Year 3, Issue 10


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

* Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

* Basin Bird Highlights: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel

* Pilgrim's Progress Compiler: "Stoinking" Matt Medler

* Leader's List, Composite Deposit: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel

* Evans Cup Compiler: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss

* The Yard Stick Compiler: Casey "Sapsucker Woods" Sutton

* Bird Bits: Jay "Beam Hill Me Up, Scotty" McGowan

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

* Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer

* Computer and 24-Frame Video Operator: Jeff Wells


'Tis the time to be thankful. And what are you thankful for?

Family. The beauty and splendor of nature. All the rare birds that

have bounded into the Basin this year. Sure, sure. But admit it:

What you're really thankful for is that The Cup is finally out! No

more wondering if Mighty Matt Young has ousted poor unsuspecting

Geo. No more biting your nails in anticipation of reading whether

those Cayugabirds posts you spend hours making so purposefully

witty or poetic horned their way into the Cup Quotes. No more

fretting for fear that Dear Tick will suffer burn-out and turn from

compassionate truthsayer to sarcastic pun-gunner.

No, it's all here. Despite the irrepressible demands of birding

(we felt obligated to prove that there are birds outside the Basin by

checking out the Anna's Hummingbird), unruly columnists (well, except for

Caissa Willmer--wait a minute, we take that back!), jobs (do as

we say, not as we do), and securing Syracuse basketball tickets

(Casey, we finally got the Villanova tickets!), we submit to you

The Cup 3.10!

So read it and enjoy that it's done. At least, we think it's done.

The thermometer never did pop up...

@ @ @ @ @ @


@ @ @ @ @ @

STEPPIN' UP: We couldn't believe it! There was Father Karl, just a-hoppin'

and a-kickin', yippin' and skippin'! What, because he'd just found a

massive flock of Bohemian Waxwings? No, he was at step

aerobics class! Although his attempts to get the instructor to put

in "Birdsongs of the Rocky Mountains" instead of those sassy little Motown

numbers were in vain, don't think he didn't get his birding

in. Every time instructor Mo gave the command for "Around

the World," the rest of the class whooped and whistled...and Father

Karl hooted like a lost Barred Owl! Next time you see Karl, tell him how

good he looks, will ya? [For more on this subject, see Scrawl of Fame this


IBA SEEIN' YA--STILL: You think that last news item was lame, here's

how desperate we really are for news this issue: We're running Jeff's IBA

book ad again! Don't forget to drop on by Jeff's (Wells, as in

so-called Cup coeditor) office if you haven't had a look at

Important Bird Areas of New York State. Since many of you had a hand

in the book's success by providing info on IBAs in our area, you

might like to see the fruits of your labor. It's worth birding for! Jeff

can be reached at (607) 254-2441 or email

They are available for purchase at $15 each.

BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL JAZZ: "They don't call him the 'King of the Blues'

for nuthin'! BB King played Binghamton on 22 October to an excited and

enthusiastic crowd of blues fans. A happy crowd that

seemed a tad shy of Cuppers, I might add. Despite the intense blues

interest in this circle, nary a familiar face was spied in the crowd. Your

(big) loss!

"No opening act, no histrionics, just BB. After only a single

song by the band, BB himself came to the stage and did what he does best:

blazing guitar and husky baritone. It was my first experience seeing BB

King in person, and I was not disappointed in the least. I had heard

rumors that BB, perhaps because of his age or perhaps

because of his stature, often doesn't play all that long and that

his concerts can be disappointing. Don't you believe it! After a couple

of songs played standing, the 72-year-old blues legend sat

down and really got serious. There is truth sometimes to that old chestnut

about not getting older, just better. His voice was aged

to perfection and his fingers still had the skill and speed to make Lucille

astound us all. Although I can imagine a younger performer doing the

guitar magic, no young punk could come close to the smokey depth of his

voice. He played for well over an hour and a half,

then, after dispensing a large number of trinkets to the natives

(guitar picks, chains and things), he took his leave. It all seemed gone

too fast.

"Our most congenial group had great seats just off from the

stage. Fortunately for the Cuppers there, the noise was not too

intense that it interfered with our later ability to hear warbler

chips. We did, however, suffer some. Not from the music, but from

the frequent excited exclamations of one of our own number [Melanie

Uhlir--oops, sorry Mel!]! One of our group could hardly control her

enthusiasm (not that I actually noticed her trying to, mind you),

and was constantly letting the world know just how much she was

enjoying the show. The rest of us, I think, enjoyed it every bit as much,

just more quietly.

"The concert reminded me a lot of the Loon Watch on a good day:

a spectacular event to enjoy with really good company, but where was

everyone else?"

--Kevin McGowan

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



Geo Kloppel

Although the marvelous trio of AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS disporting at

Montezuma through the entire month became a very familiar sight

to those who checked the Refuge regularly, it was hardly possible

to grow indifferent to their presence. Serene, every bit as imposing while

stolidly squatting in the mud as they were in soaring flight,

they alternated industrious fishing with grand loaf-about

insouciance. Comic at times, never tiresome, they were ultimately sublime,

and so it seems appropriate that their departure was unobserved, as if they

had simply evaporated. If we are so lucky as

to see the threesome return next year, which their apparent

contentment and lengthy stay permit us faintly to hope, they will

seem like dear (if rather snooty) old friends.

