Year 1, Issue 5


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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy


*         Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

*         Stage Lighting: Jeff Wells


Now that the feathery fury of May has slacked to a few slow-poke

species, you're surely (or shall we say "sorely"?) beginning to realize

just what a toll spring migration has taken on you.  All those desperate

spur-of-the-moment jaunts for the elusive Gotta Hav'em Birds have turned

your legs to driftwood.  Your rotator cuffs, once fluid as a ballet in

their graceful up-and-down routines as you bin for every chirp, flutter,

and skulk, now move with all the efficiency of hardened concrete. Then

there's that awful, nagging warbler neck--make that

vireo-oriole-grosbeak-bunting-warbler neck.  None of these

post-migratory ailments, though, compare to the magic your eyes have of

late been performing for you.  You know, the old


trick, and the infamous

now-you-see-a-Yellow-bellied-Flycatcher-now-you-don't routine.  As you

sit at your computer now, the cursor blinking at you like a cautionary

yellow traffic light (yes, that's the cursor, not the undulating flight

of yet another goldfinch), you realize the May Madness has just been too

much, that even if you wanted to chase a

Yellow-throated Warbler now, you couldn't.


Well, since you've gone this far with the whole resignation thing, you

may as well keep reading.  The Cup, after all, has been nothing but good

to you so far--no lumber legs, no stiff arms, no warbler neck.  Assuming

you don't let Dear Tick under your skin, you just might come away from

The Cup 1.5 feeling remedied and ready to chase the next Sharp-tailed

Sandpiper...before it turns into a Pectoral.


                               @   @    @    @    @     @

                                NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                                 @   @    @    @     @     @


WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: It's official!  Anne James is now a bona

fide Cupper!  "After being mauled by a pack of Cuppers in the Lab of O.

parking lot, apparently at your bidding, I have decided to enter the

ranks of David Cup participants (to help flesh out the lower ranks),"

says Anne, a sparkle of pride in her eye.  "At the very least, it will

allow me to keep an eye on the slanderous gossip you generate."  (Well,

it looked like pride to us.)  To those of you who did the mauling, your

checks are in the mail.


T-SHIRT UPDATE: The T-shirt campaign was a big success, measured not only by

the 50 or so David Cup T's ordered by Cuppers and Cupper Should-be's,

but more so by the birding good fortune that has kettled around those

who wear their T's birding. It was only minutes after purchasing his

spiffy T that Karl David flew off to the municipal golf course and

enjoyed a hardy scopeful of Marbled Godwit, found by Cupper Kevin

McGowan just hours before.  Casey Sutton did a quick-change into his

before skittering away for the same bird and--presto!--the godwit was

his.  He wore it the next day on a trip with the Wells' to Montezuma and

ticked up over a dozen new birds!  Jeff and Allison,  also in their

David Cup T's, plucked a spectacular 15 and 10, respectively, new DC

birds from the Basin haystack, including the much coveted Upland

Sandpiper found by Bard Prentiss at the airport.  In short, if you're

not wearing your David Cup T--or, heaven forbid, you were too cheap to

fork out the lousy $10--you may as well blow a kiss to the competition

as it flutters slowly out of your grasp.


SIGNING UP: Move over, Carl Sagan.  Out of the way, Stephen Hawkins.

Not surprisingly, Cuppers have moved to the forefront of earth-quaking

scientific research.  One of our roving reporters brought to our

attention a June 6 posting on CAYUGABIRDS by Chris Hymes, apparently too

humble to inform us of his find himself.  Chris writes of his Danby

birding expedition with fellow Cuppers Diane Tessaglia and Jim Lowe, "We

had a big success with the Worm-eating Warbler...The bird was pretty

much constantly signing..."  Although this is the first recorded

incidence of birds using sign language, there is still some uncertainty

as to whether the bird was signing to establish territory to its

hearing-impaired rivals or to ask its mate what it would like for dinner

without having to give its presence away to the researchers.  We look

forward to future reports on this ground-breaking work.  Meanwhile,

expect the words "Nobel Prize" to crop up in the near



"'DO"ING THE RIGHT THING: Many of you may not yet had the chance to

notice but Cupper Rob Scott recently had his long, silken locks

scissored to a lean '90's look.  Although it looks fabulous, we're told

that the reason Rob put himself on the chopping block was so he'd be

competitive  in the David Cup.  Less hair=less wind resistance=quicker

reaction time to reported rarities and more efficient birding activity

in the field=finding more birds=higher David Cup totals.  If you, too,

want to be more competitive in the David Cup, Rob may (or may not) be

willing to give you the name of his stylist.


THE BIG 4-0: Happy Birthday to the flamingos that gaze eternally at the

lawnbetween the trailers at the Lab of O.  The pink plastic posers,

who've relieved many a Lab Cupper with daydreams of one day seeing the

real thing, turned 40 in May.  That is, one Donald Featherstone created

the archetype 40 years ago.  Since then, "Greater Flamingo" has been

appearing on checklists everywhere.  But Cuppers, don't get your hopes

up.  Dear Tick has spoken:

"The Lab's ornamental flamingos shall not be allowed to be counted for

the David Cup/McIlroy competitions.  They're not ripe yet."


SPIES T: We received an anonymous note that Cupper Ken Rosenberg was

spotted in his David Cup T at Myer's Point over Memorial Day weekend,

where he was apparently trying to use it as justification for free

admittance into the park.  "You see," Ken was overheard saying, "I

really want to win this

thing.  Please don't make me pay, I need to save every penny for gas,

for my mid-week birding breakfasts at Long Point.  Just let me look for

a Tricolored Heron in there and I'll come right back out."  "Under one

condition," the park attendant said. "Let me hear you imitate the song

of Myrmoborus myotherinus, of the humid, terra firme forests of the

eastern slope of the Andies and Amazonian Brazil."  Ken, we're told,

confidently obliged.  "Wrong!" the attendant guffawed. "That's

Myrmoborus melanurus, of northeast Peru.  Looks like the picnic's over

for you, buddy!"  Ken, the note reads, has been waiting in line ever since.


FEATHER-BRAINED FAREWELL: Congratulations--and goodbye?--to Matt Medler

and James Barry.  Despite being formidable Cuppers--and, in James' case,

the UNO champion of the world--they both managed to graduate from

Cornell in May. Medler has taken up birding in Sweden, under the guise

of being a field assistant for some poor sucker.  James, well, we don't

really know about James.  But then, we never did. Suffice to say that

should he leave town, his High Teas will be missed by all.  And it's

time to say goodbye for the summer to Dan Scheiman, who's shirked his

Cupper duties in the name of summer research. We'll look for your totals

in the fall, Dan; you should be about even with the Sapsuckers by then.


"IRON"ING THINGS OUT: Forget Time and Newsweek.  If you want

hard-hitting news about life's most important issue--birding--all you

need is The Cup.  We've not only got the stories, we've got the news

makers themselves.  Tough, rumble-tumble types like Cupper Bard

Prentiss.  Little did Bard know his life was in danger when he zipped

off to follow a lead on an Upland Sandpiper (at an undisclosed location,

for the safety of Cuppers--not the one at the airport).  While scanning

for the bird with his bins, an irate man bolted out of a house across

the road.  "He ran up to me, arms flailing," says Bard.  "I was in my

hippymobile [Volkswagon Bus] and I think that made him nervous, besides

the fact that he was so drunk he could barely stand up. He kept grabbing

me, saying, 'You packin' iron? You packin' iron?' I was

parked on the side of the road, and the guy didn't own the land, anyway,

but I didn't know what he was capable of so I didn't do or say

anything."  That is, until the fellow started grabbing at Bard's beloved

bins.  "Finally I couldn't take it anymore and said, 'I'm not packing

any [expletive deleted] iron!'  That calmed him down, but by then the

bird was gone.  From the look I got, it seemed like it could have been

an Upland Sandpiper but I can't say for sure."  Fearless Bard returned

to the location the next day but the bird was not around, and neither

was the accoster.  This time, Bard was incognito in his nonthreatening

Toyota. In the words of his assailant upon realizing

Bard's only weapon was his bins, "You can't be too careful."


