Year 2, Issue 4


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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.

*    Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

*    Basin Bird Highlights: "Inspector" Tom Nix

*    Composite Deposit, Stat's All: Karl "Father of the Madness" David

*    Bird Brain Writer: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer

*    Location Manager: Jeff Wells



What did you do over "April vacation"--you know, that glorious week in

April that, when you were a grade schooler, gave you a taste of the

freedom to come, when school would let out in June?  Your faithful Cup

editors thought we'd escape the eye-burning intensity of the David Cup by

high-tailing it to the Basin-free regions of Assateague/Chincoteague

National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  How naive

we were to think we'd find spring 600 miles south of Ithaca in April!

"Unseasonable rain and wind," "flood warnings" even "tornado watch"--the

local weatherpeople made the calls, and we found ourselves in the bullpen.

Sure, we had our share of Laughing Gulls,  Northern Gannets, and Purple

Sandpipers, and the few Yellow-throated Warblers and White-eyed Vireos

whose songs were music to our desperate ears. But when you leave Ithaca

in April and head that far south, is it too much to ask for--sun, and Blue

Grosbeaks, Summer Tanagers and...and...well, we couldn't help wondering

what Karl David and Tom Nix were busy tracking in the good ol' Basin, not

to mention the goodies the Steves were McTicking while we were worrying if

our lodgings would be swept out to sea.


The good news (for us) is that our hotel remained intact and had a

fabulous hot tub, and (for you) it was easy to convince many of the species

we saw that the weather in Ithaca was no worse and most certainly better

than what they were suffering through there in North Carolina.   In other

words, if we hadn't made the trip, City Cemetery would still be in

hibernation, and the McGowans' yard list would continue to be about as

fruitful as a day of birding in the Wegman's parking lot.


The least you can do to thank us for bringing back some pretty little

passerines is read The Cup 2.4.  We're not demanding our money back, we're

not even asking for sympathy.  We're just asking for a few minutes of your

time.  (Otherwise, we'll FedEx a message to the [you guess the species]

urging them to stay away from the Basin after all...)


                                @   @    @    @    @     @

                                 NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                                  @   @    @    @     @     @


WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: A "pacifying" welcome to Megan Runge, the

newest Cupper to coo her way into the David Cup...almost.  (See "Megan

Update," below.) We at The Cup say she's in!  But then again, we thought

astronaut extraordinaire Shannon Lucid was in, too...


KICKIN' TAIL?: "Ban him from the competition!" "Take away his McGlaucous

and McLesser Black-backed gulls!"  "Make him bird in stilettos!"  None of

these were complaints registered with The Cup, but they would have been if

Cup readers had been paying attention when bad-boy Cupper Stephen Davies

made the following March post: "Had a Solitary Vireo at Sapsucker Woods on

Sunday afternoon, and two Hermit Thurshes were along the road there

lunchtime today.  Kicked up five Common Snipe from the pool on Freese Rd

this morning..."  Stephen, no bird kicking allowed in the David Cup. We

don't want the SPCA getting involved.  Besides, the birds might start

kicking back.


ENLIGHTENED UP: There's a story in the May-June issue of the Utne

Reader featuring America's 10 most enlightened towns, and guess who's #1.

We are!  "We," meaning Ithaca. Not "we," meaning Cupville.  You see, the

lead is some bit of graffiti from the men's room at the DeWitt Mall, yes,

that's right.  With standards like those, is it any wonder they couldn't so

much as mention the best evidence of Ithaca's enlightenment--the David

Cup--anywhere in their story?  In all fairness, maybe omission of those

two little words, "David Cup," was a completely innocent oversight. After

all, the author did write, "What's stunning about the place is the sheer

volume and quality of social innovation, pragmatic activism, spiritual

seeking, open debate, and homemade and imported cultural fun that goes on

here--in an atmosphere of robust local pride." Couldn't have described the

David Cup better ourselves!


LOST, AND FOUND!: If you were subscribed to The Cup last year, you

know that your faithful Cup editor's purse (Allison's, not Jeff's--he only

takes his with him to fine restaurants) was stolen last October when

someone broke into their car during a birding outing at their dear, dear

Allan Treman Park. Well, not only did the cops find the bums who did the

dirty deed, but recently a fisherman found the purse, long since believed to

be 750 feet deep in Cayuga Lake, or worse.  Back came her sadly missed

family photos (don't keep anything of sentimental value in your purse!) in

salvagable condition, the earrings her mother had given her years back, even

Van Gogh's ear--okay, so it's really a sea-polished shell, but it fools some

people.  The purse itself, however, had bit the dumpster, but then, that

happened long before it got stolen.


SAPPING IT UP: "It was a little before midnight, we were standing in

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge ready to begin another Big Day of

birding in New Jersey. The subs were packed (we repeatedly warned Kevin

to not eat anything that tasted like it had onions on it), the Little's

[faithful Cup readers] had fed us well, we had pretended to sleep a little:

the Sapsuckers from the Cornell Lab of O--again, John Fitpatrick, Jeff Wells,

Ken Rosenberg, Kevin McGowan and myself --were primed for another year in

the World Series of Birding.

      "Our first bird was a Sora--I think.  That first hour, we had a few

nocturnal migrants, some marsh birds--20 species in the first hour.

      "Next was High Point State Forest in the northern most section of the

state, where it felt like March.  Ken said the Winter Wren would sing at sang at 5:16 (poor scouting!!)  We heard the C Ravens, got the

Northern Waterthrush, but Thumper (a.k.a., Jeff Wells) just could not get

the Ruffed Grouse to do its thing...even when he wore his magic thumping


      "We zoomed out for some grassland birds. Ken said there was an

Orange-crowned Warbler in this spruce tree.  There it was!  Fitz picked

out a Merlin flying down the ridge.  The pet pheasant (actually not really

a pet) was right where it was supposed to be.  Jeff made this miraculus

turn-around on this steep muddy precipice.  (We thought we were going to

be doing a Big Sit when we saw what he was attempting.) He made the

turn but we had to help him pry his fingers from the steering wheel.

      "By 10:30 (or so) we had seen around 130 species of birds.

      "On our drive south we picked up a Red-throated Loon, Broad-winged Hawk

and stopped at a location for Upland Sandpiper.  There was a group of

birders already there.  Fitz pops out of the car and greets the birders.

Literally five seconds after his greeting we hear a wolf whistle.  We all

yelled  Got it!' and were back in the car.  The group of birders we were

leaving had a very perplexed look on their faces, to say the least.

      "Down to Cumberland Co. It was my turn to lead the intrepid crew.

The Horned Larks were easy, the rest of the land birding was excruciating.

The wind was howling, it was cold, it was mid-afternoon.  The prothonotary

would only chip; the Summer Tanager evaporated.  We got the chat and Blue

Grosbeak but had to start cutting out stops.  Our spirits were low.  A Big

Day is like Tom Wait's emotional weather report: high tonight---and low


      "At this point I figured I had been up for 36 hours.

      "Spirits picked up at the Pectoral SP stop.  But it was surreal.  We

were picking out Pects, found a white-rumped and were deciding on a possible

western SP when all of a sudden the mud flats were invaded by ATVs!  Kids

looking like SuperHeros with their riding costumes were screaming around

the mud flat. Shorebirds barely budged!  Ken picked out a Reeve!  The

SuperHeroes zoomed! Our spirits soared.

     "We had to skip the Marbled Godwit--by now we were calling it Garbled

Modwit--and then Kevin took over.  Out of a barren lake he found the Ruddy

Duck and the Buffleheads!  Life was good.

