Year 3, Issue 3


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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

*   Composite Deposit, Stat's All: "Shot Gun" Kevin McGowan and

*        Jay "Beam Hill Me Up, Scotty" (SPECIAL GUEST: Karl "Father

*        of the Madness" David)

*   Evans Cup Compiler: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss

*   The Yard Stick Compiler: Margaret "in Mansfield" Launius

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

*   Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer

*   Re-re-recording Specialist: Jeff Wells



Ahh, the phoebes are back.  Tree swallows are again fluttering against a

friendly background of billowy clouds.  Winter Wrens, Savannah Sparrows,

woodcock, and robins   they're no longer desperate memories but now

dance before our bins for another blissful breeding season.  Spring has

certainly sprung ... right?


Wrong!  This is Ithaca, land of lies (remember that Western Kingbird tale

last fall?), cries (Bill Evans' whimper when he thought John Bower had

kicked his McButt last month?) and eternal gray skies (just look out

your window ... probably).  And may you never forget the snow squall that

lambasted us a few years back on MOTHER'S DAY   need we remind

you that Mother's Day is in MAY!


But don't despair! Here to help you resist the temptress of "spring"

weather is your faithful tell-all, The Cup!  This issue is neither too hot

(unless you're Stephen Davies, who, we're told, is always looking for an

excuse to do the Full Monty down on the jetty) nor too cold (well, except

to Bill Evans, but only because he's not only a sitting duck but a

particularly showy one [see Cup Quotes, this issue]).


So although you may not be reaching for steaming mugs of cappuccino

these days, don't settle in with your iced tea just yet, either.  Until

spring really has sprung, better drink from The Cup 3.3   a

Wells-"spring" of bird-brained bouillabaisse, simmered to perfection by

the staff here at The Cup ... more than just "fair-weather" friends!


                @   @    @    @    @     @

                     NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                  @   @    @    @     @     @


WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: Yet another Lab of O staffer

has joined the David Cup ruckus!  Nancy Dickinson has been a reader of

The Cup for quite some time, and she also has first-hand experience with

seat-of-your-pants birding competitions, since she does razzle-dazzle

(sorry, Nancy, it was too good to resist!) legwork for the Lab of O's

World Series of Birding team, the Sapsuckers.  We at The Cup were glad

to learn our subliminal (okay, blatant) message to join worked on

Nancy: "As always, I greatly enjoyed the latest issue of The Cup and felt

slightly  out of it' for not being an actual Cupper.  I had been mistaken

in thinking I lived outside the Basin. The map in Birding the Cayuga Lake

Basin clearly shows that I live in it. This morning I checked off all the

year's sightings I could recall, and came up with 57. Being competitive,

while against my nature, might get me out to see more things."  News of

Nancy's Cuphood is especially bad for Bill Evans   Nancy may not share Ken

Rosenberg's notorious green trailer, but at least her office is in McIlroy


      Talk about a shameless use of family time, Cup coeditor Allison

Wells spent a recent Saturday with sister-in-law Nina Roth-Wells from

Syracuse. Did they spend the day sipping tea and gossiping about the

family? Of course not!  Well, maybe just a wee part of it. They did get up

the lake, though, you can rest assured that by the time they swung back to

Ithaca, Nina was a full-fledged Cupper. Although they'd seen many local

attractions, what was the first thing Nina said to her hubby Andrew after

his conference at Cornell?  "Honey, I'm a Cupper!"


SAPPING IT UP: Since we're on the topic of cut-throat birding

extravaganzas, let it be known that the World Series of Birding will take

place this year on May 9th.  The Lab of O Sapsuckers (sponsored again

by   ready?   Swarovski Optik!) are Cuppers all: Steve Kelling, Kevin

McGowan, Jeff Wells, CLO Big Man John Fitzpatrick, and captain Ken

Rosenberg.  Last year, the Sapsuckers tied for third place   out of 50

teams from across the U.S. and Europe.  More importantly, they raised

about $85,000 for CLO's bird conservation efforts, like their Birds in

Forested Landscapes project, which gathers info on North America's

thrushes and on Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks.  To add to the fun

and rewards of pledging, CLO will again be holding a "Guess How Many

Birds the Sapsuckers Will See" contest: Write on your pledge card

the number of species you predict the Sapsuckers will find. If you guess

correctly, you'll receive a brand new pair of Swarovski binoculars,

courtesy of Swarovski Optik. (Hint: Their scores for the last three years

have been 205, 204, and 201.)  Per-bird pledges of 35 cents or more will

receive a set of 12 handsome note cards imprinted with the images of four

different birds from their renowned Fuertes Room murals.  Pledge $1 or

more and CLO will send you a landmark new book:  Field Guide to the

Warblers of North America, published in 1997 by Houghton Mifflin and

signed by authors Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett. (Just how good is this

book?  The Sapsuckers have already equipped themselves with a copy!)  For

more info, call CLO at (607) 254-2470. And that brings us to our next

item of bird-brained business ...


WARBLER WATCH!: To stand any chance of winning the David Cup 

or placing in the top 50!   you gotta watch warblers this spring.

Hardly a painful procedure (so long as you skillfully avoid that infamous

and extremely contagious condition, "warbler neck").  You can make it

even more enjoyable by reporting your sightings to Warbler Watch at, the latest BirdSource project to come

out of the CLO and National Audubon partnership.  With your

participation, this online survey will track the migratory movements and

breeding distribution of North America's warblers. There's no sign-up, no

fee, and the  survey forms are quick and easy to use. Animated maps

showing warbler movements across the continent will be regularly updated,

so you'll be able to see how your information fits into the continentwide

perspective.  You can also view images of warblers, listen to recordings

of their songs, read species accounts, look at range maps, pick up tips on

where and how to watch for warblers, and much more. By the way, a certain

Cup editor just happens to be very involved with this project, so if you

don't report those warblers, we can't be held responsible if "mistakes"

are made with your totals ... heh, heh, heh.


