Year 3, Issue 6


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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: "Shot Gun" Kevin McGowan

*  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

*  On-set Grounds Keeper: Jeff Wells



You worked hard this spring.  Staying on top of all those warblers

everywhere, the thrushes by the bushels, and the sparrows! Good heaven's,

the sparrows! Lincoln's, White-crowns--why, there was

barely time to post your sightings to Cayugabirds, right?  Okay,

so migration was all but a myth this year.  You still worked hard!

You got up and out there, hoping, with every buzz of your alarm

clock that this would be the morning the migrants dropped by Mundy

for breakfast. And everyday, you were pretty disappointed.  But

still, you rose and shone...sort of.


So kick back, relax, unwind.  Seek joy in the dear ordinary: the iridescent

ruby-red and emerald-green shimmer of the hummingbird

that hovers at your bee balm in the late afternoon sun; your "neighborhood"

meadowlark's melancholy whistle; the kestrel perched majestically on the

wire every morning as you drive to work; the

swallow peeping out of the nest box you put up at the edge of your

yard; the lazy flap of a heron high over the road up ahead.  Okay,

so you miss the Least Sandpipers at Myer's Point.  You'll see them

and a dozen other shorebird species at Montezuma soon enough.


Meanwhile, there's the current issue of The Cup to print and read

out in the hammock as your "pet" Carolina Wren "teakettles" nearby.

So pour yourself and your sweetie a frosty glass of lemonade and

settle in with The Cup 3.6!


                     @   @    @    @    @     @

                         NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                       @   @    @    @     @     @


WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN?: [See Dear Tick, this issue.]


ETNA CHALLENGE: Have you heard? The Cup packed up and left town!

Literally.  Our new headquarters is in Etna, nestled next to a

certain vast grassland where Upland Sandpipers and Henslows Sparrows have

been known to roam, and overlooking the "Mt. Pleasant Mountain Range," with

a bit of wetland thrown in for good measure.  What does this shift mean for

the David Cup adventure series? It means that

now there's a new title to gallop after: the Etna Challenge! Despite

Cup staff having the upper hand, everyone is invited to join...

except Chris and Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, because they live in Etna,



RUNNER-UP: Apparently there's a big to-do over a new Nike add in

which a runner is wearing a t-shirt proudly bearing, "Ithaca".  The

real question is not "What's the Ithaca connection here?" or "Why Ithaca?"

but rather, "Why isn't it a David Cup T?"  Well, here's

why: they never asked for one! Can you believe it?  Just wait till

the David Cup movie comes out.  They'll be wanting not only DC T's galore

but a McDonald's tie-in, too: the Big Mac will become the

Big David, and Ronald McDonald will morph into...Father Karl

himself! Now that'll really be something to savor!


BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: Syracuse Blues Fest.  This weekend.

We won't be there, we'll be out of town.  Ken won't be there,

he'll be out of town. Kevin won't be there, he'll be out of town.

If you're not going to be out of town, it's sure to be a groovin'

good time.  Go check it out...and send us a report!


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

                                                BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS


                        Geo Kloppel



      My inner DJ thinks I'm hopelessly dense. He's forever spinning

some song or tune which obliquely highlights the circumstances of

the hour. It loops unobtrusively in my mental background until finally my

attention is snagged. I received such a covert message from my subconscious

in June, characterizing the month's Basin birding.

Since the editors have perversely abandoned the culture-segment of

the monthly Kicking Tail interview, I'm gonna insert it here as


      During the month, cuts from Bala Toujour's TERRE HAUTE and

DEUX VOYAGES were circling suggestively between my ears. Among

then was LE FALCON GRIS, a Louisiana fiddlers' anthem worn shiny

with age, sometimes the frame for lyrics about the Battle of New Orleans.

It hadn't spent much time on the charts since Jean Jacques Fougere Audubon

ceased offering instruction in the genteel arts of fencing and the dance,

but here it was, wearing deep ruts in my gray matter, like an obsession

sent from the ghost of "Stonewall"

Jackson. When I shook it off, up popped LE CANARD A BOIS SEC (the

Duck of Dry Woods) in its place, a little puzzle which still has me

wondering: "Si on veut le manger, on a besoin de cuire; si on veut

le cuire, on a besoin de plumer, si on veut le plumer, on a besoin to

trouver. Qui sait qui va trouver le canard a bois sec?" Who knows indeed?

      Then I got carried off by the infectiously swinging "J'AI PERDU

MES LUNETTES" - wouldn't the Cup editors have found that a laughable

excuse! When there was a break in the bird-music programming, I

would receive some obscure bird story or riddle, like the following:

On one occasion Ma-tsu and Po-chang were out for a walk when they

saw some wild geese flying past. "What are those?" asked Ma-tsu. "They're

wild geese," answered Po-chang. "Where are they going?" demanded Ma-tsu.

Po-chang replied "They've already flown away."

Suddenly Ma-tsu grabbed Po-chang by the nose, and twisted it so that

he cried out in pain. "How," he shouted, "could they ever have flown away?"

This was the moment of Po-chang's awakening.

      That was pretty much the moment of my awakening too - I

suddenly knew what deprivation I suffered from. "J-U-N-E-H-A-S-

B-E-E-N-S-L-O-W" said my secret decoder-ring. Oh sure, there were

lots of birds around. Where I live, you have to dodge accipiters when you

go outdoors, and 16 or so warbler species breed within a short

walk. But June offered scant opportunity for those who had birded

intensively in May to list additional birds. The few highlights of

the month stand-out in lonely relief against a backdrop filled with

busy breeders:


at Myers Point in the early days of June, along with a COMMON TERN.