BIRD CUP BLUES: Our insiders got the blues trying to locate an upcoming

blues concert, festival, heck, even another blues show.  No luck.  We

did,  however, turn up a little tidbit about the King of the Blues, B.B.

King, from our sources at Entertainment Weekly magazine. B.B., it seems,

recently locked himself out of his Indianapolis hotel room--in his

skivvies!  The exit from his room that night was where the bathroom door

had been in the hotel room he's been in the night before. Upon leaving

to use the john, our B.B., who's on the road 310 days a year hopping

from city to city, got confused.  The hotel housekeeper, however, didn't

give a king's ransom.  She gave the bluesman a roaring glare and said

suspiciously, "What are you doin' out here in your underwear?"  "It

seemed to her," says B.B., "that I wasn't out there

for the reason I said I was."  No wonder the man's always singing the blues.


:>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>

:>  :>

Some of you just don't get it.  Ever since the first edition of The Cup,

we've been inundated with letters like these: "I'd like to request a

Peregrine Falcon, preferably in the vicinity of The Haunt, and dedicate

it Hillary.  Love and Featherness, Rob" and "One Hooded Warbler, please,

preferably at night, for Annette, Always on Call, Bill."  Or how about

this doozy: "A Yellow-crowned Night-heron would be a "crown"ing

achievement.  If  you'd dedicate it to my beloved Elaine, from "heron"

in I'd be grateful!  Karl."  Look, folks, this isn't Casey Casum's Top

40 Count Down, you can't just request a species and dedicate it to your

lovebird.  Rather than sitting around putting your wistful thinking into

words, get out there and find the bird of your fantasies!  Who knows?

Maybe you'll find a diamond in a Ruff!


                          BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS


                               Steve Kelling


A lot of good birds were seen in May, so I am not going to simply run down

the list as in past months, but do the highlights.  The LEAST BITTERN found

at the Laboratory of Ornithology was truly impressive.  To be able to study

this secretive bird out in the open was a thrill.  The breif appearance of a

GREAT EGRET, while not uncommon in the fall, is relatively uncommon in the

Spring and represents the only real interesting wader report.  Ken

Rosenberg's observation of the WHIMBREL flying up the lake accounts for the

only sighting this year of this rare migrant through the Finger Lakes. They

do sometimes get reported in July from MNWR though very rarely.  Gulls and

terns were real exciting.  Allison Well's LAUGING GULL, which many people

saw certainly headed the list, but LITTLE GULL and LESSER BLACK-BACKED


May are also unusual.  And it was a banner migration for FORSTER'S TERNS.


reported were nice though did not wait around for all Cuppers to come see

them.  But don't worry, these two species are certainly much more common in

the Fall.  The

southern invaders really made the scene this May also.  Multiple reports of

WORM-EATING WARBLER in migration and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT made the birds an

exceptional presence.  But the reports of YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, and

WHITE-EYED VIREO in the Caroline region as well as the protracted stay of

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER at Newman Golf Course, which apparently continues,

certainly proved the migration had a sourthern flavor. Certainly, though,

the cream of the crop this month was the MARBLED GODWIT first reported by

Kevin McGowan at Newman Golf Course.  I believe this is only the second

record for

the Cayuga Lake Basin of this largest of all shorebirds, the first seen

as a

flyby in 1980 by Steve Sibley. A spectacular bird that provided blinding


for many happy Cuppers!


(Steve Kelling is the field notes editor for the Kingbird, Region 3.  He

teaches Cornell undergraduates the mysteries of physics and keeps his farm

clear of  Blue-winged Warblers by spitting at them [see Cup Quotes, this



100      100      100      100      100      100       100       100

                                 100 CLUB

100      100      100       100       100       100       100     100


We, the editors of The Cup, have found that as Cuppers see more and more


in the Cayuga Lake Basin, they have trouble keeping track of their totals.

To encourage them to keep their ticks tallied, we continue to invite them

into the esteemed 100 CLUB. But they're not officially in until they

tell us:




Bill Evans: Like a crow on a roadkill.  Bird 100: Canada Warbler


Kurt Fox: "Kinda like putting your bare feet into a bowl of cold pudding.

It's a gushy feeling that sends a shiver from your toenails to your scalp

and makes you say 'ooooh'."  Bird 100: "I don't know! I think a Wild



Jim Lowe: "I'm speechless!"  Bird 100: Black-throated Blue Warbler


Mike Runge: "Well, I'm certainly relieved that I made it into the triple

digits."  Bird 100: Cape May Warbler


Mira Springsteen: "Ruff!  Ruff!"   Bird 100: Grrrouse


Diane Tessaglia: "I've arrived!  I'm in the competition now!"  Bird

100:  "I

don't have a clue, but it was in May!"


200           200          200          200           200           200

                                2     0     0

     200             200                            200           200


Figures.  Just as the dance floor over at the 100 Club starts filling up, a

handful of party goers decide they don't like the music and start they're

own club. This one, the 200 Club, board members are saying, won't be such a


to sneak into.  Indeed, just look what current members had to do to gain



Karl David: Danced the hoola, complete with grass skirt, on a party boat in

Aurura Bay and attracted a nest-seeking loon.  Bird 200: Hooded Warbler


Chris Hymes: Using deep-water scuba gear, swam from Seneca Lake to Cayuga

Lake through deep, underwater tunnels with his bins in one hand and his

fishing pole in the other. Bird 200: Black-billed Cuckoo


Steve Kelling: Roiled naked with the carp at Montezuma.  Bird 200:

Philadelphia Vireo


Scott Mardis: Waded through the muck near the golf course wearing

nothing but

his David Cup T-shirt, in search of the Prothonotary Warbler. Bird 200:

Prothonotary Warbler


Kevin McGowan: Sat on an abandoned clutch of crow eggs 100 meters up in a

pine tree until all the young hatched.  Bird 200: Alder Flycatcher


Tom Nix: Bribed the committee.  Bird 200: Eastern Wood-pewee


Bard Prentiss: Wrestled a giant chickadee and an inebriated man.  Bird 200:

Hooded Warbler


Ken Rosenberg: Walked all the way up Beam Hill Road without an oxygen


Bird 200: Hooded Warbler


Allison Wells:   (Invited member: she was flown into the 200 Club on the


of a Golden Eagle.)  Bird 200: Red-eyed Vireo


Jeff Wells: Juggled three pairs of expensive binoculars while walking


up the Tschache Pool tower, with Allison on his shoulders.  (Membership

initially rejected when he mistakenly kicked a board member while attempting

to tapdance to a medley of woodpecker drummings.)  Bird 200: Yellow-breasted



 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Hold your "ooh"s and "wow"s over how well the Sapsuckers scrapped their way

back after their little excursion to the Garden State.  If you only knew


Ken Rosenberg bribed several Lab Cuppers to woo wife Anne into the

competition (thereby making frequent "family time" picnics to Myer's Point

and Long Point simply irresistible to her), you wouldn't be so impressed

with his David Cup total.  If you had any idea that Steve Kelling birded

himself sick--near all-nighters at Montezuma, pre-dawn excursions to the

Danby Worm-eating Warbler spot, speed-of -light lunches at Myer's

Point--leaving wife Sue to nurse him back to health only to have him

swashbuckle back out after Ruddy Turnstones and Common Terns, you'd have


much ("0") respect for him.  Kevin McGowan's son Jay has testified that


never seen his pa so eager to get back to his "crow research"--can you


get excited about this kind of shameless on-the-job moonlighting?  Oh, and

Jeff Wells even now continues to stowaway on Allison's ship of success.


don't expect The Cup to print this kind of insider info.  Suffice to say,

don't go shaking any Sapsucker's hand--unless you've got a hand buzzer


in your palm.