CRAB ABOUT SUCCESS!: Many (all?!) of you wrote letters last year on

behalf of the shorebirds that rely upon the horseshoe crab breeding

grounds of the Delaware Bay during migration, and New Jersey's Governor

Whitman responded to the outcry by placing restrictions on the taking of

horseshoe crabs. Now Maryland's Governor Glendening has done likewise,

according to a recent National Audubon press release. The action is part

of a tri-state, Maryland-New Jersey--Delaware effort to deal with the

over-fishing of the horseshoe crab.  Delaware Bay is home to the world's

largest concentration of horseshoe crabs.  In some parts of the Delaware

Bay, there has been a 75% decline in sightings of Red Knots.  Other bird

populations have been in decline too.  The horseshoe crab, which has been

around for at least 350 million years, was in danger of becoming extinct

in the next several years due to over-fishing. More than one and half

million shorebirds time their arrival in Delaware Bay with the spawning

of the horseshoe crabs.  The birds feed on the horseshoe crab eggs,

allowing them to continue their journey from South America to Canada.


A TOWERING PROBLEM: Although Cup editors enjoy ribbing our pal

Bill Evans, his night-migration work is yielding some important work for

the protection of birds. He recently posted information about a growing

problem: communication tower kills.  First, Bill's good news: "The

Ornithological Societies of North America approved a resolution addressing

the problem of bird kills at communications towers in North America and

the USFWS has initiated a dialog with the FAA and FCC regarding the issue.

This is good news but the FCC needs to receive thousands of letters in

the next few weeks from bird lovers across the continent in order to

impress upon them how important it is that they conduct an Environmental

Impact Statement on the thousands of new towers scheduled to be built for

digital TV and the cellular phone industry.  Your letters now could

potentially help lead to a solution to

the needless slaughter of 5 million songbirds per year at such towers."

      The horseshoe crab outcry has shown that birders' voices can make a

difference, so we implore you to take action in the tower kill issue.

Write a letter! And Mail FIVE COPIES of your letter to: Office of the

Secretary Federal Communications Commission, 1919 M Street NW, Washington,

D.C., 20554.  Address your letter as follows: Mr. William Kennard

Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 1919 M Street NW Washington,

D.C., 20554.  Re: FCC Docket No. 97-296; MM. Docket No. 97-182. THE FCC

MUST RECEIVE ALL LETTERS by *April 29.* Volume is critical.  Many

influential broadcasters are urging the FCC to bypass all environmental

review.  To counterbalance their arguments, we needs thousands of letters

in support of the EIS. For more information, check out:,, or


BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: No, it wasn't a rumor, jazz banjo

virtuoso Bela Fleck and his band the Flecktones came and went to the

area recently.  No, your faithful Cup editors didn't catch the

gig, because they'd seen them a couple of times already in the last few

years, but if you'd gone, you'd have been witness to some awesome jazz

banjo stylings.  "Bela Fleck has masterly transformed a traditionally

blue grass instrument into a jazz artform," says Cupping coeditor Jeff

Wells.  "He plays as fluently as a flock of  yellowlegs wheeling from the

grasp of a Peregrine.  In other words, so much for all those banjo jokes!"

If Bela himself weren't worth the ticket price, bass player Victor

Wooten (named Bass Player of the Year by Bass magazine) would be.  You

gotta hear this guy!  But Bela, baby, if you're out there somehow,

somewhere, reading The Cup, can we give you some advice? Lose Future Man.

That SynthAxe Drumitar is no match for an honest-to-goodness jazz drummer.

Besides, his poetry stinks.


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

                          BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS


                                Geo Kloppel



"If I missed anything important, you can blame Uncle Sam, who makes

curious demands on the self-employed at this time of year."



      The many thousands of SNOW GEESE made a grand avian spectacle on

Cayuga Lake again this March, forming enormous rafts dense as grinding

pack-ice that trailed floes far across the water, and taking to the air in

great rolling fronts of swirling white like distant wind-borne squalls.

      After such a mild winter we wouldn't expect to get a lot of

RED-NECKED GREBEs returning westward. I found only one report in


and WOOD DUCK showed up in numbers, for all who cared to visit the

shallows, the marshes, and of course the Savannah mucklands, where

Stephen Davies discovered one EURASIAN WIGEON drake among its American

cousins on 3/22. Amazingly, he found another just 30 minutes later at

the Canoga marshes, but that was it for the Basin and the month.

Migrating RED-BREASTED MERGANSERs were numerous, a few SURF SCOTERs

and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERs were spotted;  and RUDDY DUCKs piled up at

Montezuma near the end of the month, but Oldsquaw did not show in March.

     The fields near Seneca Meadows continued to produce GLAUCOUS

GULLs, and Stephen described a GLAUCOUSxHERRING GULL hybrid


were all seen at Stewart Park, Myers Point and/or Dryden Lake. A note from

beyond the borders: 61 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLs were found one day on an

athletic playing field just north of Philadelphia, suggesting that the

North American success of this species continues to build.

      WOODCOCK were widespread by month's end, COMMON SNIPE and AMERICAN

PIPITs turned up, and an early G. YELLOWLEGS was found by Kevin and Jay

McGowan at MNWR.

      There was some disappointment expressed about the lackluster flow

of hawks through the region, but watchers ticked migrating RED-SHOULDERED

HAWKs and COOPERS HAWKs, a BALD EAGLE and several MERLIN, and the April

flights may be overhead even as you read this. At least 4 NORTHERN

GOSHAWKs were seen. Three GOLDEN EAGLEs were spotted from Mt. Pleasant,

another over Cayuga Heights, plus one barely extralimital bird in Newfield.