      "Hereford Inlet and Nummies Island were excellent--N Gannets, Royal

Terns and the like, a Whimbrel popped up its head to see what was

happening, and the heron colony provided us with glimpses of Cattle Egret.

We were off to Brig---with 197 species. (Jeff picked out the Tricolored

Heron as we were roaring up the Garden State at about a million miles an


      "Brig is a nice place EXCEPT during the World Series.  It is always

windy, it is big, and the light is always bad.  (It was better than last

year when we almost saw Jeff blow off the dike.) We found Snow Goose,

Gadwall; Jeff picked out a N Pintail, Ken found the Peregrine...but the

Gull-billed Terns had disappeared.

      From here we went up to Leeds Point, then down to South Cape May

Meadows in hopes of the Sedge Wren (in the howling wind) and I valiantly

tried to convince the team that they were looking at a Piping Plover (cages

are built around them when they are incubating). It was so dark we could

not see a thing.  They would not count it.  A little while later we heard

the call of an American Bittern! Our 205th bird.

      "We turned in our score, yammered (you can't really talk at this point)

at the gathered masses, and went back to the motel, where Fitz pulled out

this brown liquid and made us drink a whole bunch of it, and went to bed.

      "I am still not awake."


BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: Who's the latest bluesman to sell out to

the advertising world?  Look for John Lee Hooker crusing in the back of an

Infinity convertible (driven by--sit down--fellow guitar slinger Robert

Cray.) At least Hooker chose the right color: teal blue.  Next thing

you know, we'll be seeing Jim Lowe (Cupper of Ithaca Ageless Jazz Band

fame) sliding his big ol' trombone on a Harley.


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

                               BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS

                                    By Tom Nix


     I had been away from the Basin for a week or so in Florida at midmonth

and again late in the month birding scouting in New Jersey with Kelling and

Davies. Since I had been away so much I asked the Steves what they thought

the highlights of April were, and they both answered, "there weren't any."

And there it is, the theme for April: When will they get here? (They being

those tardy migrants, of course.) We had an early early spring followed by a

late late spring. Look at PABIRDS, a new listserv covering Pennsylvania bird

sightings. When the list owner opened the discussion with a call for warbler

sightings, most observers commented on the lateness of the season and

lamented the paucity of migrants. And while in New Jersey, nearly every

birder we met echoed these sentiments.

      They were coming, though. While in Florida, in a Mangrove Cuckoo site

called Cockroach Bay, I witnessed a continuous northward stream of

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Scarlet Tanagers flashing red, black, and white

over the mangrove islands along some avian interstate. Overhead cruised a

phalanx of Chimney Swifts, timing their arrival as the furnaces and boilers

of the northern winter quit the swift's nest sites. And of course the

migrants did begin arriving in fits and starts. By month's end the first

sightings had been posted; a week after I stood at Cockroach Bay, Ryan

Bakelaar saw a swift over campus. Black-throated Green, Black-and-white and

Palm warblers managed a minimal showing by the last days of April. The

waterthrushes had appeared, and McIlroy listers ticked a LA Waterthrush

that sang below Sunset Park. A particularly nice sighting was the Mt Pleasant

Upland Sandpiper that whistled wolf at Chris Hymes and friends.

     Fox Sparrows made their all-too-brief spring swing through Ithaca, and a

lucky few heard their wonderful sweet song. Vesper Sparrows returned to

their fields. White-crowned Sparrows appeared at feeders. Tree Sparrows

departed, replaced by Chipping Sparrows. A thrasher here, first House Wren


     Overall, though, pretty slow. A coupla big fish got away; the Glossy

Ibis glimpsed flying north from Montezuma, and Black Vultures circled South

Hill to be seen by John Bowers, but not refound. Mt. Pleasant watchers

found a trickle of raptor migrants, but unlike previous springs, there was

no single day this year when a dozen Golden Eagles passed overhead, and no

big warm fronts brought kettles of Broadwings. It was a slow April for

Cuppers. Ah, but May, now that's another story.


(Tom Nix is a Liberal Arts grad turned carpenter, now a Code Inspector

for the City of Ithaca. He considered declaring City Cemetary a fire hazard

so that Cuppers could not tick innumerable warblers during his scouting trip

to New Jersey for the Sapsucker team, but he knew that life-threatening

situations are not enough to keep Cuppers out of any place.)


100      100      100      100      100      100       100       100

                               100 CLUB

   100       100      100       100       100       100       100     100


                 [Sign on 100 Club door: "BILL EVANS, KEEP OUT!"]


Chris Butler's BIRD 100: Red-shouldered Hawk

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "My hundredth bird was a Red-shouldered

Hawk--but only by a few seconds. Shortly after the Red-shoulder soared

overhead, Chris Hymes discovered an Upland Sandpiper sharing the field with

us. If only I hadn't looked up..."


JR Crouse's BIRD 100: Ruby-crowned Kinglet

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "Should have been GH Horned

Owl in Fuertes Nature Sanctuary!"


Karl David's BIRD 100: Blue-winged Teal

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "I had hoped Common Snipe

would be #100.  I was taking the SFO group down to the Freese Rd

ponds where they'd been reported by Steve Kelling earlier that morning.

Snipe turned out to be #101, seconds after the Blue-winged Teal."


Martha Fischer's BIRD 100: (Refused to respond to questionaire)



John Greenly's BIRD 100: Brown-headed Cowbird

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "Well, a sentimental favorite for 100th would

have been Fox Sparrow.  What can I say, I just love the way they hop-kick

dead leaves!"


Meena Haribal's BIRD 100: Barn Swallow

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "I love them. I hope they'll come back to my

porch for nesting again this year."


Chris Hymes BIRD 100: Ruby-crowned Kinglet

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "I wish it had been the N Saw-whet Owl from

the north side of Mount Pleasant, that's for sure!"


Anne Kendall-Cassella's BIRD 100: Field Sparrow

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "I guess I hoped it would be Golden-Crowned

Kinglet. I think that was bird #103, but I had been worrying about it for

months. I usually only see about one of those each year and it's the kind of

bird you can't afford to miss when you are going for a big year (I still

don't have Red-breasted Nuthatch either, but I'm not so worried about that

one).  The Lincoln's Sparrow was wonderful!  Especially because it was so

unexpected.  A few more of those and I'll cruise into the 200 club."


[EDITORS' NOTE: Since Matt started working at the Library of Natural

Sounds, he's been able to convince himself that he's actually heard all

kinds of birds he's hoped to find in the Basin.]

Matt Medler's BIRD 100: Hoopoe



Michael Pitzrack's BIRD 100: Red-necked Grebe

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "On April 22 I took a hike over at Thatcher's

Pinnacle. Bird 99 was a Broad-winged Hawk near the summit. I was just so

sure that I was going to hear a Wood Thrush, or perhaps a Hermit Thrush,

while I sat soaking in the view as evening approached. However, it was not

to be. I had to make do with a wonderful evening, a wonderful view, and

wonderful companionship. Too bad!"


Marty Schlabach's BIRD 100: Osprey

THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "Osprey is a bird with centurion qualities.

It feels so good to know the doors of the 100 Club didn't slam in my face."