Moving from the persistent to the ephemeral highlights now, a Cayuga

Bird Club walk led by Bard Prentiss scored very big at Dryden Lake on

October 10th with extended views of a NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, which

left the five attendees glowing, and those who might

have attended but didn't rather envious, especially those who searched high

and low for the bird later that day and the next without success. Add Ken

Rosenberg's flyover DICKCISSEL on the 11th (a consolation

prize for missing the Sharp-tail) and the ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER in Kevin

McGowan's yard on the 13th, a flock of BRANT, a SURF SCOTER, a MERLIN or

two, the first ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, plus the horde of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS

in Matt Young's yard, the first of the fall's FOX SPARROWS and a final

LINCOLN'S SPARROW or three, not to mention

one AMERICAN COOT (very HOT, we're told), and you have unassailable proof

that Dryden still rules!

A lone GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was sighted at May's Point

on 10/11 by Gary Chapin, and another on 10/24 by John Van Neil.


PHALAROPE and scattered lingering shorebirds made the Refuge worth

the stop even if one was sick of pelicans (?). Matt Young called up a SORA

at Tschache Marsh on the 13th. Elsewhere in the Basin, along

with the more common waterfowl SURF, WHITE-WINGED and BLACK

SCOTERS were all seen, as were transient OLDSQUAW, BRANT, and RED-THROATED

LOONS, most from Bob Meade's annual Loon Watch at

Taughannock Point by eagle-eyed Matt Young. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were on

the move, or lingered in favored swamps throughout the month.

More ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS appeared. A surprising number of

NORTHERN GOSHAWK reports were uncovered, suggesting that we might be

in for a winter invasion. Wide-roaming RAVENS were heard or seen

outside of their expected areas. RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS came and went.

Various warblers made (probably) their final curtain-calls. AMERICAN TREE


up. The first snowflakes fell. Winter approaches. Know what you're

going to bring to dinner after the Christmas Count?

(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. He is fluent in English.)

100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

100 CLUB

100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Sign on 100 Club door:

You weren't thankful enough. Stay out.

200 200 200 200 200

2 0 0

200 200 200 200

Sign on 200 Club door:

You, too.

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

October 1998 David Cup Totals

Compiled by Matt Medler

235 Geo Kloppel

234 Matt Young

228 Kevin McGowan

225 Jay McGowan

224 Ken Rosenberg

220 Chris Butler

218 Meena Haribal

218 Karl David

217 Jeff Wells

216 Allison Wells

213 Steve Kelling

209 Tom Nix

209 Matt Sarver

207 Matt Medler

205 Stephen Davies

202 Bard Prentiss

200 Pat Lia

191 Catherine Sandell

188 John Greenly

186 Anne Kendall

183 Alan Krakauer

178 Nancy Dickinson

177 Jon Kloppel

176 Nancy Dickinson

170 Martha Fischer

157 Ben Taft

157 John Fitzpatrick

153 Gary Chapin

152 John Morris

139 Marty Schlabach

139 Perri McGowan

134 Kim Kline

133 Steve Pantle

133 Jim Lowe

114 Michael Runge

103 Melanie Uhlir

98 Anne James

85 Caissa Willmer

84 Carol Bloomgarden

78 Swift McGowan (DC Kitty Cup)

85 Ann Mathieson

68 James (Straw) Barry*

57 Kylie Spooner

54 Mimi Wells (DC Kitty Cup)

48 Cathy Heidenreich

46 Dave Mellinger

43 Teddy Wells (DC Kitty Cup)

42 Scott Mardis

39 Kurt Fox

38 Tringa the McGowan Wonder Dog

35 Tom Lathrop

34 Margaret Barker

26 Andy Leahy

20 Figaro (DC Kitty Cup)

0 Ned Brinkley*

0 Ralph Paonessa*

0 Larry Springsteen*

0 Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen*

*Currently living out-of-state and refuses to move back.

October 1998 McIlroy Award Totals

Compiled by Matt Medler

161 Allison Wells

146 Martha Fischer

145 Jeff Wells

142 Karl David

140 Kevin McGowan

119 Jay McGowan

117 Ken Rosenberg

111 Matt Medler

109 Stephen Davies

102 Jim Lowe

86 Ben Taft

84 Michael Runge

80 Anne Kendall

60 Stephen Davies

42 Dave Mellinger

0 Bill Evans*

*Nonetheless claims to be ahead.

October 1998 Evans (Dryden) Trophy

Compiled by Bard Prentiss

196 Ken Rosenberg

181 Matt Young

172 Kevin McGowan

168 Jay McGowan

171 Bard Prentiss

109 Anne Kendall

October 1998 Lansing Totals

146 Kevin McGowan

122 John Greenly

1998 September Etna Challenge

87 Allison Wells

80 Jeff Wells

18 Casey Sutton

THE YARD STICK ----------------------------

Compiled by Casey Sutton

138 Ken Rosenberg, Ithaca, NY

135 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY

123 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY

120 Steve Kelling, Berkshire, NY

119 Kevin McGowan, Dryden, NY

116 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY

104 John Bower, Enfield, NY

99 Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY

69 Jeff and Allison Wells, Etna, NY

69 Ben Taft, Ithaca, NY

67 Darlene and John Morabito, Auburn, NY

64 John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY

53 Ann Mathieson, Scipio Center, NY

28 Susann Argetsinger, Burdett, NY

2 Casey Sutton, Ithaca, NY


By Geo Kloppel

As predicted, the frontrunners' spread is closing up as the final stretch

opens before them, but last month's leader has not quite

been overtaken yet. Though I added just one bird in October, that's

the one that saved the lead for another month. Here's the list of 235:

R-t & C Loon,P-b,H & R-n Grebe,Am W Pelican,D-c Cormorant,Am & L Bittern,G

Egret,G B & Green Heron,B-c Night Heron,T & M Swan,S &

C Goose,Wood Duck,G-w Teal,Am Black Duck,Mallard,N Pintail,B-w Teal,

N Shoveler,Gadwall,Am Wigeon,Canvasback,Redhead,R-n Duck,G & L Scaup,Surf &

W-w Scoter,C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,Hooded,C & R-b Merganser,Ruddy