Dave Nutter reported a BLACK VULTURE over Cayuga Heights on 3/15. This year

the OSPREY seem to have returned to their nests at the north end of the

lake without being seen over Tompkins Co., which should make us wonder

what else we FAILED TO NOTICE soaring overhead!

      Owlers continued to fill in their lists, reporting N. SAW-WHET OWL,


Owl faded.

      TREE SWALLOWs and E. PHOEBEs appeared in appropriate habitat

nearly simultaneously. RUSTY BLACKBIRDs were found at Sapsucker

Woods and Dryden Lake. WINTER WRENs began singing in many places,

just as a bout of unseasonable heat in the final days of the month brought

in a few exceptionally early migrants, including John Confer's PINE

WARBLER (3/29), David McDermitt's HOUSE WREN (3/30), a ROSE-BREASTED

GROSBEAK and an E.KINGBIRD spotted by yours truly on the last day of

March. SONG SPARROWs were everywhere of course, but SAVANNAH, VESPER,

CHIPPING, and FIELD SPARROWS also reappeared by month's end, and FOX

SPARROWs began passing through, the earliest one being seen by Martha

Fischer way back on 3/1.

      PINE SISKINS and PURPLE FINCHES were migrating northward

through the Basin and turning up at various feeders. The two CROSSBILL

species became thoroughly suburban, exploiting the superior cone crops

on lawn and yard trees in various places, and presumably enabling more

Cuppers to sweep the winter finches. It was quite exciting to follow the

shifting reports of mixed crossbill flocks around the East Hill

neighborhoods. So many of us were out looking for them that our chance

meetings in the City Cemetery made March seem like May!


(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows.  He won the Thoreau Award

in the 1997 Cuppers' Choice Awards.  Big surprise, huh?)


100      100      100      100      100      100      100       100

                               100 CLUB

100      100       100      100       100       100       100       100


Stephen Davies Bird 100: To be reported next month


Kevin McGowan's Bird 100: Osprey


Geo Kloppel's Bird 100:  Ruddy Duck, "affectionately thought of

 Daffy,' for that big bill."


Jay McGowan's Bird 100: Blue-winged Teal


200           200          200          200           200           200

                                 2     0    0

      200             200                            200           200


Sign on 200 Club door:


"Think again."


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



1998 David Cup March Totals


112 Stephen Davies

110 Kevin McGowan

109 Geo Kloppel

106 Jay McGowan

102 Tom Nix

  99 Pat Lia

  96 Steve Kelling

  93 Karl David

  88 John Morris

  87+ Bill Evans

  87 Allison Wells

  87 Jeff Wells

  86 Anne Kendall

  84 Jon Kloppel

  83 Matt Sarver

  79 Ken Rosenberg

  78 Perri McGowan

  74 John Greenly

  74 Matt Medler

  72 Martha Fischer

  70 Alan Krakauer

  68 John Bower

  68 Marty Schlabach

  63 Nancy Dickinson

  61 Kim Kline

  60 John Fitzpatrick

  58 Jim Lowe

  58 Ben Taft

  50 Caissa Willmer

  50 Ann Mathieson

  49 Kylie Spooner

  43 Chris "I'm Back and Here to Stay" Butler

  43 Gary Chapin

  42 Scott Mardis*

  40 Anne James

  39 Kurt Fox

  35 Tom Lathrop

  34 Margaret Barker

  33 Anne James

  33 Cathy Heidenreich

  31 Michael Runge

  25 Carol Bloomgarden

  18 Dave Mellinger*

  18 Mimi "Catbirder" Wells (David Kitty Cup)

  16 Swift McGowan (David Kitty Cup)

  16 Teddy Wells (David Kitty Cup)

  12 Nina Roth-Wells

   0   James "El Ni o" Barry*

   0   Andy Leahy

   0   Larry Springsteen*

   0  Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen*


*Currently living out-of-state.  But that's no excuse.


1998 McIlroy Award March Totals


87 Bill Evans

72 Jeff Wells

69 Allison Wells

68 Martha Fischer

67 Kevin McGowan

66 John Bower

60 Stephen Davies

58 Karl David

57 Jay McGowan

48 Jim Lowe

46 Ken Rosenberg

38 Matt Medler

31 Michael Runge

26 Ben Taft

18 Dave Mellinger

14 Anne Kendall


1998 Evans Trophy March Totals


(Compiled by Matt Medler for Bard Prentiss, who's currently out of town)


79 Kevin McGowan

75 Jay McGowan

72 Ken Rosenberg

47+ Bard Prentiss


1998 March Lansing


Compiled by Matt Medler


66 Kevin McGowan

58 John Greenly


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


Compiled By Margaret Launius


Happy Easter!  Here's the New York yard list totals as of 3/31:


62      Ken Smith, Groton, NY

60      John W. Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY

55      Steve Kelling, Berkshire, NY

53      Sandy Podulka, Brooktondale, NY

52      George Kloppel, W. Danby, NY

52      John Bower, Enfield, NY

50      Kevin McGowan, Dryden, NY

46      Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY

46      Mary Gerner, Macedon, NY

45      Ken Rosenberg, Dryden, NY

42      Bill Purcell, Hastings, NY

41      John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY

41      Jim Kimball, Geneseo, NY

41      John Van Niel, Seneca Falls, NY

40      Chris & Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, Etna NY

39      Marie McRae, Freeville, NY

38      Darlene Morabito, Auburn, NY

37      Joanne Goetz, Fredonia, NY

35      Ben Taft, Ithaca, NY

32      Ann Mathieson, Scipio Center, NY

32      Sara Jane & Larry Hymes, Ithaca, NY

29      Cathy Heidenreich, Lyons, NY

21      Nari Mistry, Ithaca, NY

  5     Susann  Argetsinger, Burdett, NY




Stephen Davies Leader's List was unavailable to the compiler at the time

ofthis writing, but said compiler also writes Stat's All, which is thus

devoted this month to some highly scientific guesswork as to what that

Leader's List should be ... if said Leader were last month's Leader ...

which he isn't.  But we didn't know this at the time.  Need I confuse you

further?  Aw, just read it and be amazed!