A CASPIAN TERN near the white lighthouse jetty, a BLACK TERN

along Neimi Road, and a LAWRENCE'S WARBLER hybrid along the

South Hill Rec Way were among the more interesting offerings.

      People continued to find VIRGINIA RAILS, both BITTERNS, a few


uncommon breeders like PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, not to mention the CROSSBILLS

and SISKINS. Escapee TRUMPETER SWANS showed up at

Montezuma again.

      The one true rarity of the month put in a very brief appearance

on the final day thereof: an AMERICAN AVOCET at Myers Point,

possibly the same bird that visited the Red Lighthouse Jetty last summer,

although that one passed almost a month later, around July 24, '97. We owe

this year's avocet to the vigilant Matt Young, who oughta

be turning up near the top of the DC standings if he ever gets



(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. He speaks French. Or

at least he sings it. Bon, Geo!)


100      100      100      100      100      100      100       100

                                                                       100 CLUB

100      100       100      100       100       100       100       100


Sign on 100 Club Door:


                        "Please go directly to 200 Club"



200          200          200           200           200

                                2     0    0

   200             200                            200           200


Sign on 200 Club door:


                          "Temporarily Out of Order"


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


1998 David Cup June Totals


Compiled by Matt Medler


212 Geo Kloppel

205 Kevin McGowan

202 Jay McGowan

199 Ken Rosenberg

194 Allison Wells

191 Karl David

189 Jeff Wells

186 Meena Haribal

185 Chris Butler

183 Alan Krakauer

182 Pat Lia

181 Anne Kendall

178 Matt Medler

176 Steve Kelling

161 Matt Sarver

154 John Greenly

152 John Morris

146 Jon Kloppel

146 Nancy Dickinson

138 John Fitzpatrick

138 Marty Schlabach

133 Steve Pantle

127 Jim Lowe

126 Ben Taft

124 Perri McGowan

120 Gary Chapin

115 Martha Fischer

112 Stephen Davies

116 Kim Kline

102 Tom Nix

  99 Melanie Uhlir

  96 John Bower

  85 Michael Runge

  85 Caissa Willmer

  84 Carol Bloomgarden

  75 Swift McGowan (DC Kitty Cup)

  72 Anne James

  70 Ann Mathieson

  57 Kylie Spooner

  52 Mimi Wells (DC Kitty Cup)

  48 Cathy Heidenreich

  46 Dave Mellinger

  44 Teddy Wells (DC Kitty Cup)

  42 Scott Mardis

  39 Kurt Fox

  35 Tom Lathrop

  34 Margaret Barker

  26 Andy Leahy

  19 Figaro (DC Kitty Cup)

   0 James "Apapane" Barry*

   0 Ralph Paonessa*

   0 Larry Springsteen*

   0 Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen*


*Currently living out-of-state.


1998 McIlroy Award June Totals


Compiled by Matt Medler


133 Allison Wells

132 Kevin McGowan

131 Jeff Wells

122 Karl David

107 Jay McGowan

110 Ken Rosenberg

  99 Jim Lowe

  93 Martha Fischer

  91 Matt Medler

  89 John Bower

  82 Michael Runge

  80 Anne Kendall

  62 Ben Taft

  60 Stephen Davies

  42 Dave Mellinger


1998 Evans Trophy June Totals


Compiled by Bard Prentiss


174 Ken Rosenberg

169 Matt Young

164 Kevin McGowan

160 Jay McGowan

156 Bard Prentiss

108 Anne Kendall


1998 June Lansing Totals


Compiled by Matt Medler


132 Kevin McGowan

122 John Greenly


1998 June Etna Challenge!

73 Allison Wells

71 Jeff Wells

17 Casey Sutton


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


By Casey Sutton


120 Steve Kelling, Berkshire, NY

117 Ken Rosenberg, Dryden, NY

111 Kevin McGowan, Dryden, NY

110 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY

104 John Bower, Enfield, NY

   83 Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY

   70 Geo Kloppel, W. Danby, NY

   65 Darlene and John Morabito, Auburn, NY

   64 John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY

   52 Ben Taft, Ithaca, NY

   50 Ann Mathieson, Scipio Center, NY

   44 Jeff and Allison Wells, Etna, NY

   28 Susann Argetsinger, Burdett, NY




By Kevin McGowan


Here is Geo's Leader's List of 212 species:


R-t & C Loon,P-b,Horned & R-n Grebe,D-c Cormorant,Am &

L Bittern, G Blue & Green Heron, Tundra & Mute Swan,Snow &

C Goose, W 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,H, 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,R-n Pheasant,R Grouse,

W Turkey,VA Rail, C Moorhen, Am Coot,Semipalmated Plover,

Killdeer,G & L Yellowlegs, R Turnstone,Solitary,Spotted, Upland,

Semipalmated,Least,W-r & Pectoral Sandpiper,Dunlin,C Snipe, Am

Woodcock,Wilson's Phalarope,Bonaparte's, R-b,Herring, Iceland,

L B-b & G B-b Gull,Caspian,Common,Forster'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,C Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will,C Swift,

R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher,R-h & R-b Woodpecker,Y-b Sapsucker,Downy

& Hairy Woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,

E Wood-Pewee,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,Hermit & Wood Thrush, Am Robin,

Gray Catbird,N Mockingbird,Brown Thrasher,Am Pipit,C Waxwing,

N Shrike,European Starling,Blue-headed (Solitary),Y-t,Warbling,

Philadelphia & R-e Vireo, Blue-winged,TN & Nashville Warbler,

N Parula,Yellow,Chestnut-s,Magnolia,B-thr Blue, Y-r,

B-thr Green,Blackburnian,Pine,Prairie,Bay-b, Blackpoll,Cerulean &

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

N & LA Waterthrush,Mourning Warbler,C Yellowthroat, Hooded &

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

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

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

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

Grackle,B-h Cowbird,Baltimore Oriole, Pine Grosbeak,Purple & House

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

Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow.





