The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

February-March 1999 -- Online Edition


Deadline for next CHIP NOTES: February 26, 1998 (the next issue will be April-May 1999). Send material to: or e-mail to
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Lists Galore!

Steve Sanford

If you are a "lister" this issue of Chip Notes is for you. We have (finally!) the results of the Baltimore Harbor Christmas Count conducted on January 3, 1998 (Yes, 1998, a year ago), the Baltimore Mid-winter Count on January 17, 1998, the first annual Baltimore Fall Count on September 14, 1998, Kevin Graff's final fall 1998 hawk watch results. Even Joy Wheeler's article has a list in it. We also have a list of e-mail addresses of BBC members, which will appear only in the paper version of Chip Notes.

And if you don't like lists, we have a few other items too.

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Count Summaries

       Harbor 1998
Species                105
Birds                39744
Observers               33
Parties                 12
Date           Jan 3, 1998
Time           5:30- 17:45
Foot hours            84.5
Car Hours             21.5
Party Hours            106
Foot miles              65
Car Miles            247.7
Party Miles          312.7
Temp                 28-42
Wind       SW      3-10mph
Still Water          P Frz
Moving Water          Open

      Winter 1998

Species                104
Birds                48084
Observers               25
Parties                 13
Party Hours             91
Foot Hours            79.5
Car Hours             11.5
Feeder Hours             2
Party Miles          163.5
Foot Miles            55.5
Car Miles              135
Date          Jan 17, 1998
Time          7:00 - 18:15
Temp               31 - 45
Wind        SW     0-7 mph
Sky AM             P Sunny
Sky PM              Cloudy
Snow Cover         -
Still Water             PF
Moving Water          Open
Precip                none

        Fall 1998

Species                124
Birds                 6338
Observers               13
Hours - foot            47
Miles - foot            25
Miles: car               ?
Date          Sep 19, 1998
Time          6:45 - 17:00
Temp, Low               63
Temp, High              75
Sky, am             Cloudy
Sky, pm             Cloudy
Precip                none
Wind       NE    10-15 mph

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Baltimore Winter Counts - 1998

Compiled by Pete Webb

                        Harbor 1998  Winter 1998
                        Jan 3, 1998  Jan 17, 1998
Common Loon                     1      1
Pied-billed Grebe              11     78
Horned Grebe                    3      6
Double-crested Cormorant       34     60
Great Blue Heron              126     44
Black-crowned Night-heron       1
Mute Swan                      28     14
Canada Goose                  694    548
Green-winged Teal               1
American Black Duck           125     47
Mallard                      1441    984
Northern Shoveler              11      8
Northern Pintail                       1
Gadwall                        82     74
American Wigeon                49    119
Canvasback                   2458    826
Redhead                         2      6
Ring-necked Duck                9    130
Greater Scaup                  22      9
Lesser Scaup                  383   6738
   scaup sp.                  252   1002
Oldsquaw                       34      1
Common Goldeneye              155    226
Bufflehead                    457    315
Hooded Merganser               63    186
Common Merganser                1     64
Red-breasted Merganser          4     23
Ruddy Duck                   6277   3967
Black Vulture                         24
Turkey Vulture                 16     40
Bald Eagle                      5      4
Northern Harrier                7      2
Sharp-shinned Hawk              6      3
Cooper's Hawk                   4      4
Red-shouldered Hawk             9     11
Red-tailed Hawk                25     25
American Kestrel               19      9
Peregrine Falcon                2      2
Ring-necked Pheasant            2     13
Northern Bobwhite              12     10
Virginia Rail                  11      5
American Coot                 192   1824
Lesser Yellowlegs               1
Common Snipe                   14
Killdeer                       47     17
Woodcock                               1
Laughing Gull                   1
Bonaparte's Gull             1782    343
Ring-billed Gull             5884   2578
Herring Gull                 2151  11862
Lesser Black-backed Gull        1       
Great Black-backed Gull       223    591
   gull sp.                           15
Rock Dove                    1644   1913
Mourning Dove                 364    339
Eastern Screech Owl                   31
Great Horned Owl                2      5
Barred Owl                             1
Belted Kingfisher              17     12
Red-bellied Woodpecker         35     52
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker        1      5
Downy                          69     63
Hairy Woodpecker                5     16
Northern Flicker               47     53
Pileated Woodpecker             2      7
Eastern Phoebe                  1      1
Horned Lark                    20
Blue Jay                       89    112
American Crow                 642    522
Fish Crow                     133     57
   crow sp.                   928   1033
Carolina Chickadee            202    203
Tufted Titmouse                71    114
Red-breasted Nuthatch           3     34
White breasted Nuthatch        27     25
Brown Creeper                   4      6
Carolina Wren                  93     72
Winter Wren                     5      5
Sedge Wren                      1
Marsh Wren                      7      3
Golden-crowned Kinglet          3      6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet            7      9
Eastern Bluebird                      11
Hermit Thrush                   9      6
American Robin                111    203
Gray Catbird                    2
Northern Mockingbird           79    114
Brown Thrasher                  1      1
Cedar Waxwing                  16     83
European Starling            5445   4340
Ovenbird                        1
Orange-crowned Warbler                 1
Myrtle Warbler                 77     55
Common Yellowthroat             1      1
Yellow-breasted Chat                   1
Northern Cardinal             291    292
Eastern Towhee                 26     16
Chipping Sparrow                2
Tree Sparrow                   31     33
Field Sparrow                   9     21
Savannah Sparrow               28      5
Fox Sparrow                     5      4
Song Sparrow                  561    297
Swamp Sparrow                 124     74
White-throated Sparrow        492    412
Dark-eyed Junco               415    377
Snow Bunting                   72     88
Red-winged Blackbird         2800   3181
Eastern. Meadowlark            27     25
Rusty Blackbird                 6
Common Grackle                457     13
Brown-headed Cowbird          157    193
House Finch                   209    138
Red Crossbill                         85
White-winged Crossbill                 4
Pine Siskin                            8
American Goldfinch             93    252
Evening Grosbeak                1
House Sparrow                 636    126