Duck,Turkey Vulture,Osprey,Bald Eagle,N Harrier,

S-s & Cooper's Hawk,N Goshawk,R-s,B-w,R-t & R-l Hawk,Am Kestrel,

Merlin,Peregrine Falcon,R-n Pheasant,Ruffed Grouse,Wild Turkey,

VA Rail,C Moorhen,Am Coot,Am Golden,Bk-bellied & Semipalmated

Plover,Killdeer,AM AVOCET,G & L Yellowlegs,Solitary,Spotted &

Upland Sandpiper,Whimbrel,R Turnstone,Sanderling,Semipalmated,

Western, Least,W-r,Baird's & Pectoral Sandpiper,Dunlin,CURLEW

SANDPIPER,Stilt Sandpiper,Short-&Long-billed Dowitcher,C Snipe,Am

Woodcock,W's Phalarope,B's,R-b,Herring,Iceland, L B-b

& G B-b Gull,Caspian,C,F's & Black Tern,Rock & Mourning Dove,

B-b & Y-b Cuckoo,E Screech-Owl,G H,Barred,L-e,S-e & N S-w

Owl,CNighthawk,W-p-w,Chimney Swift,R-t Hummingbird, Belted

Kingfisher,R-h & R-b Woodpecker,Y-b Sapsucker,Downy & Hairy

Woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,E Wood-Pewee, Acadian,Alder,Willow

& Least Flycatcher,E Phoebe, G C Flycatcher,

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

Barn Swallow,Blue Jay,Am & Fish Crow,C Raven,B-c Chickadee,Tufted

Titmouse,R-b & W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper,Carolina,House,Winter &

Marsh Wren,G-c & R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird,Veery,

G-c,Swainson's,Hermit & Wood Thrush,Am Robin,Gray Catbird,

N Mockingbird,Brown Thrasher,Am Pipit,Cedar Waxwing, N Shrike,

Eurostarling,B-h,Y-t,Warbling,Philly & R-e Vireo,B-w,G-w,TN &

Nashville Warbler,N Parula,Yellow,C-s,Magnolia,B-t blue,Y-r,B-t

Green,Blackburnian,Pine,Prairie,Palm,B-b,Blackpoll,Cerulean &

B-and-w Warbler,Am Redstart,Prothonotary & W-e Warbler,Ovenbird,

N & LA Waterthrush,Mourning Warbler,C Yellowthroat,Hooded,Wilson's

& Canada Warbler,Scarlet Tanager,N Cardinal,R-b Grosbeak,Indigo Bunting,E

Towhee,Am Tree,Chipping,Field, Vesper,Savannah,

Grasshopper, Henslow's,Fox,Song,Swamp,W-c & W -t Sparrow,D-e Junco,

S Bunting,Bobolink,R-w Blackbird,E Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,C Grackle,B-h

Cowbird,B & O Oriole,Pine Grosbeak,Purple & House

Finch,Red & W-w Crossbill,C Redpoll,Pine Siskin,Am Goldfinch,

Evening Grosbeak,House Sparrow


Add to that list the following 22 species other lucky birders found:

Greater White-fronted Goose,Brant,E Wigeon,Oldsquaw,Black Scoter,


Gull,Glaucous Gull,Snowy Owl,Olive-s & Y-b Flycatcher,Cape May

Warbler,Orange-crowned Warbler,Lincoln's Sparrow,Nelson's

Sharp-tailed Sparrow,Lapland Longspur,Dickcissel,HOARY REDPOLL.

Grand Composite Total: 257

Our final tally for 1996 was 268, while we finished 1997 with 267,

but 1998's total threatens to be distinctly lower. We have now

fallen 9 birds behind the October 1997 tally of 266. Only two more

were added during all of last November and December. This year we

need to find three just to crack 260. Since November is already well under

the bridge with no additions yet, it looks daunting. A few of

the rarely visiting gulls and waterfowl offer our best hope, if hope there

be. There are of course no winter finches left to add. An outlandish hummer

would be great, but something tells me the bird

will turn up out-of-bounds. Last year's eleventh hour appeal for Bohemian

Waxwings didn't produce any, but the slumping composite is

far more sorely in need of them this year. With no NBA action to distract

us, we should be making an all-out effort to find them.

No Bulls this fall, it's Bears or nothing, as if we were in a market

slump after the winter-finch euphoria subsided and the spring

warblers yielded disappointing returns. Where the heck is the

coaching staff on this anyway?

(You already know Geo.)



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

< <

< <

< < < <

Some people (Geo!) are so demanding. They actually expect their

coaching staff to show! We at The Cup know that you need not be

present to dole out advice. In fact, you don't even have to dole out

a new game strategy from game to game. Just get out the old clip

board and tap away. (Hey, it beats giving into demands for pay increases!)

COACH FARNSWORTH: My first thoughts on November begin with a

bad cup of coffee, messy hair, dysfunctional fingers and fogged up

binoculars. A bad cup of coffee to start a morning that might not

otherwise have started for another several hours; messy hair because

a wool hat has not been invented that functions and is static-free;

dysfunctional fingers from gripping for dear life your binoculars

that are horribly fogged and colder to the touch than your core

temperature. Yes, November is not for the weak.

