The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

December 1999-January 2000 -- Online Edition


Deadline for next CHIP NOTES: December 23, 1999 (the next issue will be February-March 2000). Send material to: or e-mail to
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Lake Roland Update

by Carol Schreter

As reported in the last issue of Chip Notes, the bridge into Lake Roland (Robert E. Lee Park), just below the dam, is to be rebuilt. It now seems that work will start June 1, 2000 and take 3-6 months, with the bridge closed and no alternate route built into the park.

As of press time, therefore, it seems that our spring migration walks at Lake Roland will go as scheduled. However, for our fall migration walks next year, a series of eight Tuesday mornings, we will need to find a new location. Any ideas?

We invite BBC members to suggest another site for the fall - with diverse habitat, easy walking and ample parking. E-mail your suggestions to (Gail Frantz) or (Carol Schreter). Or send a note by regular mail to Gail Frantz, 13955 Old Hanover Rd., Reisterstown, MD 21136. Watch upcoming issues of Chip Notes for more information on this issue.

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Cylburn Lecture Report: Bob Ringler on "The Yellow Book"

by Gail Frantz

On October 5th Bob Ringler presented an explanation of how to use the 3rd edition of the Field List of the Birds of Maryland co-authored by Marshall Iliff, James Stasz, and himself. Since the booklet's publication, Maryland birders have taken the wordy title and nicknamed it simply - The Yellow Book.

There is an enormous amount of information in this comparatively small booklet which uses a variety of symbols, charts and graphs. Bob's method of initiating us into the use of this versatile reference book was simple but effective. He took us through the book, picking not only unrelated species but also several bird species that could be compared with each other such as the Red-throated and Common Loon and the Brown and White Pelican.

Bob showed us a color slide of each bird he presented. These pictures grabbed our attention immediately. After identifying the slide, he walked us through the book's charts and graphs where we found a surprising amount of information. Using the book we could determine: seasonal migratory patterns, breeding status, abundance of species by season, first and last egg laying, expected types of habitat and rare occurrences. There is also a county-by-county breakdown of abundance and breeding status. By the end of the evening we were better able to make use of this excellent, well thought-out reference.

Bob suggested two more resource books to help us understand Maryland's diverse bird population: Maryland Bird Life, vol. 5, "Distribution and Abundance of Wintering Birds in Maryland," and Atlas of Breeding Birds of Maryland and the District of Columbia (Robbins & Blom.)

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1999 Fall Count

by Debbie Terry, Compiler

The 1999 Fall Count held on Saturday September 18 in Baltimore City and County produced 126 species. It was a lovely day to be outside with morning temperatures in the 60's and afternoon temperatures reaching 80 degrees. Areas surveyed ranged from individual's backyards, to the wooded trails of state and county parks, and the sandy dike of Hart-Miller Island.

It is interesting that the greatest number of species counted was not the American Crow or the European Starling, but 7,306 Broad-winged Hawks. The remaining top five finishers in order were the Great Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Canada Goose and Ring-billed Gull. Fourteen species of warblers were identified. Magnolias managed to place first by beating the second placing Common Yellowthroats by two birds.

Many thanks to the 13 individuals who participated in this year's Fall Count.

The list:

Double-crested Cormorant        37
Great Blue Heron                25
Great Egret                      1
Black-crowned Night-Heron        3

Black Vulture                    6
Turkey Vulture                  20

Canada Goose                   290
Mute Swan                        9
Wood Duck                        5
American Black Duck              3
Mallard                         54
Northern Shoveler                1
Lesser Scaup                     1

Osprey                          12
Bald Eagle                       2
Northern Harrier                 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk               6
Cooper's Hawk                    3

Red-shouldered Hawk              9
Broad-winged Hawk            7,306
Red-tailed Hawk                  2
American Kestrel                 7
Merlin                           2
Peregrine Falcon                 1

Black-bellied Plover             1
American Golden Plover          36
Semipalmated Plover              5
Killdeer                        29
Lesser Yellowlegs                9
Ruddy Turnstone                  4
Sanderling                       2

Semipalmated Sandpiper          27
Western Sandpiper                4
Least Sandpiper                  5
White-rumped Sandpiper           1
Pectoral Sandpiper               7
Stilt Sandpiper                  4
Long-billed Dowitcher            1

Laughing Gull                   47
Ring-billed Gull               276
Herring Gull                   146
Lesser Black-backed Gull         2
Great Black-backed Gull        488
Caspian Tern                   362
Common Tern                      1