   Total species              105    104

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Baltimore's First Annual Fall Count

Compiled by Pete Webb

          Fall Count 1998
         September 19, 1998

Pied-billed Grebe                1
Double-crested Cormorant       121
Great Blue Heron                23
Great Egret                     11
Green Heron                      6
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron       2
Black Vulture                    3
Turkey Vulture                  21
Canada Goose                   507
Wood Duck                       28
American Black Duck              6
Mallard                        171
Blue-winged Teal                 8
Green-winged Teal               43
Osprey                           9
Northern Harrier                 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk               6
Cooper's Hawk                    3
Red-shouldered Hawk              5
Broad-winged Hawk                7
Red-tailed Hawk                  2
American Kestrel                 3
Peregrine Falcon                 2
Virginia Rail                    2
Black-bellied Plover            13
American Golden-Plover           8
Semipalmated Plover              1
Killdeer                        47
Greater Yellowlegs               2
Lesser Yellowlegs               32
Solitary Sandpiper               1
Spotted Sandpiper                5
Semipalmated Sandpiper          17
Least Sandpiper                 13
Pectoral Sandpiper               3
Dunlin                           1
Buff-breasted Sandpiper          1
Laughing Gull                    5
Bonaparte's Gull                 1
Ring-billed Gull               118
Herring Gull                   374
Great Black-backed Gull        904
Caspian Tern                    24
Rock Dove                       49
Mourning Dove                  144
Yellow-billed Cuckoo             2
Great Horned Owl                 1
Common Nighthawk                90
Chimney Swift                 1004
Ruby-throated Hummingbird        7
Belted Kingfisher               14
Red-bellied Woodpecker          46
Downy Woodpecker                21
Hairy Woodpecker                 8
Northern Flicker                92
Pileated Woodpecker              5
Eastern Wood-Pewee              15
Acadian Flycatcher               4
Eastern Phoebe                   8
White-eyed Vireo                 9
Blue-headed Vireo                1
Warbling Vireo                   2
Philadelphia Vireo               1
Red-eyed Vireo                  29
Blue Jay                        96
American Crow                  194
Fish Crow                        1
Crow Species                    31
Tree Swallow                     4
Carolina Chickadee              80
Tufted Titmouse                 41
White-breasted Nuthatch         17
House Wren                      56
Winter Wren                     18
Marsh Wren                       1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet             4
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher            1
Eastern Bluebird                11
Veery                            2
Swainson's Thrush                3
Wood Thrush                      4
American Robin                 138
Gray Catbird                   126
Northern Mockingbird            42
Brown Thrasher                   4
European Starling              349
Cedar Waxwing                   79
Nashville Warbler                1
Northern Parula                  6
Yellow Warbler                   3
Chestnut-sided Warbler           2
Magnolia Warbler                13
Cape May Warbler                 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler      1
Black-throated Green Warbler     5
Blackburnian Warbler             1
Pine Warbler                     2
Prairie Warbler                  2
Palm Warbler                    53
Black-and-white Warbler         11
American Redstart               16
Ovenbird                         1
Northern Waterthrush             1
Common Yellowthroat             61
Canada Warbler                   1
Scarlet Tanager                  9
Eastern Towhee                  13
Chipping Sparrow                18
Field Sparrow                    3
Savannah Sparrow                 7
Song Sparrow                    54
Lincoln's Sparrow                1
Swamp Sparrow                    4
Northern Cardinal               70
Rose-breasted Grosbeak          11
Indigo Bunting                   1
Bobolink                         7
Red-winged Blackbird            46
Common Grackle                 235
Brown-headed Cowbird            10
Baltimore Oriole                 1
House Finch                     56
American Goldfinch             179
House Sparrow                    9