C Loon,P-b,Horned & R-n grebes,D-c Cormorant,G B Heron,Tundra

& Mute swans,Snow Goose,Brant,Canada Goose,Wood Duck,G-w Teal,

Am Black Duck,Mallard,N Pintail,B-w Teal,N Shoveler,Gadwall,

E Wigeon,Am Wigeon,Canvasback,Redhead,R-n Duck,G & L

scaup,Oldsquaw,Surf & W-w scoters,C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,Hooded,

C & R-b mergs, Ruddy Duck,BLACK VULTURE,Turkey Vulture,Osprey,

Bald Eagle,N Harrier,S-s&Cooper`s hawks,N Goshawk,R-s,R-t & R-l

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

Wild Turkey,Am Coot,Killdeer,G Yellowlegs,C Snipe,Am Woodcock,

Bonaparte's,R-b,Herring,Iceland,Lesser B-b,Glaucous & Great B-b gulls,

Rock & Mourning doves,E Screech-Owl,G H,Snowy,Barred,L-e &

S-e owls,N Saw-whet Owl, Belted Kingfisher,R-h & R-b woodpeckers,

Y-b Sapsucker,Downy & Hairy woodpeckers, N Flicker,Pileated

Woodpecker,E Phoebe,Horned Lark,Tree Swallow,Blue Jay,Am &

Fish crows,C Raven,B-c Chickadee,Tufted Titmouse,R-b &

W-b nuthatches, B Creeper,Carolina & Winter wrens,G-c Kinglet,

E Bluebird,Am Robin,Gray Catbird,N Mockingbird,Am Pipit,

did everybody Cedar Waxwing?,N Shrike,Eurostarling,Y-r Warbler,

C Yellowthroat,N Cardinal,Am Tree,Field,Vesper,Savannah,Fox,Song,

Swamp & W-t sparrows,D-e Junco,Lapland Longspur,Snow Bunting,

R-w Blackbird,E Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,C Grackle,B-h Cowbird,

Pine Grosbeak,Purple& House finches, Red & W-w crossbills,Common

Redpoll,HOARY REDPOLL,Pine Siskin,Am Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak,House



Added in proofreading (yes, I do that!): Hermit Thrush. Total: 135.


(Karl David is a mathematics professor at Wells College in Aurora, NY,

and is currently on sabbatical at Cornell. He does not get paid for

subbing, at least not for The Cup.)



                               !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to prove that being cowinner of David Cup '97 was no

fluke 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 vanished

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


This month's Cup leader, Stephen Davies, is presumably still busy

giving Mum and Pop (fellow Brits) the grand tour (we expect them to

drop into Cup headquarters anytime   what better tourist attraction is

there anywhere?) Our #2 Man, Kevin McGowan, had to leave town

unexpectedly on a family emergency.  So we decided to stick with our

original plan of grilling Davies   except we answered the questions for

him ... heh, heh, heh.


THE CUP: Stephen, you seemed surprised to find out you're on top this

month in the David Cup.  Weren't you being a little, well, faux modest?



DAVIES AS SECOND-GUESSED BY CUP EDITORS: There's nothing "faux" about it.

I really am modest.  I would never bloody brag about being the leader.

I've got good reason to, by jove, but I'm not going to pull a James

Cameron and start screaming, "I'm King of the World," especially since

I've got a helluva lot more at stake than a $200 million movie

budget.  No, I'll just act surprised and blush (even if I have to powder

it on).


THE CUP: Where's your DC trophy sitting?


DAVIES AS SECOND-GUESSED BY CUP EDITORS: I wanted to put it some place

where I'd see it every day.  The place where I spend 99% of my time.

What, my office at the vet school? Hardly!  Just because I'm a

grad student doesn't mean I actually have to do any work, just ask John

Bower. No, the DC trophy is sitting prominently on the dash board of my

car.  Right above the old Cheetos wrappers and Coke cans.


THE CUP: How does your dear Katherine feel about the trophy, is it a

painful reminder of precious "fianc  time" lost to birding or a source of

pride for her rough-and-tumble macho birdman?



I have learned the timeless art of hypnotism.  Whenever Katherine sees

the trophy, not only does she beg me to take her birding, she also gives

me a big smackeroo and beams with pride.  She's a little disappointed

that I had to share it with Kevin McGowan, but I'm hoping Kevin will

forget that he was cowinner and I'll be able to take it to San Francisco

with me when I move. Hopefully, it's hypnotic powers will work outside

the Basin.


THE CUP: How has your impending wedding affected your birding life?

(How is it that you've managed to pull ahead in the DC despite of the

approaching nuptials?)


DAVIES AS SECOND-GUESSED BY CUP EDITORS: My lead is an early wedding gift

from Katherine. I hope it's the kind of gift that keeps on giving.


THE CUP: Which bird are you most looking forward to seeing when you move

to San Francisco, and which Basin birds will you miss most deeply?


DAVIES AS SECOND-GUESSED BY CUP EDITORS: My favorite colour is still

grey, so any gull will do.  As far as what I'll miss, I'd have to

say any Basin bird I don't see this year before I move, because missing

those kinds of misses will significantly reduce my chances of retaining

my cochampionship, which I'm definitely planning on doing.


THE CUP:  Will you make the 200 Club before heading out?



haven't made it in already, given how much time I've put it birding all

over the Basin.


THE CUP: Kevin heard your little remark about taking the trophy to

California with you.  He's asked us to press you to keep that lump of

wood, er, beautiful DC trophy right here in the Basin   and if you wouldn't

mind, giving it a polish before you hand it over to him when you leave.