     225  Allison Wells                       153  Scott Mardis

     220  Karl David                          153  Kevin McGowan

     219  Tom Nix                             152  Tom Nix

     215  Jeff Wells                          151  Ken Rosenberg

     213  Steve Kelling                       149  Allison Wells

     212  Bard Prentiss                       148  Steve Kelling

     207  Kevin McGowan                       146  Bard Prentiss

     205  Scott Mardis                        145  Karl David

     202  Ken Rosenberg                       143  Jeff Wells

     200  Chris Hymes                         140  Chris Hymes

     185  Jay McGowan                         129  Jay McGowan

     180  Ralph Paonessa                      119  Meena Haribal

     174  Casey Sutton                        115  John Bower

     173  Anne James                          114  Pixie Senesac

     172  John Bower                          112  Ralph Paonessa

     168  Martha Fischer                      112  Casey Sutton

     167  Meena Haribal                       110  Martha Fischer

     165  Bill Evans                          107  Larry Springsteen

     163  Larry Springsteen                    94  Rob Scott

     153  Diane Tessaglia                      88  Kurt Fox

     152  Rob Scott                            88  Diane Tessaglia

     131  Michael Runge                        86  Michael Runge

     120  Jim Lowe                             80  Jim Lowe

     112  Kurt Fox                             80  Matt Medler

     105  Dan Scheiman                         71  James Barry

      49  Tom Lathrop                          63  Dan Scheiman

                                               49  Tom Lathrop


   Top Dog: 112 Mira Springsteen




     181  Allison Wells                      126  Kevin McGowan

     164  Jeff Wells                         124  Allison Wells

     161  Kevin McGowan                      119  Jeff Wells

     154  Ken Rosenberg                      111  Ken Rosenberg

     152  John Bower                         109  Scott Mardis

     149  Scott Mardis                        97  Jay McGowan

     149  Larry Springsteen                   95  John Bower

     140  Jay McGowan                         93  Larry Springsteen

     132  Martha Fisher                       91  Tom Nix

     132  Karl David                          88  Martha Fischer

     131  Tom Nix                             84  Casey Sutton

     128  Rob Scott                           78  Chris Hymes

     126  Casey Sutton                        74  Rob Scott

     125  Chris Hymes                         72  Jim Lowe

     108  Jim Lowe                            70  Karl David

     105  Michael Runge                       56  Michaels Runge

     103  Bill Evans                          42  Matt Medler

      55  Diane Tessaglia                     28  Diane Tessaglia


   Top Dog: 86  Mira Springsteen              




Time to play "Guess the Abbreviation," featuring Allison' Leader's List.

For extra fun, we denotated her McIlroy birds with an "M"--something we'd

hoped to

do last month with Kevin's list, but in our haste forget to squeeze in.

Maybe, just maybe, he'll get another chance--next year! Ha! Ha!


C. Loon (M), P-b Grebe (M), H. Grebe (M), R-n Grebe, D-c Cormorant (M), L.

Bittern (M), G. B. Heron (M), G. Heron (M), B-c. Night-Heron (M), Tundra


M. Swan (M), S. Goose (M), Brant, C. Goose (M), W. Duck (M), G-w Teal, A.

Black Duck (M), Mallard (M), N. Pintail (M), B-w Teal (M), N. Shoveler (M),

Gadwall(M), E. Wigeon, A. Wigeon, Canvasback (M), Redhead (M), R-n Duck (M),

G. Scaup (M), L. Scaup (M), Oldsquaw, S. Scoter (M), W-w Scoter, C.

Goldeneye (M), Bufflehead (M), H. Merganser (M), C. Merganser (M), R-b

Merganser (M), Ruddy Duck (M), T. Vulture (M), Osprey (M), B. Eagle (M), N.

Harrier (M), S-s Hawk M), C. Hawk (M), N. Goshawk, R-s Hawk (M), B-w

Hawk (M),

R-t Hawk (M), R-l Hawk (M), G. Eagle, A. Kestrel (M), R-n Pheasant, R.


W. Turkey (M), V. Rail, Sora (M), C. Moorhen, A. Coot (M), B-b Plover, S.

Plover, Killdeer (M), G. Yellowlegs (M), L. Yellowlegs (M), Solitary

Sandpiper (M), Spotted Sandpiper (M), Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit (M),

R. Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral


Dunlin, S-b Dowitcher, C. Snipe (M), A. Woodcock (M), Laughing Gull, Little

Gull, B. Gull (M), R-b Gull (M), H. Gull (M), Iceland Gull (M), Glaucous

Gull (M), G. B-b Gull (M), Caspian Tern (M), Common Tern, Forster's Tern,

Black Tern, R. Dove (M), M. Dove (M), B-b Cuckoo (M), E. Screech-Owl (M), G.

H. Owl, S-e Owl, N. S-w Owl, C. Nighthawk (M), C. Swift (M), R-t Hummingbird


B. Kingfisher (M), Red-headed Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker (M), Y-b Sapsucker

(M), D. Woodpecker (M), H. Woodpecker (M), N. Flicker (M), P. Woodpecker

(M), E. Wood-Pewee (M), Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (M), Alder Flycatcher (M),

Willow Flycatcher (M), Least Flycatcher (M), E. Phoebe (M), G. C.

Flycatcher (M), E. Kingbird (M), H. Lark, P. Martin (M), T. Swallow (M), N.

R-w Swallow (M), Bank Swallow (M), C. Swallow (M), Barn Swallow (M), B.

Jay (M), A. Crow (M), F. Crow (M), C. Raven (M), B-c Chickadee (M), T.

Titmouse (M), R-b Nuthatch (M), W-b Nuthatch (M), B. Creeper (M), C. Wren

(M), H.

Wren (M), W. Wren (M), M. Wren, G-c Kinglet (M), R-c Kinglet (M), B-g

Gnatcatcher (M), E. Bluebird (M), Veery (M), S. Thrush (M), H. Thrush (M),

W. Thrush (M), A. Robin (M), G. Catbird (M), N. Mockingbird (M), B. Thrasher


A. Pipit (M), Bohemian Waxwing, C. Waxwing (M), N. Shrike, E. Starling (M),

S. Vireo (M), Y-t Vireo (M), W. Vireo (M), Philadelphia Vireo (M), R-e Vireo


B-w Warbler (M), G-w Warbler (M), T. Warbler (M), N.  Warbler (M), N. Parula

(M), Yellow Warbler (M), C-s Warbler (M), Magnolia Warbler (M), C. M.

Warbler (M), B-t Blue Warbler (M), Y-r Warbler (M),  B-t Green Warbler (M),

Blackburnian Warbler (M), Pine Warbler (M), Prairie Warbler (M), Palm

Warbler (M), B-b Warbler (M), Blackpoll Warbler (M), Cerulean Warbler, B-a-w

Warbler (M), A. Redstart (M), Prothonotary Warbler (M), Worm-eating Warbler

(M), Ovenbird (M), N. Waterthrush (M), L. Waterthrush (M), Mourning Warbler

(M), C.

Yellowthroat (M), Hooded Warbler (M), Wilson's Warbler (M), Canada Warbler

(M), Yellow-breasted Chat, S. Tanager (M), N. Cardinal (M), R-b Grosbeak

(M), I. Bunting (M), E. Towhee (M), A. T. Sparrow (M),  C. Sparrow (M),


Sparrow (M), V. Sparrow (M), Savannah Sparrow (M), G. Sparrow (M), Henslow's

Sparrow, Fox Sparrow (M), Song Sparrow (M), Lincoln's. Sparrow (M), Swamp

Sparrow (M), W-t Sparrow (M), W-c Sparrow (M), D-e Junco (M), Lapland

Longspur, Snow Bunting, Bobolink (M), R-w Blackbird (M), E. Meadowlark (M),

R. Blackbird (M), C. Grackle (M), B-h Cowbird (M), Orchard Oriole, N. Oriole

(M), P. Finch (M), H. Finch (M), R. Crossbill, C. Redpoll (M), P. Siskin


A. Goldfinch (M), E. Grosbeak (M), House Sparrow (M)


Total: 225 species (DC), 181 (Mc)





Add to Allison's list (above) the following species and you'll have the

entire list of birds seen in January, February, March, April, and May:


American Bittern, Great Egret, Ross' Goose, Merlin, Whimbrel, Lesser Black-

backed Gull, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Whip-poor-will, Olive-sided

Flycatcher, Gray-cheeked Thrush, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-headed Blackbird,

Pine Grosbeak, Hoary Redpoll.


Total: 240



                              !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to remind the Sapsuckers that they left the Basin during

peak migration than by being featured in an interview exclusively for The

Cup?  KICKIN' TAIL brings well-deserved honor and recognition to the Cupper

who has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven, climbed, dug, horse-and-buggied,

and otherwise made his/her way to the top of the David Cup list.


