Year 2, Issue 5


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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

*    Set Nurse: Jeff Wells



If March is the Month of Madness, then what the heck is May?  You've got

Cuppers piling up at City Cemetery and Mundy Wildflower Garden like

graduates eagerly grabbing for their diplomas. You've got Sapsucker Woods

kicking and screaming for attention every morning and late afternoon from

anyone who lives--or works--within a 60-mile radius.  There's Newman Golf

Course sacrificing Yellow-bellied Flycatchers and Lincoln's Sparrows to the

faithful, and Stewart Park weighing in with Forster's Terns and Bonaparte's

Gulls, not to mention the furious "oinky-lonk"s and "kik-kik-kidik-kidik"s

going down with the sun at Montezuma.  Then there was that stranded kitten

Matt Medler saved at Armitage Road.  And they call this "The Merry Month

of May"?


We here at The Cup hereby submit the following petition: we propose that

the unreasonably genteel and jovial slogan traditionally assigned to May be

replaced with a more appropriate tagline.  How's this: "The You-Gotta-Get-

Out-Every-Morning-Noon-And-Night-Or-Who-Knows-What-You'll-Miss Month of May"

(or simply "TYGGOEMNANOWKWYM of May" when you have to write it down.)


While we're drawing up the paperwork for Congress, we've provided

The Cup 2.5 for your perusal.  After TYGGOEMNANOWKWYM of May,

a little r&r--not to mention another issue of The Cup--is in order.


                            @   @    @    @    @     @

                              NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                               @   @    @    @     @     @


WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: Actually, it's more like a re-welcome.

Former Cupper--aw, heck, once a Cupper always a Cupper, he said it himself-

-Larry Springsteen squeezed back into the Basin for a little catch-up, along

with  the Bird Dog: "We actually birded for almost 40 minutes in the Basin!

It was only a couple of hundred mile detour out of the way. Too bad the

birding began after 12 pm and it was kind of hot... Who knows what was

around that had stopped singing by then? On the weekend of the 7th we

should be in the Basin for over 24 hours! We' should also be back for

another 24 hours on the weekend of the 21st.  Mira will have a nephew

(actually a cousin's grandson) coming home with us that weekend. He'll

probably be a bird dog, too."  Cupper Scott Mardis (who let job

opportunities get in the way of his great Cup Quest and moved to

Massachusetts in January) was also spotted birding in the Basin in May.

Steve Kelling made this call: "The cemetary got real quiet, the drone of

the weeders seemed to have disappeared.  The wind even stopped.  I was

watching a Bay-breasted when all of a sudden I heard, 'What do you see?'  I

turned to see Scott Mardis walking up.  It was nice to see him and catch

up."  Says Scott: "It was good to be back, birding in the Basin if only for a

couple of hours."


PUTTING IT ON THE TABLE: Did you notice all the organizations that had tables

at the Ithaca Festival this year?  The Cayuga Nature Center, the Sciencenter,

the Ithaca Singles Club...the Ithaca Singles Club?  So where, pray tell, was

the David Cup table in all that education and merriment?  Next year, they'll

be no need to ask.  Here's what we at The Cup have got lined up so far: John

Greenly giving demonstrations on how to make origami swans; Ken Rosenberg

and Anne James performing the Dance of the Whooping Crane; Diane Tessaglia

serving up mouth-watering portions of Peking Duck (vegetarian version).

All this and the David Cup wood block, ah, Trophy and McIlroy shoe, um,

Award sitting regally atop back issues of The Cup!  If you'd like to contribute

your talents to next year's David Cup table at the Ithaca Festival, let us

know next April 1.


SCRAWL OF FAME?: Who said, "This series is certainly something I regularly

refer patrons to when they are looking for life histories.  It's really the

only place to go since nothing like it has been done since Bent.  It's a

wonderful addition to the reference collection here."  If you read the

ornithological journal The Auk (or at least the back pages) you know it was

the David Cup's own Mann Librarian extraordinaire, Marty Schlabach! Of

course, you also know that Marty's referring to the Birds of North America

series...not The Cup.


MEDLER OF HONOR: Who says you can't be a birder and give a hoot about cats,

too?  On the evening of May 23, Matt Medler proved it can be so.  The Cup's

Allison Wells filed this report; "Jeff, Matt and I went to Armitage Road

for the Prothonotary Warblers and as we were walking across the bridge, we

heard cries coming from beneath us.  There on the ledge of the support was a

tiny kitten, no more than a few months old, looking very frightened and

crying loudly. This was about 15-20 feet out in the river.  There was no way

this kitten got there by itself (someone very cruel had to have put it

there.) Matt volunteered to go in after the poor thing. (We didn't have to

ask him how the water was--his moans were enough to put some of our eeriest

bird songs to shame.)  He reached up Gumby-style and got the kitten. We would

bestow upon him a medal of honor except he already has one--the kitten, which

he is keeping."  By the way, Matt named her Phoebe.


COUNT YOURSELF IN:  Imagine a spring when no Ruddy Turnstones turned up at

Myers Point, a time when Red Knots--already rare in the Basin--had become

only memories at Montezuma.  Unfortunately, such previously unthinkable

scenarios are are now something to think seriously about.  Over-harvesting

of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay area of New Jersey has led to a 90%

decline in the shorebirds there, by some counts.  The NJ shores are a major

stop-over for vast numbers of the birds that rely on the crab eggs in order

to build up fat reserves necessary for them to complete  migration to their

arctic breeding grounds. The 60-day moratorium imposed by Governor Christine

Todd Whitman is not enough. There needs to be permanent plan before it's too

late.  If you have not done so already, we encourage you to register your

opionions to Governor Whitman by calling (609) 777-6000 or go to her website

at and email her a letter.  This time, the BIRDS are

counting on YOU.


HOW TWEET IT IS: Between now and the year 2050, what will be the only major

outdoor activity that will grow faster than the national population?

Birding!  According to Newsweek magazine, birding is expected to increase

58.5% by then, bringing the number of birders to 127.8 million.  Birding

will be followed by walking (up 52.2%) and saltwater fishing (up 51.6%).

Although golf is expected to weigh in with a mere 29.7% growth rate, the

numbers of people visiting golf courses is expected to increase

substantially.  Of course, these visitors will not be golfers, they'll be



MEGAN UPDATE: Daddy Runge brings us the latest news from the ever-changing

world of Megan: "A big month for father-daughter birding!  Megan increased

her life (and Basin and Ithaca) list by 33%, moving to a total of 4 with the

addition of mallard.  The criteria for inclusion, for the skeptics, is that

the bird must be within five feet and she must lock eyes onto it.  She does

not need to utter any syllables resembling the Latin name.  More

importantly, however, Meg met the Father of the Madness and the Esteemed

Editors of The Cup.  All three birding celebrities identified her without

being introduced. What gave it away?  There must be many other grad students

with binoculars cajoling four-month-old infants into walks in the woods.