  Total species                124

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Backyard Hawk Watch Report

By Kevin Graff

For several years I have been watching and counting hawks from my backyard on White Ave. in the Gardenville section of northeast Baltimore City. My house is near the first ridge west of the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore.

My observations, especially the large number of Broad-winged Hawks, 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.

I am now working on a project to establish a hawk-watching site with a tower near my house, hopefully by the end of year 1999 or 2000, with trails, new trees, new bird feeding stations, a mobile trailer office, a bird banding station, and a parking lot.

Here is a final summary of my count for the fall of 1998, from August 23 to December 20.

       ( * = record high count at site)
     Migrating Vultures: Aug 23 - Dec 20
                             1998        1997
Turkey Vulture                525*        362
Black Vulture                  49*         13

     Migrating Raptors: Aug 23 - Dec 20
                             1998        1997
Golden Eagle                    1           3
   (imm on 10/12)
Bald Eagle                     22*          9
   (9 ad. & 13 imm.)
Northern Harrier               48*         25
Sharp-shinned Hawk            260*        106
Cooper's Hawk                 153*         82
Northern Goshawk                1           2
Red-shouldered Hawk           108*         51
Broad-winged Hawk          11,782*       4324
Red-tailed Hawk               526*        339
Rough-legged Hawk               7          13
Osprey                         48*         20
American Kestrel               64*         23
Merlin                         15*          7
Peregrine Falcon                4*          2
Swainson's Hawk                 1         n/a
Unidentified Accipiter          3           4
Unidentified Buteo              3           3
Unidentified Falcon             1           0
Total Vultures & Raptor    13,621*       5388

Non-Vulture/Raptor Migration: Sep 11 - Dec 1 1998
Common Loon                    21
Red-throated Loon               2
Double-crested Cormorant      141
Great Blue Heron                4
Tundra Swan                    78
Canada Geese                2,934
Snow Geese                    230
Northern Shoveler              21
Common Merganser                1
Ring-billed Gull              467
Common Nighthawk              188
Chimney Swift               4,486
Barn Swallow                    3
Tree Swallow                    5
Downy Woodpecker                2
Common Flicker                  5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird       1
White-breasted Nuthatch         1
Cedar Waxwing                  30
Ruby-crowned Kinglet           11
Golden-crowned Kinglet          7
Hermit Thrush                   4
Veery                           1
Am. Robin                     866
Blue Jay                      576
White-throated Sparrow         63
White-crowned Sparrow           1
"Slate-colored" Junco          51
Purple Finch                    3
American Goldfinch             50
Yellow Warbler                  1
Black-throated Green Warbler    1
Tennessee Warbler               1
Total Non-Vulture/Raptors  10,256

Monarch Butterflies         7,399
(The highest daily total was 5,883 on Sept 17, 1998)

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Getting to know

Carl Brudin

By Gail Frantz

Carl Brudin is the new naturalist at the Carrie Murray Center situated in the Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park area.