@#**#&^$&#*   &$@#*%$#$*&*!!!


THE CUP: Errr, thanks, Stephen!



a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast!




                               By Jay McGowan


The McGowans had to leave town unexpectedly, so look for BirdBits

again next month.  (We wish the McGowans well.)



                         STAT'S ALL, FOLKS

                            By Karl David



      The unavailability of Stephen Davies' Leader's List led the editors to

suggest that I devote this month to a discussion of how a statistician

would approach trying to make an educated guess as to our #2 Man's March

additions (he was the leader in February and that list appeared in

The Cup 3.2). Using the data most easily available to me, viz. my own

records, I would solipsistically calculate the frequency with which I have

seen species by the end of March that he's not yet recorded and assign

birds to him in decreasing order of those frequencies.

      This is what any statistician, in fact any intelligent person, would

do in the absence of any particular information about what's actually been

happening this year in the Basin. In addition, information about what

actually happens inside Kevin's brain that makes him the kind of birder he

is can be used to override purely statistical deductions. These two factors

together lead me to the following analysis which, though it has almost as

little chance of being 100% right as I have of seeing Ed McMahon and Dick

Clark on my front doorstep, should fare considerably better than the purely

statistical one. There's a third factor: call it the "J-factor." Kevin's

birding is not purely driven by his own tastes and wants, if you know what

I mean. So: down to the numbers.  We begin with a painfully common (to me

at least) occurrence in the Cup: Kevin's totals in February were 88 while

the number of species on his list was 87.  So I have to begin by spotting

him one bird to level the playing field. Scanning the list of missing

birds, I won't add the most ubiquitous but posit that there's no way this

gull expert would have missed Lesser Black-backed Gull, especially since

it's been at one of his "work" sites (Stewart Park) all winter. So give

Kevin that bird in February and move on to March.

      The Composite Deposit total I have for March is 135. Kevin reported

110 birds by the end of March. With his amended February list at 88, that

means he has seen 22 of the 47 birds not on his February list. It also

means he added the same number of birds to his personal list in March as

were added to the overall list, since the CD went from 113 to 135: 22

birds. That's quite a feat! Of course, he had some easy cleanup to take

care of after coming back from Costa Rica ... another specific fact that of

course could play no role in a purely statistical analysis.

      Here's my annotated speculative list of Kevin's March additions.

First, the no-brainers: Turkey Vulture, Killdeer, Eastern Phoebe, Tree

Swallow, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle (total: 6).  Next I consider

winter finches. All have been seen this year, and the McGowans have Hoary

Redpoll. So it's a chance to go for a clean sweep (something I've

never managed). Add Purple Finch and both crossbills (cumulative total: 9).

American Pipit, Fox Sparrow and Rusty Blackbird, while hardly automatic,

aren't too hard to find at this time of year if you know where to look. I'd

guess our leader has all three by now (cumulative total: 12). The next

group relies in part on my questionably reliable memory, namely that

Kevin may have mentioned a late-month trip to Montezuma. Assuming (!)

that's right, add Blue-Winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck

and Osprey (cumulative total: 16).

      Now for owls. Even kids who aren't birders think owls are cool, so the

J-factor really weighs heavily here. Short-eared and Northern Saw-whet

Owls have been regularly reported; the only possible fly in the ointment is

that the Short-ears disappeared from the Seneca Airport before Kevin got

back to North America. I'll say they didn't, so we're up to 18.

      It gets a lot harder now, but I'll assume Kevin put in both some lake

time and some hawk watching time this month, keeping the J-factor in mind

especially for the latter. This adds White-winged Scoter and Bonaparte's

Gull, probably at Stewart Park, and Red-shouldered Hawk and Golden Eagle,

possibly from Mt. Pleasant but also quite possibly from an increasingly

favored location of a number of Cayugabirders: their front decks.  Anyway,

that brings us to the magic number of 22.

      How about the birds I guessed he DIDN'T see? I didn't include any

half-hardies seen on the Christmas Count or later (e.g. Double-crested

Cormorant, Hermit Thrush, Swamp Sparrow). That's because one of the

most memorable points I remember Kevin making in one of his Coach's

Corners is not to chase goldfinches in January (unless you're out to prove

Kurt Fox right). These birds will come of their own later.  By the same

token, I'm not counting the three permanent resident birds he's still

lacking (Northern Goshawk, Great Horned Owl, Carolina Wren). He well may

have gotten some of these, but he probably didn't go out looking

specifically for them either, since there's still a lot of time to get

them. So the probability in a one-month span is fairly low.

      Another category are new birds just making the CD by the end of

March (e.g. Greater Yellowlegs, Field Sparrow). He'll get these sooner or

later, but the probability he was essentially the first to see them is low

enough to exclude them.

      Finally, the CD has four birds unusual enough to warrant chasing,

especially with the J-factor in mind. One of these (Black Vulture) was

clearly just in transit and so can be ignored, but I'll bet the other three

were chased if the time was available: Eurowigeon, Red-headed Woodpecker

and Pine Grosbeak. The latter in particular would be needed to complete

a winter finch sweep, but it just didn't seem reliable enough at its one

location to make me confident he got it.  For Jay's sake (I gave it away!)

I hope I'm wrong on all three of these.


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






                      "To the esteemed editors of The Cup"


As you know, I am quite a fan of your publication.  Not to induce any

competitive squabbling among the staff, but the highlight, for me, is

Karl David's "Stat's All" column.  The Longspur series was particularly

lucid and educational.  Maybe if you paid him more, he wouldn't move



Just as most of America anticipates the remaining "Seinfeld" episodes,

I am looking forward to the remaining David columns.




                                                      Michael Runge

Dear Mike --


You're a geek.



                                                      The Cup Editors


P.S. Father Karl agreed a few months back to continue his Stat's All

column from afar.