Rock Dove                       26
Mourning Dove                   61
Yellow-billed Cuckoo             2
Great Horned Owl                 1
Barred Owl                       1

Common Nighthawk                 2
Chimney Swift                   33
Ruby-throated Hummingbird        7
Belted Kingfisher                6

Red-headed Woodpecker            1
Red-bellied Woodpecker          46
Downy Woodpecker                18
Hairy Woodpecker                 3
Northern Flicker                21
Pileated Woodpecker              6

Eastern Wood-Pewee               6
Acadian Flycatcher               1
Eastern Phoebe                   1
Great Crested Flycatcher         3
Empidonax sp.                    3

White-eyed Vireo                 3
Yellow-throated Vireo            2
Blue-headed Vireo                1
Warbling Vireo                   1
Red-eyed Vireo                  17

Blue Jay                       175
American Crow                  122
Crow sp.                        10
Fish Crow                        2

Tree Swallow                    46
Bank Swallow                     7
Barn Swallow                     8
Swallow sp.                    100

Carolina Chickadee             116
Tufted Titmouse                 80
Red-breasted Nuthatch            3
White-breasted Nuthatch         25

Carolina Wren                   58
House Wren                      11
Marsh Wren                       4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet             2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher            2

Eastern Bluebird                 5
Veery                            1
Swainson's Thrush                2
Wood Thrush                      7
American Robin                 123

Gray Catbird                   104
Northern Mockingbird            20
Brown Thrasher                   1

European Starling              129
American Pipit                   4
Cedar Waxwing                   40

Northern Parula                  6
Chestnut-sided Warbler          14
Magnolia Warbler                26
Black-throated Blue Warbler      2
Black-throated Green Warbler     6
Blackburnian Warbler             2

Pine Warbler                     5
Palm Warbler                     9
Bay-breasted Warbler             2
Black- and- White Warbler        3

American Redstart                3
Ovenbird                         1
Common Yellowthroat             24
Hooded Warbler                   2

Scarlet Tanager                  2
Eastern Towhee                   5
Chipping Sparrow                16
Song Sparrow                    38
Swamp Sparrow                    2
White-throated Sparrow           6

Northern Cardinal               87
Rose-breasted Grosbeak          12
Indigo Bunting                   2

Bobolink                        10
Red-winged Blackbird             7
Common Grackle                  40
House Finch                     20
American Goldfinch              52
House Sparrow                   28


FIELD OBSERVERS: Scott Crabtree, Ruth Culbertson, Ralph Cullison ,Gail Frantz, Greg Futral, Kevin Graff, Josie Gray, Dot Gustafson, Peter Lev, Paul Noell, Steve Sanford, Gene Scarpulla, Debbie Terry

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River of Broadwings over Cylburn

by Steve Sanford

On September 26 our regular Sunday morning walk at Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore was treated to an unexpected delight: A stately procession of at least 900 migrating Broad-winged Hawks!

They came mainly in streams and kettles of 25 to 100 birds from about 9AM to noon. At first many of them were quite close and appeared to be emerging from nearby roosts. Later they would come in higher streams from the north, and then often form kettles over Cylburn before streaming on south. It was mostly sunny, but it suddenly clouded over almost completely for about 1 1/2 hour starting around 9 AM, which was also the best period for the hawks.

The winds were mainly from the east. Cylburn is at the top of a ridge facing east over the Jones Falls valley. The rather uncommon easterly winds pushing up the east slope of this ridge may explain why there were so many hawks. Joe Lewandowski, who has been doing these walks for a number of years, says he does not recall anything like this.

In addition to the Broadwings, we had a high Bald Eagle around 9:30, some Sharp-shins, 2 Kestrels, 2 Red-tails, 6 Osprey, 1 Red-shoulder, and a Peregrine Falcon speeding south around 11:45. The passerines were pretty decent too: At least 7 species of warblers, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a Pileated Woodpecker posing on a bare snag in bright sunlight.