Carl explains: "I got hooked up with Joy (Wheeler), who sent me lots of information." Along with the MOS newsletter, Joy also sent Carl a copy of Chip Notes and so, Carl was introduced to the Baltimore Bird Club.

Carl is originally from Clarksville in Howard County and has lived there for twenty-seven years. His experience and education has included: " a degree in Environmental Science from Ferrum College in Roanoke Virginia, and I have worked for the Fish and Wildlife service, DNR State, U.S. Forest Service, and Patapsco Valley State Park and Otter Point Creek Recreation and Parks in Harford Co.

"I've always been into birds, ever since I put out a bird feeder in my back yard, and started identifying them. As I grew, my passion grew too and it has taken me to many different states and places, Oregon, South Dakota and North Carolina. I'm still young, only 27 so we'll see where to next?

"Wild birds have really brought many of the larger issues like habitat preservation, forest fragmentation and wetland preservation, to my attention so that now, I'm deeply rooted as an environmentalist. I have birds to thank for that. Birding brings a special joy to me and brings the outdoor experience to life. To me, living with nature is like enjoying the company of a friend.

"Due to the Greenway trail coming through we got some new funding from the Department of Natural Resources. With the grand opening of the Greenway next spring, we will have to start soon with the trash clean up. I'm very disappointed in the amount of trash that I see spread throughout the park and so I'm trying to get a trash committee clean up going and I'll be looking for groups to help out. I love the park and the more of a community effort we promote, the better it will be!

"Other programs will include outdoor environmental education which will target school children kindergarten through grade twelve. On the weekends I'm starting some new programs designed for families and people of all ages. One of the activities will be bird walks.

"I'm also working on ecology and watershed projects and stream studies, focusing on how our habits impact the Chesapeake Bay. I'm looking forward to doing control studies with exotics species such as English ivy and periwinkle. There is a lot of opportunity here to carry out projects which will effect some much needed positive change.

"Volunteer opportunities in this park are really wide open. For example, if someone has an interest in plants and wants to start a garden, we can go there. If someone wants to build something or enhance a particular habitat, go for it. We need enthusiastic people with do-able ideas.

"Happily, current funding has opened up a 1 year, full time American Core Volunteer position to work at the center to help coordinate volunteers and help with Greenway activities. We also run a wilderness summer camp program, and hire summer staff to help aid in those programs."

If you are interested in becoming a part of Carl's plans to improve this lovely park and/or participate in its many developing programs, contact him at (410)396-0808 or email:

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We, the Jury

By Joy Wheeler

What happens when an habitual birdwatcher like me is selected for jury duty and assigned to a case to last one month according to the judge? Two things. First, the case turns out to be about a bird, and second, the trip to the Maryland District Court in the Garmatz Building took me through the Jones Falls Valley on the Light Rail from Lutherville Station to North Avenue and then on to Baltimore street. Once I arrived and court was in session the one bird that was the focus of discussion was the Common Raven: its wings, whether they could appear upswept; its feathers, with notches or without; its tail, whether it had 7 feathers or not; its color, whether its blackness had purple tints or not; its head, whether it was the head of a vicious predator or not, etc. And in spite of all this bird-y discussion, and while it was presented by some very competent lawyers and even a couple expert witness ornithologists, I did not believe it would hold my birdwatcher's interest for that many days. So, how to survive this big block of time away from my Northampton Furnace Trail?

Going so close to Peggy Bohanan's Sutton Place apartment on the Light Rail that very first day reminded me of all the far flung places I'd been birding with her. And going so close to the Maryland State Office Building where Bob Ringler has his office reminded me not only of the far flung trips I'd taken with him, but also of his statement: "I watch birds wherever I am." So, from the second day of my trips to town to the very last day (about 18 altogether) I chose a seat close to the window, first on one side and of the car and then on the other, and watched birds. (Without binoculars, however. I'm such a wimp, never wanting to stand out in a crowd, and binoculars do tend to draw attention to oneself.)

As the days went by and my list grew I was impressed by how much habitat can be found right outside the Light Rail car windows. It should not have been terribly surprising, for I'd read Brian Rollfinke's report of his 10 forays along the Jones Falls during the previous summer in preparation for the First Annual Jones Falls Celebration. And of course I knew, subconsciously, that during migration you might find birds anywhere.