The rumor that the Steves paid her to scare away a McHooded Warbler that


was trying to find is patently false."


BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: We've been hearing and reading about some

upstart guitar player by the name of Johnny Lang.  Lang has been wooin' 'em

on the blues circuit, groovin' at blues festivals, why, he's even got a

number one album on the blues charts--and he's only 16 years old! If you

have heard this bluesboy wonder live or on recordings, call the David Cup

blues hotline and let us know what you think.  Who knows, if you're lucky,

we might pay you to write a review.  Or we might just ask you to write a



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

                              BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS

                                    By Tom Nix


      At last May! After cruel, oh, so cruel April passed on, I contemplated

the chance for a happy confluence of peak moments in three passions--the

three B's if you will: basketball, bebop and birds! Picture this: it is a

warm May night back in the late 70's when a Celtic fan on his way to watch

the NBA playoffs at Cecil's bar in North Lansing (because they had satellite

TV in those pre-cable days) the car radio playing Charlie Parker, and the

local nighthawks wheeling over the City, trips out on Bird, Bird and birds.

But alas the Celts and nighthawks have both fallen on hard times, and good

bebop is always hard to find. But wait, my 3B hat trick was not completely out

of reach. The Ithaca Festival closed out the month with some fine jazz, and

one could still get home in time to watch His Airness on the tube. While at

Tschache Pool for a few nights recently, a migrating Common Nighthawk tilted

overhead. Yes, and it counts! Speaking of the Festival, one of May's

highlights for me was Cupper Andy Farnsworth playing jazz guitar while he

checked out the sky, no doubt for late migrants.

      May is Showtime, a fast break of northbound birds, and the pressure is

on to spend as much time in the field as possible, to mount a full court

press on migration. The Net buzzes with new sightings daily, and the

competitively minded Cupper is tempted to follow every lead, wincing when a

posting is read too late to act upon. The pressure mounts:  will that

flycatcher stay until I can get out of work, and if not, will another pass

through?  Okay, relax, take a deep breath, nobody gets them all, and the fun

is in playing the game. For me, cruising the City in ol' 414, a repainted

cop car, one of the best things about this past month was the incredible

numbers of transient Blackpoll Warblers around my beat. One even sang from a

small tree in the City Hall parking lot almost beneath the Green Street

parking garage.

      While the waves of warblers, vireos, and flycatchers passing through our

Basin on their way north to their breeding grounds present a challenge of

so many birds in so little time, the true vagrant presents another challenge

altogether: to be in that right place at that right time. Another Black

Vulture, (perhaps a species some day soon to lose its vagrant status and

become a regular Basin bird?) was seen on Bostwick Road midmonth. A couple of

white herons, one with golden slippers, the other with a golden topknot, no

doubt delighted their respective discoverers. I wouldn't know, I was a day

late for the Cattle Egret that followed that tractor plowing the corner of

Armitage and 89, and three days late for the Snowy Egret at Montezuma's

Main Pool.

      But I did see the nighthawk over Tschache Pool (forgive my

self-congrats,  nighthawk was a bitter miss for me last year). And by the

way, let's all give three cheers for the incredible habitat the MNWR

managers have created at Tschache! This month the Montezuma night air

stirred with a weird marsh music featuring the soprano sax glissandos of

Soras over a rhythm section of Least and American Bitterns.

      Those flycatchers that pass on through were indeed found: a scattering

of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers showed up at Newman woods, Sapsucker Woods,

Mundy, and at Caswell Road, and Steve Kelling discovered an Olive-sided

Flycatcher in the University Avenue (a.k.a., "City") Cemetery and managed to

post it to the Net in time for others to see as well. The cemetery maintained

its local-hotspot status with a nice variety of warblers, including some

"good" warblers; Cape May, Tennessee, a couple of Bay-breasted Warblers that

stayed for nearly a week. Still, some observers noted that "it was better

last year." Mundy Wildflower Garden yielded a Golden-winged Warbler to John

Greenly and Laura Stenzler. Stephen Davies rediscovered  the Armitage Road

Prothonotary Warblers, this time at the canal bridge. Another hotspot,

Salmon Creek Road between Brooks Hill and French Hill roads, will undoubtedly

receive more scrutiny with the advent of the Lab's Cerulean Warbler project.

Already this year, returning Acadian Flycatcher and Orchard Orioles have

been reported.

      Early in the month, before the White-throated Sparrows left and as the

White-crowns were arriving, a couple of Lincoln's Sparrows were regular at

feeders at the Lab and at Chris Hymes' folks' house on Vine Street.

Grasshopper Sparrows arrived and could be found in small numbers in

appropriate habitat, but the Henslow's Sparrow spot, Caswell Road, had by

month's end failed to produce. Are they late returning or has the habitat

changed somehow?  So much of migration does seem slow this year compared to

last. It looks to me like shorebirds, always tough in the spring are even

fewer now that cars and trucks can drive out past the parking area on the

spit at Myers Point.

      Let's see, what else was there? A couple of Philly Vireos, a

Whip-poor-will sang in Lansing, a two-headed finch was reported from

Rochester. The usual unusual.  As in a well executed fast break in the open

court, like a long Coltrane saxophone solo, there's a pattern to migration,

but always a few surprises as well. You gotta love it.


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

for the City of Ithaca. He is Charlie Parker in another life. )


100      100      100      100      100      100       100       100

                               100 CLUB

100       100      100       100       100       100       100     100


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


Anne James' BIRD 100: refused to respond to questionnaire


Jim Lowe's BIRD 100: Bobolink

HE THOUGHT OR HOPED IT WOULD BE: "I started the day knowing

I was at 99 species.  We were going to one of our study sites that is

surrounded by open fields.  I figured Bobolink would be the most likely

species for number 100, and I heard one as soon as I got out of the car."


Michael Runge's BIRD 100:  Chestnut-sided Warbler

HE HOPED OR THOUGHT IT WOULD BE: "Lincoln's Sparrow, a life

bird, would have been nice, but that had to wait until the next day."


200           200          200          200           200           200

                                     2     0    0

      200             200                            200           200


By the end of May last year, the 200 Club was bursting with Club members,

groovin' to hot blues, chug-a-luggin' brewskies and Club soda.  This time

around, a peek inside revealed...two gentlemen birders puffing on expensive

stogies and sipping brandy, reminiscing about the good ol' days--May



Stephen Davies' BIRD 200: Grasshopper Sparrow

"I thought it was going to be Mourning Warbler, Hooded Warbler or Alder

Flycatcher, which turned out to be 198, 199 and 201 respectively."