200           200          200          200           200           200

                                 2     0    0

      200             200                            200           200


                      "CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE"


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


1997 DAVID CUP APRIL TOTALS                     1997 MARCH TOTALS


138 Stephen Davies                                 119 Tom Nix

136 Kevin McGowan                                  109 Kevin McGowan

134 Bard Prentiss                                  108 Stephen Davies

132 Allison Wells                                  105 Jeff Wells

131 Tom Nix                                        104 Steve Kelling

130 Jay McGowan                                    104 Allison Wells

127 Ken Rosenberg                                  101 John Bower

125 Steve Kelling                                  101 Ken Rosenberg

123 Jeff Wells                                     100 Jay McGowan

118 Chris Hymes                                    100 Bard Prentis

116 Anne Kendall-Cassella                           94 Karl David

116 Matt Medler                                     91 Anne Kendall-Cassella

115 Meena Haribal                                   90 Chris Hymes

114 JR Crouse                                       89 JR Crouse

113 Karl David                                      89 Andy Farnsworth

109 Martha Fischer                                  88 Martha Fischer

108 John Greenly                                    88 John Greenly

107 Marty Schlabach                                 87 Meena Haribal

106 Chris Butler                                    86 Matt Medler

103 Michale Pitzrack                                80 David McDermitt

101 John Bower                                      75 Marty Schlabach

  89 Andy Farnsworth                                 73 Michael Pitzrick

  86 David McDermitt                                 65 Chris Butler

  81 Margaret Launius                                61 Rob Scott

  78 Michale Runge                                   60 Bill Evans

  75 Casey Sutton                                    57 Jim Lowe

  71 Caissa Willmer                                  56 Diane Tessaglia

  69 Jim Lowe                                        50 Margaret Launius

  68 Dianet Tessaglia                                49 Anne James

  66 Anne James                                      49 Michael Runge

  61 Rob Scott                                       49 Casey Sutton

  60 Bill Evans                                      44 Caissa Willmer

  50 Cathy Heidenreich                               42 Sam Kelling

  42 Sam Kelling                                     37 Taylor Kelling

  37 Taylor Kelling                                  37 Jane Sutton

  36 Jane Sutton                                     32 Margaret Barker

  32 Margaret Barker                                 25 Cathy Heidenreich

  13 Dave Mellinger                                  13 Dave Mellinger

   0 Ned Brinkley*                                    0 Ned Brinkley

   0 Sarah Childs*                                    0 Sarah Childs

   0 Ralph Paonessa*                                  0 Ralph Paonessa

   0 Larry Springsteen*                               0 Larry Springsteen

   0 Mira the Bird Dog*                               0  Mira the Bird Dog



*Currently living out-of-state but anticipate return to Basin within the

1997 David Cup year.  They faithfully sent in their totals because they

didn't realize their tallies are still at zero.


1997 McILROY APRIL TOTALS                        1997 MARCH TOTALS


119 Allison Wells                                 97 Steve Kelling

118 Steve Kelling                                 91 Allison Wells

117 Stephen Davies                                90 Stephen Davies

102 Jeff Wells                                    89 Jeff Wells

100 Kevin McGowan                                 82 John Bower

  98 Ken Rosenberg                                 79 Tom Nix

  97 Martha Fischer                                78 JR Crouse

  93 JR Crouse                                     74 Martha Fischer

  90 Tom Nix                                       73 Kevin McGowan

  86 Matt Medler                                   67 Ken Rosenberg

  83 Chris Butler                                  60 Bill Evans

  82 John Bower                                    57 Matt Medler

  81 Jay McGowan                                   51 Karl David

  71 Karl David                                    51 Rob Scott

  70 Anne Kendall-Cassella                         47 Anne Kendall-Cassella

  60 Bill Evans                                    47 Jim Lowe

  60 Michael Runge                                 46 Michael Runge

  56 Jim Lowe                                      42 Chris Butler

  54 Casey Sutton                                  40 Jay McGowan

  51 Rob Scott                                     39 Casey Sutton

  36 Jane Sutton                                   34 Jane Sutton

  13 Dave Mellinger                                13 Dave Mellinger

   0 Ned Brinkley*                                  0 Ned Brinkley

   0 Sarah Childs*                                  0 Sarah Childs

   0 Ralph Paonessa*                                0 Ralph Paonessa

   0 Larry Springsteen*                             0 Larry Springsteen

   0 Mira the Bird Dog*                             0 Mira the Bird Dog


*Currently living out-of-state but anticipating return to McIlroy territory

sometime in the 1997 McIlroy year.  They faithfully sent in their totals

because they didn't realize their tallies were still stranded at zero.


THE EVANS TROPHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Herewith, compiler Bard Prentiss' second round presentation of the Dryden



124 Bard Prentiss

118 Kevin McGowan

118 Ken Rosenberg

110 Jay McGowan

  76 Matthew Medler

  74 Anne Kendall-Casella




By Karl David


History repeats itself, as Tom Nix burns out in April and is replaced by

a new leader. The king is dead; long live the king! Here's Stephen's list:


C Loon,PB Grebe,H Grebe,RN Grebe,DC Cormorant,A Bittern, GB Heron,Tundra

Swan,Mute Swan,Snow Goose,Canada Goose,Wood Duck,GW Teal,A Black Duck,

Mallard,N Pintail,BW Teal,N Shoveler,Gadwall,E Wigeon,A Wigeon, Canvasback,

Redhead,RN Duck,G Scaup,L Scaup,Oldsquaw,WW Scoter,C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,

H Merganser,C Merganser,RB Merganser, Ruddy Duck, TurkeyVulture, Osprey,Bald

Eagle,N Harrier,Sharp-shinned Hawk,Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk,

Broad-winged Hawk,Red-tailed Hawk,Rough-legged Hawk,A Kestrel,RN Pheasant,

Ruffed Grouse,Wild Turkey,C Moorhen,A Coot,Killdeer,GYellowlegs,

L Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper,C Snipe,A Woodcock,Bonaparte's Gull,

Ring-billed Gull,Herring Gull,Iceland Gull,LBB Gull,Glaucous Gull,GBB

Gull,Caspian Tern,Rock Dove,  Mourning Dove,E Screech-Owl,GH Owl,Barred Owl,

LE Owl,SE Owl,N Saw-whet Owl,B Kingfisher,RH Woodpecker,RB Woodpecker,

YB Sapsucker,Downy Woodpecker,Hairy Woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,

E Phoebe,H Lark,Tree Swallow,NRW Swallow,Barn Swallow,Blue Jay,A Crow,

Fish Crow,C Raven,BC Chickadee,T Titmouse,RB Nuthatch,WB Nuthatch,Brown

Creeper,Carolina Wren,House Wren,Winter Wren,GC Kinglet,RC Kinglet,

BG Gnatcatcher,E Bluebird,Hermit Thrush,A Robin,N Mockingbird,Brown Thrasher,

A Pipit,C Waxwing,E Starling,Solitary Vireo,YR Warbler,BT Green Warbler,Pine

Warbler,N Waterthrush,L Waterthrush,N Cardinal,E Towhee,A Tree Sparrow,

Chipping Sparrow,Field Sparrow,Vesper Sparrow,Savannah Sparrow,Fox Sparrow,

Song Sparrow,SwampSparrow,WT Sparrow,WC Sparrow,DE Junco,L Longspur,

S Bunting, RW Blackbird,E Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,C Grackle,BH Cowbird,

Purple Finch,House Finch,A Goldfinch,H Sparrow.


Total: 138 species






Add the following species for the complete list as of April 30:


Red-throated Loon, American White Pelican, Green Heron, Black-crowned

Night-Heron, Greater White-fronted Goose, Ross' Goose, Barrow's Goldeneye,

Black Vulture, Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon,

Sora, Solitary Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Laughing

Gull, Thayer's Gull, Snowy Owl, Chimney Swift, Purple Martin, Bank Swallow,

Cliff Swallow, Gray Catbird, Northern Shrike, Yellow Warbler, Palm Warbler,

Black-and-white Warbler, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak.


Grand total: 169


(Karl David teaches mathematics at Wells College in Aurora.  In another

month or so, he will be unrecognizable due to his playing late-night, early-

morning David Cup catch-up.)



