Year 3, Issue 9


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

*  Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

*  Basin Bird Highlights: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel

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

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

*  Evans Cup Compiler: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss

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

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

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

*  Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer

*  Ant Trainer: Jeff Wells



Stand up if you've seen 25% of this year's Basin rarities to

date.  If you've seen 50%, remain standing.  Continue to stand if

you've got 67.9918% of the Basin's wayward birdies on your list. If you've

75%, keep standing.  Ready? If you've got 100%--ALL--of the

rare Basin birds ticked off, remain on your feet.  Now turn and

walk out that door--and don't come back!


Sure, you're thinking the editors are just upset because they

had to spend every waking hour working on The Cup when they could

have been out seeking a Western Kingbird.  After all, why else

would they not have gone off after the Nelson's Sharp-tailed

Sparrow, just because it wasn't in Etna? Phooey!  They were

selflessly breaking our backs for you on The Cup.


Not really.


Bad luck is all.  But you needn't fear this run will affect you

and YOUR Basin birding.  Proof of your good fortune: Another issue

of The Cup has just landed in your email box! Okay, so it COULD be

a foreshadow of bad things to come. But try to enjoy The Cup 3.9

anyway. We worked so hard on it!


Not really.

                     @   @    @    @    @     @

                         NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                       @   @    @    @     @     @


IBA SEEIN' YA: It's out! It's out! After much sweat and toil--and

an all nighter or two--the New York State Important Bird Areas book

has arrived! The Cup's own would-be editor Jeff Wells, Director of

Bird Conservation for National Audubon of New York, is the proud

papa, with help from all of you who submitted nominations and/or

served on IBA committees, or made him tea during the wee hours.

If you'd like a copy of this handsome book describing the who,

what, when, where, and why of New York State's IBA's, contact Jeff

at (607) 254-2441 or email  The cost is $15 each.


TAKING STORK: Jeff ain't the only proud parent this month.  Chris

and Diane Tessaglia-Hymes received their own little bundle of joy

in Alita Carol.  Mom and Dad have become quite the night- owls with Alita's

schedule, sleeping for three hours at a time throughout

the night. Congratulations, Chris and Diane--and Alita!  May the

birds be with you.


BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: "With the various discussions

that have gone on on CayugaBirds, I don't think this is that inappropriate.

How does Buddy Guy change the sound of his guitar

in the middle of his lead in  Damn right I got the Blues!'--Steve


      "Steve, Are you perhaps a bit distracted?  I'm sure Buddy

wouldn't want anyone to know exactly how he does this, but if you

have been in his presence you know that he is a wizard.  Do you

really want to demystify this?  Remember what happened to Dorothy

when she unraveled the mysteries of the wizard, being transported

back to Kansas of all Godforsaken places! And all her marvelous dreamworld

dissolved into ordinary reality and the struggle of

growing wheat for the gluttonous industrialists of the Great

Lakes.  This is all very comforting for a simple little girl of

the fifties, but we are different animals, Steve.  There is so

little of beauty that is human.  If it tickles the auditory nerve,

makes your spine tingle, confirms for you that we are all one

and there is beauty in us, then leave it at that.  When it no

longer baffles you, it will no longer do it for you."--Jon W.


      "What are you guys talking about???! and who is Guy Buddy?

or Buddy Guy? or Guddy Buy? or whatever 'is name is???????"--Martha Fischer

     "I did my damnedest to find SOME connection between the birds and

Steve's Buddy Guy query, and got absolutely nothing, until it dawned

on me that Bill Evans' survey must be the link: after all, Buddy is

a stratocasting tower of devastating impact."--Geo Kloppel

      "BUDDY GUY, clearly an acronym for: Bird Until Death Departed, Yippie!