And once Cuppers got wind that it was The Cup's own editor, Allison Wells,

who had knocked Mardis and McGowan off the highest branch of the David

Cup tree, a mad scramble ensued: Cuppers far and wide begged coeditor Jeff

for the honor of  jabbing her with pointed questions, a few has-beens going

so far as to cry, "Revenge!"  Since it's in the bylaws of The Cup to not

play favorites, Allison was forced to give all Cuppers the opportunity to

reveal the secrets of her success.  Many tried, all failed.  We're running

the interview anyway, despite the embarrassment of those who came, saw, and

were conquered.


CUPPER (KF): The Cup is now "cleansed" with the backwash of 6 leaders in

five months. How does it taste to be the leader?


A. WELLS: It's indescribable.  One really needs to taste it for him/herself.


CUPPER (SM): So, what's it like having a double L in both your first and

last names?


A. WELLS: It's very frustrating.  "L"s are hard letters to write in


I waste a lot of valuable birding time making sure mine don't look like

cursive "e"s.


CUPPER (SM): Seriously, how many birds on your list did you actually see or



A. WELLS: Actually, I haven't counted them up yet.  My totals are just

really, really rough estimates.  I could easily be 219 or lower.


CUPPER (TN):  Being a chanteuse of some renown, you undoubtedly have

a good ear for bird song, unless it has been damaged by too-close proximity

to a certain brass instrument. How many heard-only birds are on your list,

and with all the birders spishing, whistling, hooting, barking, yelping and

otherwise beating around in the bush, can you be sure that you haven't been

hearing whistled, hooted, barked, yelped or other imitations?


A. WELLS: I strongly suspect that the 4-5 Henslow Sparrows Steve, Jeff, and

I had at Caswell Road around midnight a few weeks back may have been a

similarly Henslow's-seeking Cupper sneezing, but the three of us agreed we'd

worked too hard to give up the tick, regardless of whether or not what we

were hearing were actually birds.  Aside from that, the only other

heard-only was Greater Yellowlegs, the one flying over Sapsucker Woods (I

later learned, at the exact moment Ken heard it as he walked out of the


Of course, there are those I initially ticked as heard-only's but have


seen, like Virginia Rail.  If you let me count my June birds for May,

Gray-cheeked Thrush is one I've heard but not yet seen.  Thanks to

Bill Evans' genius, Jeff, Casey, and I pulled a call out of the sky at

11:15pm last week, while listening for night migrants.


CUPPER (RS): Have you missed any of the "common" birds for this area (that

have already been seen)?


A. WELLS: The most common bird I've yet to tick is Barred Owl.  This is

especially discouraging because for the last few years I saw the one in

the Sanctuary here several times a week.  I even saw its newly fledged


I don't have American Bittern yet, either.


CUPPER (CS): Are any of the birds on your list so far life birds for you?


A. WELLS: No.  I'd seen most of the rarities in Maine over the years-

-Little Gull (several), Laughing Gull (many, and several in the Basin in

the past), Marbled Godwit (at least once), and Yellow-breasted Chat (in my

parents' backyard!)  Little Gull, Marbled Godwit, and the chat  are new

Basin birds for me, as was Worm-eating Warbler (which I'd seen

previously in

New Jersey).


CUPPER (KR): What size rope did you use to tie up Jeff while you went out



A. WELLS: I had a dog chain ready but it turns out I didn't have to use it

since Jeff sabotaged his totals all by himself by flapping off to New Jersey

during key David Cup time.  And you, I might add, did likewise.


CUPPER (RS): How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could

chuck wood?


A. WELLS: The real question is, how many ticks could a Cupper tick if

that's all s/he had to do in life.


CUPPER (KF, RS): What was your most pleasant, surprising bird find of the



A. WELLS: The fly-by Little Gull was exhilarating, though the Laughing Gull

is a more beautiful bird in my opinion.  The Laughing was particularly

satisfying because so many other Cuppers (and non-Cuppers, I hope) got to

see it, and in the same scope I had my first Ruddy Turnstones of the

year.  The Worm-eating Warbler, on the other hand, was very special because

I saw it with Casey Sutton.  Casey momentarily had a better view of it than

I did and he yelped, "Worm-eating Warbler!" I was very impressed that an

eleven-year-old birder who'd never seen one before could make the I.D.


the bird obligingly hopped into the middle of the trail, well, we were



CUPPER (SM): It seems you bird a lot with Casey and yet, he doesn't have

near as many birds as you do.  How do you explain that?  Do you see them

while his back is turned or do they just fly away before he can get on them?


A. WELLS: I bird a lot with Jeff, too, yet look how pathetically he's

dragging. As for Casey, I suspect that if he didn't have so much homework

and had a driver's license, he'd be the one being interviewed right now

instead of me!


CUPPER (KR): Did you pick out the Laughing Gull because you were laughing

so hard at the Sapsuckers being out of the Basin, and the gull responded

from the flock?


A. WELLS: Precisely.  Also, Kevin's offhanded "Big Day, big deal" was


if not a challenge.  I can't resist a challenge.


CUPPER (RS): If a tree falls in a forest, how many birders does it take to

screw in a lightbulb?


A. WELLS: I know many very good birders, but most of them are not


humans unless the tool is a scope or a pair of bins.  Ken Rosenberg is the

exception here, right, Anne?


CUPPER (DS): How do you deal with mosquitos?


A. WELLS: I stand next to the tallest person I'm birding with.  Supposedly,

mosquitos and black flies flock around the tallest person, which is almost

never me.


CUPPER (KF): What kind of binoculars do you have?  And your scope? Why?


A. WELLS: Bins: 10 x 40 Leitz.  Scope: Bushnell Spacemaster 10 x 40 zoom.

Both are Jeff's hand-me-downs, and I have no complaints.


CUPPER (KF): What was your most memorable moment?


A. WELLS: When Jeff proposed to me.  It was on the Fourth of July--oh, you

mean this month in the David Cup? My most memorable moment was actually a

couple of hours, birding my way through the Sanctuary on May 11 in the

pouring rain.  There were birds literally everywhere.  I was not

exaggerating when I posted on CAYUGABIRDS that I had to inch my way over the

trails in order to see everything, and even then I anguish over what

I must have missed along the trails I birded, say nothing of the ones I

didn't.  I've never seen anything like it in my life. Apparently, the

fallout took place from Maine to Pennsylvania.  I'm incredibly glad I was

out there for this event.  I got very wet (despite my complete rain-proof

attire) and very cold, but it was just incredible.


CUPPER (RS):  Do you support a moratorium on counting birds seen on

golf courses?


A. WELLS: Absolutely.  But only if I've seen (and ticked) elsewhere


birds are there.


CUPPER (RS): Do you find that your birding skills are sharper in the

morning or the afternoon?


A. WELLS: As long as I've had a cup of Twinings English Breakfast Tea,

I'm ready.


CUPPER (RS):  What is the airspeed of an unburdened swallow?


A. WELLS: Um, excuse me, you're not interviewing Steve Kelling here.

But as a guess, I'd have to say probably a little faster than I can run.


CUPPER (RS):  Do you use a computer program to keep track of your sightings

and standings in the David Cup and McIlroy Award races, or do you use a


checklist, or what?


A. WELLS: I prefer the paper checklist, at least for the competitions.  I

love holding the paper in my hands, especially now that they've gotten

somewhat crumpled and dirty from where one of my cats dug up my begonia


and got dirt all over them--every time I pick them up now I feel like a real

adventurer. It's nice, too, to be able to check dates and locations of

sightings without having to waste electricity by firing up the old IBM.


CUPPER (RS): Which wood-warbler is your favorite, and why?


A. WELLS: This year, after seeing Cape May Warbler at the cemetery it was

Cape May because I hadn't seen one for a quite a while and they're

gorgeous); after I saw the Bay-breasted in the Sanctuary it was Bay-breasted

(because I hadn't seen one in a while and they're gorgeous).  My current

favorite is

Hooded.  It's the latest addition to my collection of extremely cooperative

warblers--I've had excellent looks at several Hoodeds this year.