                               !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to prove that Tom Nix is not unstopable than by being

featured in an interview exclusively for The Cup, even if it's your fist

time ever?  Kickin' Tail brings well deserved honor and recognition to the

Cupper who has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven, climbed, dug, jolly-gooded

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

gentlemen, introducing Stephen Davies...


THE CUP: Congratulations on your victory this month, Stephen.  May we

ask you a few questions?


DAVIES: Fire away.  This is even more exciting than being interviewed by

GQ or Cosmopolitan.


THE CUP: So that WAS you on the cover of GQ after all!  Did you ever

in your wildest dreams think you'd topple the mighty Tom Nix as Kickin'

Tail leader?


DAVIES:  Never in a million years.  Tom's razor-sharp with a gift for

sniffing out the unusual and exciting.  Look at what he already has under his

belt this year--Barrow's Goldeneye, Greater Whitefront to name just two.


THE CUP: You needn't remind us--we missed them, you see.


DAVIES:  I was very surprised to find I'd squeaked into pole position this

month, and I'm sure it had a lot to do with Tom's extracurricular activities

in Florida and NJ.  Now he's back, so we better watch out.


THE CUP: That's what he'd have us believe.  You spend a lot of

time at Stewart Park, yet you frequently post sightings from Sapsucker

Woods.  How do you decide when to bird where?


DAVIES: In general it's pretty random.  Stewart Park excites me because it

feels like almost anything can show up there, as demonstrated by Kevin's

Thayers Gull back in March (nnargh)--


THE CUP: But didn't you see that?  It was magnificent, just fabulous...oh.


DAVIES: --so checking it out on a daily basis is really compulsive.  But

most of the time it's populated by a bunch of starlings and a few mutant

Mallards, so I try to hit a few other places just to keep sane.


THE CUP: Yes, Steve Kelling should try that.  Or maybe it's already too late

for him.  How much time do you spend birding each day, on average?


DAVIES: I try to fit in a couple of hours before work, and maybe a bit over

lunch hour, and sometimes a few hours before dusk, too.  Then after dinner

it's time to look for owls, etc.  Spending QT in the field is very important

and I try not to let life get in the way.


THE CUP: Very important for a vet student like yourself.  Speaking of

studying hard, we understand you took a few days to scout in New Jersey for

the Sapsuckers' Big Day.  Did you wake up with night sweats, wondering

what you were missing back in the Basin?


DAVIES: Not really.  The times I woke up in a cold sweat, it was usually

because I knew it would soon be 4am and Steve Kelling would be whisking

us off to the local Wawa for a breakfast of Tastykakes.


THE CUP: Wow.  That's gotta be up there with Tom's grits. How does

birding in the Basin compare to birding in Wales?


DAVIES:  Birding Wales is a lot of fun.  Katherine and I had a blast there

last month.  We caught up with some cool stuff--Red Kite, Ring Ouzel--


THE CUP: Okay, that's enough.


DAVIES: --Dipper, Chough.


THE CUP: Sounds more like something you'd serve with tea.


DAVIES:  We spent one night on one of the seabird islands and got

breeding Puffin, Razorbill, Common Murre


THE CUP: Yeah, yeah.


DAVIES: Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Fulmar


THE CUP: Look, we get the picture, all right?


DAVIES: Then after dark, the 130,000 pairs of Manx Shearwaters return

to their burrows and fill the air with their spooky calls--kuu kuu KUU

kuu...kuu kuu KUU kuu...


THE CUP: Heck, we get that around Martha Fischer's dreams.


DAVIES: Birding the Basin is great, too, of course, but it's good to have a

change of scene once in a while.


THE CUP: Just let's not talk about the editors' Outer Banks trip, okay?

Now, since this is your first time as Kickin' Tail leader, we're obligated

to ask: What's your favorite color--or, rather, colour?


DAVIES: Oh, I think it must be, gray.  A couple of shades darker

than Herring or Ring-billed, but preferably not as dark as Great Black-backed.


THE CUP: That's Ithaca's team color, you know.  But then it's Brittain's,

too, isn't it?  Do you feel a lot of pressure to do well in the David Cup and

McIlroy competitions because of your first name?


DAVIES: You bet.  It's like having "Kaufman" or "Sibley" for your last name.


THE CUP: Before we sign off, we at The Cup send our regards to your

sister.  We understand she got married recently (and that you had the gall

to leave the Basin to attend it.)  We assume you told her to take some

binoculars with her on her honeymoon?


DAVIES: She and her husband went to Portugal for a week, great for all

kinds of cool birds (Scops Owl, Black Wheatear, Azure-winged Magpie), so

naturally I suggested they take binocs, a scope and preferably a tape

player and MagLite too.


THE CUP: And she took your suggestion?


DAVIES: She told me they had other plans.  Can you believe it?


THE CUP: Gasp! Well, thanks, Stephen, it's been fun.


DAVIES:  I love reading The Cup every month.  You guys do a really

great job.  Thanks.


THE CUP: Come on, now, flattery will get you nowhere.  On second

thought, this is The Cup...




                             By Jay McGowan


  Welcome to Birdbits!  Here is a chance to test your knowledge

of  the world of birds.  The answers will be in next month's issue.


1.  Which is the smallest North American wood warbler?

2.  Which is the only eastern North American warbler that nests in tree


3.  Which American wood warbler is the commonest (but still rare) vagrant

to Europe?

4.  Which North American wood warbler has the highest pitched song?

5.  Which three North American warblers typically wag their tails?

6.  Which is the largest North American wood warbler?

7.  Which four North American warblers have yellow rumps?

8.  Which eight North American warblers have orange or reddish caps?

9.  Which warblers have black throats?

10.  What is the common name for Granetellus venestus?




1.  What is the favored prey of the Gyrfalcon?  Ptarmigans.

2.  What is the scientific name for the Eurasian Eagle-Owl?  Bubo bubo.

3.  Is the Screaming Piha a highly vocal hummingbird?  No, it is a noisy

South American Cotinga.

4.  What kind of birds are in the genus Parus?  Chickadees and titmice.

5.  What is the common name for Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus?

Yellow-headed Blackbird. "Xantho" means yellow, and "Cephalus" means


6.  How large an egg do kiwis lay?  Huge!  Kiwis lay the largest egg

relative to its body size of all birds.  The chicken-sized Kiwi lays an egg

nearly the same size as an emu, the second largest living bird.

7.  Which is the only vulture that is not primarily a carnivore, and what

does it eat? The Palm-nut Vulture. These strange vultures live in tropical

Africa. They eat palm-nuts sometimes plants and fish.

8.  Which three birds have Wilson in their name? Actually there are four

birds with wilson in their name: Wilson's Phalarope, Wilson's Plover,

Wilson's Storm-Petrel, and Wilson's Warbler.   All are named after Alexander

Wilson, the "father of North American ornithology."

9.  What bird has the longest wingspan of all birds, and how long is it? The

Wandering Albatross. With their wings outspread, an adult wandering

albatross can reach twelve feet!

10.  What kind of birds are in the order Procellariiformes? The tube-noses:

Shearwaters, albatrosses, petrels and storm-petrels.


(Jay McGowan, age ten, is home-schooled.  He jealously guarded the family

fortune--the birdfeeder--during his father Kevin's scouting/Big Day trip for

World Series of Birding.)



                             STAT'S ALL, FOLKS

                               By Karl David



How retarded has the spring passerine migration been this year? Rational,

analytic types like John Confer and Ken Rosenberg have cautioned us to be

wary of sentiments like "I've never seen such a poor migration before," or

the perennial cry, "Where are all the birds?" Memory romanticizes the past.

Let's look at some data instead.