Some data on the Internet suggests that the Cylburn hawks were part of a pulse traveling along a river in the sky stretching about 250 miles from Turkey Point in Cecil County, MD down to Harvey's Knob in southwestern Virginia north of Roanoke:

That morning, watchers at Turkey Point (Elk Neck State Park) saw 1459 Broadwings. 35 miles southwest of there, we saw our 900+ Broadwings peaking between 9:00 and 10:30. 35 miles further southwest an observer in Gaithersburg reported seeing about 750 Broadwings peaking between 10 and 11:00. Another 25 miles further southwest another observer saw about 2800 Broadwings about the same time. Skipping 100 miles further southwest the hawk-watchers at Rockfish Gap, VA (about 20 miles west of Charlottesville) reported 1788 Broadwings peaking between 3:30 and 5:00. Another 65 miles further southwest watchers at Harvey's Knob north of Roanoke reported 1802 Broadwings with most between 5:00 and 6:30.

These locations are on a fairly straight line. Hawk-watches outside of that line and range did not report unusually high numbers of Broadwings. My unscientific research indicates that on a good day Broadwings may travel about 250 miles in one day. This fits in well with the theory that the hawks we saw over Cylburn were part of a mass, most of which migrated about 250 miles that day.

The next weekend I joined the Cylburn walk with great curiosity about hawks. But, alas, there were virtually no hawks at all. Joe Lewandowski summed it up pretty well: "Steve, last week was an anomaly."

But don't forget to check the skies of Cylburn on future walks!

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Dues Reminder

by Roberta Ross

If you have not already done so, please pay your dues promptly! Notices have been sent to everyone whose 1999-2000 dues have not been received. If the expiration date on your mailing label is circled 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, 2000.

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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Birding at Fort McHenry Wetlands

by Joy Wheeler

Birdwatching at Fort McHenry goes back a long way, at least as far as John James Audubon and Dr. Elliot Coues. There are a lot of us who still remember the Snowy Owl of the 80's and the Ringed Turtle Doves. Were you there one cold, wintry day when a Sunpapers reporter tagged along with one of our field trips and took pictures while we watched the prize bird of the day, a Lesser Black-backed Gull? And, of course, Fort McHenry has been included in our Christmas bird count ever since we moved the center of our circle to the Inner Harbor.

But with all that, we're being challenged to intensify our Fort McHenry birdwatching by no less a team than the National Aquarium's conservation department along with the staff of the fort. Since the early 80's the when the Fort McHenry/Harbor Tunnel was built, there has been an artificially constructed wetland on the fort's shoreline, built to compensate for the destruction of natural wetlands. The aquarium and the fort have recently begun to focus their attention on this area - removing the trash periodically, trying to control the phragmites, considering what they might do to enhance the area to attract birds and other wildlife to the shore of the Patapsco - all within sight of huge warehouse-type buildings, docking ocean-going ships, cranes for loading those ships, and numerous small boats.

Here's where our web site comes into play. Lori Denno, fairly new to the conservation staff of the aquarium, in her search for someone to help with the bird study of this wetland, found us on the Internet and contacted us at Cylburn. Did we have anyone who could conduct a bird study of the area, monitor over a considerable period of time, teach volunteers bird identification, and suggest strategies on how to attract birds and other wildlife? Aren't these our best assets? We can do all of these things, I assured Ms. Denno, and accepted her invitation to meet her to let her know we were real life group. Jim Peters agreed to go along to verify my assurances.

What Jim and I verified was that that it is an exciting project. First of all, it is easy to get to: Go south on Saint Paul Street/Light Street, then east on Fort Avenue to the fort. The wetlands are to the right, immediately inside the entrance, with a wide, level asphalt path leading to the site. Jim has already made several more trips and has begun to keep records, even though the project does not get under way until January 1, 2000. He has listed some of the points we must consider as we design our record keeping methods. Members of the board have been given copies of his tally sheet and have been asked to comment on its validity. David Brinker, chairman of the MOS research committee, has received a copy for his assessment. At the next few BBC meetings tally sheets will be available for your use. At the next few meetings at Cylburn Lori Denno and Glen Page will be on hand to "show and tell" more about the project.

This is an opportunity that fits very well with our purposes as listed on one of the first pages of our program booklet. It is a project that will have an impact on the birds of Baltimore. It will help expand the knowledge of birds for those who want to become the new birdwatchers of Baltimore. We'll be talking more about the second our upcoming meetings, but if you have any questions now, please call me, Joy Wheeler, at 410-825-1204.

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Postcard from Madagascar

October 19, 1999

Dear Chippers,

I have visited Madagascar to do a crop survey on vanilla. It's great here because almost every bird is an endemic. The Red Madagascar Fody replaces our House Sparrow. Two species of sunbirds are attracted to garden flowers. Eco-tourism has really taken hold here, as people want to see the lemurs, birds, reptiles, and orchid species that live in the remaining rain forest. I was lucky to be able to spend one day in the forest where I saw two lifers: the Scaly and Short-tailed Ground Rollers, which are secretive members of an endemic family that I had failed to see on previous trips.