CUPPER (KF): Now that May has come and gone and the bulk of the birds

are through, the list of targeted birds has dropped dramatically. Of all the

possible rarities, which selected few birds would you like to add to your

Basin list?


A. WELLS: Ross's Goose, Hoary Redpoll, and Pine Grosbeak.


CUPPER (KF): What's your favorite color? (I like this one.)


A. WELLS: I love the chestnut color on the throat of a male Barn Swallow.


CUPPER (SM): Have you thought about selling the rights to your story to a

tabloid magazine?


A. WELLS: I already have.  And you should know, since you were the one


me around for the story!


CUPPER (SM): How many friends and family members have you alienated by

devoting so much effort to The Cup?


A. WELLS: I work on The Cup a little at a time during the month and always

when I wouldn't otherwise be doing anything important.  ([Ithaca Ageless

Jazz Band] practice, when we're not working on vocal numbers, is my most

productive time--yes, Jim Lowe, THAT'S why I'm always scribbling when John

[the director] is pontificating on the importance of pianissimo).  Also,

I'm a writer and editor by profession so I really enjoy this sort of thing.

Other birders contribute columns, and they've been conscientious, including

all of you sending in your monthly totals.  Nonetheless, there's inevitably

a squeeze getting The Cup in final form, which is why there are typos and

losing battles with e-mail text margins. As for my family, obviously Jeff

enjoys working on it, and my parents in Maine really enjoy it--they feel as

though they know you Cuppers now!  My thirteen-year-old niece Sarah (also

in Maine) loves it so much that she has plans to write a Scrawl of Fame


and be a Temporary Cupper when she comes to visit us in July.


CUPPER (SM): Martha Fischer once described herself as Rough-legged Hawk.

If you could be a bird, which one would you be?


A. WELLS:  Jeff tells me I'm a dove.


CUPPER (SM): What do you intend to do with the prize money?


A. WELLS: Use it for bribing anyone who can help me win.


CUPPER (SM):  What do you think about the idea of naming the Cup each

year after the previous year's winner?  For example, if you won this year,

next year's competition would be the Wells Cup.


A. WELLS: Nah, I like the "David Cup" not only because Karl is so inspiring

and such a fun person but also because it has that "David and Goliath"

connotation--every Cupper is a David, and Goliath is, of course, the


It also plays nicely off the Davis Cup.


CUPPER (SM): Pop quiz:  How do distinguish juvenile Least Sandpipers

and Long-toed Stints?


A. WELLS: If I saw one or the other but I wasn't which it was, I'd count

it as both.


CUPPER (KF): Your overall strategy for winning this month seemed to be

to "family strife," to get your husband out of the competition for a few

precious days. Since this sophisticated birding technique has already been

used from your bag o' tricks, what is your new overall strategy for winning

The Cup (other than running under the guise of being bird mentor for the

probably fictitious Casey Sutton as an excuse to get out into the field)?


A. WELLS: My strategy is to continue to recruit excellent coaches to write

the Coach's Corner.  That's the only reason I'm ahead now, really.  I was

the starting point guard for a championship basketball team when I was in

high school, I take the advice of coaches very seriously.  I should also

warn you that I led the state in the number of steals.


CUPPER (SM): Do you even think you have a chance at breaking the Brinkley

and Byrne Basin record this year?


A. WELLS: That will be totally up to my coaches.


CUPPER (MR): What are you going to do with the rest of the year?  You've

peaked so early.  Sure, you can chase down one bird at a time trying to

creep up to the record mark, but until next January 1st, you won't have the

thrill of even ten new Basin birds on any one day. Whereas, if you had paced

yourself like the rest of us...


A. WELLS: I've always been more of a sprinter, but I can do many

repetitions.  Back on the basketball team, we had to do these sprints

called "suicides" over and over and over. But I'm looking forward to the

shorebird migration, not only because it'll be nice to see shorebirds in

respectable numbers again but also because with so many birders out

birding these days, if there are unusual birds out there in the Basin, they

have a good chance of being found.  I must also confess that I really love

to go birding.  I've never gotten bored seeing the same birds over and over

again. Helping Casey find birds is also really fun.  He's a good birder


a great sense of humor.  Then there's the challenge of helping Jeff play



CUPPER (SM): Is Jeff really as nice as he seems or does he turn into

Mr. Hyde after dark?


A. WELLS: Jeff is one of the nicest, most thoughtful and generous

people I've ever met.  But I married him anyway.


CUPPER (KD): Don't you wish you weren't the leader, so you wouldn't have

to answer all these pesky questions?


A.WELLS: I'm sure there are those who would argue I've had it coming to me,

though I've handled all previous interviewees with kit gloves.


CUPPER (RS): What, in your opinion, should the rest of us poor slobs do to

catch up with you?


A. WELLS: Nothing.  Unlike my spineless predecessors, I'll admit that I


no intention of stepping down.  Ha! Ha!  Catch me, if you can, Bill Evans!


CUPPER (KF): Since history dictates that you won't be "Kickin' Tail" next

month, what words of wisdom do you offer for the next leader?


A. WELLS: History doesn't always repeat itself...


(KF=Karl David, KF=Kurt Fox, SM=Scott Mardis, TN=Tom Nix, KR=Ken Rosenberg,

MR=Mike Runge, RS=Rob Scott, CS=Casey Sutton)



?????????????????????    PIONEER PRIZE    ????????????????????????????????



The editors of The Cup, through statistically significant birding polls and

by hacking their way into sensitive ornithological databases, have

determined that recognition is in order for the Cupper who has braved wind,

rain, ice, and snow in a quest for new David Cup birds for us all to enjoy.

Equally weighty in this award category is prompt notification to other

Cuppers of said sightings, be it via e-mail, phone line, dramatic hand

signals, or inscriptions on whirligigs.


Anyone who's on CAYUGABIRDS will find it no surprise who this month's

pioneer is.  Despite her protest, I (Jeff) as coeditor of The Cup bestow

upon Allison Wells May's Pioneer Prize (it's MY turn to over-ride HER veto!)

Allison's Laughing Gull brought bliss to countless Cuppers (and tears of

frustration to the Sapsuckers).  Kevin McGowan ranks high for his Marbled

Godwit, but Allison was also half of the pioneering expeditions that turned

up easily ticked Prothonotary Warbler and Orchard Oriole.  Allison, to you,

shiny teal-green David Cup Pencil.


Allison: If Julie Andrews can reject a nomination, so can I. But rather


throw it back at you, I'm passing it along to Casey Sutton.  Casey is one

of the bravest, most gung-ho birders I know.  On my "BirdFest Saturday" on

May 11, after making my way through Sapsucker Woods in the pouring rain, I

phoned Casey from the Lab to tell him what I'd seen.  Despite having no

raincoat, while other folks stayed warm and dry inside (and therefore,

missed out big time), Casey hustled out the door in a flash.  In fact, he's

always ready to go birding, often literally on a moment's notice, and is so

committed to the sport (and art) of birding that through most of May, he

even did his homework in a timely fashion so he wouldn't miss out on any

rarities that could get his phone ringing.  Casey, to you a shiny,

teal-green David Cup Pencil!


: >       : >           : >               : >                       : >

                             CASEY'S CALL

: >       : >           : >               : >                       : >


For the last few months, Casey Sutton has been giving a lot of bill

service to starting his own Cup column.  He would, he proposed, choose one

of the unusual birds seen that month and write an informative life

history-based segment about it, for the enjoyment and education of Cup

subscribers.  Having gotten a taste for show time in last month's Scrawl of

Fame, Casey hit the books this month for his first official column.  The

research, the writing, the whole bird brainy idea was Casey's. If this

educational venture pans out, he may start charging tuition.