First, let's acknowledge that the end of April totals are consistently going

to be the least stable indicator of any of the twelve months as to how the

year is going to shape up. It's completely an artifact of the calendar.

Either a major migrant wave or two comes through before April 30 or it

doesn't. This year it most emphatically did not.


The evidence: last year the co-leaders, Mardis & McGowan, ended the month

at 153. *Ten* Cuppers were over 140; this year, not a one. 'Nuff said? If

still unconvinced, consider my personal breakdown for year birds in the

first half of the month vs. the second half. In 1996, that worked out to

11-29; in 1997, a miserable 12-7!


The Composite Deposit comparison, because of the Law of Large Numbers,

should be closer. With Purple Martin and Cliff Swallow logging in on the

very last day of the month, for example, we still got all six swallows.

But I doubt that was true for any individual birder this year, whereas it

was true for me and probably quite a few others last year. Indeed, we still

managed a grand total of 168 species this year, vs. 179 in 1996. Not a huge

difference, but still a noticeable one.


Another way to look at this: we think of warblers as the indicators

nonpareil of the passerine migration. How did they do? By April 30,

1996, we had 18 species; by the same date this year, only 8.


To conclude, I selected four impossible-to-miss-when-they-get-here species

and give you three sets of personal data for each: the range of their

arrival times for 1985-96, the median for the same period, and this year's



                       Range              Median       1997


Chimney Swift        April 20 - May  2   April 27      May 5

House Wren           April 19 - May  3   April 28      May 4

Yellow Warbler       April 25 - May  6   April 30      May 4

C. Yellowthroat      April 27 - May 11   May    7      May 3


The last example shows that even in a bad year, something is likely to

turn up earlier than usual. Are you surprised by the lateness of the

CYellowthroat data, by the way? After all, this is one of our hardiest

warblers, occasionally showing up on Christmas Counts. But that doesn't

seem to translate into making it an especially early arrival.  I would

hazard a guess that 8 to 10 warbler species arrive earlier: Yellow-rumped

Warbler, obviously, but also both waterthrushes, Ovenbird, Black-and-white

Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, etc.

Perhaps I'll explore that avenue in a future column. Stay tuned!


(Did we mention Karl David is a mathematics professor?)



                                SCRAWL OF FAME


                               "A Medley of Matt"

                                 by Chris Butler


      I'm a freshman birder and I have a problem. (scattered applause from

the crowd).  Please, please, no applause. Just throw money. Where was I?

Oh, yes. My problem. I'm afraid that I don't have a car. Well, actually, I

DO have a car. It's a very nice white Dodge Stratus that I'm quite proud of.

Unfortunately, I left it in Oregon. This tends to make driving it around the

Cayuga Lake Basin a little difficult.

      As you can imagine, not possessing a vehicle gets rather frustrating.

"Wow!" I'll say. "There's a Red-billed Barking Duck at Montezuma! If I start

walking at 8:00 this morning I should get there by 10:00am tomorrow

morning." However, now that I've reached the ripe old age of 18, I'm not

feeling as frisky as I used to. There are mornings when I just don't feel

like walking around Cayuga Lake.

      This is how I decided I needed to find someone to chauffeur me around.

      At first I tried to get some of the other undergrad birders to drive me

around. "Oh, sure," they'd promise. "I can go birding with you on Saturday.

We'll hit Myer's Point, Scipio, and Montezuma. Not a problem!" But then,

that Friday night, they'd call me. "I'm sorry, Chris," they'd whine into the

phone. "But my history teacher just assigned us five papers over the

weekend, I have four calculus problem sets due, a chemistry lab to make up,

and seven parties to attend. I'm afraid that I'm just not going to be able

to take you birding tomorrow. You understand, don't you?" Being the nice

guy that I am, I just smiled, nodded, and said, "That's okay. Another time,

perhaps." Then I sent them a computer virus through e-mail and crashed

their hard drive.

      Just kidding!

      Anyway, this all changed when I bumped into Matt Medler. He and Dan

Scheiman (a good friend of mine) had known each other for years. After Matt

got his job at the Lab of O., they decided to celebrate by going birding. We

drove out to Irish Settlement Road to look for the Snow Buntings that had

been reported. They would have been Life Birds for all of us. When we got

out there, though, there were no Snow Buntings to be found. As we stood

around the car, scanning the fields and inhaling the heady aroma of manure,

Matt began to gripe. "I knew this was going to happen. James and I chased

these birds lots of times but we never saw them. Grr! We might as well go."

Refusing to hop into the car, I took one last scan around as far as I could

see...and found a flock of about 200 buntings so far away that we had to

take the speed of light into account to determine where they actually were.

We raced over to them as fast as Matt could drive and got excellent looks.

High fives all around!

      Then we went out to Allan Treman Park to look at the waterbirds. Not a

whole lot was on the lake--a few Common Mergansers and Mallards. I found

a Common Loon pretty far out, which we all admired for a bit. Dan asked

what we were looking for and I told him as I scanned, "There were

White-winged Scoters seen here earlier and... here they are now!" Two very

nice scoters landed in my scope, enabling us to admire them. (Well, actually

they landed in the field of view of my scope, but you get the point.) They

were lifers for Dan and David Cup birds for Matt and I.

      It was at this point that Matt told me that I was his good luck charm. I

shrugged modestly and didn't comment. I wasn't about to disabuse him of his

absurd notion. After all, he'd taken me out birding! Actually, at that

moment I was feeling pretty good. I tried walking on water on the way home,

but discovered it only works well when the water is frozen.

      Anyway, since then, Matt has taken me out birding nearly every weekend.

It's been a blast! Red-headed Woodpecker, Lesser Black-backed Gull,

Northern Saw-whet Owl, Upland Sandpiper--we found them all. No problem.

      Oh, sure, Matt does have a few quirks. His car, for instance, provides

us with hours of entertainment. There's no better way to warm yourself

during a cold winter's day than by standing in front of the steam pouring

from underneath the hood. The clutch does grind a bit now and then when he's

shifting, sometimes even in tempo with the U2 tape he's playing. We also had

a private bet as to when the tail pipe would fall off. But, hey, any car with

99,000 miles on it will show a little wear and tear. Fortunately, the brakes

still work.

      Matt himself is a riot to ride with. "Wait," he'll say. "I think that I

recognize this road!" So we'll turn down another dead end. Or he'll assure

me, "Yeah, the place we want to go is right over there," and wave his hand

vaguely towards some distant hillside or two. Then he'll mutter to himself

about getting a map. I must say, though, that we always get to the place

we're looking for (even if it takes a couple of hours longer than it should).

His ability to park with his tires only half an inch from the edge of a gully

usually leaves me speechless with amazement.

      In the end, however, I am forced to admit that Matt is a remarkable

individual. For one thing, he's willing to share his M&M's with me. On a

more serious note, his willingness to take a lowly freshman birder out

birding on a regular basis is truly amazing. I have been birding for thirteen

years and have traveled to Europe, Japan, and the Caribbean in pursuit of

birds. In that time, I haven't met ANYONE as generous with his time (or

his knowledge) as Matt. I feel privileged and honored to have met him.

Any words that I can write to express my gratitude seem somehow inadequate.

The best that I can do is to simply say, "Thanks, Matt."


(Chris Butler is a freshman at Cornell. This Scrawl of Fame is doubling as

his final essay for English 101.)


(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        <

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

                     <           <

                      <         <

                        < < < <


Why on earth would The Cup ask--nay, even allow--Karl David to be Coach,

given his, well, underachievement these last few months in the David

Cup--which, we might add, is named for him? You see, some horses need a

great big carrot to get them into a gallop.  Karl is one of those horses--and

May is a one heck of a carrot.  At lease it was for him last year, so if he

keeps up this "tradition," you'll soon find yourself nibbling at his mulch



COACH DAVID: When Allison asked me to be coach of the month this month, she

intimated that the extraordinary migrational dud that late April delivered

[see "Stat's All, Folks" for confirmation] had demoralized the lead pack.