God Understand whY. Just don't play this backwards."--Bill


      "You need a connection, Geo, WHAT ABOUT THE BIRD CUP BLUES COLUMN IN

THE CUP! Fie on you!!"--Allison Wells


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

                        BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS


                             Geo Kloppel


      By several criteria September's biggest find was the group of

three AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS at Montezuma. These giants strayed

uncommonly far from their usual Mississippi Valley migration route,

and then settled in at May's Point for an improbably long stay, so

long that anyone even slightly motivated had plenty of opportunity

to cast off all misapprehensions about which of the many matters competing

for attention were truly WORTHY of it, and head up to the Refuge to view

them. A solitary pelican would be attraction enough,

but these visitors are sojourning as a threesome, so they also gave

the Basin-bound rare glimpses of the cooperative fishing

methods which family groups of these synchronized swimmers employ

on their breeding lakes in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Rainy

River region.

      Once reduced by pesticide amplification to the point of endangerment,

American White Pelicans made an early and impressive

come-back. A breeding colony on Lavalee Lake in the remote

northwestern corner of Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan,

is said to receive 10,000 migrants each spring from the Gulf coast. Sharing

the heart of the breeding ranges of Double-crested

Cormorants and Red-necked Grebes, the pelicans normally head

south in the fall like the first, but casually straggle eastward in

imitation of the second. The Lake of the Woods colony perhaps holds

the breeders nearest to us. For them travel to our region is just a matter

of riding the autumn cold fronts out of the northwest down

the Great Lakes drainage instead of following the Mississippi. And

why not? Go where the fishing's good.

      The Montezuma pelicans seemed to be in no hurry to move on:

day after day they could be seen rhythmically dipping their

capacious buckets in unison into the lowered waters at May's Point

Pool, perhaps finding the thousands of carp confined in the shallows there

just too wonderful to fly away from. As one Refuge staffer

told me with a grin, "They're WELCOME to all the carp they can eat,

and they can stay as long as they like to eat 'em!"

      Carp are often viewed as a management problem because of their impact

on water-quality. A neighbor of mine once made the mistake of dumping a few

carp (goldfish) into his pond. They multiplied greatly there and stirred up

the bottom continually, thereby turning the pond into a carp-friendly

mud-hole. Aggressive alteration of habitats to

suit their own preferences is a capability the carp share with

certain featherless bipeds who, further lacking any analog of the pelican

to check their numbers, have multiplied wildly and now

remodel, muck-up, and monopolize habitat on a scale scarcely

to be believed! But to give the latter culprits their due, they sometimes

undertake to reverse the damage within certain carefully delineated areas.

And when so engaged, they really know how to throw

a good Muckrace, this year netting $1600 for MNWR-area projects

broadly aimed at assuring that members of the 160-some bird-species which

the participants found in the Greater Montezuma Wetlands

Complex will not soon find themselves utterly dispossessed.

      Pelicans may have stolen the September show, but there were

other noteworthy birds, expected certainly, but not to be found

without some effort. SORAS called from Tschache Pool for the

Muckracers. Red-necked Phalarope was missed entirely this fall, but

most of the expected shorebirds continued to be seen, including


SANDPIPER and WILSON'S PHALAROPE. Throughout the month

PEREGRINE FALCONS and MERLINS stopped at Montezuma to pursue

them, but only the latter made appearances at other locations

around the Basin. GOSHAWK sightings began to accumulate, later to

prompt cautious speculation about the prospects for an invasion-year.

Roughly 1000 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS were reported during the peak days

of their passage mid-month.

      A WHIP-POOR-WILL and a few more NIGHTHAWKS migrating through

our area were detected early in the month, then the songbirds,

moving in ever larger numbers, captured our attention. SWAINSON'S THRUSHES

dropped in, or together with GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES could

be heard in night migration from favored locations.  YELLOW-BELLIED

FLYCATCHERS, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS, and much-desired birds like


WARBLERS and N PARULA filled painful voids in various lists.

      A COMMON TERN out on the red lighthouse jetty, a LESSER BLACK-

BACKED GULL at May's Point, a scattering of LINCOLN'S and early


darned good month, bringing home yet again the grandeur of

migration, and promising more to come in October.


(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. His dreams are white pelicans.)


100      100      100      100      100      100      100       100

                               100 CLUB

100      100       100      100       100       100       100


Sign on 100 Club Door:


"Unless you're bringing Godiva chocolates, keep out!"