                              LITTLE GULL


One of the rarest birds for the month of May in the Cayuga Lake Basin had

to have been the Little Gull (Larus minutus) seen along the lake in April

and in early May off Myer's Point.  People who had a chance to see it saw a

beautiful bird and moved one bird ahead on their David Cup lists.  The

Little Gull is the smallest gull on earth.  For those who didn't see it,

this is the description: the bird has a gray back and wings, white

underparts, a black hood, and the underwings are black.  The call is

described as "kek-kek-kek-kek."  The favorite habitat is marshes, meadows,

lakes, rivers, bays, and harbors.  The breeding range is Central Europe to

southern Siberia.  They also breed locally in Ontario and Wisconsin.  They

winter in small numbers along the east coast from New Brunswick to New

Jersey and the Great Lakes.  The nests are lined with grass and leaves, and

placed in marsh vegetation.  They lay three olive-brown eggs with dark


on them.  They are known to get food from the surface of the water while

flying, and they dive after minnows and insects.  This month's runner-ups

are Marbled Godwit, Worm-eating Warbler, Laughing Gull, Forster's Tern, and

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.



                             SCRAWL OF FAME


                             Birding and SEX


                              by Karl David


Now that I have your attention, I'd like to ask you a simple question:

have you noticed that most of the David Cup/McIlroy Award competitors are



Of course you have. So much for the "little old lady in tennis shoes"

stereotype of the typical bird-watcher. When men got involved, it

went from "bird-watching" to "birding," and it became a competitive

activity, like any other sport.


For this competition, the men (and boys!) were happy to have a few

token women sign up, because it made us look less Neanderthal. As

long as they "knew their place," it didn't hurt:  the "glass ceiling"

of birding seemed securely unbreakable.


BUT:  now a woman is leading the competition!!! We didn't reckon with

that. How do I feel about it personally? Well, let me just say that

my first high school sweetheart's name was Allison, and I've been

very fond of the name ever since. Now I'm not so sure.


But seriously, folks ... I'm happy for Allison, really I am. Whatever

else one may think of the competition, I detect no sign on the part

of any of the competitors, of either sex, that they're taking it so

seriously that they begrudge anyone else their "good birds," or that

they hoard sightings to themselves, hoping to get ahead. Everything I

read on CAYUGABIRDS suggests that everyone is out just for the fun of

it. And that, I believe, is healthy.


To turn Tom Nix's phrase around: last one to 200 is still a good egg!


(Karl David is a dread mathematics professor, at Wells College and is

well known far and wide as the Father of The Madness.  When he tips his

hat to birding, he seldom gets the hat back.)


(If you have an opinion about the art, science, and/or esthetics of birding

or birding-related topics, write it up for the Scrawl of Fame.)



                     <  COACH'S CORNER        <

                    <           <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

                    <           < 

                     <         <

                       < < < <



In a desperate attempt to regain the favor of the editors (one in

particular) of The Cup and thereby hold on to his beloved Highlights

column), Steve Kelling "generously" volunteered to write this month's

Coach's Corner.  No need to wonder if this boy's on the up-and-up; in the

eyes of his fellow Cuppers, he's been down-and-out long enough--and he's

got May's David Cup totals to prove it.


COACH'S CORNER:  It's June, it's Summertime.  Pull up a chair, the


is over.  Breathe a sigh of relief.  It's all downhill from here.  Clean up

time.  If you're Allison, or Tom, or Karl, pat yourself on the back.  To

attain or even approach 220 species!  Take a nap.


Think about it: 220 species!  You'll probably win this little game if you

get 30 more. But that's the problem.  How do you get 30 more species?


all you've been through, the next 30 species are the HARDEST.  It is a

relatively easy game until the end of spring migration.  A depressing

thought. So what do you do?  Are there any birds in the Cayuga Lake Basin

that you have missed?  YOU BET THERE ARE.  Sure, as far as the year goes,

it's all downhill.  But it's the downhill run that will win the Cup.  Let's

do some searching.


The Finger Lakes Region, of which the Cayuga Lake Basin is a major part,

supports arguably the greatest diversity of breeding North American

passerines in New York State.  This diversity is due in part to its

position at a longitude where two major drainage basins coincide.  The

southern section of the Region drains into the Susquehanna Basin, while the

Finger Lakes drain into the Great Lakes.  This confluence may influence

breeding ranges by providing natural migratory pathways for passerines to

follow.  The northern limit of many southern breeding passerines and

the southern limit of many northern breeders overlap throughout the Finger

Lakes Region.  Consequently, it's been said that if you want to find

southern specialties, look on the south side of the hill, and for northern

specialities, check the north side.


So where do you want to begin?  Let's start with some of those southern

specialties. Go get a map, NOT THE DELORME.  A map with some topographic

relief.  Huh? What? Go find one of those maps of the Finger Lakes made out

of plastic, where the little bumps in the plastic give you an indication of

altitude, or the lack thereof.  Or if you know how to read them, buy a


of topos.  Find Elmira.  What, not in the basin?  Yep, your right. But

notice there's a valley, or series of valleys that lead up from the


River that extend to the bases of the Finger Lakes.  Find Alpine.  It's from

Alpine to Cayuga Lake that may be the ticket.  Ticket?  Ticket to where?

How about a ticket to....Horseheads! Nah, just kidding.


Over the past few summers I have noticed that there seem to be a lot of

observations of typically more southern breeding birds found in the valleys

extending from Elmira to Ithaca.  Here are some examples just from along

this valley: Laughing Gull (Ithaca); Snowy Egret (Elmira); Acadian

Flycatcher (Arnot Forest, Michigan Hollow, Connecticut Hill);

Yellow-throated Warbler

(Arnot Forest); Worm-eating Warbler (Elmira, Ithaca, West Danby, Montour

Falls); Kentucky Warbler (Montour Falls); Prothonotary Warbler (Montour

Falls, Ithaca); Yellow-breasted Chat (Elmira).  And these reports are only

from the last three years!  Any of these birds can be as likely found IN


BASIN as not.  Who knows what might fly up the Susquehanna River and plop

down somewhere right next door, so to speak?  Let's see, what do we all

need...Kentucky, Kentucky Warbler.  Look for slow-moving creeks (that is,

the water moves slow) in forests with a very thick understory.  FIND THE

BIRDS.  They are there!  People like Ned Brinkley, Karl David,

Jeff Wells, Dave Russell, Jack Brubaker, and Bill Evans have found them in

the past. You can, too!


That's half of it, the southern half, the ones with the glamour. But...who

has White-winged Crossbill?  Did everybody get Mourning Warbler? What about

Hermit Thrush, or maybe, do I dare say it, Swainson's Thrush or

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher?  They may be breeding right here in the Basin.

What, blasphemy?  Nah!  It's June! Let's get out and beat the bushes.

Here's a little hint:  I was up in a particular this past winter.  Bard

had THE NERVE to go up there this spring with a CBC outing!  Bill Evans was

there last week. And we all had crossbills.  The Red ones, but the

White-winged ones are just as nomadic. And there are beaver-dammed creeks

and huge conifer plantations and bottomlands and bogs.  Where is this


The Adirondacks?  No...check out the Summer Hill area and the Fall Creek

watershed!  There might be some hidden gem up there.  Yellow-bellied

Fly's have probably bred less than 40 miles away.  Swainson Thrush, less

than 30 miles.  Mourning Warbler breeds throughout the entire area.  And

White-winged Crossbill? Well, the Breeding Bird Atlas makes it look like

they've bred right next door, so they might be around.  I bet that the


Hill Region of the Cayuga Lake Basin has some really nice hidden gems.


worth the probing!


My conclusion:  Forget Montezuma, except to listen for Sedge Wren (near the

visitors' center), and forget Cayuga Lake.  Start hitting them again in

July when the hurricanes come (we can always hope...).  Check out the

valleys south and west of Ithaca, and the hill tops and watersheds north and

east of Ithaca.  Check out Conn Hill, and get up to Summerhill!  And


everybody, including the leaders, remember one thing: IT ISN'T OVER UNTIL



(Steve Kelling writes the Basin Bird Highlights column for The Cup.  His

mantra is, "It ain't over until it's over."  And he actually believes it.)




         mmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm



To keep this from becoming the "Allison Issue" of The Cup, she suggested

she accept this one measly question, submitted by herself: "HOW DID YOU DO



Allison: That's a good question, and I have a simple answer: location,

location, location.  If you want to be a serious contender in the McIlroy

competition, you must move to Sapsucker Woods.  It's a happening place

during migration.  Furthermore, should someone else find something in there

(Sora, for example), running quickly out to see it isn't a problem if you

live close by.