WHAT HE GAVE TO GET INTO THE 200 CLUB: his castle in Wales


Tom Nix's BIRD 200: Common Nighthawk

"It was seen from the tower at Tschache, while I was trying to figure out

which birders were so chic as to be having an elegant wine and cheese picnic

on the dike (it was Chris [Hymes] and Diane [Tessaglia].)"

WHAT HE GAVE TO GET INTO THE 200 CLUB: his old Charlie Parker LPs


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


1997 DAVID CUP MAY TOTALS                       APRIL TOTALS


207 Tom Nix                                     138 Stephen Davies

201 Stephen Davies                              136 Kevin McGowan

199 Ken Rosenberg                               134 Bard Prentiss

192 Allison Wells                               132 Allison Wells

191 Chris Hymes                                 131 Tom Nix

186 Bard Prentiss                               130 Jay McGowan

185 Meena Haribal                               127 Ken Rosenberg

185 Jeff Wells                                  125 Steve Kelling

182 Kevin McGowan                               123 Jeff Wells

181 Anne Kendall-Cassella                       118 Chris Hymes

178 Karl David                                  116 Anne Kendall-Cassella

177 John Greenly                                116 Matt Medler

176 Jay McGowan                                 115 Meena Haribal

175 JR Crouse                                   114 JR Crouse

169 Matt Medler                                 113 Karl David

166 John Bower                                  109 Martha Fischer

147 Michael Pitzrick                            108 John Greenly

137 Marty Schlabach                             107 Marty Schlabach

122 Margaret Launius                            106 Chris Butler

122 Michael Runge                               103 Michael Pitzrick

116 Jim Lowe                                    101 John Bower

109 Martha Fischer                               89 Andy Farnsworth

106 Chris Butler                                 86 David McDermitt

101 Anne James                                   81 Margaret Launius

  96 Caissa Willmer                               78 Michael Runge

  89 Andy Farnsworth                              75 Casey Sutton

  86 David McDermitt                              71 Caissa Willmer

  85 Casey Sutton                                 69 Jim Lowe

  68 Diane Tessaglia                              68 Diane Tessaglia

  64 Jane Sutton                                  66 Anne James

  61 Rob Scott                                    61 Rob Scott

  60 Bill Evans                                   60 Bill Evans

  58 Cathy Heidenreich                            50 Cathy Heidenreich

  46 Larry Springsteen                            42 Sam Kelling

  42 Sam Kelling                                  37 Taylor Kelling

  40 Mira the Bird Dog                            36 Jane Sutton

  37 Taylor Kelling                               32 Margaret Barker

  32 Margaret Barker                              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


*Currently living out-of-state but anticipate at least temporary return to

Basin within the 1997 David Cup year.  They faithfully sent in their

totals though contemplated doing so under pseudonyms.


1997 McILROY MAY TOTALS                          APRIL TOTALS


178 Steve Kelling                                119 Allison Wells

174 Allison Wells                                118 Steve Kelling

170 Stephen Davies                               117 Stephen Davies

163 Jeff Wells                                   102 Jeff Wells

150 JR Crouse                                    100 Kevin McGowan

149 John Bower                                    98 Ken Rosenberg

136 Kevin McGowan                                 97 Martha Fischer

135 Tom Nix                                       93 JR Crouse

132 Ken Rosenberg                                 90 Tom Nix

123 Matt Medler                                   86 Matt Medler

119 Karl David                                    83 Chris Butler

112 Anne Kendall-Cassella                         82 John Bower

106 Michael Runge                                 81 Jay McGowan

102 Jim Lowe                                      71 Karl David

102 Jay McGowan                                   70 Anne Kendall-Cassella

  97 Martha Fischer                                60 Bill Evans

  83 Chris Butler                                  60 Michael Runge

  70 Casey Sutton                                  56 Jim Lowe

  63 Jane Sutton                                   54 Casey Sutton

  60 Bill Evans                                    51 Rob Scott

  51 Rob Scott                                     36 Jane Sutton

  46 Larry Springsteen                             13 Dave Mellinger

  40 Mira the Bird Dog                              0 Ned Brinkley

  13 Dave Mellinger                                 0 Sarah Childs

   0 Ned Brinkley*                                  0 Ralph Paonessa

   0 Sarah Childs*                                  0 Larry Springsteen

   0 Ralph Paonessa                                 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

though contemplated doing so under pseudonyms.


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

Here's how the Town of Dryden action is stacking up:


180 Ken Rosenberg

176 Bard Prentiss

163 Kevin McGowan

156 Jay McGowan

  93 Matthew Medler

  74 Anne Kendall-Cassella




By Karl David


Getting his second wind in May, and finally picking up Ring-necked

Pheasant, Tom Nix moves back into the lead in the David Cup competition

with the following 207 ticks on his list:


Common Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, D-c Cormorant, Am Bittern,

Least Bittern, G B Heron, Green Heron, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, Greater

W-f Goose, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, G-w Teal, Am Black Duck,

Mallard, N Pintail, B-w Teal, N Shoveler, Gadwall, Eur Wigeon, Am Wigeon,

Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, G Scaup, L Scaup, Oldsquaw, W-w Scoter,

Common Goldeneye, B's Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, R-b

Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle,

Northern Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N Goshawk, R-s Hawk, R-t Hawk,

R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle,  Am Kestrel, Merlin, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse,

Wild Turkey, V Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, Am Coot, Killdeer, G Yellowlegs,

Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Semipalmated

Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Am Woodcock, B's Gull,

R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Thayer's Gull, Iceland Gull, L B-b Gull, Glaucous

Gull, G B-b Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Mourning

Dove, E Screech-Owl, G H Owl, Barred Owl, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, N S-w Owl, Common

Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker,

R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N

Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, E Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder

Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, E Phoebe, G C Flycatcher,

E Kingbird, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, N R-w Swallow, Bank

Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Blue Jay, Am Crow, Fish Crow, Common

Raven, B-c Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown

Creeper, House Wren, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, G-c Kinglet,

R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird, Veery, G-c Thrush, Swainson's

Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, Am Robin, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher,

Am Mockingbird, American (not Water, Tom!) Pipit, Cedar Waxwing, N Shrike,

Eur Starling, Solitary Vireo, Y-t Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo,

R-e Vireo, B-w Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, N Parula,

Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue


Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie

Warbler, Palm Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Cerulean Warbler,

B&w Warbler, Am Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, Ovenbird, N Waterthrush,

L Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, W's Warbler, Canada

Warbler, Scarlet Tanager,  Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, E Towhee,

Am Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah

Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, L's Sparrow, Swamp

Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting,

Bobolink, R-w Blackbird, E Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, B-h

Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, House Finch, Am Goldfinch, House






To Tom's very fine list, add the following 29 species to get the

overall list of 236 birds seen through May:


R-t Loon, Am White Pelican, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, B-c Night-Heron,

Ross' Goose, Brant, Black Vulture, B-w Hawk, Peregrine Falcon,

L Yellowlegs, Ruddy Turnstone, Least Sandpiper, Laughing Gull, Little

Gull,  F's Tern, B-b Cuckoo, Y-b Cuckoo, Snowy Owl, Whip-poor-will,

O-s Flycatcher, Y-b Flycatcher, G-w Warbler, W-e Warbler, Hooded

Warbler, Orchard Oriole, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak.