An added bonus to the days' discussions in the courtroom about the raven was lunchtime at the Inner Harbor. I found I could walk the entire promenade in the hour, eating as I walked. And what a bonus it was to my list. There was only one rainy day, not rainy enough to keep me inside those two windowless rooms, the jury room and the courtroom.

Not counting the Common Raven, the bird that provided the occasion for these "birding trips," I managed to list 25 species from October 6 to November 5, from Lutherville Station to the Inner Harbor. I could present the list in a number of ways: taxonomically, chronologically, alphabetically. I think I'11 do it geographically, locating the place where the birds appeared, from Lutherville south to the Inner Harbor. Perhaps it will be a guide to you the next time you take a morning trip to town. Forget the evening. My eyes were glazed from a day in the courtroom, and after the end of Daylight Savings Time we rode back to Lutherville in the dark.

  1. Pigeons
  2. Starlings
  3. House Sparrows
  4. American Crows, all of the above seen at Lutherville Station, and everywhere else
  5. Double-crested Cormorant drying its wings on a sandbar in Lake Roland
  6. Canada Geese (25) framed by the changing leaves reflected on Lake Roland
  7. Sharp-shinned Hawk, flying downstream from Lake Roland dam, the bird that made me think there might be a creditable list here
  8. Great Blue Heron flying downstream from the dam
  9. American Robin perched in sycamore at Falls Road bridge and one at Mt. Royal Station
  10. Red-winged Blackbirds flocking in the same sycamore as the robin
  11. Northern Cardinal flying with Mt. Washington's dull gray McCafferty Restaurant as a backdrop
  12. Sparrow (sp.) hiding in the dense shrubs at Coldspring Station
  13. Mallard swimming in the Falls on the west side of the tracks below Coldspring Station as well as 24 regulars at the Inner Harbor
  14. Belted Kingfishers (2) flying low over the shallow Jones Falls before it goes under the Expressway
  15. Northern Mockingbirds sitting in the tops of 3 shrubs among a surprising amount of greenery at the North Avenue Station
  16. Blue Jay flying high over the Lyric Theater parking lot, the one bird I saw on my way home
  17. Ring-billed gulls circling the Inner Harbor and flying along Jones Falls.
  18. Herring Gulls
  19. Great Black-backed Gulls immatures clustering at the feet for handouts from the lunch crowd at the Inner Harbor
  20. American Coot (1) swimming at the Rusty Scupper Restaurant among a surprising number of Portuguese man-o-wars
  21. White-throated Sparrow, the first of many I'd see among the closely cropped Shrubbery at the Inner Harbor
  22. Hermit Thrush responding to pishing, coming out from the Inner Harbor yews.
  23. Dark-eyed Junco
  24. Swamp Sparrow hopping among the naturally growing shrubs (Indigo Bush: Amphora fruticosa) close to the shoreline beyond the Rusty Scupper
  25. Eastern Towhee among some dried asters in an empty lot beyond the Visionary Arts Museum and one later in the Inner Harbor yews
  26. Warbler (sp.) hopping in the low shrubs in front of Phillips Seafood, moving so fast that at first I called it a Common Yellowthroat but after further thought taking its smaller size and olive color, a Wilson's -- a warbler nonetheless.

Remember, I had no binoculars, the train was usually moving at a fast clip, and hundreds of people crowded the Inner Harbor at lunchtime.

A creditable list, don't you think? The only place I saw a raven outside the courtroom was on banners flying on poles around the Inner Harbor, but without that bird I wouldn't have this list.

You may have read news reports of the trial. A young man who designed a Ravens' logo in December 1995 claimed he had originated his design before the professional NFLProperties produced their very similar design in April 1996. We, the jury agreed.

And now I'm back to birding on the Northampton Furnace Trail. Today there were 16 Eastern Bluebirds and 125 Hooded Mergansers.

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A little filler from your editor:

California Disaster

By Steve Sanford

In mid-June 1993 I took my ninth birding-trip west since July '89. This was definitely becoming a compulsive habit! I took this trip because I thought I could get a six or seven life-birds, and that it would be pleasant and relaxing -- and the airfare was real cheap. But as the time approached, I was getting nervous and wondering why I was doing this. But of course, that's how I feel before every trip.