200          200          200           200           200

                           2     0    0

   200             200                            200           200


Chris Butler's Bird 200 (from August): Stilt Sandpiper


Smart Aleck Matt Medler's Bird 200: Mrs. Gould's Sunbird.  "It was

a McIlroy bird, in fact.  I heard it right outside of my studio."


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


September 1998 David Cup Totals


Compiled by Matt Medler


234 Geo Kloppel

232 Matt Young

226 Kevin McGowan

223 Jay McGowan

222 Ken Rosenberg

218 Meena Haribal

217 Karl David

216 Jeff Wells

215 Allison Wells

214 Chris Butler

213 Steve Kelling

209 Tom Nix

208 Matt Sarver

205 John Bower*

204 Matt Medler

199 Pat Lia

188 John Greenly

186 Anne Kendall

183 Alan Krakauer

177 Jon Kloppel

176 Nancy Dickinson

170 Martha Fischer

157 Ben Taft

152 John Fitzpatrick

152 John Morris

146 Nancy Dickinson

145 Gary Chapin

139 Marty Schlabach

138 Perri McGowan

133 Kim Kline

133 Steve Pantle

132 Jim Lowe

112 Stephen Davies

103 Melanie Uhlir

  85 Michael Runge

  85 Caissa Willmer

  84 Carol Bloomgarden

  78 Swift McGowan (DC Kitty Cup)

  72 Anne James

  85 Ann Mathieson

  68 James "The Fly" Barry*

  57 Kylie Spooner

  54 Mimi Wells (DC Kitty Cup)

  48 Cathy Heidenreich

  46 Dave Mellinger

  43 Teddy Wells (DC Kitty Cup)

  42 Scott Mardis

  39 Kurt Fox

  35 Tom Lathrop

  34 Margaret Barker

  26 Andy Leahy

  20 Figaro (DC Kitty Cup)

   0 Ned Brinkley*

   0 Ralph Paonessa*

   0 Larry Springsteen*

   0 Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen*


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


September 1998 McIlroy Award Totals


Compiled by Matt Medler


161 AllisonWells

146 Martha Fischer

145 Jeff Wells

139 Karl David

134 Kevin McGowan

117 Ken Rosenberg

113 Jay McGowan

111 Matt Medler

109 John Bower

102 Jim Lowe

  85 Ben Taft

  82 Michael Runge

  80 Anne Kendall

  60 Stephen Davies

  42 Dave Mellinger

   0 Bill Evans*


*Nonetheless claims to be ahead.


September 1998 Evans (Dryden) Trophy


Compiled by Bard Prentiss


193 Ken Rosenberg

186 Matt Young

183 Kevin McGowan

166 Jay McGowan

165 Bard Prentiss

109 Anne Kendall


September 1998 Lansing Totals


138 Kevin McGowan

122 John Greenly


September 1998 Etna Challenge


87 Allison Wells

80 Jeff Wells

18 Casey Sutton


September 1998 Evans Trophy


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


135 Ken Rosenberg, Dryden, NY

127 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY

120 Steve Kelling, Berkshire, NY

119 Kevin McGowan, Dryden, NY

116 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY

104 John Bower, Enfield, NY

  95 Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY

  69 Jeff and Allison Wells, Etna, NY

  69 Ben Taft, Ithaca, NY

  66 Darlene and John Morabito, Auburn, NY

  64 John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY

  53 Ann Mathieson, Scipio Center, NY

  28 Susann Argetsinger, Burdett, NY

   1 Casey Sutton, Ithaca, NY





By Geo Kloppel


As of September 30 the lead had still not migrated! I added 5 birds during

the month, for a total of 234. Some few of the remaining possibilities are

likely enough in the next three months, but they

ain't many! I'm figuring I'll have to search diligently and/or be

very lucky in order to reach 240 by the end of the year. On the

other hand, I'm ten over target, so pretty well pleased.