(Karl David teaches mathematics at Wells College in Aurora...but this has

not helped him this year in the David Cup...yet.)



                               !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to prove you're only willing to share up to a point than by

being featured again, after only a one-month absence, 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, bebopped and otherwise made his/her way to the top of the David Cup list.


THE CUP: Welcome back to the Kickin' Tail spotlight, Tom.  Where were

you last month, anyway?


NIX: Well, I was lucky enough to be able to take two trips, one to Sarasota

to visit with Mangrove Cuckoo, er, I mean, with my parents. The second

one was to help scout southern New Jersey for the Lab of O Sapsuckers

World Series team in the good company of my good friends the Steves. It

was my very first trip to one of birding's great meccas and was a very

memorable one.


THE CUP: So we heard from last month's Leader Davies. Gotta love them Wawa's!


NIX: So I was gone for most of the last half of the month.


THE CUP:   In more ways than one. Your total, 207 isn't bad, but how do

you explain the considerable (and embarrassing)  gap between that score and

last year's May leader's total of 225--this is clearly more than a "winter

finch problem."


NIX: Yeah, well, last year's May leader was truly crazed with the birding

fever, as I recall, while I'm trying to keep it all in perspective.


THE CUP: Nice try.


NIX: On the other hand, as I look back at my list from last year, I find

things like Laughing Gull, Ross' Goose, Marbled Godwit and Yellow-breasted

Chat. But rarities aside, last year at this time I had picked up a bunch of

shorebirds. I don't think that it has been so easy to find shorebirds this

year. Last year on the 31st of May Myers Point hosted Short-billed

Dowitchers, Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover and Semipalmated

Plover. But it's not just me missing these things; last May there were

seven Cuppers with scores over 207.


THE CUP: Next you'll be saying the NBA finals aren't fair because the

Bulls have Michael Jordan.


NIX: Maybe it's because although the migrants arrived late this year, they

left at the same time, making for a foreshortened migration season.


THE CUP: What did scouting for the Sapsuckers' World Series Big Day do

for you?


NIX: I learned several things: one, it's possible to bird day after day while

getting four hours sleep.


THE CUP: Didn't Karl David prove that last year?


NIX: Two, not only are there other people who can do this, but they actually

enjoy doing this; and three, never let Steve Kelling choose the menu. We ate

the same prepackaged food from the NJ equivalent of 7-Eleven three meals

a day.


THE CUP: That's better than the turkey subs from a certain deli in

southern New Jersey, right Kevin McGowan?


NIX: And what is worse, after a few days I began to look forward to it.


THE CUP: This from a man who eats grits?  Say, Tom, we hear you'll be

vacationing in the southwest sometime this month. By "southwest" we assume

you mean the southwest part of the Basin?


NIX: Wrong Basin! We'll be in Arizona.


THE CUP: ...Oh. Don't suppose you'll be doing any birding there?


NIX: I'll be looking for some of the specialties of that area: some of the

southwestern hawks like Harris's, Zone-tailed and Gray Hawk--


THE CUP: Jay McGowan, eat your heart out!


NIX:  --and other things with exotic sounding names like Rose-throated

Becard and Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. I'd love to find some of the

western warblers too, Virginia's, Lucy's, Red-faced, etc.


THE CUP: Maybe while you're there you can find out who Lucy was, anyway.

What did you think of the jazz at the Ithaca Festival this year?


NIX: As you know, I'm a big jazz fan! And how 'bout that Ithaca Ageless Jazz

Band? Why was the singer constantly looking off into the fog over Lake

Cayuga? I was wondering if she could see something I couldn't, maybe a

Laughing Gull?


THE CUP: Our sources tell us it was a gannet. And did you catch Andy

Farnsworth jazzing it up with the Dave Navarro Band?


NIX:  Andy, that sly dog, he always seems so reserved, but he really has

some chops.


THE CUP: Now that you're back on top in the David Cup, is there anything

you can do to get the Steve's out of McIlroy territory more often?  (By the

way, have you seen Stephen Davies' new stilettos?  They totally clash with his

pink tutu, don't you think?)


NIX: Well, I really think Steve Kelling is trying to show us all up by winning

the David Cup while birding completely within the McIlroy boundaries, and

why not? Look at what he's got so far while saving lots of gas. Stephen

Davies, on the other hand, does get out and about.


THE CUP: Not nearly enough.


NIX: I've run into him at locations all around the lake. But I haven't

actually seen these stilettos, nor the tutu. the last time I ran into him it

was dark. We approached each other warily in the wilds of Caswell Road, each

worried about what kind of person might be out in that area alone in the





                               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 hummingbird has the longest bill and how long is it?

2.  Which American bird once was called "Wilson's Thrush?"

3.  What is the common name for "Streptopelia chinensis?"

4.  What is the favored prey of Wilson's Plovers?

5.  Which is often cited as the most aerial bird?

6.  Does the male Indian Peacock have the longest tail of any bird?

7.  What is the scientific name for the Eurasian Hoopoe?

8.  Where is the largest colony of Emperor Penguins located, and how many

birds occupy the rookery?

9.  What do Peregrine Falcons living in large cities prey on most?

10. Where do Marbled Murrelets place their nests?




1.  Which is the smallest North American wood warbler? Northern Parula.

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

cavities? Prothonotary Warbler.

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

Europe? Blackpoll Warbler.

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

entire song of the Blackpoll Warbler is the highest pitched song, but the

last note of a Blackburnian Warbler is even higher.

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

Warbler, Kirtland's Warbler, and Prairie Warbler.

6.  Which is the largest North American wood warbler?  Yellow-breasted Chat.

7.  Which four North American warblers have yellow rumps?  Yellow-rumped

Warbler (of course), Cape May Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Yellow Warbler.

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

Orange-crowned Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Lucy's Warbler, Colima Warbler,

Swainson's Warbler, Ovenbird, Nashville Warbler, and Palm Warbler.