I had a pleasant flight to San Francisco. I drove to Mariposa on the way to Yosemite, only to find it was all booked up, so I had to back track 30 miles to a Motel 6 with defective air-conditioning in hot, steamy Merced

Next day I checked again on Mariposa but there were still no rooms for the upcoming weekend. What a fool I was to have tried to center a trip around Yosemite on a summer weekend! I ended up the next two nights in one "John Muir" motel east of Mariposa, a primitive place for $65 a night with no AC and a TV that only got MTV and two Canadian stations (?!?!), and wasps (the insects, not Protestants).

I went on into Yosemite. My first stop had some nice Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeaks -- and surprising numbers of mosquitoes. The crowds of people were oppressive beyond expectation. I went up the road to Tioga Pass for a limited escape: very limited.

Around dinner-time I was heading back to my distant motel when I saw some birding-types in the meadow around Crane Flat Meadow. I talked to the closest one and he told me they were indeed looking for the reputed Great Grey Owls there. I joined them, and after a while one of them called up on their CB that they found an owl. Pretty soon we found it and it flew around some. It was so dark by then that it was not obvious whether it really was a Great Gray, but we deduced, correctly I believe in hindsight, that it was. But of course, I didn't "need" it. I had a good life-look at a Great Gray the previous February in northern Michigan. And the weather in Michigan on that trip at 15° with a foot of snow, was far more pleasant.

I did entirely too much walking in the dark on that meadow in the course of all this. My arthritic right hip is a constant source of trouble. Nevertheless, my normally functional left hip had just started acting up some and it didn't need any stress. Note this was the end of the second day and I hadn't seen any lifebirds. Where were the Calliope Hummingbirds, the Dusky Flycatchers, the Hermit Warblers?

The next day I checked for the supposed Black Swifts at Bridalveil Falls. The falls were quite swollen with water and sent a heavy drizzle down below. Of course there weren't any Black Swifts. I proceeded up Glacier Point road, stopping for Black-backed Woodpeckers. Of course, they weren't there either. At Glacier Point the view of Half-Dome and the valley was, naturally, spectacular, but the crowds were even more so. It was probably the largest collection of Germans outside of Germany, not to mention the Japanese, British, French, and occasional Americans.

Despite the elevation, it was hot. I was anticipating cool mountains, but unfortunately central California was in the midst of a heat wave. Even San Francisco was in the 90s, and Fresno was 104°. I was overwhelmed with sun, heat, and hunger at the Point. I waited 15 minutes at an outdoor concession, though it seemed like hours, for a hot dog and soda, just enough to perfect a good sunburn.

I sat down to eat. A spacey young guy with a backpack came along and asked me did I drive up here?
"Of course!" I said.
"You mean I hiked four vertical miles up here and I could have driven here?" he said.
"Yes. How else would all of these people have gotten here?"
"Far Out! " he exclaimed. I swear, those were his exact words.

I was burning up and terribly tired. About 2 PM I retreated to my motel, 40 miles away, for a nap. It was about 95° inside with no AC, but I was so tired I took a shower and napped fitfully about an hour, hoping the wasps in the room wouldn't sting me. I'll never forgive John Muir for this motel!

Then I drove to Mariposa for an air-conditioned fast food dinner. I noticed my left hip was getting really painful. By the time I got to Mariposa I could scarcely walk.

It dawned upon me then that I had finally reached the deepest possible level of human despair. Yes, I could truly say to myself, "This trip is so bad, I would actually rather be at work!"


The only way to be cool was to keep driving in the air-conditioned car, despite the severe, aching pain, so I went to the Mariposa Grove of sequoias on the south entry road to Yosemite. There, at least, I had my first break: I heard a suspicious song, and it turned out indeed to be a Hermit Warbler. A life-bird finally! Thank you.

That evening the vile motel room was not too hot any more, but I saw on the Canadian weather channel that it still would be hot in California next day. I decided, "That's it!" I would go to the first town on the other side of the Sierras, or anywhere, that my AAA guide showed had cheap motels galore.