Also very important: jog.  Jog at least five days a week.  I got a lot of

"first for the year for me" McIlroy AND David Cup birds this way (handy for

beefing up prestige early in the competition by inflating monthly totals,

even if the inflation is only temporary).  Jogging has also rewarded me


some hard-to-get McIlroy species, like Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk,


Goose (all fly-overs), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (though I "tick"nically had


a few days earlier when I heard a night migrant).


Finally, marry someone who works at the Lab of Ornithology.  Lab spouses

(and significant others) are required to phone their loved ones as soon

as they

find things like Fox Sparrows and Common Redpolls around Lab feeders, and

must also immediately pass along Lab bird gossip like, "Is it true Steve


and some other Labbers found a Sora out by the straight bridge?" and "Every

one [at the Lab] is running up to the dog barn pond--they're saying there's

a Least Bittern up there!"  Of course, by marrying someone who works at the

Lab AND moving next to Sapsucker Woods, you can walk your spouse to work,

thereby satisfying "family time" and "birding time" necessities.  In other

words, you can find a Worm-eating Warbler, and soon you'll be kissing your

beloved fellow Cupper goodbye...



                          BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH             



Cuppers have been banging on The Cup's doors recently, wanting to know all

about our youngest serious (no offense, Kristen Grotke) Cup competitor, Jay

McGowan. How does he do it?  After all, he has no driver's license, no car.

Perhaps even more intriguing, WHY does he do it?  He's nine years old,

shouldn't he be playing Nintendo?  Not if you're a McGowan!

Here's what we mean...


"I was born for birding!  I can't remember not being interested in birds.

My father might have had some influence, too."


See what we mean?  If you didn't know better, wouldn't you guess you were

reading about Kevin?  In truth, father and son are a pretty tight birding

team.  The two of them have been spotted scoping out all the key birding

locations: Sapsucker Woods, Hammond Hill, and of course, Jay's personal

favorite hot spots, "Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Cornell golf course woods

(a new favorite spot), and down the road near our house (not that I've seen

anything unusual there, but I like to go down there birding on my own)."


That's right, Jay's not always under his dad's wing.  He says he manages to

squeeze in time to find things on his own.  In fact, he even teaches younger

sister Perry about birds.  "Her favorite bird is Snowy Owl," he says.


Jay's own favorite bird? "That's easy: Peregrine Falcon."  And he's

certainly seen a lot to choose from.  He's birded out west and in Florida.

"I saw lots of things," he says, "including:  (Florida) Magnificent

Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Swallow-tailed Kite, Crested Caracara, Florida

Scrub-Jay.  (West):  Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller's Jay, Tufted

Puffin, Burrowing Owl, Blue Grouse, Black-billed Magpie."  How many Cuppers

can rattle those birds as keepers!  As for his own life list, so far Jay's

racked up an impressive 283.  He says that at this point, he doesn't keep a

Basin list.


So why would a Basin nonlister sign up for the David Cup?  "My Dad talked

me into it."  Ah, huh!  "And it sounded like fun."  Oh.


Jay says that if he could see any bird in the entire world, it would be a

White-tailed Kite, "because I like raptors," he says, "and I like black,

gray, and white together."  Hmmm...sounds like the whole David Cup/McIlroy

boundary issue.  Did your dad tell you to say that?



                                   DEAR TICK



Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations--and with

the added strain of intense competition brought on by the David Cup/McIlroy

Award--The Cup has graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and

intuitive columnist, Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions,

like these...




The other day, someone borrowed my binoculars (I graciously lent

them). This person promptly went out and found a Sora. Therefore, my

binoculars saw a Sora. Because my binoculars are an extension of myself,

it seems reasonable to me that I add Sora to my David Cup/McIlroy Award

lists. Am I right?


                                                   --Sleepy in Ithaca


P.S. My dream list continues to grow, with good looks last night of

Black-capped Chickadees drinking water.


Dear Sleepy:


If I'd let you count all the birds you've been trying to trick me into

thinking are countable these past months, you'd be Kickin' Tail by now!

Unfortunately for you, you're not going anywhere with this one, either.

You're right, binoculars are an extension of any Cupper, and ordinarily,

whatever bird wanders before them is countable, provided the bins can make a

correct I.D.  The problem here is that you lent yours to someone.  It's

already been shown, many times over, that being in the David Cup means no

nicey-nice. You should be in this thing to win, Sleepy.  Your generosity is

a disgrace to the competition. I'm going to have to insist you cease

with the sweetness before the reputation of the David Cup is forever

sullied.  As for your dream birds, they're starting to become my nightmare.




Last week I saw a Buick Skylark flying down the road.  Although it's not on

my checklist, can I write it in and count it for my David Cup total?


                                   --Dazzled and Sappy in Sapsucker



Dear Dazzled and Sappy:


In the World Series of Birding in New Jersey, teams that get ticketed by

the police lose their right to participate in the event for the following

two years. There are similar rules regarding the David Cup and McIlroy

competitions.  The word "flying,"in the context you've used it here,


that your skylark was breaking the speed limit.  I'm afraid you won't be


to count it, at least for two years.




There's been a lot of Internet discussion lately about the finer points of

identifying Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.  It just so happens I saw Great

Crested Flycatcher on Wilson Trail North while all this was going on and

noticed it had a yellow belly.  Therefore, it's a yellow-bellied


and I'm set for the David Cup. Do you agree?


                                        --Yellow-bellied in Cupland


Dear Yellow-bellied:


You blew it.  As a connoisseur of birding discussions over the Internet,

you should have known that not capitalizing bird names is a sin (see

CAYUGABIRDS, around the turn of the new year).  By capitalizing the name,

you would also have done the granddaddies at the ABA proud.  But you


and as a result, you've disqualified your sighting.  Next time, don't be so

yellow-bellied when it comes to taking notes.




Choosing between sleeping in May and getting up and birding is easy.

Simple choice ... birding, even in a downpour. But I've got a bigger problem

that occurs only when I'm down there in Ithaca. With the blues cranking

out, I find it awful hard to shut off the radio and get out of the car. Or

worse .. try driving down Lake Road listening for Grasshopper Sparrows while

listening to Francis Reed. It's a worse problem than hitting the snooze bar

at 4 am.  I've tried listening to Neil Diamond, Mel Torme, Barry Manilow


even Vince Gill and Garth Brooks to force myself into that Pavlov theory


the radio is a "bad" thing. It isn't working. Just how do you folks handle

all those blues and get birding in edgewise?


                                      --The Blues Ponderer in Rochester



Dear Blues Ponderer:


I've asked around and none of the Ithaca Cuppers have any problem hearing

Grasshopper Sparrows with the blues cranking full volume.  Maybe you

need to

have your ears checked.




The following question, of course, is purely, for the most part,

hypothetical, and has really no real significant relevance to any kind of

reality that we normally think of as being normal.  Say I have a friend who

knows his neighbor released a bunch of bobwhites this spring.  Over the

weeks and weeks of late winter (March through May) he hears those bobwhites

every day, day after day, week after week, month after month, calling

"bobwhite! bobwhite!"  If he hears them call their beautiful call on so

many beautiful cold and rainy evenings that he somehow forgets that his

neighbor released these birds and thinks of them as being wild as lions on

the Serengeti, is it okay for him to count them on his McIlroy list?


                                                             --Robert Blanc

Dear Blanc:


I don't blame you for leaving your last name blanc, I mean, blank, Robert.

Your friend is understandably an embarrassment to you.  However, don't be

too hard on him. In truth, I don't think your friend forgot that the

bobwhites were released; rather, he appears to be suffering from Mad Cupper


in which the brain of afflicted Cuppers turns to feathers, tickling the


endings and usually triggering hallucinations of rare Basin birds.  Your

friend is still in the early stages of the disease, during which every bird

he hears or sees is a "good" bird.  Should you by any chance, overhear


Cuppers throwing around phrases such as "every bird is a good bird" and


are good," you can be sure they've got Mad Cupper Disease.  Leave them be.