Great Egret, B-c Night-Heron, Brant, E Wigeon, Oldsquaw,

Black Scoter, BLACK VULTURE, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon,

GYRFALCON, Sora,AMERICAN AVOCET, B-b Plover, Sanderling,

S-b Dowitcher, Glaucous Gull, Snowy Owl, Olive-s, Y-b & Acadian

Flycatcher, G-c & Swainson's Thrush, Golden-w, Cape May,Palm &

Wilson's Warbler, Lincoln's & W-c Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, Orchard



(Kevin McGowan is a curator of the Cornell Vertebrate Collections.

He will be attending a conference in South Africa in the near

future, if anyone would like to try to stuff themselves into his suitcase. )



                      <  COACH'S CORNER      <

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

                     <           <

                      <         <

                        < < < <


Remember what we said in the introduction? Well, if you insist on

going birding anyway, who better to get advice from than the Basin

Big Year Record holder himself, Ned Brinkley! We're reprinting his column

from last year at this time. No, not because we forgot to tap

a coach, we were just too darned tired to! Besides, Ned is lively

and knowledgeable. Catch your breath before reading this one!


COACH BRINKLEY: July is one of the nicest months to bird the Basin,

in my opinion as a Dixie-born birder.  First of all, it is actually

warm enough to go outside. This is the season for southerners

drifting north, as well as the first arctic nesters coming back south.

Moreover, if you're running low on new birds, you can usually find a

gamebird breeder to sell you a Northern Bobwhite, which you can

release somewhere and tick off.  Adam Byrne once saw one running

around the quad near Mann Library on the Cornell campus.  Tick!

      But seriously, it goes without saying that if you want to See

All That You Can See, you must now work very hard on your Missing Nesting

Species. Yellow-billed Cuckoo was often a nemesis for me.

Low, dense vegetation near water seemed good but nowhere was

reliable over more than 2-3 year periods. I used to play tapes for

them (perish the thought!) but often got little response. The TC

Airport ponds used to be okay, and some areas in the far southwestern Basin

and southeastern Basin were good (also for migrants). These

birds seem to be tied to the tent caterpillars.  You might also just wait

to get a flyover in August or early September from Mt. Pleasant

at night (also good for the bitterns and for Upland Sandpiper calling, all

of which you might be missing in September still, eh). [Editors' note:

Yellow-billed Cuckoos have been reported on a number of

occasions this year from the Prothonotary Warbler spot on Armitage

Road, near Montezuma.]

      Orchard Oriole can be tricky, but the lakeside communities on

the west shore, not just Sheldrake, should produce one.  No?  Then

drive roads of the western central Basin, listening for their

syncopated song around little clusters of houses with large shade

trees (and hopefully a pond or two), or around any group of old

orchard trees (apples) near cattle groves and watering holes. This is

tedious but important work. [Editors' note: We all know about the

one at Myer's Point now, too, right?]

      Certainly things like King Rail and Common Moorhen have nested in the

past, but you must content yourself with the hope of stumbling across one,

maybe at MNWR or the north end of the lake.  The tough warblers

(Yellow-throated, Kentucky, Worm-eating) have been much more reliably seen

south and west of the Basin lately, but keep hiking the glorious southern

boundaries of the Basin, at Conn Hill and elsewhere.  The lower elevations

are often given short shrift, as the higher elevations have those

enchanting Appalachian-affinity species. Try

the streamside sites at lower elevations in addition--in the early

succession stuff for things like White-eyed Vireo.  (I never did see

the latter in the Basin.) For Yellow-throated Warbler, check any pond area

(though I suppose one was found a good distance from water two years ago...)

      One of the most frustrating things for me while birding there in the

late 1980s and early 1990s was that Mays Point Pool was almost

NEVER drawn down in time in order for the parade of shorebirds to

stay a while on their way southward or southeastward--one often had to wait

until late August or later to see any good flats out there.  One hopes this

has changed. Even if there is not much in the way of

stopover migrant habitat, I remember a fun thing to do was to peek around

the edges (never, never in trespass, of course) of the old Storage Pool,

known now as Tschache Pool, on the other side of the

road.  Even 5-6 inches of edge would often hold Baird's Sandpiper in July,

and by the month's end, Wilson's Phalarope also became a reasonable hope.

      Even a little habitat here goes a long way, and it's advisable

to get here early in the morning, bird around other spots, then come back

and hang around (get a group together, shell peanuts, gossip,

work on field marks and vocalizations of common species), as the shorebirds

really can change rapidly over the course of a few hours here, even in

July.  Your shorebird list will be longest if you spend massive amounts of

time in this little area; if you know your field marks (things like

Long-billed Dowitcher undoubtedly come through

the Basin in July); and if you own a $2000 Questar--the birds often

look like specks here in July at Mays Point, if there are any around

at all.  The looks here can be very tough, especially in the early morning

if it's a sunny day.  Foul weather probably puts down

more migrants anyway, so try it up there following a night of

thunderstorms in the northern Basin.