Hank Kaestner

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Field Trip Reports

compiled by Steve Sanford

Thank you, Elliot Kirschbaum, for updating the list and format of the field trip report form. And thanks, leaders, for your reports. We had a good season, with lots to report.

Sept 11 Gwynn Falls/Leakin Park - This trip had a good collection of migrants following a recent frontal passage. Species of interest included: Acadian Flycatchers still vocalizing, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red- and White-eyed Vireos (in numbers much higher than usual), Black & White Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Canada Warbler, American Redstart. Weather: Clear, sunny day, beginning temp in mid-50's, ending up in the hi-70's, winds light, from the NW. 6 participants. 40 species. Leader: Scott Crabtree.

Sept 11 - Kevin Graff's Hawkwatch - The hawks were a little slow compared to the corresponding period last year. Ironically, a week later Kevin had about 7000 Broad-winged Hawks at his watch. But there were 2 Bald Eagles, 41 Broadwings, 3 Osprey, 2 Merlins, 5 American Kestrels, 4 Sharp-shinned Hawks, and 1 Cooper's Hawk. It was partly cloudy to sunny with northwest winds, with temperatures in the 70's to low 80's. 5 participants. Leaders: Kevin Graff and Pete Webb.

Sept 12 Kevin Graff's Hawkwatch - The hawks were again rather sparse. The watchers did enjoy the 2 immature Bald Eagles. The wooded ridge near Kevin's house featured Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and 4 warbler species. Weather: clear skies, temperatures in the 70's, SW wind changing to SE. 3 participants. Leaders: Kevin Graff and Peter Lev.

Sept 12 North Point State Park - Highlight: Nashville Warbler. 43 species. 7 participants. Leaders: Brent and Mary Byers.

Sept 14 Lake Roland - 18 birders found 47 species on this humid, partly cloudy day. Leader Josie Gray reports that the warblers were "very elusive," but they did see 9 species of them.

Sept 18 Cromwell Valley Park - The highlight was Broad-winged Hawks. Leader Jim Meyers reports that they had been seen settling into the area the night before. A little after 9 AM 200+ Broadwings began rising from their roosts and forming kettles low over the heads of the birders. Later that afternoon there were two kettles totaling 50 to 100 hawks. Note this was the day Kevin Graff had 7002 Broadwings at his watch in NE Baltimore. Dusk produced Nighthawks and 2 Great Horned Owls. Weather: Clear, in the 70's. Species: 45, participants: 27.

Sept 25 Oregon Ridge - Leader Gail Frantz writes:

We were happy to welcome two enthusiastic birders who had never been on a bird walk before. A nice surprise was a pair of Savannah Sparrows. We enjoyed comparing both a mature and a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk with each other. The many Black-throated Green Warblers darting about gave everyone a good look. At the end of the walk, while tallying the count, we added several species to the trip list with a fly-over of several Sharp-shinned Hawks, an Osprey, four Nighthawks, and a kettle of fourteen Broadwings.

The weather was clear and sunny. 49 species. 11 birders.

Sept 28 Lake Roland - 8 birders braved the rainy weather. The chief reward was good views of male and female Wood Ducks. 31 species. Leader: Dot Gustafson.

Oct 2 Cromwell Valley Park - This trip featured a good hawk flight with 8 species of hawk, and a lot of species that were the first of the season for many participants such as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2), Red-Breasted Nuthatch (1), Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Myrtle Warbler, and White-throated Sparrow. Some other goodies were 2 Blue Grosbeaks, 3 Magnolia Warblers, 2 Scarlet Tanagers, 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, a Thrasher, and about 20 Bluebirds of various ages. Leader: Jim Meyers. 14 participants. Weather: Clear, about 75.

Oct 3 Howard County Sparrows I (Joint trip with Howard Co.) Leader Bonnie Ott, Howard County's 'Queen of Sparrows', writes:

A great showing of 10 visiting Baltimore Countians rounded out this morning's field trip of 30 participants. We toured the Howard Conservancy property (Mount Pleasant) in Woodstock.