I am looking forward, truly, to standing out on the lighthouse jetty

in a blasting north wind, thinking about speaking to whatever brave souls

stand beside me, but then thinking better of it for fear

of freezing the entirety of my insides with a blast of cold air into

my lungs and freezing everyone else's insides as they try to respond

to my coughs and gags. But I also envision lifting my binoculars to

my eyes and watching a late Parasitic Jaeger cruise by at such high speed

that its passage shakes the very jetty on which we stand (a new land speed

record set by none other than...jaeger!) I imagine near tragedy as those

same brave souls cling to the jetty for dear life, barely avoiding a cold

watery grave while watching a transient

Purple Sandpiper wonder how it ended up in such a gray place (and

subsequently leaving very quickly). And please don't let me forget about

all the ducks cruising overhead sparking grand debate

("what do you mean swan?!?!?! that was a bufflehead!!! Hmmmm...)

I guess at that point I wake up happy from my dream.

But in all seriousness. Though November is cold, the chill is

worth it. Let me explain. The Mount Pleasant-Michigan Hill Factor:

I seem to speak about these places almost incessantly. Nonetheless...

You can bet that on days with northerly winds I will be freezing my

tail at one of these locations, watching the last of the Golden Eagles

trickle through, thanking the lone Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Goshawks

for keeping my company, hoping this day is THE day for that

big Red-tailed Hawk flight that is sure to come soon. I anticipate

with great fervor the handful of Northern Shrikes that will fly by

migrating south to marginally warmer destinations, leaving us to

wonder why marginally warmer is so much better than McIllroy

airspace. And I have been and will continue to wait for the armada

(can one bird be an armada if no man is an island??) of Sandhill

Cranes to fly over one of our hawk watches. It's going to happen

soon enough, why not this November?

Both Mount Pleasant and Michigan Hill offer commanding views of

the southern Basin's airspace. I cannot say enough good things about

migration watches at these spots. Though there certainly have been

and will continue days with seemingly no birds, the days that produce big

flights definitely make up for these more than amply.

Besides these places, the southern Basin has a number of other

good places to watch late hawk migration and waterfowl flights as

well as morning landbird flights. Sunset Park somehow always draws the

shortest straw on my birding priority list, but every time I have been

recently, I think to myself that I ought to bird there more often.

The Lake Vector: The final frontier. These are the voyages of

the..oops, just kidding. (A little too much TV and I don't mean

Turkey Vulture.) The lake will no doubt be a gold mine this month.

Like the sky-watching migration sites of Mt Pleasant and Michigan

Hill, the lake needs major coverage this month.

The possibilities are not endless but they are very exciting.

The time is now to begin looking for those elusive Iceland and

Glaucous Gulls. A species we could easily be overlooking at times is

Mew Gull--again something to seek out in the growing gull flocks.

Black-legged Kittiwake no doubt drifts through the Basin unnoticed on

occasion. The moral: keep your eyes peeled and sharp while watching gulls.

Three words, if you will: COME ON, IVORY!!!

Waterfowl migration is now in full swing. Watch for scoters,

Brant, Oldsquaw, maybe a Harlequin Duck at Long Point or at the

Union Springs Railroad Crossing. And the big cheese - the spectacle

of the loons. Loon migration visible on this lake of ours is

nothing short of extraordinary. For the students of migration, a

good loon flight morning at Taughannock Falls State Park is a

spectacle not to be missed. And especially when you consider that one

of these days a murrelet is going to fly by (no doubt subject to the same

frigid wind that will keep binoculars from eyes and keep lips

from speaking...well, maybe a bit dramatic I know, but still!) I

suggest watching for those sometimes elusive north winds, getting mobilized

pre-dawn when they finally arrive and then dressing VERY WARMLY (bad cup of

coffee not necessary although it might make for a better story). And while

watching the loons don't forget to watch the huge numbers of blackbirds

pouring overhead up in the stratosphere

(yes, you too can dream about all the Brewer's and Yellow-headed Blackbirds

for the incredible price of sore eyes and a kinked


Other places to watch: the bluffs above Aurora Bay. Though this

commanding view leaves you far above Cayuga's waters (pun intended),

there is something about the vista of the entirety of the bay before you.

You can scan everything with a scope easily and then make you choice as to

which flock warrants further inspection. May I suggest

the one with the Common Eider in it, if I may be so bold?

A further note: Once the icky fog begins to creep in and the low

ceiling becomes no ceiling at some point during the month even the

smallest pond or lake could have downed waterfowl swimming about.

Though the grebe spectacle of several years ago in upstate NY that brings

this to mind was brought about by a freeze some time during the winter I

think that on the horribly gray, foggy, drizzly days we

should be out pounding the water, if you will. That's when the crazy stuff

will be out and about.

Open Field, Closed Minds: With winter setting in the usual

assortment of open country birds is arriving. Snow Buntings, Lapland

Longspurs, and American Tree Sparrows have shown their faces.

A juvenile Northern Shrike has already been reported at Neimi Rd. Perhaps

others are scoping the hedgerows now. Rough-legged Hawks

are taking up their quarters, too.

Though the idea of standing out in a field during a morning snow

squall might not be appealing, in reality it is not appealing. Oh, did

I say that? Excuse me. I meant to say, "open country birding need not

be forgotten because of all the action in and around the lake." We

know Pine Grosbeak has been out and about; we know redpolls are

about--so mind those fields and shrubs. From all I have heard, Salt

Road could be a goldmine this winter for finches, or at least that's

the word on the street.

I almost forgot: It's time to watch those Cedar Waxwing flocks

for any straggling bigger friends that might associate with them. If

you see any of these stragglers, please remain calm. They are not

dangerous. But please report immediately to the proper authorities in the


It's also that time of the year to begin investigating conifer

groves and tangles for wintering owls. Long-eared, Northern Saw-whet,

and dare I say other owl species might be lurking in the thickest

vegetation you can find. But be warned, be mindful of private property-

-though that grove might look good, that sign most likely means business.