      The north end of the main refuge loop should be checked also,

even if it's only moist.  Andy Farnsworth has shown us that those

huge plowed potato fields known as the Savannah Mucklands, just north

of  MNWR, can be a goldmine for shorebirds during rainy episodes--he found

both Whimbrel and Buff-breasted Sandpiper there in one day.  Reason enough

to take a scope and scan hard there, even when

conditions are less dramatic. Persistence. Likewise, checking those little

bait ponds at Canoga can turn up a bird or two--many goodies

in the past, though one must be diligent and lucky here.

      There are many shorebirds on the move in July.  Baird's is the

obvious first target, and Sanderling will have been missed by many

in the spring, so that's perhaps number two (if not number one).

After that, dates of arrival seem hodge-podge from my notes.  It's

obviously on the very early side to be looking for Dunlin and

Western Sandpiper, but the odd bird does turn up. Curlew Sandpiper is

another bird I could never figure out; surely they should pass

through in July (we have had up to 6 on a flat in NC in July)--just

a water-level problem?  (Later in August and September, the juveniles might

be passed off as Dunlin, but July birds should be more

obviously different.)  Go down your shorebird list, then look at

Steve Kelling's compilation of shorebird arrival dates.  Don't

sneeze at possibilities like adult Red-necked Stints in July--they

look like miniature Sanderlings in alternate plumage, with peach-red heads

and little pin-pricks of bills.  They are, after all, coming

from Siberia, and the records from the interior of the continent are slowly

increasing.  Remember to have your Lars Jonsson guide to the Birds of

Europe in your backpack at all times.  Don't blow a stint in breeding

plumage--look carefully at the head and covert pattern and

take great notes.

      July would also be the time that this vicinity might eventually

produce a White-winged Tern.  Heaven knows people have strained at

some Black Terns here, but they are never all that numerous.  Plant thyself

in the MNWR tower and look for the ghostly white basic-

plumaged bird among the Blacks in the distance.  Stay for a long time.

Seen or heard your Least Bittern yet? 'Tis the season.  Try the southeast

corner of the main loop (scan reed edge along the drive-

-with binoculars) and try the marsh at the north end of the lake

(Cayuga Marsh).  Father Karl used to get them by canoeing out there (boat

launches available on both sides of the lake).  One could do a

lot less interesting things in July.

      Canoeing would seem a nice way to find more POWAs in the

extended northern Basin.  I believe some have done this in recent

years; the more the merrier.  This area, with its flat agricultural lands

and beautiful riparian canal habitat, has always screamed "Mississippi

Kite" to me. Look for areas of dragonflies, focus on vulture kettles, cloud

edges, whatever gets you that razor-sharp

focus on your bins, and just keep scanning, scanning, scanning. The

silhouette can look remarkably Peregrine-like at times.  Also keep

a watchful eye out for post-nesting Black Vulture.  Scan

these stretches of sky in the north Basin as much as patience will allow.

A billowy, warm day with lots of TUVUs in the sky is just

the thing (there is a nice vulture roost in the dead trees around

small freshwater ponds east of MNWR--worth checking here for vagrant

herons, as well as immigrant Black Vultures).

      Did someone mention herons?  There's a whole list of things

that might drift up from the south.  I really have no idea what is

most likely on that list, never having had much luck with that group.

I suppose Glossy Ibis and Little Blue and Snowy are slightly more

likely than Tricolored, which is more likely than Yellow-crowned

Night-Heron, and there are a number of birds, such as White-faced

Ibis and Neotropic Cormorant, that should be kept in mind.  Scanning

is meaningful, again, as things like Wood Stork and Am. White Pelican can

be identified at vast, vast distances, and these are birds that begin to

show up in late summer.  These BWBs (Big Wandering Birds)

are once-in-a-lifetime events, perhaps, in the interior in central

NYS, but scanning is a skill that should be honed, no matter where

you are.  If you and your birding buddies shelling peanuts at

the Mucklands should happen to spy a Roseate Spoonbill ahead of some

Ugly Gulf Moisture one day, what more need one ask of the day?

      I'm sure I have forgotten a whole host of possibilities, but

this is as much as I can recall, without having much at my disposal.

Remember that butterflies and dragonflies and herps beckon as well

(have you seen Northern Red Salamander on Conn Hill yet?  Is your

life complete if not??), and these things can seduce you, along with

wildflowers, nearly as well as any bird, if you just take the first couple

of steps.  The middle of the day is brimming with

possibilities in this respect, so "birding" should never be "slow,"

once the bug bites you beyond birds...


(Ned Brinkley is an assistant professor of Germanic languages at the

University of Virginia and the Basin's Wayward Son. He also often

leads pelagic trips off the North Carolina coast.  His team won the Texas

Birding Classic this year...and he did not share the prize

money with The Cup!)



                            !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to prove that you live well within the Basin--and

are among the elite who actually had migrants on your property this

year--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

violin-bowed his way to the top of the David Cup list.


THE CUP: Do you realize, Geo, that you're 7 birds ahead of the gettingest

go-getter Cupper in the Basin, Kevin McGowan?


KLOPPEL: Actually I've added a couple more birds in the last few

days  :-)


THE CUP: Oh, that explains your last-minute Kelling "miscount"!


KLOPPEL:  My mantra comes from Kevin himself, a master and

Cup-winner, who explained the game to me a year ago, when I was

playing catch-up: "You have to stay competitive." For that sage

advice I owe it to him to make as good a run as I can.


THE CUP: Ahh, yes, you're doing it all for Kevin.


KLOPPEL:  Kevin's spending quite a bit of time out of the Basin.

When the great are elsewhere occupied, leadership necessarily

devolves to the lesser.


THE CUP: Oh, pulleease!