Scrawl #2: The below post to Cayugabirds was so exquisite, we had to

reprint it here, by popular demand:


                        An Observation by Geo Kloppel


Today's highlight, not at the feeders, was a Winter Wren found in a tiny

trickle that runs east down a ravine, an old logging slash tangled with

vines, brambles and roses. The sun was getting low in the west, and I

approached the ravine from the lower end, where it runs out into the little

valley of Beech Hill Brook through a gap in the steep wall. The sun shone

directly in my eye as I looked up the trickling ravine, and there at eye

level under the leafless raspberry canes stood a Winter Wren, bathing in

the water and merrily splashing droplets in all directions that blazed as

they caught the sunlight. It seemed about the cheeriest moment the world

can ever contain, and the dreary old slash was transformed.


(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.)



                      <  COACH'S CORNER        <

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

                     <           <

                      <         <

                        < < < <


"Coaches Corner should be with you soon."  This from Stephen Davies.

On April 6.  And here we've been blaming Bill Evans for everything!


Turns out, Stephen hosted (is still hosting?) a visit from his family from

Wales, so he's excused.  Sort of. Cup coeditor Jeff Wells has agreed to

earn his title by stepping in to pinch-coach for Davies at the last

minute ... literally. Look for Coach Davies next month, unless he's too

busy getting married...


COACH WELLS: As this issue of The Cup reaches you, the Basin is on the

verge of experiencing the year's first great tidal wave of songbird

migrants. Already, the most northerly of our wintering warblers  Pine and

Yellow-rumped   are in the Basin. The colorful multitudes are not far


      Most of the warblers that occur in spring migration also breed

in the Basin or pass through again in the fall.  There are a few, however,

that seem easier to find or identify in the spring.  Golden-winged Warbler,

Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Blackpoll Warbler, are a few

that come to mind.

      Where are some of the best places to look for these and other

returning migrants?  Of course, there's the old standby, City Cemetery on

Stewart Avenue. Watch the tops of the trees, especially the hemlocks and

spruce. Search until you find the warbler flock   it'll be constantly on

the move, so be prepared. Another great place to check is Mundy Wildflower

Gardens in the Cornell Plantations.  Over many years, this site has

consistently turned up good birds   it's one of the few places where

Golden-winged Warblers seem to turn up every spring.  Other good places

include Sapsucker Woods (great Northern Waterthrush spot), Larch Meadows,

Buttermilk Falls State Park, and the old railroad bed along Dryden Lake.

      With the relatively early leaf-out of many tree species this year,

songbirds may be less concentrated in just a few areas.  Check out any

patch of woods or scrub. To find out more tips for watching warblers,

species accounts, recordings of songs, and other interesting information

visit the Warbler Watch Web site at

      So get out there, enjoy the season, and delight in our incoming



(Jeff Wells is National Audubon of New York's Director of Bird

Conservation. That hair on the floor of Gene's Barber Shop?  Yeah, the

five-inch strands, that's his.)



mmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm



Our McIlroy Man of the Month is in Texas   and after all the fuss he made

over our little gag last month with Bohn Jower, er John Bower.  (Actually,

Bill loved the joke.  Hmmph!)  Since he couldn't be reached for

comment, we thought we'd send him a little note:


                   "B.E. bird home!"



                  BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

                     By Caissa Willmer


    This month's Bird Brain is  6' 3" with blue eyes and brown hair. He

likes judo, playing the piano, and reading science fiction. He's "totally

head-over-heels" for his girlfriend and spends a lot of time trying to

convince her to go birding. He is Chris Butler, a sophomore in Natural

Resources at Cornell, aiming to get a PhD in ornithology, and a vibrant

birding raconteur.

      He started birding at five, when his "kindergarten teacher gave us a

sheet of paper with the outlines of birds on it. I only recognized a robin,

but there was a cute little bird with a black cap that struck my fancy. I

asked my teacher, 'What color should this be?' 'That's a goldfinch, Chris,'

she explained. 'They're usually yellow.' So, I decided to pick a more

interesting color and made the bird green with pink polka dots.

      "That afternoon, walking home from the bus stop with my little bird

drawings tightly clutched in my hot, grubby fingers, I saw a small flock of

birds explode from the shrubbery not five feet away. In the afternoon

sunlight, they seemed to glow with a yellowish fire as bright as the sun.

Stunned, I watched them flutter away. 'Goldfinches,' I whispered to myself

'are really really pretty.' I was hooked.

      "No one in my family was interested in birds, but they were willing

to go out of their way to take me birding, particularly my father.

Although a wonderful, intelligent man, he didn't know a Scarlet Tanager

from a Reddish Egret. I found field trips with him especially hilarious.

When we encountered other birders, they would immediately assume that my

father was a birder sharing the experience with his young son.

Consequently, I would whisper things to him to help him out. A typical

conversation would go something like this:

      "An elderly man with Zeiss binoculars and a Swarovski telescope walked

leisurely towards us on the beach. As he approached, I whispered to my dad,

'Ok Dad, there's a flock of Black-bellied Plovers out there on the mudflats.'

      "'Got it,' Dad replied.

      The man hailed us with a typical birder's greeting, 'Anything good out


      "'There's a flock of Black-bellied Plovers out there,' my dad replied.

      Just then I whispered to him, 'Dad, there's a breeding plumaged

American Golden-Plover on the far side!'

      "'Oh,' my Dad added easily. 'There's also a Golden-Plover on the far


      "'Well,' the man replied with extreme politeness. 'Black-bellied

Plovers look a lot like Golden-Plovers. Also, it's the middle of July.

Golden-Plovers don't usually show up until the first week of  September.'

      "'Take a look,' my Dad invited. 'It's in breeding plumage.'

      "'That would certainly be interesting,' the man said, peering through

the scope. 'But I'm afraid... By Golly! There IS a Golden-Plover out there!'