And most importantly: NEVER EVER DISTURB these birds if you

do happen to find one. On too many occasions have these birds been harassed

to the point of departing and maybe worse. Sorry for the politics. We now

return to our regularly scheduled silliness.

Finally, we have a very special category. I'd like to think of it

as the wildcard factor. Since birds have wings and are known to use

them (several people have told me this), there is no telling what

could show up in the Basin. What wish birds would I love to see

appear at some point during the month? Well...

How about Varied Thrush at a feeder in Cayuga Heights? Maybe a

Great Gray Owl somewhere south and east of Ithaca? Townsend's

Solitaire in the cedars in the vicinity of Long Point State Park? November

could be a great month for vagrants. Cape May has already

seen a truly wild bird in the form of Brown-chested Martin. Who knows?

As much as I always speak of crazy birds and wish lists and

possibilities, as much as I always think of new areas in the Basin

that might produce that true rarity, everything boils down to getting into

the field and searching high and low through the smallest patch

of dead goldenrod as well as the largest flock of starlings. The birds are

out there; all we have to do is find them.

I hope to see you all "out there."

(Andy Farnsworth leads professional bird tours when he's not touring

with his band, Mectapus. It's doubtful that he will see you all "out

there," since he doesn't appear to be living in the Basin anymore...)




What better way to prove you're gonna take the whole can of worms than by

being featured in an interview exclusively for The Cup? "Kickin' Tail"

brings well deserved honor and recognition to the Cupper who

has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven, climbed, dug, or fiddled his/her way

to the top of the David Cup list.

This month's leader is--again--Geo Kloppel! What incite does he have

for the rest of us?

THE CUP: Evenin', Geo. Uhh, you're still on top...

KLOPPEL: That must mean it was a sluggish month for others, Matt

Young excepted of course.

THE CUP: Actually, it was slow for Matt, too. He only got in 30 days

of birding in October, instead of the whole month. How'd you stay

ahead, given his relative fanaticism?

KLOPPEL: We all labor under the same constraining circumstance - a limited

list of birds expectable or at all likely to be found in our region. As the

year winds down, the tallies of the most diligent and successful searchers

can be expected to begin crowding together under this common ceiling. I

added just one bird in all October, and some of the ones I'm still missing

are now gone for sure. In short, I can't

take any credit at all for maintaining the lead through October...

THE CUP: No kidding!

KLOPPEL: Matt out-did me at least two-to-one for the month! And those who

were farther behind no doubt have made even more impressive

gains. In fact I'm sure even as we speak that I've already been


THE CUP: Yes, Tringa, the McGowan's new dog, did especially well.

On the subject of Mr. Young, some thought that the over-heard conversation

we ran as last month's KT was actually something made

up by Allison! Please set them straight!

KLOPPEL: You mean he denied the tete-a-tete at the 200 Club? Doesn't

surprise me! He took rather a duffing on that occasion, didn't he? But it

was by no design of mine that eavesdroppers picked up the conversation. The

"Cone of Silence" was on the blink again! "Toujours c'est la meme chose."

My advice to Matt - Get Smart now about the paperazzi - the best way to

parry their unforgivable intrusions and lamentable readiness to manipulate

the facts is to beat them at their own game. He will find, if he winds up

taking the David Cup in the

end, that he'll become a celebrity and they'll never take their

snooping eyes off him again, beginning on the very night of the

Cupper Supper, where the winner might be expected to come up with an answer

to Stephen Davies' stunning recitation on an avian theme drawn from the

songs of the Bard of Caledonia, which he delivered in fair

and sonorous facsimile of Rab the Rhymer's native dialect. How indeed could

any of this year's contenders measure up to that challenge, who look like

failing by such a wide margin even in the more fundamental task of matching

the composite totals of previous years?

THE CUP: Allison couldn't have said it better herself! What cd is in your

CD player?

KLOPPEL: You've caught me off-guard: I didn't expect to be in the

lead, so I felt at liberty to listen to whatsoever I liked, with no burden

of cultural responsibility. At the moment it's Minna

Raskinen's REVELATIONS (Olarin Musikki CD64)--

THE CUP: Right, that '70's singer, the one that screeched so lovingly

during the chorus. "Loving You"--wasn't that the song?

KLOPPEL: --a solo album of unique and very creative pieces for

konsertti-kantele, a large, deep-voiced lap-harp that sounds like a piano

with action removed, the strings being plucked with the

fingertips directly. In the other player I have a Philips disk of Claudio

Arrau doing Liszt's incredibly spacious and evocative Transcendental Etudes.

THE CUP: Guess we needn't look for you at the next BB King concert.

KLOPPEL: But somewhere around here I've got some Jerry

Lee Lewis queued-up too...

THE CUP: Sure you do. Did you at least make it to the Solas concert?

KLOPPEL: I did not...nor have I heard from anyone who did. I'll have

to wait for The Cup to come out with a review, I guess. You ARE running a

review, aren't you?

THE CUP: We got bumped by McGowan's blues review. BB wins out every time.

But that Solas concert, whoa! What a band of superstars! That

fiddle player, those strings were sparking, she was working those strings

so hard. In fact, at one point, she called out desperately,

"Is there a violin bow repairer in the house?" Her cry for help went

unanswered. You said something about missing some birds this year.

Which ones?

KLOPPEL: For starters I need to add Black Scoter, Oldsquaw, and Brant

to have any chance at all of staying in the running. All three

dropped in my lap at Stewart Park during mid-day business trips last fall,

but that has not worked for me this year, and failing to get to the Loon

Watch may have cost me some or even all of them. Lapland Longspur continues

to elude me. No point in blasting the cold marshes for a Sora if I can't

even add those others. I would still travel far for a Snowy Owl. Glaucous

Gull would be awefully nice for December. Bohemians would stoke my fires.