The day was beautiful and the birds co-operative. The skies were busy with Ospreys, Sharpies, Coopers, Red-tails, Kestrels and a fly-by Merlin. Six species of woodpeckers were tallied with a lovely fly-over Pileated Woodpecker as our first bird of the day. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was a first fall sighting for many. To everyone's delight and surprise a Marsh Wren was discovered and had the good grace to flush into an area from which the entire group could view him.

Although the farm is not the best of warbler spots, we did find some nice species. After a bit of discussion on an all "yellow" warbler we came to the conclusion we had a female Wilson's, along with Nashville, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Palm and Common Yellowthroat.

Of course the crowning moment was the discovery of 7 (yes SEVEN) Lincoln's Sparrows. I believe that everyone on the trip saw at least some part of one of those Lincoln's to an ID-able degree. Chipping, Field, Savannah, Swamp, and White-throats were also present. The big (sparrow) push is yet to come!!

There were 52 species and 30 participants (10 from Baltimore Co.)

Oct 5 Lake Roland - It was cloudy and breezy with temperatures in the mid 50's, but the birding was good: 10 species of warblers, 4 species of hawk, and two early Juncos. 56 species. 18 participants. Leader: Matilda Weiss.

Oct 7 Soldier's Delight - Leader Jean Worthley writes:

The fringed gentians were beautiful but down in numbers. Because so many good birders were along, we got more birds than usual. Mid-afternoon is not the best time for birds! A wonderful group interested in plants, birds, and butterflies.

There were 26 participants, 14 species of birds, with "perfect" weather.

Oct 12 Lake Roland - Leader Ruth Culbertson writes:

It was a good day with lots of activity at first. The highlight was a Merlin sitting in the sun, high on a bare branch with no leaves so everyone could see. At first we weren't sure about the identification - could it be a Coopers Hawk? - It flew away and then came back to it's initial perch - It was a Merlin! The face pattern was right as well as the size and the tail.

Shirley Geddes ordered a Brown Creeper, and we were blessed with four. However, some of us didn't see any of them. Then the first Pied-billed Grebe at Lake Roland was nice to see.

The weather was "Beautiful - cool then warming up." There were 21 participants, with 53 species including 7 species of warbler.

Oct 16 Howard County Sparrows II - Forty-four species of birds and thirty-one birders - five of them from the BBC - enjoyed birding at Maryland University's working central farm area with Bonnie ('Queen of Sparrows') Ott as their leader. Bonnie writes:

The trip to the farm this morning turned up some good sparrow action. Not as big a group (of birds that is) as I was hoping but enough to keep us on our toes. We had 5-6 different Lincoln's Sparrows with some great close looks. The White-crowns were along the stream, all juveniles. Swamps were thick through the swale and chipping away. Some Chipping Sparrows were feeding in the weeds and one was the most striking combo of colors, almost a periwinkle blue! Savannah Sparrows were in moderate numbers, mostly moving on the plowed field. White-throats were in the shrubs along the stream and Song Sparrows were heavy in the foxtail.

Other notable sightings were Horned Larks, two Northern Harriers (one gray), a Ruddy Duck, Common Snipe and a lovely group of Bluebirds.

Oct 19 Lake Roland - The scheduled walks were over but 9 Lake Roland regulars, like Energizer Bunnies, got together anyway and enjoyed 44 species. Shirley Geddes reports:

Lots of Yellow-rumps and Blue-headed Vireos, and kinglets. Green Heron still around, and Parulas. We watched a Sharpie chasing a Kingfisher for the same perch.

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Cylburn Field Trips - Fall '99

by Joseph Lewandowski

August 29, 1999

It has been a long, hot summer; but on this first walk of the Fall at Cylburn, spirits were high. Even with the drought, the gardens were in great shape at the Arboretum and the fourteen birders on this field trip enjoyed the yellows, reds, oranges, and purples of the various blooms. Not to be outdone, the birds came out to greet us on this warm, sunny day. Twenty-one species of birds were seen. Many old favorites were present but we did see some looks at Chipping Sparrows, Hummingbirds, Pewee, Wood Thrush, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A new path to the greenhouses is being constructed and several changes were made near the open, center garden where the martin house is located. Above all, it was nice to say hello again to our favorite haunt, walk beneath the trees, and see the birds enjoying a wonderful day.