If an expert standing next to me identifies a distant raptor and I can see

the bird, I should be able to count it even though I couldn't identify it by

myself, right? And if an expert standing next to me identifies the flight

call of a night-flying thrush and I can hear it, I can count it even though

I couldn't identify it by myself, right?  Now imagine two birders are


next to each other and they hear rustling leaves.  They both focus intently

with their binoculars on the location of the noise and one of them gets an

all-too-brief look at the bird--a good bird (let's say Connecticut


Can they both count it?  The bird has been positively identified and it is

clear that the noise that they heard came from the identified bird,


it was not a vocalization.  If the bird gave a "chip," we can probably


that they both can count it.  If the bird were a woodpecker and the

sound was

a pecking sound or drumming, we can probably agree that they both can count

it.  But what about other noises?  Can those count when other factors are

used to ID the bird? You can assume the bird was actually in the Basin and

not in some nearby place like Michigan Hollow.


                                              --Listening Intently in Ithaca

Dear Listening:


This is the most blatant incidence of leading the witness in the entire

history of David Cup court.  You're in contempt.  Case dismissed.




[Name witheld] seems to have special power to create areas of the

Basin where none existed before.  Let's say I'm at Jamaica Bay NWR

and I see a Hudsonian Godwit.  If the bird is within 100ft. of [name

witheld], can I count it on my Basin list?


                                            --[Name witheld]'s Shadow

Dear Shadow:


"Special powers" is out of my area of expertise.  Maybe you should phone

Dionne Warwick at the Psychic Friends network.




Earlier today I picked up my Cup shirt and was very pleased. I will wear it

proudly. What's confusing me is the row of shoes across the bottom. What's

going on with those shoes?!? The binoculars and owls I "get". What do I


people when they ask, "What's with them shoes?" Should I just fake it and

give them a "don't  you get it" look? So, fill me in if you know, DT.


                                     --Not losing sleep over it in Ithaca

Dear Not Losing Sleep:


Don't you get it?




I think the competitions would be fairer if we had age categories.

After all, runners for example get to compete against others their

own age, in recognition of the fact that everyone slows down a bit

as the miles pile up.  The same is true for birders.  Our eyes, ears

and, most importantly, minds go.  I had a really good example in mind to

drive this point home, but I can't seem to remember what it was ...


                                           --Embitterned in Aurora

Dear Embitterned:


What's important in the David Cup is not the mental and physical fitness

of Cuppers.  What matters is the condition of their cars.  Cuppers need not

only to be able to get there from here, they need to look snazzy doing it.

Case in point: Chris Hymes drives a sorry old Subaru--he missed the

Laughing Gull.  Ralph Paonessa, who lives and works on the other side of

the state, put pedal to the metal and enjoyed indulgent views of the bird--

he drives a splashy sports car.  Likewise, Ken Rosenberg putts around in a

beat up Nissan Sentra.  Did he get Little Gull?  No.  Scott Mardis drives a

sharp, zippy number--he owns that Little Gull.  If you want to win the

David Cup, don't lobby for age categories.  Buy a new car.


(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup, care of Jeff's e-mail.)


                  """""""""       CUP QUOTES      """"""""


"I know full well what every Cupper who can get away from his/her desk

today is doing ... frantically trying to pad those May totals!!!"


                                                   --Karl David


"Methinks the only one really itching (or twitching?) to be going is

Allison, gone hog wild in her grasp for this month's ephemeral glory and

brief celebrity. 225 I hear!?!? My God woman, what's gotten into you? And

they said this competitiveness thing was a male problem. Here are my humble

butt-kicked totals..."

                                                    --Tom Nix


"You two must be off chasing the twitterers, trying to fill your David


--Jewell Childs (Allison's mom),

via message left on Wells'

answering machine


"I am, of course, no longer in the thick of things, but I'll try to

keep pace."

                                                   --Scott Mardis


"I don't recall ever having a cold this bad. May really beat me."


                                                   --Steve Kelling


"New Jersey only cost me a species or two, but the major banding

effort of the last few weeks cost me more than a dozen, most of them

McIlroy birds, too!"

                                                   --Kevin McGowan


"Hoping to replenish our chi, we walked Wilson Trail South (Sapsucker

Woods) today  and heard a dreamy Blackpoll Warbler, but that's about it.

We did, however, get some good chi."

                                                 --Allison and Jeff Wells


"What is ‘chi'?  To me it is tea."

                                                  --Meena Haribal


"Congratulations, Jeff and Allison, on a successful poaching job in my


                                                  --Karl David


"I agree with Casey Sutton's comments in the [The Cup 1.4). Changing 'our'

towhee's name does seem to be a rip-off of the bird.  Sure, the bird

doesn't care, but it doesn't lend it much appreciation.  Gee, maybe we

could start a petition."

                                                  --David J. McDermitt


"Yesterday (Sunday) at about 11:30am I had an Olive-Sided Flycatcher

in my back yards in Dryden village."

                                                  --Bard Prentiss


"I actually have only one back yard but it's very big."


                                                  --Bard Prentiss


"I recall an instance along Monkey Run where [Ned Brinkley]

started imitating a Blue-winged Warbler, inhaling shhhh and spitting

(literally!) ‘puussttt'.  A Blue-winged came careening into his lap!

So I decided to try this at home: ‘shhhh puuussstttt,' (I said) and this

Blue-winged Warbler flew out of a bush and immediately ascended 100

feet...before it took off north.  We have not had a Blue-winged in our

yard since."

                                                  --Steve Kelling


"A Yellow-Breasted Chat was seen by myself, Diane Tessaglia, and

Jim Lowe, singing its head off in Etna..."

                                                   --Chris Hymes


"The Prothonotary Warbler at Stewart Park golf course was still singing its

head off on Friday morning."

                                                  --Ken Rosenberg


"There was no warbler neck to be had looking at that thing [Worm-eating


                                                   --Casey Sutton


"Finagling the car around, I managed to get good long looks at the Vespers."


                                                   --Kurt Fox


"Returned today and saw the spate of Prothonotary Warbler reports and

had to laugh.  This weekend I saw LOTS of Prothonotaries; when I

checked my socks for ticks I found Prothonotaries on my shoes...That's

because I spent the weekend in -- no, not the Vatican-- Cape May!"


                                                   --Ralph Paonessa


"[The Cup] is very interesting and funny.  If I lived in Ithaca, I'd

definitely be in the David Cup!"

                                     --Sarah Childs (Allison and Jeff's


                                       Winthrop, Maine)


"Since I didn't spend any time in the Cayuga Basin during the month of

May, my David Cup total is still at a meager 49 species. Next month

will be better, though. I was at MNWR last weekend and added about

20 species to my list. Now if you'd consider "stretching" the David Cup

boundaries to include the Rochester area, I'd be doing a *lot* better!"


                                                 --Tom Lathrop


"Great thanks are due...for getting this McIlroy and David stuff off the

ground, and inspiring me to brush up on my faded birding skills.  I have

not been a very active birder since I started grad school.  It has been

frustrating at times getting back into the swing of things, but I am

starting to remember songs I had forgotten, and I have seen some birds I

have not seen in several years (especially the warblers)."


                                                  --John Bower


"What made the sight particularly wonderful was that when my

wife and 1 ½ yr old pre-birder Tony came out to look, the male tanager

came right up to a dogwood in the garden and sat there unconcernedly

while Tony, from 20 feet away, pointed at it and yelled "ORANGE! ORANGE!"

(just recently having learned his colors). Indeed, the bird was at the

orange end of the tanager color spectrum. I couldn't have said it better.

What a thrill- at least equal to my life Least Bittern yesterday. I'm

beginning to realize that I will get to have all the birds with Tony as

vicarious "lifers" all over again. What a treat!"

                                                  --John Greenly


"I just had the honor of observing the Prothonotary at close range

down at the golf course woods.  Thank you to whoever first reported it!"


                                                  --David McDermitt


"What next in this incredible collective adventure we're having this


                                                  --Karl David


"I just want to register my thanks and my sense of great vicarious

pleasure (if not exaltation), as you collective adventurers share

your birding with this list. If there were ever a solid argument in

favor of listing--and warm comradely, dead-earnest birding

competition--it's in the David Cup and McIlroy Award tournaments unfolding!

Thanks so much!"

                                                  --Caissa Wilmer


May Your Cup Runneth Over,


Allison and Jeff