But everyone else will go out for

them too, if they show, so it comes back to the three waterfowl and

the Longspur. Those are the critical vacancies.

THE CUP: What are you doing for Thanksgiving? You won't be cooking

up any birds, will you?

KLOPPEL: The best thing about being swamped with work all month has

been the feeling that at least I was shoulder to shoulder with the

rest in the common boat, performing the irksome but necessary toil for the

good of society (bailing, right?), but I bet not many Cuppers will be at

work on Thanksgiving day, as I plan. However, I do have to take

a "dinner break", probably even have to cook something, since my daughter

and her fiance are coming up from Philly. I'll do some vegetarian

specialty, spanakopita maybe, and open a bottle or two of West Danby

Elderberry Wine. Hope your Thanksgiving's enjoyable too.

KLOPPEL: You'll be the first to know. Spanakopita? We'll be by around noon!



By Jay McGowan



1. How many kinds of Whistling Ducks(in the genus Dendrocygna) are

their in the world? Eight. Spotted Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna guttata),

Plumed Whistling Duck (D. eytoni), Fulvous Whistling Duck

(D. bicolor), Wandering Whistling Duck (D. arcauta), Lesser Whistling Duck

(D. javanica), White-faced Whistling Duck (D. viduata), Cuban Whistling

Duck (D. arborea), and Black-bellied Whistling Duck (D. autumnalis).

2. What is the scientific name of the Black-headed Duck of South America?

Heteronetta atricapilla. "Heteronetta Gr. Heteros, different, another;

netta, a duck; the Black-headed Duck

H. atricapilla is the only parasitic duck." "atricapilla L.

atricapillus, black-haired (i.e. black-capped black-headed)." The

Black-headed Duck is a social parasite. No nest or incubating female

Black-headed Duck has ever been discovered.

3. Where does the Musk Duck live? The Musk Duck is fairly common

and widespread in southeastern and southwestern Australia, occurring

on swamps, lakes, estuaries, and especially permanent marshes, its prime

breeding habitat.

4. There are three kinds of Eiders. Common Eider, King Eider and

Spectacled Eider. Their scientific names are Somatria mollissima,

S. spectabilis, and S. fischeri. S. spectibilis is King Eider not

Spectacled Eider. Why? Spectibilis, L. spectabilis, remarkable, showy,

something worth seeing. The King Eider is certainly that.

5. What Duck has the longest scientific name and what does it mean?

Malacorhynchus membranaceous, the Pink-eared Duck. "Gr. Malakos, soft;

rhunkhos, the bill; ref. soft flaps on upper mandible of the Pink-eared

Duck M. membranaceous." "L. membranaceus, of skin, membraneous (membrana,

a thin skin); the Pink-eared Duck

Malacorhychas has a huge bill tipped with prominent membraneous


(Jay McGowan, age 12, is home-schooled. He came through this month!

With the answers, anyway. By the way, if you got all of those right, you

should be home-schooling your kids.)



By Karl David


Collecting, poring over and analyzing data ... quel [quelle?] bore.

This month, I'm returning to my true love -- pure, unadulterated, useless

and glorious probability, the field where you get to pose

such interesting questions as: if 14 people are assembled at random

and each reveals what day of the week he/she was born on, what's the

probability each day is represented at least once?

All right, so you don't know what day of the week you were born

on ... as the man said, you could look it up. There are twice as many

people as days here, so there seems a reasonable chance every day

gets covered ... but, as Bill Clinton would be the first to point

out, we haven't defined "reasonable," have we?

Now, what's all this got to do with birds? Well, I have to mine

my spring migration data one more time. I discovered that Baltimore Oriole

has the narrowest window of arrival dates, namely May 2 to

May 8 [7 days]. I have 14 years of data [1985-98]. Curiously, I

thought, one day [May 4] was missing from the distribution, which

breaks down as follows:

May 2 - 2 times

May 3 - 4 times

May 4 - 0 times

May 5 - 1 time

May 6 - 1 time

May 7 - 5 times

May 8 - 1 time.

How likely is it to be missing one (or more) days in this situation, I idly

wondered. Twenty or so pages of calculations later, I had the answer, to be

revealed in the course of our discussion, so hang on and enjoy.

The first thing to admit is that this is a *much* harder problem than

any I've discussed to date in this forum, so I'll only sketch an outline of

the procedure I followed. A miracle of sorts is that I got the right answer

on the first try (unless two or more mistakes

cancelled each other out, which is highly unlikely). This is because I

checked my work as I went along. At one point I said 126 + 126 = 256, and

that one mistake spread slowly like a cancer through subsequent

calculations, but I caught it before too much damage was


Secondly, we need a better metaphor than days of the week for a

general discussion (for example, what if it had been an 11-day span of

dates?). So let's follow the most common approach and "go postal": if

we have m letters to be distributed randomly in n mailboxes, what is

the probability one or more boxes receives no letters? Thus m=14, n=7

in the oriole example.

As a warm-up, or more precisely as a way to see how to proceed, I

chopped the problem down to manageable size by trying m=5, n=3, i.e.

stuffing 5 letters in 3 boxes. Say the letters are numbered 1,2,3,4,5 and

the boxes are A,B,C. Then a symbol such as 135/4/2 will mean

letters 1,3,5 go in Box A, 4 in B and 2 in C. And 35/-/124 means 3,5

go in A, none go in B and 1,2,4 go in C.

Here's how to solve the problem by what is known as [remember,

dead white males are responsible for most of this terminology] the "brute

force" method. Write down *all* possible configurations like

the two above. Then count how many leave 1 or 2 boxes empty (e.g. -/12345/-

leaves boxes A and C empty). The ratio of the two is the probability of at

least one empty box.

