone, flying off to some unknown destination. The blue skies and sun graced the last remnants of the garden at Cylburn, waning a good bye and beckoning for spring. The fall walks are over but not forgotten.

Until spring.

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BBC Mail Order

The Baltimore Bird Club is now offering its merchandise for sale through its mail order section. The following items are available. All prices include shipping costs.

    Baltimore Bird Club's Birding Site Guide - $12.00
    Baltimore Bird Club T-Shirt - $18.00 (only XL left)
    MOS Patch - $3.50
    MOS Decal - $3.50

Please make your check or money order payable to "The Baltimore Bird Club" and send your order to: Joseph Lewandowski, 3021 Temple Gate, Baltimore, Maryland 21209.

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Back Yard Birding

by Gail Frantz

Baltimore City

Caution: Bird Watching May Be Hazardous to Your Freedom

Elliot Kirschbaum posted the following on September 13:

"Yesterday evening 70 Common Nighthawks passed over my apartment in the Roland Park area of Baltimore in three groups within a few minutes of each other."

"Also large numbers of Chimney Swifts were flying about at dusk. I thin it's time to look for the funneling activity in the neighborhood. There are a couple of chimneys where I have seen several thousand Swifts in past years."

On September 14 Elliot took another look: "I did go out at 7:15 yesterday evening and saw at least a thousand Chimney Swifts funneling into an apartment house chimney at the corner of 39 Street and Canterbury Rd in the Roland Park area of Baltimore."

September 19::"For the Fall Count, I went to an alley in back of an apartment building at 7:00 p.m. to count Chimney Swifts as they entered the apartment building chimney to roost for the night. The birds started funneling at 7:12; at 7:25 a police car pulled up at the entrance to the alley . Someone had reported a man with binoculars in the alley. Not that there is any law against it, but by 7:35 the Swifts were all inside the chimney and my presence would have been harder to explain."

"By the way, does anyone know how to get an accurate count of funneling swifts when you have to explain what is going on to curious neighbors, a cop, and a group of partiers who are sure they are bats?"

-- Like many other birds, Chimney swifts are having problems. During migration, these birds, perceived as dirty, are being excluded from many large chimney sites by screening placed atop the chimneys to keep the swifts from using them.

Upon hearing of the Chimney swifts plight, Clyde Fisher of Hanover, contacted The Driftwood Wildlife Association in Texas. This organization has developed a plan to build artificial chimney roasts for the swifts. Clyde wrote for and received the plans, then built the 20' tower according to the specifications. He’s waiting for the next migration season to see if the experiment works.(GF)

Baltimore County


On September 27th Lester Simon reported six Nighthawks. This is the first time in several years that Lester has seen these beautiful flyers.


Steve Sanford reports:

"Sunday, October 6, I was very pleased to have a female Rose-breasted perch right up on my living-room windowsill by the feeders. I've had them in the trees occasionally, but never like this.

"Today at home (October 12) I had my first Juncos of the season, and my first seen White-throated Sparrows, plus a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and several V's of Canada Geese. My Goldfinches continue to visit my upside-down feeder in great masses."


Joy Wheeler writes:

"You've read my reports of how my straggly yard has attracted a Wood Thrush or two in the past two years, the first occurrences of this bird in our 35 year residence. This year, a Hermit Thrush, on October 16! Could this be mounting evidence against mowing the lawn and trimming the shrubbery to within an inch of their lives?"

"I wish I were confident enough to report this bird without hesitation. Unfortunately I was alone on the easternmost point of my Northhampton Furnace Trail when at 9:15 EST on Sunday October 25 I noticed a large hawk flying from the East Ridge of Loch Raven towards me on the point. The sun was behind it, allowing me only a silhouette at first: a large accipiter, slow wing beats with intervals of short glides, as large as an Osprey but with out the Osprey’s well-known dark and light markings and familiar wing shape. When it reached almost overhead, gray striping was the most obvious marking on tail, underwings and gray belly. Where was the Baltimore Bird Club group who’d been with me the day before? Without them, all I could say was Northern Goshawk, and it’s going on my year’s list as such. Five minutes later, along came another migrating hawk on the same path. This one I called a Northern Harrier, using size, dark brown color, and large white rump area to persuade myself of this identification. Both birds flew in what seemed to me a very purposeful migratory manner from the East Ridge on the other side of the reservoir to the southwest over the Northampton Furnace Trail. Kenn Kaufman in "Lives of North American Birds" leads me to believe that both birds are possible, especially during migration."


Sept. 5 bird watching this evening produced; Three pugnacious Ruby-throated Hummers (last hummer-September 28), two Red-shouldered Hawks, over a dozen Goldfinches, seven Nighthawks and a male Black-throated Blue who took a couple of sips from the hummingbird feeder.