KLOPPEL: We have some real aces in this game, who I don't equal, but

sharpness alone won't earn them superior tallies. Kenn Kaufman

himself couldn't beat me without putting in the time.


THE CUP: Considering a career change? Politics, maybe?


KLOPPEL: I live in an underbirded area that's uncommonly rich. And

I'm here the day long, because I work at home. My home turf has

yielded birds like Northern Saw-whet Owl, Whip-poor-will, and Philly

Vireo, all the hawks on my list, and some of the best warbler

territory anywhere this year, to judge by the wailing that rises to

my ears from distant quarters.


THE CUP: Cup Headquarters, to be exact.


KLOPPEL: Beyond that, I enjoy jumping in the car and going after the

birds I can't find around home. I have generally refrained from

asking reporters to tie ribbons around the particular trees I should look

in, but have stooped nearly that low when I couldn't find the

birds on my own.


THE CUP: Where did you bird this month and what did you pick up?


KLOPPEL: Six species are all I added for June. Broad-winged and

Red-shouldered Hawks I got at home, where incidentally we now have

Cooper's Hawklets fledging only a few hundred meters away from our

nesting Sharp-shins. As I wrote on Cayugabirds, this is fine

accipiter habitat out here. I got Ruddy Turnstones at Myers and Henslow's

Sparrows at Rafferty Road. And eventually the marsh-gods smiled on my

blood-offerings, granting me a Virginia Rail and Least Bittern(s) at

Tschache and the Main Pool respectively, plus two more peeks at American



THE CUP: We understand you struck off to Myer's Point for the

avocet...and missed.  How'd you handle that disappointment? (Did you

see the one that was on the jetty last year?)


KLOPPEL: I did see last year's avocet and was consoled for missing

this year's by Ken Rosenberg, who speculated that it could well have been

the same individual. One ought to be philosophical about the misses,

feeling the disappointment keenly but not clinging to it, because such

disappointments are a vital component of the thrill of subsequent scores -

if the birds fell like clockwork, the play would quickly become uninteresting.


THE CUP: Wow. Sounds like you've had serious therapy.  How do you

drink your iced tea?


KLOPPEL: As Coach Davies might have said, iced tea is for those who

have already listed all the breeding birds (that's none of us), or

those who have already engraved their names on the David Cup and are

not trying for another Big Year in the Basin.


THE CUP: Did he really say that about Father Karl?


KLOPPEL: You'll find me out on Howland Island with a plastic bottle

of tepid coffee tasting faintly of insect repellent, if you can

find me at all.


THE CUP: How have you been able to keep your Cupping wife, Pat

Lia, from catching up to you?


KLOPPEL: She's coat-tailing me this year. Besides, anyone who can't

tolerate biting insects doesn't stand a chance in this game.


THE CUP:  Do you expect to be back here next month?


KLOPPEL: It's conceivable that I could enjoy another month on top,

before the pack catches up. It's a long six months down to the

finish line, and those not so far behind still have plenty of opportunity

to pass me by. To be perfectly frank and invite your disbelief, I have not

set my sights on a Cup victory.


THE CUP: Kevin, do you believe him?


KLOPPEL: My actual goal is a modest 225 species, and when I set that

goal (in January) I told myself that a top-ten finish would be enjoyable,

but not the sort of thing I want to rest my heart on. I

keep a realistic view of my rank as a birder, and my current Cup standing

doesn't reflect it very accurately. I expect the coming

months to produce some reshuffling. And looking further, beyond the

year-list, beyond the life-list even, each individual birding life

is only the briefest manifestation. One ought to be philosophical

about these things...




                              By Jay McGowan



(No BirdBits this month, due to a leave of absence of the Big Daddy. This

gives you another shot at last month's:)


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

in the world?

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

3.  Where does the Musk Duck live?

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?

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


(Jay McGowan is home-schooled. Isn't it obvious?)



                        STAT'S ALL, FOLKS

                          By Karl David



      Before we begin, let's recall the difference between mean and median.

The mean is what's normally meant by "average": add 'em all

up and divide. The median is the middle number when they're lined

up in order. For normal distributions, the mean should be used, but

I'm going to use the medians anyway since they were easier to find. After

the fact, I calculated the means and found they never differed from the

median by more than one day anyway. But, to reinforce the ideas, I'll use

the word "mean" throughout the discussion.

Incidentally, you might find it amusing to figure out how to find the mean

of calendar dates, say April 28, May 2 and May 5.  Rocket science it isn't,

but you have to think,  and the most literal way is not the simplest.

      Looking at my Chimney Swift arrival dates from the last two [!] Cups,

1998 was clearly a late year. The 1985-97 median is 4.27, with

a range from 4.20 to 5.5. The '98 date of 5.4 is the latest but one, '97's

5.5 being the only date as late or later.

      If we say Chimney Swift arrival dates are "normally

distributed," we mean they fit a symmetric bell-shaped curve

centered at the mean arrival date, with about 68% of the dates

falling within one standard deviation, 95% within two, and well

over 99% within three standard deviations of that mean.

      Of course, no one knows the exact mean and standard deviation, least

of all the swifts themselves. A human can only estimate them

from the rather meager data at hand, so let's do it. The mean will be

estimated by the median date of 5.4 given above.  The standard deviation,

which is a measure of the "spread" of the data, is

calculated as follows: (1) find the difference between each year's arrival

date and the mean; (2) square each of these differences;

(3) add up all these squared differences; (4) divide by the sample

size [13 years] minus one, i.e. by 12 [subtracting one is a

technicality having to do with "degrees of freedom"]; (5) take the square

root. This works out to 3.98 or approximately 4 days.