      "My dad would just smile.


      "Although my dad was wonderful to go birding with, my mom was an

incredible good luck charm. One day, she took my sister and me out to the

South Jetty in Astoria, Oregon. I was very excited. Black-legged Kittiwakes

were regular there. A new lifer! To say that I was extremely excited would

be an understatement. I was practically bouncing off the walls!

      "Once I got there, I was extremely disappointed. There were lots of

gulls, true, but no Black-legged Kittiwakes. I spent an hour sorting

through the gulls with no luck. I started complaining bitterly to Mom.

'There's no kittiwakes here,' I whined. 'We might as well go home.'

      "'It's okay, dear,' she said calmly. 'I'm sure you'll find your bird.

What's that one?' she asked, pointing to a bird flying twelve feet over our


      "It was a Black-legged Kittiwake.


      "I love my mom.

      "The first bird that I actually wrote down on my life list was a

Wilson's Storm-Petrel on July 18th, 1986. I was eight. My father had

taken me on a deep-sea fishing expedition off the coast of Cape Cod. I

forgot to bring my binoculars, so I concentrated on fishing. I caught a

Tautog that must have been ten inches long! To an eight-year-old, a ten

inch fish is a BIG fish. That was really neat. Even neater though were the

swallow-like birds that flitted around the ship. They seemed to actually

walk on the water! I was impressed and a little envious. After all, I

couldn't walk on the water! I decided that this was a bird worth writing

down. Before then, I had kept my life list in my head. Afterwards, I

started writing things down. Twelve years after I started listing

(and fourteen after I started birding), I'm up to 493 on my North American

Life List and hope to break 500 this year.

      Chris's favorite birding sites in the Basin are Montezuma NWR, the

Ithaca City Cemetery, and Mundy Wildflower Garden. He likes the shorebirds

at Montezuma especially. "I have a soft spot in my heart for those little

mudsuckers. Every summer since I was born, my family would vacation at

Cape Cod. I would go out to Monomoy Island and spend hours staring at the

shorebirds. At first I thought they were really bland looking, but after

awhile, I really came to appreciate the subtle beauty of their grays and


      "I like Mundy Wildflower Garden because it's close to where I live,

and I've had some pretty good birds there. It's often pretty dead but

then, suddenly, something like a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher will pop up.

      "I like the Ithaca Cemetery because there's nothing else like it in

the Basin during spring migration.

      "My favorite Basin birding companions are probably Chris Hymes-

Tessaglia and Dan Scheiman. I try not to let them go birding without me.

The last time they went without me, they found a Pine Grosbeak - my

archnemesis!  We've had some really great times together. I also like

birding with Matt Medler, Ben Taft, and Matt Sarver."

      Chris is one of the Basin birders lucky enough to have seen the

Gyrfalcon, but it took some doing. He heard about the bird on the Saturday

of its visit, too late to make a try for it. He had promised Sunday to his

girlfriend, which prompts him to think that the old chestnut, "No good deed

goes unpunished," was true.

      On Monday, though, he says, "I woke up at 5:00 and was out the door

at 6:00. Hoping against hope, I sped north to the Mucklands. I got there as

the sun was rising and spent forty minutes fruitlessly searching. Dejected,

I went to Montezuma NWR and tried to wash the bitter taste of failure out

of my mouth by staring at waterbirds.

      "At 8:00 I decided to take one more stab at the Gyr. I spent fifty

minutes searching the fields without any luck. A passing jogger slowed

down and asked me what I was looking for. I replied, 'A Gyrfalcon. They

live up in Alaska but one wandered down here.'

      "'Where is it?' he inquired.

      "'I've spent fifty minutes looking for it with no luck... but I think

that's it there!!!!' I shouted, pointing over his shoulder.

      "It was the Gyrfalcon, coursing low over the field. I was happy.

      "I had another memorable birding experience in the Basin last spring.

Dan Scheiman, Chris Hymes, Ryan Bakelaar, and I decided to do a big

'Half-Day' in between finals and studying. We started way too early

(midnight), had way too much caffeine, drove way too fast, laughed too loud

and long

at jokes that weren't really funny, and  had a blast. It doesn't get any

better than being surrounded by your friends as you try to do something

completely and totally insane.

      Birding intrudes quite a bit in Chris's life. He spends spare time

reading bird books, looking at bird links on the web, and going birding

when he can, at least three or four times a week. "I'd like to get out

every day" he says, "but unfortunately I have all these silly restrictions

on my time." He keeps a life list, a list of Oregon birds, and a list of

Massachusetts birds, and when asked if he had any tips for other birders,

he said, "Yeah, I usually tip about 15- 20%." He's currently designing web

pages for the NY Gap Analysis project, and this summer, he'll be conducting

a grassland birds study in the Finger Lakes National Forest.

      When asked about his all time favorite birding experiences, he boiled

over with enthusiasm, tales, and catalogues of wonderful times and

wonderful birds, ending with: "If I had to pick just ONE favorite

experience, it would be my trip this past summer. My dad and I drove (from

Oregon) to Ithaca by way of Arizona  and Tennessee. We spent three days

exploring southeastern Arizona. I saw so many neat birds - Violet-crowned

Hummingbird, Gray Hawk, Vermillion Flycatcher, etc. I also got to go

birding with Kenn Kaufman, which was lots of fun. That guy is FAST(!) on

his IDs!

      "My favorite experience of the whole excursion was when I was walking

up one of the canyons in Madera Canyon. I heard some muted whistling and

stopped to watch, transfixed, as an adult Elegant Trogon(!) settled down on

a branch 20 feet away and started feeding his/her fledglings! They were so

incredibly BEAUTIFUL! I don't know how long I watched them. After they

left, I wandered over to the tree they had been sitting on and found a

breast feather of the adult lying on the ground. Everytime I see it, I

have to smile. The feather sums up what birding means to me; all the

novelty, beauty and excitement of birding rolled into one feather."