That town was Bishop - about 150 miles away, and delightfully devoid of tourist-interest. I buzzed across Yosemite and plopped down for a nap in a comfortable, air-conditioned, cheap-but-luxurious motel in mid-afternoon. Later, I took the main road towards the mountains from there. At the end - Summit Lake - the view of the jagged crest of the Sierras around Kings Canyon was beautiful and refreshing. I also heard, but could not find, a Gray Flycatcher.

Next day I headed for Mammoth Lakes, a pleasant, uncrowded ski-resort where some real birding was possible, and it was actually a bit chilly, and cloudy, and even rainy. Yeaaahh! I still didn't do too well finding birds, but at least I was cool and rested enough to try, and the hip was a lot better. I visited the mysterious Mono Lake back in the desert. It was not too birdy since it was not migration time, but the area was geologically fascinating and pleasantly devoid of crowds.

The next day, my last full day, I saw a Dusky Flycatcher, finally, with the aid of a tape, in Mammoth Lakes. Ah ha! Another lifer. I stopped by an impressive earthquake fault, very thoughtfully identified by the forest service as a point of interest. It reminded me that California is subject to other disasters besides my trip. On the way down to the desert, I stopped and heard and finally saw a Gray Flycatcher - lifer number three.

I crossed the Sierras via Sonora Pass, the next pass north of the accursed Yosemite. It was delightfully cold and dark and snowy - and gloriously empty.

The next morning I had one hour to spare for birding before going to the airport. I had the good fortune of finding an Allen's Hummingbird - another lifer - to compensate unexpectedly for the lack of a Calliope Hummer. I also heard and sort-of saw a Pacific-coast Flycatcher for life-bird number five.

So, by the end of the trip things had improved considerably - definitely better than being at work, which, unfortunately, was the never-ending disaster that awaited me at home.

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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

Charles Village

On December 1, Leanne Pemburn reported:

"Hey there!, I am delighted to announce what I believe is our 100th species, an Orange-crowned Warbler. Nothing like leaving all the seed-heads on the perennials to attract a crowd."

Then a revision: " WHOOPS! Not 100, but 99. Gotta check the list again!"

Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park

Carl Brudin characterizes Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park (GF/LP) as one of his favorite "hot spots" for birding. Lucky guy . . . he works there!

" I'm the new naturalist at the Carrie Murray Outdoor Education Campus (located in GF/LP). I'm also an avid birder, and have found that the Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park is a great spot for birds. I have been amazed at some of the species I have seen. One bird I think is a great find is an immature Red-headed Woodpecker that has been hanging around the park for a month now. Also, the other day, I saw a Fox Sparrow and in one spot I also saw /heard lots of woodpecker species, Pileated, Flicker, Red-bellied and Downy."

Carl will be conducting bird walks in the park during the coming year. In order to find out dates, times and types of park activities: telephone (410) 396-0808

On May 1, BBC member Scott Crabtree will be leading a bird walk through parts of GF/LP. Check your BBC booklet for details.(GF)


Oct: 28: Lester Simon and his wife in Hampton had a male Black-throated Blue Warbler for several days. The small warbler dined on a log, drilled with holes, that the Simons fill with a peanut butter mixture. Every winter Lester hangs cages to hold commercially made suet blocks that the Carolina Wrens and Downey Woodpeckers use. In addition Mrs. Simon prepares her, "Special Homemade Peanut Butter Mixture" for the log which the warbler, apparently a gourmand, seemed to prefer.

On 11/7 Lester reported having Fox Sparrows and Towhees, two species they've never seen before in their yard.

Baltimore County


November 8 thoughts from Steve Sanford:

De profundis

"During a cold, gray weekend of self-denial, hammering Chip Notes into its Procrustean bed during this festive season of darkness and despair, I did at least have a nice assortment of birds in my yard today, November 8. The best was my first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the yard for some years. It spent some time in my 5 year-old crab apple tree that replaced the old Norway maple, which was probably the last place I had a Sapsucker. The crab apple also was visited by a highly visible Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Robins and Starlings have just about consumed all the berries now."

"The ground below, where I scatter seed, had an unusually large host of Juncos (some of whom were virtually black), White-throated Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and House Sparrows. Numerous Goldfinches also stopped by the temporarily unpopular upside-down feeder for the first time in several weeks. It was hard to believe these dull grayish birds were the same species as the brilliant yellow jewels that were there in the summer."