9.  Which warblers have black throats?  Black-throated Green Warbler,

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Black-and-white

Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Bachman's Warbler, Townsend's Warbler,

Golden-cheeked Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart,

Painted Redstart.

10.  What is the common name for Granetellus venestus?  Red-breasted Chat.


(Jay McGowan, age ten, is home-schooled.  His next assignment is to create

lifelike renditions of all the birds in his Birdbits columns using his Legos.)



                       STAT'S ALL, FOLKS

                         By Karl David



      No winter finches ... poor spring shorebird habitat ... how could this

year come anywhere close to last year for the grand total of species seen so

far?  Well, somehow, we're not doing badly, we're only four behind (236 vs.

240).  This isn't really that surprising when you think about it. For

example, the winter finch situation: Common Redpolls were trash birds last

winter, and all but invisible this winter. Ah, but a single bird was in fact

seen, and that's all it takes.

      The leaders, on the other hand, are considerably behind this year.

Compare Tom Nix's 206 to Allison Wells' 225 and you'll see that the pack

leader's work is really cut out if last year's winning total of 251 (c'est

moi!) is to be exceeded. Still, it's too early for me to declare my first-

year record safe by any means.

      Changing the subject, in what month should Cuppers expect to get the

most year birds? In an all-out, all-year effort, a little thought reveals it

should be January. But reviewing my data, I was surprised to find that in

five of the thirteen years I've been doing this, May actually outdid January

(these two months have always been 1-2). The most in January is 86 (in

1995); the most in May 75 (in 1996).

      However, another way to quantify a year of birding is to record the

total number of species seen every month. Of course, this takes a lot more

work, but it can be done, and in fact I did it my first year in the Basin

(1985), just to get a feel for what's around when. This is how that year

broke down month by month:


January - 60                 July - 106

February - 63                August - 105

March - 68                   September - 125

April  - 110                 October - 108

May - 147                    November - 82

June - 111                   December - 62


The total number of species for the year was 213. Though that was a modest

effort by Cup standards, I think the relative differences in the months

would hold up even now, when I'm much more cued in about where to go when to

see the most birds. For example, at first one might wonder how August could

be lower than July, what with shorebirds and early fall passerine migration.

But, other birds that are easy to find in June and July can be hard to find

in August, having stopped singing and in some cases departed by then (how

many August records of Louisiana Waterthrush do you have?). Nonetheless, were

I to do this again, I think August would handily outdo July, since back then

I hardly went to Montezuma at all in August, so who knows what I missed? One

thing for sure, though: May should always be No. 1 in this listing.


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



                         SCRAWL OF FAME


On Aesthetics and Listing: My Two Cents

                           By Dave Ross


      Aesthetics and listing?  The thrill, fun, challenge, game, sport,

endeavor, maybe, but the aesthetics of listing?  One might view listing as

an advanced stage of that at-times debilitating affliction known as

birding--yet another symptom, along with compulsive book buying ("Should I

get that copy of the Birds of New Guinea?") and the neurotic freaking out

mid-conversation with the unafflicted as a bird flies by in the distance,

and the seemingly psychotic chasing of birds with binoculars for 24 hours

in New Jersey, armed with little more than a pad and pencil.  What about

standing outside in the winter for countless hours waiting for waxwings to

return for a photo, or crouching near a particular curving vine in a

tropical rainforest waiting for something called, of all things, a

"manakin"--oh wait, maybe that counts as work!  I've a close friend who,

along with his total

life list, has a list for any state he has been in.  Typical of the breed,

he knows off the top of his head when and where a bird is new to each of the

respective lists.  He has a television list which includes all and any

species not seen on a nature documentary, and a mute list--yes, and a list

of those species he's seen defecate!  This same individual who casually reduced

his first and only look at Ruddy Crake somewhere roadside in Mexico as bird

number 1000 before we even got back into the truck, can romanticize about a

Merlin or even a sharpie playing the winds in an October sky. This is after

serving as the "counter" at Cape May Point.  Should we call this birder's

birding poorer or richer than those who do not bother with numbers?  While

such emphasis on numbers might appear cumbersome or distracting to some of us,

so might chasing birds with microphones and lenses to others.  Come to think

of it, perhaps my friend enjoyed his lifer Ruddy Crake even more than I did


      Personally, I've a mental list of any coffee mug I've used in the Lab of

Ornithology kitchen.  While I do not have the exact mug total etched in my

memory (it would be easier if there was a checklist), I know darn well when

there's a new mug to have a cup out of! I figure I enjoy my coffee as much

as the next person--come to think of it, perhaps just a little more when

it's a new mug.

      Could this listing behavior be merely an extension of a repressed nature

in the hunter-gatherer turned 9-5 office-human?  The office-humans' way of

bringing the kill home to the tribe and parading it around for the hungry to

admire?  And perhaps admire we should.  Fess up: how many of us wish we'd

been the one to bring that carcass (in this case rare bird sighting) back

to the communal fire.

      Which brings us back to the aesthetics of listing and perhaps the concept

of cyber-carcasses.  The birder's list then perhaps should not be viewed so

cynically by the less infected as something synthetic and far removed from

the organisms themselves, but more along the odor on a dog that rubs its

neck and face in something ripe and then struts it back to the pack as a way

of conveying information or a story.  What could be more aesthetic than

that?  And those of you that cannot appreciate that fine smell, simply are

not dogs and probably will never be!


(Dave Ross works in the Library of Natural Sounds, at the Cornell Lab

of Ornithology.  He may or may not see a new communal mug appear in the Lab's

kitchen, for sharing this column.)


(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        <

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

                     <           <

                      <         <

                        < < < <


When we invited last month's Kickin' Tail Leader, Stephen Davies, to strut

his stuff as Coach this month, he sent along this addendum to his column:

"You might want to attach a disclaimer explaining that Coach Davies is a

foreigner who doesn't have a clue what he's talking about and that the

editors of The Cup accept no responsibility for any harm Cuppers may come

to while following his advice!"  No need, really.  The editors never accept

responsibility for anything that appears in The Cup.


COACH DAVIES: Okay, team, so June is with us already.  What does this

mean for Cuppers and their gameplan for DC '97? Seems like spring

migration only just started, and now it's already in its death throes,

except for a few shorebirds who postponed their trip to the God-forsaken

north for as long as possible.  The breeding season is in full swing from one

end of the Basin to the other, and we are deafened by the hum as every

organism in it gets down to the nitty-gritty of procreation (the Big Nasty,

as Coach Kelling calls it). The fruits of their labors are already evident.