Oct. 12 brought in a flock of Ruby-crowned & Golden-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireo, singing Field Sparrow and two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

Oct. 16: two White-crowned Sparrows mixed in with dozens of White-throated Sparrows moving through the weed covered field behind the house, Two male Towhees eating from the Pokeberry bush.

Oct. 13, 15, & 24 - Screech owl glissando heard in the A.M. darkness.

October 23-24 brought more Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-throated & White-crowned Sparrows with a couple of new species. Palm Warblers and Savannah Sparrows.

The birds flit around the edges of the enticingly weedy field behind our house and eat the white millet seed we have spread around our brush piles. A Red-shouldered and a Sharp-shinned Hawk have been lurking about in the hedge row that surrounds the field. Hoping to capture a treat, no doubt.

Migration seasons are great! (GF)

Backyard Birding in Severn, MD

 Transplanted from Baltimore City, Kathy Kirkpatrick describes her new pastime:

"I am a relatively new backyard birder. I live in the suburbs in Severn, MD. We just moved into a new house (2.5 miles from the old one) on September 1."

"At our old house I had a birdbath and feeder where I just fed the birds plain old birdseed that everyone sells in stores. I got quite a variety of birds -at least it seemed so to me, I grew up in Baltimore City. I had Brown-headed Cowbirds, Mockingbirds, Redwing Blackbirds, Mourning Doves, Finches, House Sparrows (of course), Chickadees, Swallows. One Mourning Dove even nested in a planter I had on my front porch rail to the amazement of our realtor and potential home buyers. However, our yard had few trees and they were all pretty immature."

"Now we've got a yard full of oak and evergreen trees. I have a birdbath and two feeders. one for black oil sunflower seed and one for thistle. I have Goldfinches, Tufted Titmice, Juncos, Chickadees, a White-throated Sparrow, Cardinals, and Red-bellied Woodpecker, with four or five squirrels. My husband was kind enough to make a predator guard for me. The squirrels still haven't figured it out, but they haven't given up either! I even heard an owl one night but didn't see it (it was about 1 a.m.)."

"I read about the National Wildlife Federation and MD Wild Acres program where they certify your yard as a bird sanctuary and was all excited about being able to plant all the native plants and winter fruit-bearing plants necessary for the year-round food source requirement."

Good luck on your new interest, Kathy. Be sure to let us know how the plants you’re going to put in help to attract different species of birds.

Out of State


On September 20, Olga Clifton, a hummingbird lover from Abita Springs, La posted the following:

"I have 25 feeders hanging on the back deck against the wall of my house. When the hummers are out in full force they can look like a cloud of dark smoke and their sounds can be awesome!!!"

"This morning a Red-shouldered Hawk came into the yard and perched in one of our Pine trees in plain view. Well, about a kazillion Ruby-throated Hummers took offence and proceeded to mob the Hawk. The Hawk took flight across the yard with at least 50 Hummers behind it and I swear it looked like a huge swarm of bees. They chased the hawk clean out of the yard!!!!"

Any cries Olga hears from the North will be from BBC green-with-envy members who get excited when lucky enough to view even two Ruby-throats at one time. (GF)

Where Do They Go?

Ever wonder where "our" birds stop along their traveling migrant routes? Here are some observations from two vigilant down South birders who noticed.

Thomas of Conway, SC reports: "We had our first Baltimore Oriole (male) of the season at my grandmother's feeder today (18 Oct) in Conway, SC. The earliest we've ever had them is September 15, so this is not a record just a nice bird. My grandmother has a tray with bread crumbs and cut fruit. When the orioles are plentiful, halved oranges and baked, peeled sweet potatoes seem to be favorites (orange food!). This works well because "Ma" has had Baltimore Orioles regularly for at least 30 years."

And a word about Song Sparrows from Nell Moore:


I am on the NC coastal area. There are small pockets of Song Sparrows on some of the Islands off NC coast in summer, but I am unsure of breeding status. (I have seen them when banding royal and sandwich terns on barrier islands) They winter readily even on the ocean areas in proper habitat."

"However, in my general location of Onslow County NC (approximately 1 hour north of Wilmington, NC, near Jacksonville, NC), Song Sparrows do not breed, they only winter over."

House Finch Disease, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, Is Spreading

There are some alarming findings reported on The Cape Cod Connection and The Cornell House Finch Disease Survey

If you’re unable to access these reports on a computer, send me a self-addressed envelope requesting a copy of: Centers for Disease Control: Emerging Infectious Diseases, and I’ll send you a copy. (GF)

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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