7:00 AM on Nov 5 brought the first icy water in the bird baths. Flocks of Cedar Waxwings and Robins moved in on the Mountain Ash berries and the American Plum tree's fruit. On Nov. 7, an immature but hefty White-throated Sparrow delicately picked small bits from one of the ripe plums. Two feet away a Cedar waxwing tugged his chosen plum roughly off the twig, held it for an instant, then, unceremoniously gulped the whole thing down. What a contrast in table manners! Wouldn't you think that the sleek aristocratic waxwing would be as genteel as the chunky little sparrow?

Nov. 8: Sharp-shinned Hawk sitting on our kid's deserted rusty play set & waiting to grasp a meal. No luck.

A late Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was pecking around the trunk of a Chinese chestnut tree on Nov. 21.

Dec. 6 brought a temperature of 72 degrees and the first Hermit Thrush we've ever identified in the yard. Got to observe him for almost 10 minutes but only from underneath and 25 feet away. He exhibited the behavior described in the Peterson field guide of; "cocking its tail and dropping it slowly."

Dec 12: The Fox Sparrows have been hanging around performing their ground dance, cha-cha-cha, since Oct. 31.(GF)


Nancy D. Rowe described what many of us are experiencing at our backyard feeders this December. "I have nothing to report from Broadmead but a dearth of birds at our feeders. Why? An overabundance of natural foods, arrested migration due to weather patterns, la niña, the Coopers and Sharp-shinned hawks which are occasionally seen perching near a feeder, or 'unknown?' "

Carroll County

Liberty Reservoir

Jean Worthley reports that on October 17 at Liberty Reservoir, Ed Uebel found an adult dead Saw-whet owl in a grove of pine trees. The bird is now at the Bear Branch Nature Center in Carroll County, where it will be mounted and put into their raptor display.

Ed is currently in the process of cataloging Elmer Worthley's extensive collection of lichens, mosses and liverworts.

Anne Arundel County

Severn, MD

In her new yard, Kathy Kirkpatrick's bird list grows is growing. "a male Downy Woodpecker. But know what? It has a mate, so we have a male and female. Pretty cool, huh? Plus at least one Red-bellied Woodpecker. I hung two suet feeders last week. The woodpeckers seem to like them.

"I've also seen two different Nuthatches, Red-breasted and White-breasted, but only one of each. I'm hoping they go tell their buddies. I counted 16 Juncos on the ground at once; the other day I counted 30!

"Yesterday I was watching a squirrel about 30 feet away in this small tree at the base of a bigger tree. He was having an awful time hanging on. I couldn't figure out what he was doing. He ran about 10 feet up the bigger tree very fast then right back into the twigs even faster. Next thing I know, WHOOSH a Red-tailed Hawk swooped down! It missed the squirrel by about 6 inches and landed about 6 feet away in a small tree. He was only there for about 30 seconds before taking off. I'm not POSITIVE about the ID, but it was probably a Red-tailed or a Red-shouldered Hawk. It's amazing just how big a hawk looks that close! Hopefully, I'll see it again."

Frederick County

Dave Bussey who lives in Point of Rocks was excited to have a Salasphorus Hummer (suspected to be a Rufous) visit his yard and feeder during November. Then on December 3 Dave reported: "Marshall Iliff from the MD Records Committee was at my house for two hours today, but the bird never made an appearance. I'll make a point of keeping an eye out this weekend to see if it shows up again."

Haven't heard from Dave yet about what happened during his vigil - one can only hope!(GF)


Out of State


Upon reading the story of the Black-throated blue warbler that was feeding at our hummingbird feeder last fall, hummer-bander Bob Sargent of Clay, Alabama, related the following: "We went into the South Carolina mountains to band a Violet-ear hummingbird, set up the traps and returned a while later to observe a procession of Black-throated blue warblers inside the trap sipping at the sugar water." Bob says that many species of warblers (at least down south) often use hummer feeders as a food source.(GF)


Spring Planting Ideas to Attract Birds & Butterflies

Eric Raun of Silver Spring, MD has an informative web page at: /btrfly.htm

The site is devoted primarily to local butterflies. Eric also includes an extensive list of flowers that may be successfully grown in our area. In addition to attracting butterflies, these flowers will also attract hummers, seed eating birds and beneficial insects.

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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