      To reinterpret: about 68% of the arrival dates should therefore fall

within 4 days of 4.27, i.e. from 4.23 to 5.1, 95% within 8 days, i.e. from

4.19 to 5.5, and so on. In fact, 11/13 = 85% of the '85-'97 dates fall in

the first range, and 13/13 = 100% in the second. If

you'll let me toss '98's 5.4 date into the mix, then the one-standard

deviation range is met 11/14 = 79% of the time, a little closer to

the prediction. Presumably, as the data accumulates over time, we

should gradually close in on the stated percentages.

      One can now look at the '98 date, find its difference from the

mean [7 days], and divide by the s. d. to get what's called its "z-score"

of 1.76. All this really is how many standard deviations the

'98 date is from the mean, right? A standard table of areas under the

normal curve gives the area to the right of 1.76 s.d.'s from the

mean as .0392. This means the probability of Chimney Swift arriving

5.4 or later is 3.92%. Yes indeedy, unarguably late ... based on the (many)


      For the ten species I selected, the analogous probabilities for

>the '98 dates work out as follows:


       Chimney Swift     .0392        Warbling Vireo      .4052

       Eastern Kingbird  .2810        Yellow Warbler      .0384

       House Wren        .4052        American Redstart   .3745

       Wood Thrush       .2709        Common Yellowthroat .5000

       Gray Catbird      .5000        Baltimore Oriole    .1867


Note how two facts are mirrored by these percentages: no bird arrived

ahead of its mean [else its number would be more than .5], while two

arrived exactly at their mean [the two .5's].

      Chimney Swift [and Yellow Warbler] now look like aberrations or

extremes ...overall, species were not outrageously late. How do we

measure the overall lateness of the migration?

      A simple-minded [my favorite] thing to do would be to just "average",

i.e. find the mean, of these ten probabilities. This works out to .3001.

Looked at this way, you could say there's a 30% chance

of a migration being as late as '98's was. You could also say you saw Elvis

at the Rongo last night.

      Here's a more sophisticated approach. Take those summed squared

deviations from the mean for each of the 10 species for each of the

13 years and add them ALL up. Then divide by the pooled sample size

minus one, i.e. by 10x13-1 = 129, and take the square root, resulting

in a grand potpourri standard deviation of 3.42.  Now get the average grand

difference of '98 from the mean by averaging that difference

over the 10 species. This works out to 2.2 days. The amalgam  [am I running

out of collective adjectives yet?] z-score is thus 2.2/3.42 = .64, leading

to a probability of .2611 the migration is as late as it was in '98. So,

26% vs. 30% the simple-minded (and much easier) way ... not much


      Either way you slice it, the migration was not remarkably late.

We can perform one more test to see how much confidence to have in

these figures. For EACH year, find the average difference from the

mean for the pooled data [the calculation that resulted in 2.2 for

'98]. This means negative numbers for dates earlier than the mean,

of course. By this measure, '97 actually ranks as the latest year

[3.0 days late], while '90 comes out as the earliest [-2.3 days late, i.e.

2.3 days early]. Of the 14 years '85-'98, '98 now ends up only

4th latest, in fact. But get this: 4/14 = 29% ... a number very much

in line with the 26% and 30% we got earlier. In spite of the questionable

nature of all our assumptions, we are vindicated!

Pretty cool, huh?

      You might wonder in closing why we seemed to get plausible

results when lumping the ten species together. If you felt uneasy

about doing that, it's probably because you're thinking of the

arrival dates for different species as independent events.  Suppose House

Wren is a week early next year. Wouldn't you be extremely surprised if

Yellow Warbler then turned out to be a week late? But

if the dates were independent, it wouldn't be surprising at all.

The dates are in fact highly correlated, and so it was OK to lump

the data. In fact, if the dates were independent, then a year where

all ten fell on the same side of the mean would be a genuine fluke,

with probability only 1/2^10 = .001, roughly. No way!


(Karl David is a mathematics professor on sabbatical at Cornell. He's

moving to Wisconsin soon. Too soon.)




               SCRAWL OF FAME


"Here's a lame contest for the June 'newsletter,' since no one

is out birding now. I actually made it into the Basin for a bit, a

tiny bit, last week and saw a  few birds. What was the first one I

saw or heard? Candor is out of the Basin, right? I figure it's too

far South. That would change the first bird, but not my overall


                                         --Larry Springsteen


"I guess Bobolink, but that it didn't count (outside the Basin). I

saw a bunch driving home from Candor yesterday (along with

Grasshopper Sparrow that I couldn't count)."

                                          --John Fitzpatrick


"I'll take a guess at Larry's first Basin Bird: sounds like he came

in along 96B... plenty of Eurostarlings!"

                                          --Geo Kloppel


"House Finch. Either that or Red-tailed Hawk.  Don't ask me why!"




"The answer: American Crow." I drove to the area

on the 14th but stopped in Candor to help with some house

remodeling. If Candor were in the Basin the 1st bird would have been

Barn Swallow. We didn't head into Ithaca until about 11pm - no owls

on the way there. When I awoke in Lars' house on Judd Falls Road the

next morning, the first bird I heard was the crow. So, it's my first

bird for both the David Cup and the McIlroy Award. I'll bet Kevin

guesses correctly."

                                          --Larry Springsteen


(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



The Ithaca Champion has moved!

Now Etna's the place where she grooves.

Bill Evans' a-grin

'cause he thinks now he'll win

But his McThreats remain a big snooze.