Okay, you can do this! there are only 3^5 = 243 cases ... a manageable

number. Of them, 90 leave out one box and 3 leave out two,

so 93/243 = 38% is the desired probability. Turning it around, there's thus

a 62% chance all three boxes receive at least one letter. Go

ahead, try it! You're already wasting time reading the Cup -- what's

another hour or two?

Surely, you say, there has to be a short cut -- a clever way to figure

out the probability without writing down every case. Well, not really.

True, you don't literally have to do so, but you do have to figure out all

the possible ways to break up 5 into the sum of 3 or fewer numbers and then

figure out how many cases correspond to each of these (e.g. 13/25/4

corresponds to 5 = 2+2+1, but so does 25/13/4). The problem is notoriously

intractable in the arbitrary case.

However, there *is* a giant shortcut if you're willing to settle for

an approximation to the exact answer. Calculus provides a

not-too-outrageously-complicated magic formula into which you just plug m

and n and out it pops. The beauty of it is that the larger m and n are, the

better the approximation. That is, just as the exact calculations get more

and more exhausting to do by hand, the approximations get better and

better.It doesn't take too long before they're good to within 1%, then

0.1%, etc.

Returning to the problem, here's a question to ponder. Five

letters in 3 boxes isn't quite as "good" as the 2:1 ratio of the original

14 letters in 7 boxes, as far as trying to fill all boxes is concerned. In

the 5:3 case, we have a 62% chance all boxes are filled. Shouldn't that

improve in the 14:7 case? Take it a giant step further: suppose you

assemble 730 = 2x365 people at random and find out everyone's birthday.

What is the chance every day of the year is

represented at least once?

The answer is, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell this will

happen. If it did, you could categorically pronounce the experiment rigged.

You'll win the lottery ten times before this ever occurs!

In fact, even in the 14:7 example, the probability of filling all boxes

declines considerably from the 5:3 case. As I mentioned, I did all the

calculations (and if you're wondering, "by hand" *does* include use of a

calculator, or I'd still be working on it!). The results (rounded off to

the nearest percent) are:

# boxes filled probability

7 37%

6 47%

5 15%

4 1%

1,2,3 0%

(the final probability isn't of course actually 0, but it rounds off to that).

Notice that for the oriole data, the most likely outcome did occur: 6

of the 7 dates were represented.

Since I have all the numbers, further questions can be answered. For

example, how likely is the oriole distribution of 2,4,0,1,1,5,1

(i.e 2 times on the first date, 4 times on the second, etc.)? Remember this

can happen in far more than one way: any 2 of the 14 letters can

go in the first box, any 4 of the remaining 12 in the second, etc.). There

are a mere 15,135,120 ways this can happen. I say "mere" because the

*total* number of possibilities is 7^14 = 678,223,072,849, and the ratio of

these two is 0.00223%.

We can up the probability a bit by being less stringent and ask for

the same distribution of letters in any order (i.e. 1,1,0,5,2,4,1 or

5,4,2,1,1,1,0). This increases the number of cases by a factor of 840 to

12,713,500,800, which now works out to a pretty respectable 1.87%

Extrapolate this to the big birthday problem ... imagine how likely it

would be there to get many days with 5 or more birthdays, thus forcing many

days with 1 or 0 to balance out!

If you're still skeptical about that birthday problem, here's a way,

perhaps, to see how hopeless it is to expect every day to turn up. Let me

concede just about the whole thing and suppose that after 720 people were

polled, all but one day had turned up (this is actually just about as

impossible, but I'll grant you it for the sake of argument). Now you still

have 10 chances to get that one silly remaining day! But whoa ... the

chances any of these 10 people were born on that day is only 1/365, which

ain't too good. Even 10/365, which is actually more than the actual

probability one of the ten was born on the missing day, is less than 3%.


One more good, final, question: what's the most likely distribution of

dates? Since 14 = 2X7, congratulate yourself if you guessed 2,2,2,2,2,2,2

... that's right! Of course, it still isn't very likely, since there's so

many cases, but it is more likely than any other one particular

distribution. Test yourself, if you know some basic probability tricks, to

confirm that this distribution can happen in 681,080,400 ways (compare with

only 15,135,120 for the oriole

distribution). It works out to 0.1% ... a number that's at least on the

charts, compared to 2,2,2, ...,2 for the birthday problem, which would be a

decimal point followed by a gazillion zeroes!

(Karl David is [still] a mathematics professor on sabbatical at Cornell. He

loves numbers.)





To: Jeffrey Wells, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

From: Fitness Director, Courtside Health Club

Date: October 28, 1998

Re: Aerobics Recruitment

羨 little bird' told us you are trying to work up the courage to take

aerobics classes with us. We strongly encourage you to do so,

Mr. Wells! The women get tired of looking at the same few male bodies

day after day (as great as some of them admittedly are). We need more

men! You are especially encouraged to wear tights. See you soon!'"

--Generously Forwarded on Behalf of Courtside by Karl David

Scrawl of Fame II

Hey hombres!--

I am filing my last totals report for DC '98, which includes all

the birds I had up to Aug 3rd, when we finally left Ithaca for the wild


Don't ask me what bird 200 was. Sorry we weren't in touch more

before leaving. Between finishing a PhD and making plans to move, we

got kinda bogged down towards the end there. Once again, sorry for not

saying goodbye. We were really hoping to see everyone before we left,

but never got the chance.

Hope you are well and that all is sweetness and light in Ithaca.