Here's the complete September leader's list:


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

Am & L Bittern,G Egret,G B & Green Heron,B-c Night Heron,T & M

Swan,S & C Goose,Wood Duck,G-w Teal,Am Black Duck,Mallard,

N Pintail,B-w Teal,N Shoveler,Gadwall,Am Wigeon,Canvasback,

Redhead,R-n Duck,G & L Scaup,Surf & W-w Scoter,C Goldeneye,

Bufflehead,Hooded,C & R-b Merganser,Ruddy Duck,Turkey Vulture,

Osprey,Bald Eagle,N Harrier,S-s & Cooper's Hawk,N Goshawk,

R-s,B-w,R-t & R-l Hawk,Am Kestrel,Merlin,Peregrine,R-n

Pheasant,Ruffed Grouse,Wild Turkey,VA Rail,C Moorhen,Am Coot,

Am Golden,Bk-bellied & Semipalmated Plover,Killdeer,AM AVOCET,

G & L Yellowlegs,Solitary,Spotted & Upland Sandpiper,Whimbrel,

R Turnstone,Sanderling,Semipalmated,Western,Least,W-r,Baird's &

Pectoral Sandpiper,Dunlin,CURLEW SANDPIPER,Stilt Sandpiper,

Short-&Long-billed Dowitcher,C Snipe,Am Woodcock ,W's Phalarope,

B's,R-b,Herring,Iceland,L B-b & G B-b Gull,Caspian,C,F's & B Tern,

Rock & Mourning Dove,B-b & Y-b Cuckoo,E Screech-Owl,G H,Barred,

L-e,S-e & N S-w Owl,CNighthawk,W-p-w,Chimney Swift,

R-t Hummingbird,Belted Kingfisher,R-h & R-b Woodpecker,

Y-b Sapsucker, D & H Woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,

E Wood-Pewee,Acadian,Alder,Willow & Least Flycatcher,E Phoebe,

G C Flycatcher,E Kingbird,Horned Lark,Purple Martin,Tree,N R-w,Bank,

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

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

Winter & Marsh Wren,G-c & R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher,

E Bluebird,Veery,G-c,Swainson's,Hermit & Wood Thrush,Am Robin,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henslow's,Fox,Song,Swamp & W-t Sparrow,D-e Junco,S Bunting,

Bobolink, R-w Blackbird,E Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,C Grackle,

B-h Cowbird,B & O Oriole,Pine Grosbeak,Purple & House Finch,Red &

W-w Crossbill,C Redpoll, Pine Siskin,Am Goldfinch,Evening Grosbeak,

House Sparrow.




The following birds have been seen by others:


Brant,E Wigeon,Oldsquaw,Black Scoter,BLACK VULTURE,Golden

Eagle,GYRFALCON,Sora,FRANKLIN'S GULL,Little Gull,Glaucous Gull,

Snowy Owl,Olive-s & Y-b Flycatcher,Cape May Warbler,Lincoln's &

W-c Sparrow,Lapland Longspur,HOARY REDPOLL.


Grand Composite Total: 253


This is four species shy of the September 1997 composite total of

257, in spite of our early sweep of the winter finches. So what's missing

this year? Well, Ross' Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose

(turns up in October 98), Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Red-necked Phalarope,

Sedge Wren, White-eyed Vireo and Kentucky Warbler, for starters. Then there

were last year's yet-to-be-repeated



against the nine 9/98 species absent from the 9/97 list, namely Surf


Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, and White-winged Crossbill,

and the reckoning is complete. Recall, though, that six of these

also turned up later in 1997. But few of the other 9/97 uniques look very

promising for 1998. Thus it seems to be shaping up as a low composite-total

year. I won't make a similar comparison with the

9/96 composite list just now, for fear that might be a bit too discouraging!


(You already know Geo. His elegant prose makes him easy to

remember... and so does his Basin list.)



                      <  COACH'S CORNER      <

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

                     <           <

                      <         <

                        < < < <


Is this another regurgitation of last year's October column? You

best it is (albeit with  a few 1998 modifications). We know a good

thing when we read it.  Be thankful we--including Coach

Extraordinaire Kevin McGowan--are (still) willing to share:


COACH MCGOWAN: October is the last gasp.  This could be your last

chance to get new year birds.  Unless you are missing some fairly

easy stuff, or something really neat turns up later, you won't add

much after this.  So, that said, what are you going to do to make

the most of it? First, on the personal side:  What are you missing?