There they were at the end of March, all well ahead of last year's pace,

looking forward to a sensational April. And there they were at the end of

April, most still missing Purple Martin and Yellow Warbler.  Now, all of a

sudden, it's catch up time.


Well, Allison picked the perfect coach to get you motivated again. Having

been in this year-list business for a dozen years now, I know just what you

should do: go for more year birds in May than ever before. In fact, try to set

a standard you may never equal again! It may be a while, after all, before

Purple Martins and Yellow Warblers don't show up in numbers before May.


Last year, I had 75 year birds in May, the best I've ever done. And I was at

145 at the end of April, well ahead of this year's pace. I see little reason

why this year's trendsetters shouldn't get 80 or even 90 new birds in May.


I said "little reason" because there's always one big variable in May:

shorebirds. Will there be mud at Montezuma? we ask nervously. If so, we

should be OK. Not reassuring, though, is the state of the prime back-up

area, Myers Point. It's been regraded and is now a fisherman's hangout,

with precious little habitat for shorebirds or loafing gulls and terns. But

again, we should consider that a challenge. Basin birders are an incredibly

creative bunch. Somebody always comes through: Nix turns up eight species of

shorebirds at the Seyboldt Rd ponds, or Evans, in the days when he roamed

the western frontier alone, wills habitat on one of those nameless, lonesome

county roads in the northwest Basin.


And remember this: the Leader's List at the end of April last year bore

little resemblance to that at the end of May. The relentless jockeying for

position turned everything around. However, the end of May was a different

story. The top ten then were also the top ten at the end, with one

exception: Ralph Paonessa replaced Chris Hymes. The most positions anybody

changed was five, Ken Rosenberg moving up from 9th to 4th in a still

underappreciated feat for a self-described "officewindow birder."


So, go reread Coach J. Wells' advice for last May; there's little I can add

you don't already know.  It's still wide open at this point, but maybe for

the last time. Whoever puts in the most time should be the leader come

May 31...with a little bit of luck, of course. Attach that lucky rabbits' foot

to your rearview mirror, and get out there!


[Editors' Note: If you don't have last year's May Coach's Corner

(The Cup 1.4) shame on you!  However, we will email the column to you

upon request...okay, free of charge.]


(See "Composite Deposite" for Father Karl's byline, then email him and

ask for his blessing.  You may need it, in order to out tally him this month.)



mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm



Stephen Davies isn't the only one blowing down last month's leaders' house of

cards.  The Cup's own Allison Wells is back! To make up for lost time in the

spotlight (and because coeditor Jeff skipped town for the World Series of

Birding and Jay McGowan has yet to fine-tune the technique of email at

home), your faithful Cup editor will be interviewed by her most devout

cheerleader: herself!


THE CUP (Allison): 'Bout time you got here, lady.  What took you so long?


WELLS (Allison): I'd have been here a lot sooner if it hadn't been for that

pesky Steve Kelling.  By the way, did you hear they banished him from City

Cemetary?  Something about him interferring with those poor frisbee players.


THE CUP: They need a little break, they work hard partying and stuff. What

bird was the deciding factor that put you that one notch above Kelling?


WELLS: I'd have to guess it was Brown Thrasher on April 30, which I

wouldn't have gotten without Jeff riding shotgun on our way to

Collegetown Bagels.  "Brown Thrasher!" he belted out as we cruised past the

Ithaca Swim Club. I've been in love with him ever since.


THE CUP: Does it bother you at all that Bard Prentiss has more birds on

his Dryden list then you have on your McIlroy list?


WELLS: No, because birding in Dryden is much less challenging.  What

do you have? You have Dryden Lake. Let's say a volcano erupts underneath

it.  There'd be nowhere else in Dryden to bird and those Evans Cup lists

would collapse like the Sapsuckers after a week of World Series birding.


THE CUP: Well, there's the McGowans' feeders. Do you have some McIlroy

birds this year that you missed last year?


WELLS: Yes--Long-eared Owl, Snow Bunting, Horned Lark all come to

mind. I got Cerulean Warbler this morning.


THE CUP: Right, when you should have been getting The Cup out.


WELLS: Eh-hem.  On the other hand, last year's winter finches are

conspicuously absent from my McList.  I also had both Iceland and Glaucous

gulls last year on my McList; I have neither this year. Yet. Can you believe I

don't have Iceland even on my David Cup list?


THE CUP: That's pathetic. After getting a lot of votes for "Most Likely

to McSucceed in 1997" in the Cuppers' Choice Awards, do you feel any

pressure to win?


WELLS: Yes, but I'm going to try anyway.


THE CUP: See you next month, then?


WELLS: Absolutely.



                          BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

                              By Caissa Willmer



I sent out a timid request to Margaret Launius (a.k.a., Margaret in

Mansfield), asking whether she would consider being e-interviewed as the

April Bird Brain of the Month, and her response was warmly enthusiastic,

and I will let her speak for herself:


Margaret "in Mansfield" Launius: First let me say how honored I am to

be chosen as the Bird Brain of the Month!  I plan to put a copy of this

interview in my professional portfolio for promotion to Full Professor in

1998!  I am sure such national attention will put me over-the-top in that


      I  began birding (about seven years ago) after visiting some friends

for brunch and delighting in their bird feeder activity.  At that time I

couldn't tell a chickadee from a Cooper's Hawk!  I ran right out and

bought our first hanging feeder and within about two hours, we had lovely

golden finches!  Since then, my husband Bruce and I have added numerous

feeders, a little pond, and several nest boxes on our property.  And I

can tell a Sharpie from a Cooper's and have seen all the North American

chickadees except the Mexican one!

      I should mention that my mother, who until her recent reduction in

sight was an avid bird watcher, gave me plenty of opportunities to

become enamoured of the sport while I was in graduate school.  She lived

with us in Baton Rouge, LA, for five years and helped run the household

and would often point out the birds she was seeing from our window and

yard and nearby pond.  I was not impressed.  She delights in poking fun

at me, now that I am an even more avid birder than she, and our common

joke is that I am still trying for my first sighting of a Painted Bunting

(unsuccessful in trips to both Florida and Arizona), while she had tried to

show me one outside her bedroom window feeding on the seed she threw

out there!  I missed alot of great birds in LA!

      But now, every morning and early evening, I try to spend a little time

watching the feeders to see what is hanging around.  On weekends I can

spend considerable time just watching the bird activity, especially about

now with all the increased migratory visitors and nesters arriving on their

territory.  Also, since discovering birding magazines like WildBird (the one

that really got us started on "birding" rather than just feeding), Birder's

World, etc.,  we plan all our travels around birding destinations.  We go

every spring to Cape May for the shorebirds (my favorites) and fall for the

hawks (Bruce's favorites).  Most recently, I returned from a spring break

trip to SE Arizona where my sister (also an avid birder) and I added over

40 birds to our life lists and had a great visit as well!

      I guess you could say birding has become a way of maintaining my

always tenuous grip on my sanity!  My life, especially work-wise, is so

chaotic, demanding, people-oriented, and energy-consuming that I relish

being utterly captivated by something so very natural.  As a social scientist

(someone who studies and works with people for a living), I love being

able to simply appreciate birds, for their beauty, cleverness, and

adaptibility; I could never enjoy "studying birds" because that makes it

seem too much like "work."  So I don't do feederwatches, research projects,

etc.  I guess I am a "bird appreciator"!