                     BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

                       By Caissa Willmer



This month's Bird Brain took my list of rather banal e-mail questions,

considered them, and then wrote a beautifully integrated little essay that

required almost no effort from me at all. He is John Greenly,

and he's perfectly capable of speaking for himself, viz.:

      I began to think of myself as a birder about 25 years ago when

some friends took me to a cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., called Mt. Auburn

cemetery--a classic green-oasis-in-the-city sort of place. It

was at peak migrant time, and I think we saw twenty or so species of

warblers that morning. I still remember the great looks at the birds, and

also the slightly wacky scene of birders popping up from behind headstones,

peering at birds and each other through their binocs.

This was obviously a crowd I could fit in with!

      After that I lived in New Hampshire for a few years.  Although I

accumulated a good yard bird list and began haphazardly to mark my

bird book when I saw new birds for the first time, I was then and

still am most captivated by close observation of any bird, no matter

how common. I always taught the chickadees, nuthatches, and downys to take

seeds from my hand and discovered great delights like the very faint,

constant singsong conversations of Red-breasted Nuthatches

that you can't possibly hear unless they are sitting on your hand or head.

One of my favorite memories from those years was cross-country skiing,

carefully and quietly, right up to a couple of Pine Grosbeaks sitting in a

shrub, and spending several minutes looking at them

eye-to-eye, within arm's reach. (I thought that was a great feat

until I found out how naturally tame they are.)

      I did a lot of sailing on the Maine coast during those years,

usually in late summer and fall, and some of my most magical memories

of birds come from landing on islands where the birds of that year

had no experience with humans and were terrifically curious and fearless.

There were also the exhausted migrants that landed on the boat--one warbler

took an hour-long nap in the frizzy hair of a very patient woman crew

member, and another went into the cabin and caught all the (many)

mosquitoes that had stowed away in our last harbor.

      I've been in the basin now for nearly twenty years (I'm a physicist,

do research at Cornell), but when I first got here, I

missed New England so much that it took quite awhile before I started

to pay attention to the great richness of bird life we have here.

Sandy Podulka was responsible for getting me to open my eyes and

ears to Basin birding.  Sandy,  and George Eickwort whom we lost to a

tragic accident a few years back, were my first Basin birding

buddies.  Now my wife, Katrina, is an enthusiastic and sharp-eyed birder,

and my three-year-old son, Tony, is using his toy

binocs the right way around with great glee. (Watch out, Cuppers,

when Tony and I really grow into a team like Kevin and Jay!!)  Other than

with my family, almost  all of my birding nowadays is done on

my way between Ludlowville and campus (frequent scans at Myers and

along the lake shore road), along Salmon Creek, and on walks at lunchtime

near campus--Mundy, the cemetery, etc. This was more successful than I ever

would have imagined last year, and I had way

more species for my Cup total than I anticipated.  This year by comparison

is a disaster--far fewer migrants appeared in my easy,

nearby birding places.I'm way behind last year, and I'm curious to

see how much  of the deficit I will pick up through the rest

of the year.

      The Cup and the conversations on Cayugabirds-L are really good

for me.  It's a  very nice way of maintaining and focusing attention

on the grand cycle of the ebb and flow of life through the basin in

a year and, as with the comparison of this year with last, it gives

me a perspective that goes beyond one year to begin to see the

richness of variation in the cycle, too.

      I'm not at all in the same league of birding skills as many of

our Cup leaders, and I learn a lot from their postings. I really

wish I had more opportunity to go birding with some of them, but my

work is way too consuming these days--I haven't had my beloved sailboat in

the lake in four years, and I barely eke out time to keep alive my other

great love, music (I'm sort of a semi-pro clarinet player--used

to play with Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Binghamton Symphony, etc,

still do things at Cornell and IC now and then, keep in shape by

playing in the concert band that does some Thursday evening Commons

concerts in the summer)

      I'm really not a "lister." When I go on trips, I often make a list of

what I saw at the end of the day, and the list stays in my pocket

or somewhere until I lose it--but it is fun to make the list, remembering

the circumstances of the sightings.  I have had a chance

to do some birding in far-off places, like Costa Rica and Europe. Certainly

my wildest birding adventure was a hiking trip in the Altai mountains

between Siberia and Mongolia, with five Russian and German colleagues and

friends.  That was a fascinating, but frustrating and humbling trip,

birdingwise. I saw probably a hundred new species, but had no adequate

field guide, and when I got home and tried to figure things out from the

notes I made, I did very poorly and gained a

great respect for field naturalists of the past who had no handy

books to help with instant ID's. (Of course, they did use shotguns a lot,

too.)  My most vivid memory of that trip is of a Demoiselle

Crane walking daintily along a sandbar in a milky-blue glacial river.  The

most frustrating day of that trip was when we passed through a boreal

forest just full of unrecognized birdsong, and my Russian

friends wouldn't let me lag behind to seek them out, because they

said there might be "bad men" (bandits?) in that forest....

      In this country, my other favorite birding places so far are

the Pacific Northwest, especially Puget Sound, and the SW,

particularly New Mexico, where work takes me several times a year. I never

go anywhere without at least my pocket-size binocs, and often my briefcase

and a spotting scope are my "business-trip" luggage. Birding is really a

part of my daily routine, and is one of my most treasured and indispensable

ways of keeping a sense of connection with the tremendous pulse of life

through the days and years, a sense that

seems to me completely necessary to the living of a sane life.


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

Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)



                                BIRD VERSE



                             Your bird verse here



                         DEAR TICK



Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations, The

Cup has graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and

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

like these...