Fledgling starlings (dang Eurotrash) are decimating $10 worth of suet cakes a

day in our yard.  All kinds of trials and tribulations beset the intrepid

Cupper at this time.  Passerines melt into the ever-thickening canopy

overhead, and birds of field and marsh tiptoe behind a shimmering curtain of

green.  Anyone venturing far from the beaten path faces hoards of voracious

blood-sucking arthropods and the prospect of losing several pints of

precious body fluids.  Might as well just hang up those bins, pour yourself

a big G & T with-ice-and-slice, and wait for fall, huh? ...IN YOUR

DREAMS ...err, except maybe for Tom Nix.  As I see it, there are two

main objectives this month:


Objective #1

      June is the perfect time to catch up on scarce and elusive breeders

you may have missed earlier in the year.  Try these on for size:  both

bitterns, Sora, Virginia Rail (all at Tschache Pool at Montezuma--go in the

early evening), Upland Sandpiper (Wood Road), both cuckoos (just keep

eyes & ears open), Acadian Flycatcher (Salmon Creek), Sedge Wren (talk to

Chris Hymes), Prothonotary (Armitage Road bridge at Montezuma), Mourning,

Hooded and Worm-eating warblers (Hammond Hill, Bio Preserve in West Danby),

Henslow's Sparrow (at the Sedge Wren spot). Get the picture?  If there are

any of these you haven't caught up with these yet, don't let me catch you

sitting out the summer in the shade.  And who knows what you might stumble

across in the meantime.  Whip-poor-will?  A wandering Black Vulture or rare

heron? Or even (dare I suggest it) Dickcissel?  Remember last summer's

belated Anhinga?  Only once all the possibilities have been exhausted can we

join Tom under the palm tree for a cold one, complete with umbrella and

marachino cherry.


Objective #2

      Stay sharp.  This perhaps is even more important that #1.  Just because

summer is hot and sticky and birds are tough to find, don't let yourself get

stale.  Spend as much time in the field as possible. Absorb all the sights

and sounds.  Study those confusing juvenile plumages.  Look at how adult

plumages wear.  Listen to how songs and calls change as the season

progresses.  Stay on top of your game through the summer, because it's the

birder with the prepared mind who will be ready to identify the big one when

things really 'heat up' in the fall.  So get out there and go nuts, sneer at

the bugs, laugh at the thorns, penetrate that impenetrable thicket.  Consider

the lost sweat and blood an investment for the future.


As for me, I've got a Whip-poor-will to chase. So smoke me a kipper - I'll

be back for breakfast! This is Coach Davies signing off...


(Stephen Davies, who hales from Wales,  is a grad student in the Cornell

Veterinary School.  Given his current allotment of daily birding time, he

is expected to remain in the Vet School until sometime in the mid-21st




mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm



Despite Allison Wells' best efforts, she could not maintain her McIlroy rule

two months in a row.  Brant, Forster's Tern, Grasshopper Sparrow, not to

mention that darned Iceland Gull--these are only a few of the birds Steve

Kelling was able to shoo out of McIlroy territory before Allison--and just

about every other Cupper--could get her bins on them.  Hmmph.


THE CUP: Welcome back, Steve.  Where were you last month?


KELLING: April was hard birding in Ithaca.


THE CUP: Yes, yes, of course it was, dear [snicker.]


KELLING: I had very few warblers and little luck.


THE CUP: Shame.


KELLING: I actually checked my database (BasinBirds) to see if it was a late

year for arrivals.  This is what I found for 1997:

      1. The number of passerines that arrived EARLIER than Charlie Smith's

          average (over @70 years) arrival date was 17.

      2. The number of passerines that arrived LATER than Smith's dates

          was 17.

      3. The number that arrived on the average date was 6.

So the arrival pattern for this spring was about average...1/2 earlier,

1/2 later.


THE CUP: No way!


KELLING:  So then I asked, What made it seem like a late spring?  And

this is what I thought I found using the BasinBirds databases, which was

interesting (what I looked at was the first date of multiple reports of

a single species):

      1. For 21 species, the multiple date was later than the past three

          years' results.

      2. For 12 species, I couldn't decide (not enough data in the database

          for previous years.)

      3. For 7 species, the first date was earlier.

I did some more things but I won't belabor you.


THE CUP: Looks like you could be a sub for Karl David's Stat's All, Folks,

if he ever needs a sick day.


KELLING: It's my thinking that when someone says that it is a "late

migration," what is meant by "late" is not the first arrival, but when enough

of a species comes into a region that they are easier to find.  This year

weatherwise indicated that migration was late (not good conditions for

migrating).  But the first arrivals seemed to be about average.  We just

did not get big influxes of birds until later (based on the past three years).


THE CUP: Now you've got us all frothing at the bit wondering how next

year will size up.  You know, 178 at the end of May--Allison Wells' had 181

last year at this time, and you've got a lot of McBirds she didn't have last

year and may well make up those winter finches later this year. So the

question no longer is, "Will you kick Allison Wells' 200 McBird record out

of the sky?" but rather "When will this happen?"


KELLING:  Oh, I don't know if anyone will kick Allison's record out of the

sky, but I think I have a good chance of getting ahead of it.  It all depends

on shorebirds and lake water level.  Currently the water level is high, and

the jetty at the red lighthouse off Stewart park is almost underwater. There

were very few shorebirds on it during spring migration (just a Dunlin.)  I

hope we have some dry weather.


THE CUP: Any guesses on what your McBird 200 will be?


KELLING: I'll guess Sanderling


THE CUP: Not a bad guess. Santa came through for Allison and dropped a

couple of Laughing Gulls around the golf course area last year for her

McBird 200. Are there any McBirds you missed that you will probably not

be able to recoup?


KELLING: Glaucous Gull, I always worry about nighthawk and Golden

Eagle. Black Vulture.


THE CUP: We happen to know that you're a jazz fan.  If you could go

birding with any of the following, would it be Charlie "Bird" Parker, Dizzy

Gillespie, or Count Basie?


KELLING:  None of those, I'd take Thelonious Monk!  I mean, it would be

great birding with an individual who was crazy and wrote music that nobody

could play (Brilliant corners).


THE CUP: Sounds like Andy Farnsworth. Your recent posts to Cayugabirds

don't mention Taylor's and Sam's sightings so much lately.  Have they

become antilisters? Maybe you should read Dave Ross' Scrawl of Fame

piece to them as a bedtime story.


KELLING: We are still out birding quite a bit, and we have been checking

our feeders a lot. But passerines are hard, especially for Sam (age 4).

Taylor, Sam, and I will be driving in together all summer, so we should

start seeing more birds.


THE CUP: Do you think either of them has a chance of one day becoming

a Sapsucker?