      During those long and dreary winter months, I enjoy listening to my

Birding By Ear CD's and have really increased my enjoyment and

identification skills. And in the spring and summer, I love to watch the

antics of the mating birds, the nests of our phoebes, bluebirds, Barn and

Tree swallows, RW Blackbirds, robins, grosbeaks, towhees, cardinals,

hummers, House Wrens, etc., and the newly fledged young feeding up for

the long migration south.

      Birding also gets me outdoors - we go on frequent hikes, walk gardens

and woods, tour NWR's, etc. in search of birds so that we have discovered

many new and wonderful places in nature.

      Over the years, I have become an avid lister though not so compulsive as

some I know!  I do maintain a yard list, a spring migration list, life, state,

county, and major trip lists.  Bruce leaves all that obsessive/compulsive

stuff to me, so he gets to enjoy the birds while I spend numerous hours in

front of the computer maintaining these lists!

      Actually, I began listing after the purchase of the Birders Diary book

from the Lab of O. bookstore (I bought the book for my mother and sister as

well, and they also began keeping lists.)  I now use Thayer's Birding

Software program for Diary and Birds of North America, which I like alot.

      I also have the Peterson's Multimedia CD for the Birds of North

America and enjoy that as well.  Before a trip, I can create a quiz of birds I

am likely to add to my life list and practice identifying them as well as

their songs.

      One of my most memorable birding experiences was our first birding

trip. We had read about Cape May in WildBird and I was desperate to see a

Ruddy Turnstone in breeding plumage.  We toured the Forsythe (Brigantine)

NWR in May, and I was amazed and delighted at all the different birds we

saw--terns, herons, shorebirds, gulls, ibises, etc.  Right away, we saw a

small flock of Ruddy Turnstones doing their thing, and they were every bit

as beautiful as the photos I had seen. Seeing the American Oystercatchers at

Stone Harbor (right where they were supposed to be!) was an incredible thrill.

I had never seen anything like them, and they are still one of my favorite

birds.  There is nothing to compare with the thrills of going from beginning

birder to intermediate birder.

      Another memorable moment occurred at our yard.  Bruce had built the

first of many bluebird boxes and put about three at different spots around

our grassy "field."  We had never seen a bluebird up to this time. One

March morning around 11am as we were leaving the house I spied an unfamiliar

bird on the wire near the yard.  Grabbing our binos, we saw a beautiful male

Eastern Bluebird!!  I don't think I have ever been as excited about a bird

sighting! That spring a pair nested in one of the boxes and raised four

young. They have been with us ever since.

      Finally, I always mark the beginning of our becoming "avid birders" as

opposed to backyard bird-watchers with a winter trip to the Brig and

Cape May.  We were driving through a snow squall on the auto loop at the

Brig when I spotted a small flock of birds foraging at the roadside.  I was

certain they were "snowbirds"--our first sighting of Snow Buntings.  We

jumped out of the car into what was now a mini-blizzard and tried

desperately to get a better look at the quickly-moving group!  We returned

to the car half frozen, wet, and admittedly feeling just a little crazy!

This really was an insane way of behaving when you thought about it!  I said

to Bruce, "I think we've just earned our winter birding merit badges!" and

we both knew we were hooked for life on this new pursuit, and that it wasn't

really a rational one!

      When I discovered the Cayugabird list while exploring bird sites on

the Net,  I was so excited to find a local list that I read it everyday for

about two weeks.  Then I realized I couldn't "talk back" (and you know that

would just not do!!), so I e-mailed Bonnie Glickman to ask for help in

subscribing.  The rest, as they say, is history.  The more I became involved

in the list, the more I wanted to explore all the neat areas I was reading

about.  We made almost monthly trips to MNWR for the past few years, but I

really didn't know much about the Ithaca area. Being involved in the list has

led to my discovering many new birding areas within reasonable communting

distance.  In addition to several life shorebirds last October, I got my

Red-headed Woodpecker on Nations Road, thanks to Kurt Fox and the list--also

our Eastern Screech-owl at Union Springs.  I decided to join the hunt for

the David Cup to further motivate me to get out and bird the area more

often.  I also enjoy chatting with all the birders in the area, and I learn

so much from the ornithologists we are so fortunate to have.  I had a

wonderful time at the Cupper Supper and enjoyed being able to put faces with

the names I had been communicating with for the past several months. There

really isn't anything like this list for my area.  I now enjoy the Geneseo

list as well and wish I had much more time to bird that area as well.

      [And finally, in answer to the question, "Who are you?"-]: I am a

Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor at Mansfield University, PA.

In addition to my teaching and consulting activities, I have a small private

practice.  I have special interests in psychological assessment, gender, and

neuropsychology. My other non-professional hobby is crocheting, which I

taught myself this past summer! We are a small university, and I am in fact

known by many as the bird lady, and many of my collegeaues would

certainly endorse your choice of me as the "Bird Brain of the Month!"


(Caissa Willmer is Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of Development.

She's also theatre critic for Ithaca Times.  Fortunately for her, she was

wearing a Matt Medler mask when she snuck into the Cornell experimental

ponds to see the Red-necked Grebe, but that's only one reason why Matt's

mug shot hangs on the "Most Wanted" wall in the office of Cornell Campus




                             BIRD VERSE



Allison Wells has an MFA in poetry, but that's not why The Cup is

publishing a couple of poems this issue.  And the fact that they were written

by her niece, Sarah Childs, had nothing to do with it, either.  That that

niece is a also a Cupper, well...


                                  The Hawk


                    Evil as a tornado

                    The Merlin circles, eyeing its prey.

                    Calmly, it waits

                    For the right time to strike.


                    It swoops lower,

                    Scaring its prey back into hiding

                    Like people into a storm cellar.

                    Coldly, the Merlin strikes, then snatches up the victim

                    Carrying it back to its nest,

                    Above the forest

                    Like a tornado carrying a house.

                    After eating its fill,

                       The Merlin whirls off, ready to kill again...


                              Indigo Bunting


                     It was a bird

                     sitting in a tree,

                     its beak was black and its tiny eyes

                     were looking right at me.

                     He was so blue I couldn't bear

                     to see him fly away.

                     And now I'm hoping for a day

                     when he will come and stay.


(Sarah Childs is a Cupper who lives in Winthrop, ME.  An eighth grader

and published poet, she anticipates "moving in" with her Auntie and

Uncle Cupper again this summer, at least long enough for her to make it

into the 100 Club.)



                                    DEAR TICK



Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations, The Cup has

graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and intuitive columnist,

Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions, like these...




In the last issue, Tom Nix quoted from an Anne Landers column in his

Basin Bird Highlights.  Doesn't that tick you off?

                                           --Quotation Remarks in Ithaca


Dear Quotation:


Tom Nix was the Kickin' Tail leader for three months in a row. Since the

last issue of The Cup, he's fallen to fifth place.  Coincidence?  You decide.




What happens if you accidentally count a non-McIlroy David Cup bird as a

McIlroy bird?

                            --Wandering and Wondering in Winston Court


Dear Wandering and Wondering:


A rather severe punishment is inflicted upon you at an unexpected time

and place by a secretive group sometimes referred to simply as "The men

in black."  Fortunately, I am only aware of one Cupper who has had an

encounter with these watchdogs.  I won't say who it is, but have you

ever wondered what happened to Ralph Paonessa?


(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at


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


"This morning I encountered a small flock of Water Pippits huddled on the

roadside near the corner of Dodge Road and Stevenson Road. They were

obviously very cold and taking advantage of the sunlight and the road edge.

They kept coming back after each passing car, so they may still be there

until it warms up."