Since I have been living out of my truck for the past three months

and driving all over the country, it seems my yard is the North

American continent.  So, what is the definition of "yard" in this

>list? I plan on continuing my nomadic existence for a while but it doesn't

seem fair to the others in the "competition."

                                --Basin Nomad of North America

Dear Basin Nomad:


This sounds suspiciously like the voice of the Great Silverback, Bill

Evans. Perhaps it his attempt to regain control over the group of birders

he naively perceives as a family group over which he rules.  Pound your

chest all you want, Bill, but until you quit monkeying

around and stay put for more than a week at a time, you'll have to

keep aping success and will never know what it's like to be Top Banana.




A statistician friend of mine named Rick Cleary, a professor at St.

Michael's College in Burlington, Vermont, on leave at Cornell was

having dinner with [a certain fellow Cupper].  Rick had

never heard of the David Cup, so [certain someone] filled him in.

This morning he left his '98 David Cup list in my mailbox. Here's his list:








("Let me know if I win," he added at the bottom.) Does it qualify as

a legitimate entry?  He does have the right wacky sense of humor to be

a David Cupper.

                            --A "Friend"ly Inquirer at Cornell

Dear "Friend"ly Inquirer:


It would, except that he didn't specify which species he saw.  For example,

by "Pigeon" he might mean Scaley-naped Pigeon, and since he didn't post

this rarity to Cayugabirds, he would have to be omitted

from the guest list to upcoming blues gigs, or worse, the next high

tea, as dictated in the Cup bylaws.  What kind of Cupper could live

with him/herself after that? No, better to keep the whole thing hush-hush

than to risk him having broken a cardinal rule. Besides,  five birds isn't

exactly something to crow about.




I'm teaching calculus this summer at a prestigious local university

and this morning a House Sparrow flew into the classroom. I don't

think the issue of a group entry in the competition has ever come up, but

if you can use your influence with the editors to allow it, I'd

like to enter my entire class with a total of 1 species.


P.S. I hope I'm not giving away too much, but I'd like to point out

that this would also be a McIlroy bird.

>                         --Still trying to leave the Basin in Aurora


P.P.S. That is, I'm still in Aurora (metaphorically) trying to leave

the Basin, not literally trying to relocate the entire Basin there.


Dear Still Trying:


That depends.  Did they all pass the class?  You can't be a flunky

and be in the David Cup, you have to be able to calculate correctly.

Oh, wait a minute.  We let Steve Kelling in.  In that case, if they

all identified the bird as a House Sparrow and could give its

scientific name, they're in.




Did Matt Medler ever get that date with Melissa?


          --Wondering about "'za" situation in Sapsucker Woods


Dear Wondering:


You must be referring to Matt's considerable faux pas to Cayugabirds, the

details of which I will, mercifully, not divulge again here (but

if you really want to read it, Steve Pantle has a copy in his

permanent file, to be used for the express purpose of blackmailing Mr.

Medler as some future opportunity presents itself).  If you recall,

however, the subject heading of Matt's post read simply, "'za"

(that's cool people's way of saying "pizza").  In other words, Matt

was not really interested in a date with Melissa; rather, he was

looking to satisfy his craving for pizza, er, 'za.  (Witness Bill

Evans' quote, included in Cup Quotes, below.)


(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at


>                 """""""""       CUP QUOTES      """"""""


"I told Matt he should add a bird to his total for every comment

about 'za'."

                                          --Ben Taft


"There were over 100 Bank Swallows at the Ithaca Lighthouse

Jetty in the early evening of July 7th.  Also there were

several empty boxes of pizza (strange). Who would carry pizza

all the way out to the end of the jetty?"

                                          --Bill Evans


"Yes, this message is actually intended for the listserve..."


            --Matt Medler [still blushing from previous post]



"I finally made it out to Myer's Point today at about 1:30 and was

rewarded with three beautiful Caspian Terns with their tangerine bills.

These were my first and it was hard to break my gaze away."


                                     --Jon Kloppel


"Yesterday I investigated the chirping coming from our oriole nest,

and saw three fluffy yellow fledglings lined up on the branch above

the nest. Downy Woodpeckers were feeding three younguns at the suet feeder

all weekend. I never had suet out in June before! Also, my 'immature male'

Purple Finch now has a very purple companion!"




--Nancy Dickinson


"I've lost count of my numerous failed attempts to find rails this

year at Montezuma or anywhere, but the latest was at Tschache Marsh

just last night, where I did see an American Bittern make a short

flight at about 8:45. A Great Horned Owl perched for a minute or two

in the big dead tree beside the tower as darkness came on. I stood or

walked up and down on the dike far into the night, fanning off hordes

of hungry mosquitos, without any more excitement beyond a brief marsh-wide

moorhen canticle. At last I was rewarded, at 4:05 am this morning, by a

Virginia Rail calling from the marsh well west of the tower."


                                            --Geo Kloppel


"On Sunday, Jim Goodson and I turned up a singing Bobwhite in Texas

Hollow (just west of the Basin, near the western terminus of 79).

Still a neat bird, even if it is introduced (right?)  This is a beautiful

spot; we didn't have too much time to explore, but we found

a pond, a bog, and tons of nice habitat.  A nice change from my

typical Myers/Salmon Creek/Rafferty Rd/ Montezuma/ Armitage Rd. loop."


                                             --Alan Krakauer


"Last evening, Matt Young found an American Avocet at Myer's Point...

Only Bard and Gina Prentiss got out there in time to see the bird."


                                              -- Ken Rosenberg


"Sorry you guys missed the avocet..."

                                              --Bard Prentiss


May Your Cup Runneth Over,


Allison and Jeff