September 5, 1999

Nine birders braved the weather on this overcast, rainy, windy day to see what birds would be about at Cylburn. The birds, obviously smarter than us, seemed to be hunkered down to brave out the storm. We did come upon fifteen species that dared to show their heads between showers. A Black-throated Green Warbler was seen, Pewees, Chimney Swifts, and a Red-eyed Vireo also ventured out. The most spectacular sight was several hawks in the air, braving the wind and soaring overhead. While the weather may have been miserable, the grace and maneuverability of the hawks made up for it.

September 12, 1999

It was a beautiful Fall day for the ten birders, two of them newcomers, to visit the Arboretum. This was the start of the week long celebration at Cylburn and the birds did not disappoint us with twenty-six species seen. Two species of hawk, four species of warbler, including a great view of a Canada Warbler, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Flicker, Hummingbirds, and a Great Blue Heron were the prizes on our species list. Blue Jays were making noise all over the Arboretum, proclaiming a great day. I have mentioned before that Cylburn always has something to offer and the open house at the Mansion had a great exhibit of pictures of biblical plants. While I must admit that I am not the plant expert, the plants were beautifully done and showed how beautiful even the every day plants can be. Pictures, birds, and birders -- can there be a better combination.

September 19, 1999

With Hurricane Floyd coming up the coast, the wind and rain did a number on the Maryland area. However, Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day at Cylburn. With temperatures in the 60's, the birders at Cylburn saw thirty-seven species. Although I was not present at this walk, it was reported to me that notables, such as, a Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Nighthawk, Wood Thrush, and a special appearance of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak topped the list. Warblers were out as well. Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Redstart, and Common Yellowthroat were the warblers recorded. All in all, a fine day at our favorite birding site.

September 26, 1999

Change happens in many ways at Cylburn. This was my first visit to the Arboretum since the hurricane swept through the area. Several trees were down along the Circle Trail and we had to take some detours along the grassy areas to get to our destination. Additionally, the big tree behind the Garden of the Senses fell down. This was a splendid warbler tree and a large gap now exists in the canopy where this tree once stood. It will be interesting to see what colonizes this area in the future. Nineteen birders came out to visit the Arboretum on this Fall day and they were not disappointed. Twenty-seven species hit our list with Parula, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Black-and-white, Magnolia, and Pine Warblers being on top of the warbler list. Anyone can say that that was a great birding day, but you would be wrong. For today, we hit a hawk migration at Cylburn. Kestrel, Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon were seen soaring and kettling above the Arboretum. But even that was not spectacular. What was the "piece de resistance" was over 800 Broad-winged Hawks seen in the skies. While the meteorological conditions must have been just right, the sight of all these hawks made one birder say that a trip to Hawk Mountain was not necessary. It was a beautiful sight to see all these hawks and once again proved that a trip to Cylburn is always full of surprises. A Red-breasted Nuthatch and Pileated Woodpecker made it difficult to decide what to look at on this birding experience, but made our day one we will never forget.

October 3, 1999

On this sunny, blue-skied day in October, eleven birders visited Cylburn. Based on last week's walk, one can say that this week was anticlimactic. Twenty-four species hit our bird list with such notables as a Cedar Waxwing, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Magnolia Warbler. We noticed another tree down, quite possibly due to the roots giving way. As usual, it was another good tree that was usually productive - from the birding standpoint. But it was nice to trek the grounds and see the flowers still in bloom, notice the various mushroom growths, and spend some time with birding friends.

Postcard from Australia

August 31, 1999

Dear Chippers,

There's no better place for a lay-over than Australia. I get to stop in Cairns on the way to Papua New Guinea, and in Darwin on the way back to Singapore. Australian birds are very different than ours, with many endemic families. Onthis trip my highlight was a tree full of Gouldian Finches, regarded by many as one of the world's most gaudily plumaged birds.

Hank Kaestner

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Winter Birding at Loch Raven

by Anne Brooks

I have been creating a database which includes the data collected by Steve Simon over a 14 year period at Loch Raven Reservoir. In the course of this task I was surprised at how many birds, especially waterfowl, are found there in winter. Hoping to entice a few more hardy birders I thought I would list the names of the birds most common in December, January and February.

Those usually seen are:     Less commonly seen are:

Common Loon                 Wood Duck
Pied-billed Grebe           Gadwall
Horned Grebe                Bufflehead
Great Blue Heron            Ring-necked Duck
Canada Goose                Belted Kingfisher
American Wigeon             Redhead
American Black Duck         Northern Pintail
Mallard                     Common Goldeneye (rare)
Hooded Merganser            Red-necked Grebe (rare)
Common Merganser            Tundra Swan
American Coot               Killdeer
Ring-billed Gull            Osprey
Herring Gull                Great Black-backed Gull
Osprey                      Bald Eagle

Directions to the various Loch Raven locations can be found in the BALTIMORE SITE GUIDE on pages 49ff.