Sounds like some interesting birds have shown up there recently. Curlew

Sandpiper I heard? Sorry I wasn't there for that one. We are settling in

just fine here in Frisco. I have fallen in with a good crowd of local

birders and the local scene is very invigorating! Ticked off my life

Yellow-green Vireo this morning, here in the city. We're going into

competition with the Pt Reyes posse next! Pelagic is coming up in a couple

of weeks - my birthday present this year and I can't wait!

OK, I'll not distract the venerable Cup editors any longer with

extra-Basin banter. But do drop us a line, and please come visit anytime!

I'm learning the local hotspots and would be delighted to

show Cuppers the sights!

Adios muchachos,

Stephen [Davies]

(If you have an opinion--or insider information--about the art,

science, and/or esthetics of birding or birding-related topics,

write it up for the Scrawl of Fame.)


mmmmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


[Note from this month's McLeader]

Want to catch me in the McIlroy? Here's my advice, and don't take

it lightly: " "



By Caissa Willmer


Our unruly Bird Brain Correspondent refused to submit her column

this month. Next time you see her at a premier, throw popcorn

at her!

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

Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)




Your bird verse here




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...


When I am doing my tower kill survey, if I find a dead bird that I

have not yet seen in the Basin this year, can I count it? After all,

it had to have been alive at some point to have arrived dead at my tower.

--Just Wondering from Mt. Pleasant

Dear Just Wondering:

You know that iceman they pulled out of the Alps or some godforsaken

place over there in Europe? At some point, he was alive, too, but I

bet you wouldn't date him now.

(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at

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

"You need a [Buddy Guy] connection, Geo? What about the Bird Cup Blues

column in The Cup?! Fie on you!'--Allison Wells (from The Cup 3.9)

"Of course I never for a moment forgot about the Blues in The Cup. But

I knew the monthly 'IT'S OUT!' message was overdue. Though you were not

in my line of sight, in my mind's eye I pictured you streaking for the

basket, and when I saw the opening, I quickly lofted the ball into the

dunk-zone. Sure enough, there you were, and you slammed it home. Nice."

--Geo Kloppel

"I take it you didn't receive this message last month, since my totals

didn't appear in the last Cup. Here it is again ope you are all well.

The birding here has been amazing. Last month, we took a pelagic on

my birthday and ran into the Northern Hemisphere's second

Great-winged Petrel, about 15 miles out of Monterey. Other highlights

for me over the last month have included Pacific Golden Plover, lots of

Thayer's Gulls, 6 species of shearwater and Black-footed Albatrosses galore."

--Stephen Davies

[for more from our former DC CoChamp, see Scrawl of Fame II]

"I'd like to get the electronic newsletter. I'm interested in this David

Cup 礎irding craze.'"

--Ben Fambrough

"I'm new to the area. What's this all about?"

--Mary Guthrie

"OK, I have held out long enough, please send me the electronic newsletter."

--Gladys Birdsall

"Let Allison know, boy, what a great job on the last Cup! Her

Kloppel voiceover in Kickin' Tail was -- like your subscription rate --

priceless, I kid you not. And I've never even met the guy! I mean it, I'm

telling you, let Allison know -- it's like even better than the movies,

keeping tabs on these characters through the sharp eyes of

The Cup. Stunning! Magnificent! Puts the 腺' in Bravura!"

--Andy Leahy

"Lots of telephone wire birds [at Montezuma] and others too tedious to

mention. 禅hey' say the pelicans are still there! Believe it or not, the

winner for most beautiful bird (according to me) is Gadwall. It seems like

the marsh ducks are all out for very close inspection, allowing great views

with just binoculars."

--Jon Kloppel

"Yesterday while puppy and I were looking at sparrows in the brushy grove

up our hill, a woodcock came whirring up from under our feet. I got a nice

look at the brown patterns on its back, and then it turned

in flight and showed its goofy (but practical) profile. I had to laugh."

--Nancy Dickinson

"While looking unsuccessfully for Bard's Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow

Sunday morning, I was treated to a calling Dickcissel moving south, high

over Dryden Lake. I picked up the bird in flight as it circled once and

undulated over the trees and out of sight. Birds of all kinds were moving

all day in an almost feverish progression through the Dryden area. It

seemed that I couldn't look up without seeing a Sharp-shin or a Red-tail

flapping overhead on the cloudy north wind. Geese, ducks, gulls,

blackbirds (many Rusty), robins, vultures, other hawks, and

Yellow-rumped Warblers kept streaming over."

--Ken Rosenberg

"Yesterday morning I went to Sodus and Montezuma. On the way to Sodus

I took a wrong turn and ended up on a back road near the Williamson

Rod & Gun Club. I found a flock of perhaps 20 Yellow-rumped Warblers,

the most warblers I've seen in one spot since last May. It was nice

to see so many warblers so late in the year."

--Tom Lathrop

"Hey Matt [Young], I just want to publicly thank you for keeping us all

updated. I've only gotten out birding a handful of times since the

beginning of October, and it seems like no one else has gotten out much,

either. So keep up the good work, buddy - you seem to have become the

current keeper of the flame on Cayugabirds!"

--Matt Sarver

"Dryden Lake had 14 Red Breasted Mergansers, along with one lonely

Canvasback, numerous Mallard, one Kingfisher and a flock of around 20

Ring-necked Ducks. Come on, Grosbeaks!!!!"

--Laura Stenzler

"For those thinking about coming out [to the LoonWatch], the watch begins

at about 15 minutes before sunrise, which today was at 6:40AM and lasts for

about two hours. Normally the large flights begin about one hour after

sunrise, but are very high. Lower flying loons are usually seen during the

half-hour after sunrise and appear after a large flight the day before

(like today ??). The best days are normally the coldest!"

--Bob Meade

May your cup runneth over,

Allison and Jeff