If you need a couple of shorebirds, some are still to be found at Montezuma

through the middle of the month.  But, be aware that many things (like

Short-billed Dowitcher) are gone.  Do you need

flycatchers (like me)?  Fuhgettaboudit!  They're history. Warblers?

Most are gone; the ones to look for now are Connecticut and Orange-

crowned [this species found in this October by the man himself!]

But you'd better hurry.  We've got only another week or so before

it's too late for them, too.  Do you need sparrows?  Better luck

here. Most expected sparrows are still around, along, probably,

with some rarities  (like Nelson's Sharp-tailed [already found!],

LeConte's, and Clay-colored).  The bad news is that they're so

sneaky now you may never find them.  I'll bet there's still a

Henslow's Sparrow in the Basin right now, but I'll also bet you

don't find it!  Weedy fields are well worth walking through.

There's lots of habitat out there.  Definitely check out Hog's Hole. That's

where the action will be.  Patience, persistence, and pure

out and out luck are what you need to turn up a couple of neat

sparrows at this point.

      How about hawks?  Are you still missing Broad-winged Hawk?  Que

lastima! They're gone!  But, if Golden Eagle is still a hole on your list,

this is the month for you.  Go check out Mount Pleasant on

days with north winds. Red-tailed Hawk migration peaks this month,

and Golden Eagles will pass through, too.  A whole lot of hawks will

be going by this month, and a very, very few might be something different.

Pennsylvania just reported a Swainson's Hawk flying by.  Maybe it went over

Mt. Pleasant first.  We'll never know these

things unless you go up and check it out.

     Are you missing any waterfowl?  If so, then the season for you

is just heating up.  The Loon Watch is officially under way, and although

few loons have passed by yet, it's starting.  Watch the

last half of this month for the first of the scoters, Oldsquaw, and Brant.

Early morning at Taughannock SP with Bob Meade is a great

way to pick up interesting migrants.  Or, head down to Stewart Park

and join the jolly junta on the jetty for gulls, loons, and who knows what.

  (And the walk out to the lighthouse is one of the best

places to look for Orange-crowned and Connecticut warblers.)

      So, play the odds and fill in your gaps.  Give Montezuma a

couple more tries.  Watch the lake, and take a couple of lunch

breaks at Mt. Pleasant. If you feel like a stroll, pick a nice weedy field.

Go wander the festival grounds at Hog's Hole.  And don't

take down your hummingbird feeders yet. Any hummingbird that turns up this

month is worth a close look.  I'm hoping for some interesting feeder

visitor this winter.  Something like a Harris's Sparrow

or Varied Thrush.  We haven't had anything like that for quite a

while, so we're due.  Keep those feeders full and don't forget to

watch them every now and then.  And get outside and bird!  Let me

repeat myself:  get outside, get outside!  There seems to have been

a lull in the action over the last month, so we need to turn it up a notch.

Those of you without a newborn baby don't have acceptable excuses.  Get out

there and try to find something.  This can be the

most beautiful time of the year in Upstate New York, so try to appreciate

it.  Either use your being outside as an excuse

to bird, or use your birding as an excuse to be outside.  Remember,

it only gets darker and colder after this.


(Kevin McGowan is Associate Curator of Birds & Mammals at the Cornell

Vertebrate Collections. He's known in these parts for his crow research,

which often finds him "up a tree.")



                            !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to prove you've got guts 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 imagined his/her way to

the top of the David Cup list.


EDITORS' NOTE: We did not interview this month's leader, Geo Kloppel.

We thought you might rather appreciate this conversation, overheard between

Geo and Matt Young from somewhere in the depths of the

200 Club.


YOUNG: (Long sigh) I'm so envious of you, Geo. You've gotten so many

Kickin' Tail interviews and I haven't gotten any.


KLOPPEL: Don't ruminate so, son. Your day will rise up out of yonder

horizon like the eye of Glory herself. And when she rises, my tenure

as reluctant noble leader will colliquate like Icarus' wings.  I may

be the feistiest cannon fodder at present, but I endure so many hours

imbibing the wilds that I might one day find myself seized and

carried aloft in the talons of a Great Grey Owl.  It would be smooth

sailing for you there after, captain.