Good Birding!

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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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Kevin Graff's Back Yard Birding

Did you see the Baltimore Sun's article about Kevin Graff's backyard birding on October 20. Great story.

Kevin does his hawk watch from his back yard at 3812 White Ave. in northeast Baltimore City in the Gardenville section. Here is the list of total raptors from Aug. 3rd-Oct. 21st, 1999 with last year's totals for comparison:


      Species       Fall '99   Fall '98
                    to 10/21    total

Turkey Vulture           179      525
Black Vulture             10       49
Bald Eagle                23*      22
N Harrier                 30       48
Sharp-shin Hawk          249      260
Cooper's Hawk            153      153
N Goshawk                  1        1
Red-shouldered Hawk       87      108
Broad-wing Hawk       12,062*  11,782
Red-tailed Hawk           96      526
Osprey                    84*      48
American Kestrel         125*      64
Merlin                    34*      15
Peregrine Falcon           2        4
      Total           13,325   13,621

The asterisks refer to a record-high count at the site.

The full fall season list of hawks, and other species will be in the next Chip Notes.


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Let's Expand the Field Trip Schedule

by Gail Frantz

Do you have a favorite site you'd like to see added to the field trip schedule? A morning walk or day trip? Send a note by regular mail to Gail Frantz, 13955 Old Hanover Rd., Reisterstown, MD 21136. Or e-mail your suggestions to (Gail Frantz) or (Carol Schreter). With your suggestion, describe the following:

Type of habitat
Expected birds
Best month
Half-day or day trip
Reservations or entrance fees required?
Suggested leader/s 

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Back Yard Birding

by Gail Frantz

Baltimore City

Be sure to check out the early fall tally for Kevin Graff's Backyard Hawk Watch above.

Ten Hills

From Louise Rizzutti:

Here's my Nuthatch story. Wanted to share with Chip Notes readers the antics of this energetic little bird.

There is a large Cedar tree just outside the side of my house on which I hang a couple of suet cakes and on the second floor window sill I stapled a margarine tub lid and a 12" wooden dowel. Over the past two years, I've enjoyed watching close up the birds that come and take cracked nuts I put out. This fall's birds have been especially rewarding. In addition to the family of Downy Woodpeckers (some still come for suet), Titmice, Chickadees, a couple of Carolina Wrens, two White-breasted Nuthatches, and the star of the fall show, a Red-breasted Nuthatch all come to partake of the goodies.

First saw this little guy/girl on September 9 at a hanging feeder near the kitchen door. From then on he was at the feeder from morning till dusk. I sat one day with clock in hand and counted eight trips to the feeder in less than a MINUTE and realized he wasn't just feeding but stashing food. Watching more closely, I could see him tucking away a nut or seed from the feeder or the window sill anywhere there was a crack or crevice (under the eaves, behind outdoor lighting conduit, between brick) and of course in the loose bark of the tree especially on the underside of the tree limbs. Even saw him retrieve a morsel a Chickadee had just left and redeposit it elsewhere. He paid no attention to me as I filled the feeder and was there even before I rehung it. We stared at each other for a second or two no more than a foot apart before he darted off but was back again within a minute. Then Floyd came and I wondered if I would see him again but he came back and as of today (Oct/25) is still a daily visitor.

Baltimore County


  • After having been out of town for several months, Mark and Leanne Pemburn are happily back in a new Baltimore County location.

Leanne writes:

Mark and I are back in MD, with a new yard and a NEW yardlist. We've been here 2 weeks, and I'm on yardlist #30 - just had a female Purple Finch at the feeder. Had a Red Breasted Nuthatch earlier this morning. It's illuminating to come out to the country and realize that all those May Count reports from the northern part of the county were not simply ignoring House Sparrows and European Starlings. There aren't any!

We're enjoying it very much so far - looking forward to spring migration and Great Horned Owl courting season.

  • From Lester Simon:

An Ovenbird appeared on October 2nd and has been hanging around for the last several days. A Black-throated Blue Warbler visited our sunflower feeder but didn't like the menu and took off immediately.

Roland Park

During September, Sally Allinson spotted a Brown Thrasher which is a new bird for her yard. The bird was perched in one of her front yard trees. Sally suspects the Thrasher became curious when he noticed other birds gobbling up grass seed from her newly planted front yard.