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

Development.  She's also theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)



                              BIRD VERSE



In honor of poet A.R. Ammons, Cornell Univerisity's Goldwin Smith

Professor of Poetry who was recently honored with "AmmonsFest" at

Cornell, we have included here some Cup-appropriate poems for your

reading pleasure.  Ammons (who served on Allison's MFA committee) has

won almost every major poetry award, including the National Book Award

and Bollingen Prize; AmmonsFest, which included a reading by Ammons, was

attended by some of the literary world's leading scholars, who also gave

lectures about Ammons work and contribution to contemporary verse.  Here

are a few reasons why the Cup editors admire his work:


                                  "Winter Scene"


                             There is not a single

                             leaf on the cherry tree


                             except when the jay

                             plummets in, lights, and,


                             in pure clarity, squalls:

                             then every branch


                             quivers and

                             breaks out in blue leaves.





                              The sparrowhawk

                              flies hard to


                              stand in the

                              air: something


                              about direction

                              lets us loose


                              into ease

                              and slow grace



                             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...




Are birders dyslexic? Everyone was making such a fuss over the crossbills

at "Community Corners" that I finally went there myself to see them. But

I also saw that the sign prominently identifies the location as "Corners

Community." Any observations on your part to corroborate my theory?


                                               --Up Mixed in Aurora


:pU dexiM raeD


.flesym ngis eht tuo dekcehc I  ."srenorC ytinummoC" syas tI  .cixelsyd

er'uoy sselnu, ni hcihw esac ouy dluohs wonk yb won.




If a tree falls in a shopping center and nobody is there to hear them, do

the crossbills still make a sound when they fly out?


                                        --Still Up Mixed in Aurora

Dear Still Mixed Up:


Hmm. Why don't you find out? Go cut down "the tree" at said shopping

center and see what kind of "noise" results ...


(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at


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


"Martha Fischer and I saw a group of 30 Eastern Meadowlarks feeding in the

large field that runs along Hanshaw Road, across from the south end of

Sapsucker Woods Road.   One treated us to a song, which was music to our

winter-weary ears!"

                                                   --Annette Finney


"Nice work on the Bill Evans thing.  Only thing is you let the cat out

of the bag a little quick.  He did not get the chance to really sweat,

but he did get overly excited.  Should take a few years off his life


                                                     --John Bower


"Hi Matt -- I just finished scanning 'The Cup' and just happened to

notice my totals weren't included.  I know I was late in committing the

pound of flesh and pint of blood to this year's pot, but was wondering

if this was the reason, or if my January and February totals never got

through.  Please advise."

                                               --Regards, John Morris


"John --  Sorry that you got left out of the Cup standings.  The usual

system is that people send their totals (and any messages or witty

comments) to [the editors] and then [they] send along the totals to me.

However, as far as I can remember, I never got your totals.  It must

have been [the editors] fault.  :)  I'll let [them] know, and we'll be

sure that the whole (Cup) world knows your totals for March.  How's

that for a little pressure?"

                                                  --Matt Medler


"It's Bill Evans', er, Stephen Davies' fault."

                                                   --Editors, The Cup


"Since you did not specify the number base for Bird 100, I'll assume you

meant binary. 100 in binary is 4 base 10. So... my bird 100 was American


                                                    --Scott Mardis


"The really odd sight was at Tsache Pool. As we watched the Bald

Eagles there, a yellow and white parakeet (cockateil?) winged by at eye

level. Try explaining that one to a group of beginning birders!"


                                                     --John Van Neil


"Are we doomed? Late Saturday afternoon  (cloudy and west windy) we

were inspected for about 5 minutes by a nearly stationary committee of

about twenty (20)! vultures soaring idly and  virtually immobile on the

west wind above Parkway Place."

                                                       --Watt Webb


"On Friday, I took a day off from work for a trip around the lake.

There were a lot of waterfowl on the lake, but unfortunately, I did not

get past Aurora.  I turned down Center Rd. near Long Point State Park to

look for Horned Lark ... By the time I got to the turnoff for Long Point,

one of my brand new tires (only on the car 4 days) had gone nearly flat."


                                                         --Anne Kendall


"Although I really wanted an Ithaca Kestrel -- one practically landed

on my car last week in Wisconsin -- I was treated to some happy little

birds up on the Cornell fields by the water tower."

                                                        --Ben Taft


"I just got back from spending a couple months cruising around the

Sargasso Sea on the SSV Corwith Cramer. It's so great to be back on land

now and see exciting birds like European Starling and American Crow! Yes,

I really missed these fascinating birds. Life can get so boring when all

you see are White-tailed Tropicbirds, Brown Noddies, Red-footed Boobies,

etc. Since returning, I feel that I have made a successful adaptation to

land and have found 43 species during March. However, I DID have to get

a waterbed so I could fall asleep at night..."

                                                    --Chris Butler


"Stopped at the Stewart Ave. Cemetery yesterday at 3 pm, just in time

to see 18 crossbills fly off to the north."

                                                   --John Bower


"Regarding the recent crossbill sightings, it may be significant that last

week I saw five hefty flocks of Crossbills over the course of the week in

southbound flight ... Hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha!"

                                                   --Bill Evans


"Here are my March totals.  These numbers are, of course, only for birds

reliably identified -- that is, by ear.  None of that sight-only scamming

for me."

                                                     --Dave Mellinger


"Though falling short of last year's record marks by Kelling (97) and

A.Wells (91), Evans nonetheless turned in an impressive record given there

was no competition pushing him.  A Vesper Sparrow early this evening put

him at 87 for March. "

                                                     --Bill Evans

P.S.  Hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha!!!


May Your Cup Runneth Over,


Allison and Jeff