YOUNG: No offense, but I spend darned near as much time in the field

as you do. The town of Lansing is considering putting in a bench at Myer's

Point with my name on it. Yet you always manage to stay just barely ahead

of me month after month. What gives?


KLOPPEL: A wise man lays the golden egg of wisdom; a foolish man

cracks it open to see if it is putrid.  Suffice to say I cannot give

way to your curious mind, but rest easy, friend, that I engaged in no

meddling with regard to your email connection going afoul in months past.

And as Ralph Waldo Emerson as my witness, I claim no

ownership, should the intimate clockwork of your automobile find

itself awry.


YOUNG: Well, anyway, it doesn't really matter who's ahead in the

David Cup. The real competition is the Evans Trophy.


KLOPPEL: What blinders we wear when the pain of truth shines too brightly.




KLOPPEL: That is, I opted to forego the tonnage of the Evans Trophy

in favor of the splendor of my yard bird compatriots. And of course,

on the dream of David Cup victory that has haunted my being since the day

that drat Cup slithered into my email box. But then, that's not

the matter, is it, my friend? More valiant men then we have let slip

opportunities for fame in the name of friendship.


YOUNG: You got that right, Geo. [Slaps Geo on the back] Say, let's

go for a ride. I heard about a report of Great Grey Owl not far from here...




                              By Jay McGowan



Jay blew us off again this month. He has no excuse. Next

time you see him, steal his hat.



                        STAT'S ALL, FOLKS

                          By Karl David



      Recently a magazine article writer, talking about global

warming, casually cited the fact that Red-winged Blackbirds

happened to be returning to a particular Midwestern marsh two weeks earlier

in the spring than they once did, as if global warming

clearly was the explanation. Continuing the analysis of my spring migration

data from the last few columns, I'm not so sure you can

so easily and confidently make that connection.

      While Red-winged Blackbird was not one of my sample birds, it

is true that all my chosen early-spring migrants--Turkey Vulture, Killdeer,

Tree Swallow, Eastern Phoebe and Eastern Meadowlark--have personal median

arrival dates earlier than those given in the

historical Basin data, covering 1903 to 1993. So it does seem

incontrovertible that these birds are arriving earlier than they

used to.  True, for Turkey Vulture at least this is linked to

northward range expansion, but that wouldn't apply to the other four.

In fact, with some justification I could push the Meadowlark

date up a little. I noticed that my two absolutely latest dates coincided

with my sabbatical years, i.e. years when I wasn't driving regularly to

Aurora ... a mechanism which often has netted me my

year Meadowlark.

      However, at the other end of the spring migration the picture

is far from clear. My ten chosen late-spring migrants all have

personal arrival medians later than the historic dates. Nonetheless, there

could still be some "forward creep" in the arrival dates that would point

to earlier arrival times, if less dramatically so than

for the earlier set.

      Since I have fourteen years' worth of data, I divided them into

two equal periods, 1985-1991 and 1992-1998, and computed my median arrival

date for each species for both of these subcategories.

Here's the outcome:


SPECIES                '85 - '91                  '92 - '98


Chimney Swift             4/27                       4/30

Eastern Kingbird          5/05                       5/07

House Wren                4/29                       4/30

Wood Thrush               5/07                       5/06

Gray Catbird              5/04                       4/30

Warbling Vireo            5/02                       5/02

Yellow Warbler            4/30                       4/30

American Redstart         5/06                       5/08

Common Yellowthroat       5/08                       5/06

Baltimore Oriole          5/05                       5/07


These are highly inconclusive results! For the more recent period,

five species arrived later, two the same and three earlier.  Of

course there are tests to determine if two sample means/medians are likely

to have come from the same population, which should be used

here if it looked like one set tended to be later or earlier than the

other. But happily for my busy schedule, I don't have to review how

to do this here, because the answer is clear in advance: the data

offers no support for earlier (or later for that matter!) arrival


      So what to make of this? I happen to be one of those people

who do believe that the earth is in fact getting warmer; I just

don't know how this should affect bird migration. If, as some people

believe, migration is triggered by the amount of daily light, then

temperature changes would have no effect at all. But unless someone

can convincingly demonstrate otherwise, the safest theory to espouse

is always multi- rather than monocausal, so that temperature change would

play some role ... the debate would be over how much.