From Steve Sanford:

Today, September 26, after enjoying the spectacle of 900 Broadwings at Cylburn in the morning, around 4:15 as I was approaching the door to my house, I spied a large soaring bird. I thought it might be an Osprey, but it was an immature Bald Eagle. After admiring it for a minute or two as it soared into the stratosphere, I saw another large bird lower down. It was a full adult Bald Eagle! It soared up and out of sight like the first one. I had a little hesitancy about the ID of the only other Bald Eagle I ever saw at my house, which was about a year ago. This took care of that problem

October 3: I checked the skies above my house periodically this afternoon, expecting nothing. To my surprise around 1 PM there were several Cooper's, Sharp-shinned, and Broad-winged Hawks, flying very high, and an Osprey. Then, around 5, I saw a fairly high hawk with swept-back rather pointy wings that I thought was a Peregrine. A little study of the books later convinced me that it was actually a Harrier since the wings and tail were long and slim. But best of all was a new hawk for my yard list. It was flying rather low and looked like a Kestrel in shape, but it charged through with almost continuous rapid strokes from horizon to horizon. The light was such that I couldn't really get markings but it seemed quite dark. Conclusion: It was a Merlin. Incidentally, I had a nice new life butterfly today at Powell's Run Rd: a Buckeye. Very pretty! And so easy to identify.


Old Hanover Rd

  • On Sep 27 Bob Schaeffer reported Field and Savannah Sparrows along with two Harriers scouting the fields on his farm.


  • On the same day two Red-breasted Nuthatches spent time in Margaret Mays backyard. September 30: Margaret had a family of thirteen Bluebirds hunting bugs in her pasture. On rainy October 3rd a flock of Myrtles flew in accompanied by Black-throated Greens and Chestnut-sided Warblers.


  • Oct 1: Ed Merriman spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk perched on a telephone pole along the train tracks that run along the edge of his backyard. Ed has noticed that these poles are popular for raptors that hunt the various small animals that live in and on the banks of the railroad tracks and in the surrounding fields.


  • Oct 7: Took a short walk this am. Was excited to find our season's first White-crowned Sparrows in the Mandel's wetland field down and across the road from our house. An added attraction, in the same field, was a Nashville Warbler sitting on a wooden fence with some Swamp Sparrows. (GF)


October 26 from Phyllis Grimm

I've been reading with some envy the reports of the Pine Siskins coming to many feeders in Maryland. Although I have had them in past years, I hadn't seen any this year. I wondered if perhaps they were here but I was missing them because of the location of the thistle feeder, so on Sunday I moved that feeder to the bracket at the end of the balcony. Sure enough, when I returned home on Monday from an Older Adults outing, there was a flock of at least eight Siskins fighting over the available ports. It was hard to count an exact number of them because they were constantly in motion, intimidating each other, and flying into the pecan tree or onto the roof where I can't see them. This morning there was one Siskin guarding his spot on the feeder if you moved it.


From Pete Lev:

The new yard bird for me this fall is Great Horned Owl. I heard one before dawn on September 28, and again on October 23


  • Ruth Culbertson observed a Sharp-shinned Hawk perched in one of the trees in her yard on September 16.


  • Joy Wheeler writes:

A rare bird in the wild for me showed up in my backyard at the end of summer...a Yellow-throated Vireo. Its yellow spectacles caught my attention; its size and intensely yellow throat convinced me.

Carroll County


Chris Wright reports his September and October sightings accompanied by a remarkable story:

Heard a Great-horned Owl and a White-throated Sparrow on 27th. Sept.

On Sunday October 3rd: Red-headed Woodpecker, Pine Warbler, Northern Flicker, seven green frogs in my pond and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding.)

My backyard's first Junco and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on Oct. 12.

Just as an aside, my wife was having our cockateels checked out from the local vet when, the conversation got round to wild birds and then to Great Horned Owls. The vet said that he had been to an owls nest and found seven cat collars. Wow! Meow!

Anne Arundel County

Sally Rowe called to report her hummingbird feeders are being used by Yellow-rumped Warblers. Apparently the little birds are going after the bugs that are attracted by the sweet water.

Let us hear about your Back Yard birding too ! ! !

Call or write to:

Gail Frantz
13955 Old Hanover Rd.
Reisterstown MD 21136

Tel: (410) 833-7135


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