KELLING: Sam has a real nature drive.  At his pre-school the teachers ask

him what birds they are looking at, and he often tells me when he sees one of

Kevin's Crows.


THE CUP: What McBirds will you be targeting in June?


KELLING:  Virginia Rail, Caspian tern and early fall shorebird migrants


THE CUP: See you at Stewart Park!



                    BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

                        By Caissa Willmer



A dimly lit cafe, the smell of decaf mochacino and warm orange-coconut

bread wafting through the air, a hopping rhythm section and beboppin' horns

grinding out Parker's "Ornithology"--what better place to do a Bird Brain

interview than at the ABC Cafe during their Wednesday night jazz jam?

Knowing Caissa's subject had unexpectedly left town during interview

time, I, Allison, decided to subject my own Cupping company to the BB

probe.  Who is this jazz-loving Bird Brain?  It's Jane Sutton!  (a.k.a.,

"Casey's Mom," though perhaps not for much longer...)


WE SAID: Why did a responsible mother like you decide to join the rowdy

free-for-all of the David Cup?


SHE SAID: For fun and profit. I've been having fun but so far I have not

seen the profits.


WE SAID: Has anyone ever called you "bird brained" before?


SHE SAID: Just my kids, when I try to go in the wrong door at McDonald's.


WE SAID: How did you get interested in birds?


SHE SAID: Allison made me go birding with her. Also, my son Casey got

me interested.  We put up a birdfeeder, and he was involved in Project

FeederWatch, so I helped keep track of the birds that came to the feeder.

When I first got interested in birds last year, he and I went birding on

Connecticut Hill.  He showed me lots of birds...but we ended up getting lost.


WE SAID: Do you have a favorite bird?


SHE SAID: Yes, Tufted Titmouse, because they're cute.  They're also

my six-year-old daughter's favorite bird; she likes their big, dark eyes.


WE SAID: If you could beat any Cupper in the David Cup, who would it be

and why?


SHE SAID: Bill Evans, because he's all talk, no action.  He got all those

votes for the Cupper's Choice Awards and yet his performance so far has

left a lot to be desired.


WE SAID: How will you use being a Bird Brain to your advantage?


SHE SAID: I'm hoping to earn the respect and admiration of all the other



WE SAID: Now that you've been so honored, will you honor us at the next

Cupper Supper by performing a song by your musical idol, Patti Smith? If so,

what song will it be and why?


SHE SAID: Of course I will! She's got a song called, "Wing," but I think

I'd rather do "Ravens".  This would bring more seriousness to the frivolities

of last year's Cupper Supper, since it's a very sobering song. Cuppers don't

seem to have the correct amount of solemnity and I think that song would

help.  I just hate how much fun Cuppers have!


WE SAID: If being featured as a Bird Brain doesn't do it, what would be the

best way to get birders to stop referring to you as "Casey's Mom"?


SHE SAID: They should come watch me on the dance floor at a Singles'

Club dance.


WE SAID: Where will you be next Wednesday night at 9:30?


SHE SAID: At the ABC Cafe!


WE SAID: See you there.



                              BIRD VERSE



Since her last poems we published in The Cup seem destined for a Pulitzer

(thereby increasing The Cup's prestige factor), we cannot help but

run another selection from the poetry collection of Cupper Sarah Childs.


                            Blue Bird


              Blue bird, blue bird, flying in the air.

              Out back of my house; I see him there.

              Or up in the trees that have a heavenly breeze

              He sings his song that will make you freeze

              And listen through the brush.

              But still it is a hush, hush, hush.

              Nothing interferes with his song that whistles,

              His eyes shining like a polished nickel.


(Sarah Childs, the niece of Allison and Jeff Wells,  is a Cupper who lives

in Winthrop, Maine.  An eighth grader and published poet, she has replaced

her fondness for her Alannis Morrisette tape with the Birding By Ear

collection...sort of.)



                                   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...




Since March I've been struggling with whether or not to tick off Northern

Goshawk on my David Cup checklist.  I saw it, but I didn't really see it.

Does that make sense?  You see, one day in March I was up on Mt. Pleasant

watching for raptors alongside some very experienced raptor watchers.  I

spotted a raptor and watched it glide along for several seconds.  The tail

looked rather odd, appearing to be forked.  I called this to the attention of

the experts and, upon looking, they declared it was a Swallow-tailed Kite.

Well, I'm not so much a novice as to have believed that!  But, nothing

more was said and we kept searching the skies.  After half an hour or so, I

heard someone telling a newcomer about an earlier Northern Goshawk

missing its tail feathers.  I realized then I had earlier been looking at a

Northern Goshawk, but didn't know it at the time.  Now, I can't make up

my mind if I should count it on my DC list, not to mention my life list.  My

chances are slim for spotting another one this year.  What do think I should


                         --Struggling to Remain Respectable in Ithaca

Dear Struggling;


You should count it as both a Swallow-tailed Kite and a Northern Goshawk

and get two ticks out of the one bird.  You count it as a goshawk because

that's what it was and as a kite because the experts, who should know better,

led you astray.  In the future, however, should someone try to, say, sell

you "a lovely island property just offshore from Myer's Point," don't buy it.




While birding at Monkey Run South recently, I saw a bird flit out of a bush

and over the creek bank out of sight.  It landed in a tangle of roots

overhanging the creek.  While trying to figure out how I could get another,

better look, I realized I could see the bird's reflection in the water. Upon

closer examination with my binoculars I was able to identify the bird

as a Common Yellowthroat.  Since I didn't actually see the bird, but only

its reflection, can I count it?


                   --A Reflective Birder, Birding Near Varna (nirvana)

Dear Nirvana:


I'm afraid I'll have to say no.  Otherwise, you and other desperate Cuppers

might be tempted to litter Sapsucker Woods, Mundy Wildflower Garden and

other choice birding locales with full-length mirrors. As you know, Cuppers

are not the most fashion-conscious bunch.  Catching a glimpse of themselves

in those mirrors may cause them to crack--and the mirrors might break, too.




Last Sunday afternoon, while keeping an eye on the feeder outside, I was

watching the LPGA Skins Competitition on TV.  Did you see it?  You should

have, because there was a lot of great cup action!  I was really thrilled by

Laura Davies' 10th hole play.  Can you believe she sank a putt for birdie

and won $140,000!?  As she raised her arm in jubilation, a Great Crested

Flycatcher sang out.  What a moment!  (Too bad the GCF wasn't in the Basin

or I could have ticked it off ... or on second thought, maybe it was in the

Basin because it was on my TV which is in the Basin).  I wish I could be

like Laura Davies and garner $140,000 for every "birdie."  I would be richer

than Michael Jordan by now!  By the way, do you think "cupper" Laura Davies

might be related to our own Cupper, Stephen Davies?  They seem to have so

much in common---especially the fact that they both like to play for high


                                           --Wondering in Ithaca


Dear Wondering:


What were you doing in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon when you

should have been out in the field?  As for the $140,000 birdie, maybe

we could recruit the fair Laura to the Sapsuckers team for World Series '98?