      If my data is representative of what's actually happening, and

if warmer temperatures do indeed induce birds to migrate earlier in

the spring, then my best guess would be this: a rise of a few degrees

is more consequential when it's cold than when it's already warm, so that

an increase in March matters more than a similar increase in

May. Thus the "forward creep" in May could still be there, but much

slighter, so that it's harder to detect in the data. Or, I could be

all wet. Anybody out there have any ideas of their own?


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

Cornell. Karl, consider this our "groveling" apology for not being

able to find this column last month.  You did in fact send it, so we

can now in clear conscious blame our computer.)



                            SCRAWL OF FAME



(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



Since no one seems able to unseat our current McLeader--even though

she doesn't even live in Ithaca anymore--it seems appropriate to interview

the person who has taken over the Wells' former perch

(sort of) on yonder side of Sapsucker Woods...Matt Medler!


MEDLER: In other words, you haven't had a good chance to really make

fun of me in a while.


THE CUP: Well, there's that, too. Given your new, prime McReal

estate, why aren't you doing better?


MEDLER: Actually, I'm in the lead right now, although nobody knows

it.  You see, I'm using the Kelling method of calculating my totals:

I count birds that aren't strictly in the designated area (but

they're close!), and then I miscount my total so that it's a little

bit low.


THE CUP: Oh, it's "low" all right.


MEDLER: But watch out in December, when I realize that I actually

have seen Black-capped Chickadee, Canada Goose, etc. in Ithaca, and I

suddenly vault to the top of the leader board.


THE CUP: Oooooh. We're sooo scared.  Speaking of scarey, you're

rooming with another Cupper, Matt Sarver.  How is this working out?

Do you ever, say, reset his alarm clock so he won't get up in time to catch

those rarities?


MEDLER: No, I would never sink to such levels.  I have been known to

take away the ladder to his bunkbed so that he can't get down from

his bed in the morning, but that seems perfectly fair to me.


THE CUP: Careful, he might hide the stool you use to reach the sink.


MEDLER: Seriously, Matt and I have helped each other out with various

birds over the past year.  I called him as soon as I found out about

the avocets, and just the other day, he stomped through the back

forty at Hog's Hole to point out what for me was an elusive McMute

Swan.  I'm more than happy to help him out, as long as I beat him out

in the end (a foregone conclusion, since I compile the Pilgrim's Progress).


THE CUP: Since we're on the subject of trust, whatever became of

your "trusty" Reliant, and does this have anything to do with the

reason you're now within walking distance to work?


MEDLER: The Trusty Reliant is doing just fine, thank you.  It's still going

strong at almost 115,000 miles.


THE CUP: Oh, that's right, you sold it and the poor sucker had to rebuild

the engine. Must run like a charm now. On the other hand,

it's still a Reliant...


MEDLER: The reason why I live within walking distance of work is so

that I can drive to work in only five minutes.


THE CUP: Hmm. Guess that explains why you missed that Yellow-bellied

Flycatcher that was lingering around in Sapsucker Woods--the one that never

got reported because you were driving to work! Has your

Winston Court fire escape been good to you so far (does it compare

to Allison and Jeff's old one)?


MEDLER: Oh, it's been just wonderful.  I have seen all of zero birds

out there since I moved in at the start of August.  It will probably

be even better when Matt and I get around to putting up the

birdfeeder kindly given to me by Mimi and Teddy [the Well's cats,

for cat sitting them].


THE CUP: What's your big McIlroy plan for the rest of the year?


MEDLER: Maybe spend a little time down on the jetty, try to pick up Brant,

Red-throated Loon, Black and White-winged scoters, and some

of the easier waterfowl that I never got out to see this spring.

Come December, I'll add up my list again, and we should see a new McIlroy



THE CUP: That's what they all say...