                                              --Nari Mistry


"This afternoon my pup flushed out a Hermit Thrush in our back woods. He

offered great views as he didn't seem inclined to leave his cozy thicket."


                                                  --Ken Smith


"Monday afternoon, there was a Hermit Thrush at Sapsucker Woods, on

the Hoyt-Pileated Trail. Just thought I'd give the location, to shake

you out of your complacency (you thought you knew the names of all

the trails, didn't you?) There was little else around--Ruby-crowned Kinglet

and Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Wilson Trail. At least I got out! Maybe I

can get back in the top ten of the Cup for April."

                                                   --Karl David


"I stopped by Stewart Park this am looking for the Bonapartes Gulls

that Steve reported, and sure 'nuff, there they were. Cool birds! Unlike

the Lesser Black-backed (which I never did find) they are easy to pick out."


                                                   --Martha Fischer


"I received a written report of a Laughing Gull, breeding plumage, seen

by Prof. Dick McNeil and Pat Haines at Stewart Park on Sunday (4/20)

evening.  The bird was feeding on handouts and was observed at very close

range. The bird was not there at 7:15 on Monday....when I was."


                                                     --Steve Kelling


"Looking up, I spotted a single Common Snipe flying over the road.  I

watched it make several large circuits over the road and marsh and power

cut, occasionally doubling-back on its route. My first impression of the bird

is as a hybrid of hummingbird (for its bill) X Killdeer (tail) X kingfisher

(general GISS) X  Chimney Swift (for the way its wings flutter).


                                                     --David  McDermitt


"We can usually predict when [bluebirds] will show up--we say it looks like

a 'bluebird day'!"

                                                      --Sandy Podulka


"Saturday, April 12, a Sapsucker, presumably the McYellow-bellied

variety, was drumming in the trees along Forest Home Drive north of Mann

Library.  I never actually saw the bird, but listened intently as it tested

various more or less resonant branches with its staccato drumming."


                                                       --Randy Little


"It was a great morning to be up [Connecticut Hill] sound recording, or

just walking around."

                                                       --Matt Medler


"I drove through the open gate at the experimental ponds with my binoculars

around my neck to make me appear like 'authorized personnel only,' and on

the long, large pond at the back I saw something grebe-like and was

disappointed; it was so much like a Pied-billed Grebe (which, of course, it

was); and then at the furthest end of the pond was quite another grebish

something--the Red-necked one, truly. Interesting how, in comparison, the

pied-billed is a little commoner, the red-breasted an aristocrat, with that

haughty set of its neck and the regal shape of its head and patterning around

its face. Had I had a scope, I would not have intruded so brazenly (she doth

protest too much), but having only field glasses . . . !"


                                                      --Caissa Willmer


"The woodcock display was fabulous.  We arrived in the upper fields along

Irish Hill Road in time to watch a stunning sunset.  We eventually counted

at least five male woodcock performing breeding displays.  The students

were awestruck.  When it got too dark to see anymore, and when everyone

was starting to get cold, we started heading back to camp, still surrounded

by a chorus of "beenzh, beenzh," only to look up and see comet Hale-Bopp

appearing in the heavens."

                                                      --Michael Runge


"As the students focused on the birds, the birds proceeded to get closer to

one another and we were treated (?) to the sight of the two making more

Turkey Vultures.  The tryst occurred in broad daylight, and several of the

students seemed a little sheepish at our bird voyeurism. Now I can add

TV's to my list of birds caught in the act!"

                                                       --Rob Scott


"Why be sheepish? A few of us even make a living watching birds do their

thing.  But considering my stipend, I must admit that it's a modest living.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that anyone who hasn't gotten to see a pair of

field sparrows carrying nest material and chattering in pre-copulatory

display, with a good copulation following (lots of chattering, of course),

is just missing out."

                                                       --Jim Goodson


"Initially I thought that House Sparrows were chasing away Field

Sparrows, but I realised the fight was between two male House Sparrows,

I don't know if they thought the Field Sparrows to be lipsticked females and

were fighting over them."

                                                        --Meena Haribal


"Yesterday afternoon as my husband and I were watching many Chipping

Sparrows, Song Sparrows, juncos, and chickadees grab a late afternoon

snack, they suddenly all disappeared very quickly.  We suspected something

in the air might have caused their disappearance, and sure enough a

Sharp-shinned Hawk descended to our feeder to find a snack for himself.

However, this time he was not quick enough, as all his potential "meals" had

'flown the coop.'"

                                                       --Sara Jane Hymes


"This afternoon I saw another Golden Eagle in Cayuga Heights.  I was

able to stop my car and get the eagle in view with my spotting scope before

it soared away to the east.  Now I need to see one in Dryden, not Cayuga

Heights again. ;)"

                                                       --Kevin McGowan


"[Matt Medler and I] went to Dryden Lake to check out the bird scene.

There were five Pied-billed Grebes, a nice Horned Grebe in breeding

plumage, and twenty or so Bufflehead. Three Rusty Blackbirds landed in a

tree in front of us. There was also a garrulous old man walking along.

...After fifteen minutes of smiling and nodding, Matt and I tried to escape

back to the car but the garrulous old man followed us along with a constant

stream of conversation about being a construction worker and snapping

turtles, most of which escaped us. I had visions of this old man following

us around Dryden Lake chattering incessantly all the way, but eventually he bid

us farewell. He wasn't a bad birder either. He pointed out an Osprey over

the lake. It was actually a Ring-billed Gull, but I could easily see how the

two could be mistaken. I had no idea that Dryden Lake had such colorful

inhabitants...That's what I like about birding. You find something different

each time."

                                                 --Chris Butler


"Following a tip from Kevin McGowan,  I found two Louisiana Waterthrush

singing along Kline Rd near the Ithaca High School...Be careful, a

policeman stopped me and said I looked suspicious.  I explained to him I

was looking for a Louisiana Waterthrush--he asked me for ID.  Geesh,

doesn't everybody ride around looking for birds?"


                                                   --Steve Kelling


"Getting ready for the trip to Cape May this year, Jeff? Allison, will you go

or will you use it to pull even farther ahead of Jeff in the David Cup?"


                                                   --Larry Springsteen


"I've finally figured out how to re-subscribe to this list after postponing

during the winter holidays, so I will resume my postings--mostly again

of birds seen out my various windows."

                                                   --Ken Rosenberg


"I was admiring a chickadee from about two feet away, when it flew at me,

fluttered around my head for a minute and then it landed on my hair:-) It

stayed for a few seconds, then fluttered some more before coming to rest on

my backpack:-) Stayed a minute and then flew back into the tree.  Really

thrilling experience!"

                                                   --Laurie Ray


"This morning around 8am I was sitting in my car at Stewart Park,

enjoying a hot cup of java while watching a pair of Bonapartes Gulls float

up and down the lakefront.  Shortly thereafter, the Kellingmobile pull up

alongside - a sure sign that something unusual might happen.  As I glanced

over toward Steve's car, a large Wild Turkey flew into view and landed

among the Mallards at the lake edge.  I pointed it out to Steve (he usually

points things out to me), who judged it to be a first year tom. I'm

switching to decaf."

                                                  --Stephen Davies


"With the passerine migration this retarded, everyone, even Tom, should have

an easy goal within reach: see more year birds in May this year than last."


                                                   --Karl David


"Seems strange to be heading into May without a Spotted Sandpiper and

only three warblers!

                                                   --Kevin McGowan


"This morning at Dryden Lake there were several Green-winged and

Blue-winged Teal, a pair of Ruddy Ducks, and a number of other ducks.

A lone Common Loon let out a few plaintive wails. What a wondrous time

is Spring!"

                                                    --Michael Pitzrick

May Your Cup Runneth Over,


Allison and Jeff