Regretfully, your GCF doesn't count at the moment, though the rules may have

to change in the future if Cuppers are to stand a chance of burying

Brinkley's record-setting 255.  Our sources indicate there may indeed be

some taxonomic relationship between Laura and Stephen - their shared

affinity for golf courses is immediately obvious.  However, even badboy

Davies hasn't resorted to thrashing birdies out of the undergrowth with a

golf club.


(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at


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


"I'm still loving The Cup. I wish I was still in Ithaca. So far,

only one life bird here in Massachusetts - Kentucky Warbler."


                                              --Scott Mardis


"This morning as I stepped out at 7:30am I was greeted by the 'sree-bzzzz'

of a Blue-winged Warbler in the tangled shrubbery...Seemed like things

were looking up after the doldrums."

                                               --Nari Mistry


"I found the following in Dryden this AM:  2 Green Herons, 1 Osprey,

and 1 each:  Palm Warbler, Black and White Warbler, N. Waterthrush,

and Yellow Warbler.  I think it's heating up."

                                               --Bard Prentiss


"There was a Little Gull at Long Point State Park...This sighting continues

the rich tradition of finding 'good' birds while the Sapsuckers are off

scouting in New Jersey."

                                               --Karl David


"Karl, only one Sapsucker has actually left for NJ...The rest of us head

down tomorrow morning and Wednesday, so I guess Basin birding should

pick up even more."

                                               --Ken Rosenberg


"I'm a modern woman, I didn't have to scheme to catch up with Bill Evans."


                                                --Jane Sutton


"I've been on a roll lately, having tried for and not succeeded in seeing

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (twice), Hooded and Mourning Warblers (twice),

Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and others in the past 24 hours.

Let me know if you would perhaps like to go look for Prairie Warblers,

grassland sparrows, or something else.  If I'm along, chances are

we won't see them!"

                                                --Matt Medler


"After watching three Swaison's Thrushes hopping around my driveway and

a male Indigo Bunting on my deck Saturday morning, and being told that my

wife, Yasko, had a Golden-winged Warbler yesterday, I would say it would

be an unforgettable weekend."

                                                --Mat Uemura


"Like Karl, I went to the wildflower garden yesterday and, as would be

expected, saw fewer birds than he did- I missed the starling.  BUT- took

an early lunch break today at the Stewart Ave cemetery, and wow!"


                                                 --John Greenly


"Today was a great birding day for Jeff and me, with many 'first of the

year's' for us, including...13 different species of warblers at City Cemetery.

And here's the quote of the day, from Jeff: 'Ouch, I've got a kink in my

neck and I can't understand why.'"

                                                 --Allison Wells


"Speaking of kinks in necks, when we were down in Venezuela so many

times we saw hummingbirds zoom by and we had to twist our neck so

quickly that one of our friends once had a kink in the neck as he had to turn

it so fast. So he called out that he has 'hummingbird neck.'  Well, now I am

getting 'computer neck.' I better go home and hope for warbler neck


                                                 --Meena Haribal


"There was a single Philadelphia Vireo singing in the rain from a low branch

along the creek. After listening to his song for a while, I felt sure I could

differentiate the song from the Red-eyed's. Shortly thereafter, however, I

was fooled."

                                                  --Tom Nix


"At Tschache Pool, a Least Bittern flew up from close to the trail as I

minced along in my new stilettos. "

                                                  --Stephen Davies


  "I stopped to look at some Yellow-rumped Warblers in a tall cedar above

someone's house. The occupant of the house came out and asked if I was

looking at the baby cardinal...Now, just think about what these cardinals

put up with to hatch this youngster:  it SNOWED on April 1 and again two

weeks later! If this one survives and breeds, it will be passing on some

outstanding survival genes!"

                                                  --Laura Stenzler


"Could someone please direct me [to Mundy]?...I keep hearing about all

these warblers and other birds that I have never seen before and want to

find them too!"

                                                  --Michael Thomas


"I had my life Karl David sighting at the cemetery. It was so amazing!

We called him in from a distance of about a hundred feet and he approached

to within about ten feet from the four of us."

                                                   --Chris Butler


"After leaving City Cemetery this morning, happy to have finally made

Chris Butler, et al's check list (!), I began a leisurely commute to Aurora

via Salmon Creek Rd."

                                                   --Karl David


"I was walking in Mundy Wildflower Garden yesterday afternoon, and I

saw and heard a Meena Haribal--which was a first for me."


                                                   --Caissa Willmer


"Many thanks to those who posted the Lincoln's Sparrow at the Lab of

O feeders...I've had numerous maybe's, but this was my first good look and

the first one I'm counting. It was in marvelous light...Quite a handsome bird."


                                                   --Jim Goodson


"About a week ago I ran into a couple...and showed them a male

Yellow-rump. 'Wow! Look at that! I've never seen one of them! Isn't he

beautiful?' And indeed he was...When you've seen a few thousand of them,

you tend to forget how beautiful they are. You have to see common birds

through beginners' eyes to appreciate them again."

                                                    --Tom Lathrop


"This afternoon while taking a break from tying vines at Six Mile Creek

Vineyard, I did some birding...The craziest thing was I heard this squawk

and looked up to find two Great Blue Herons circling and flying at each other.

It made me wince nearly to see this behavior; whether it was territorial

and mating I don't know, but they looked like all 'skin and bones' -- it was

like two stately Professor Emeritii having a row."

                                                     --David McDermitt


"It's been apple blossom time for an extended three-week stretch due to the

cold temperatures and we plant pathologists are in our glory (but sadly

over worked) so the birds have had to wait...Perhaps now that we're in petal

fall I'll be able to beat the bushes more for those new feathered finds

needed to get me into the 100 Club!"

                                                    --Cathy Heidenreich


"Oh, the merry month of May, indeed - bloody too much work and too little


                                                     --John Bower


"It sure makes working around the yard more pleasant when you can take a

break and enjoy this kind of activity in the tree tops and bushes. And yes,

I did manage to still get some work done. Enjoying spring!"


                                                       --Ken Smith


"Isn't spring fun?  New birds, new's like getting a surprise

gift every day!"

                                                       --JR Crouse


May Your Cup Runneth Over,


Allison and Jeff