                     BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

                       By Caissa Willmer



      This month's Bird Brain has "been interested in birds for as

long as I can remember, for the obvious reason:  they can fly!  Oh,

I am envious!" A New Hampshire native, he is currently a junior

biology and English major at Cornell,  "and I rarely have time for anything

but classes."  That is Ben Taft talking, and he insists, furthermore, "I

only started seriously birding when I got to Cornell

and bought myself a pair of functional binos."

      But he adds a bit wistfully, "I spend much of my time

'vicariously birding' from a computer, since I am really busy with school

work.  This is an awesome place for birding, especially since there are so

many cool guys who are serious birders and have CARS.

My biggest mentor would have to be Matt Medler-I totally agree with

his philosophy of birding. In his Bird Brain interview, he said, 'I don't

enjoy going birding alone nearly as much as I enjoy it when

I'm with somebody else. At the risk of sounding corny, I enjoy

sharing birds with fellow birders, whether they be seasoned veterans

or beginners.' Mat's been a big help to me at work and in the

field (not to mention that I'm going to get ten extra birds on my

David Cup total for mentioning him)."

      Ben has also been working for Dr. David Winkler. During Ben's

sophomore year, Dr. Winkler decided that "I should work on swallow sounds

(gulp!).  First, I worked with Ryan Bakelaer on a VERY rudimentary study of

similarities between the sounds of mud-nesting swallows. Then, starting in

May, I scorned exams and recorded

singing Tree Swallows, in the hopes that I will be able to figure

out if their song has some effect on or correlation with breeding success.

Winkler introduced me to the Lab and the Library of Natural Sounds, where

everyone is fantastically kind and helpful,"--if and

when Ben can get through the security system!

      As he tells it: "I set off the alarm two weeks ago when I was trying

to get into the Lab on a Sunday morning before an ornithology class

bird-banding workshop.  There were lots of witnesses. It was

very embarrassing, but I was (probably to the disappointment of the police)

on the list of people who could legitimately set off

the alarm and only be stupid, rather than criminal."

      His best birding experience to date was not, he regrets, in the Basin.

"It was Gerard Phillips's Hoary Redpoll that landed on a

branch right next to a Common Redpoll, just as a shaft from the

setting sun broke through the clouds and illuminated that

branch only."

      With that nice piece of description it's safe to say that Basin

birding is once again generating not only a fascination for and a

love of birds, but a delight in and a facility with the words to describe



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

Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)



                                BIRD VERSE



                  Still awaiting Geo's contribution 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...




About the Pilgrim's Progress list:  I recently had the same total as Fitz,

yet his name came first.  I hope it was because of his name

coming alphabetically before mine and not because he's the head of

the Lab and a certain someone's boss!  That kind of preferential treatment

would have no place in an entity with such high moral and ethical standards

as The Cup.

                            --Listing Off Complaints in Newfield


Dear Listing Off:


Fret no more.  Tie scores are always, always, always presented

according to the last name of the corresponding Cupper.  Except when

the tie involves Allison Wells--she always must come before anyone

with whom her score is tied.  This is strictly because as editor of

The Cup, she needs that vantage point--it helps her stay on top of

the situation...


(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at


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


"This morning I finally glimpsed what I'd been hearing for several

days in the grapevine-and-hawthorne thicket: a little flock of

White-throated Sparrows. How autumnal!"

                                          --Nancy Dickinson


"After a heavy nocturnal migration last night (lots of Swainson's,

Gray-cheeked, and Wood Thrushes, Green Herons, yellowthroats over

my house), I was eager to check Dryden Lake this morning.  No

jaegers, Sabine's Gulls, wheatears, Say's Phoebes, or Connecticut Warblers,

but there was a nice Merlin, several lingering warblers,

and some lines of geese overhead (talk about autumnal!)"


                                          --Ken Rosenberg


"Yes, I'm back on Cayugabirds!! Anyway, today proved to be quite the

fruitful day on the birding front! At Mundy there were At Sapsucker

Woods on the east trail where the new boardwalk went in, there

were  Myer's Pt  had At this point I figured I'd go home for a rest,

but when I arrived there was a message from Bard Prentiss about a

Cape May Warbler in his yard. So I jumped back into my vehicle and

when I arrived, he told me it took off. After about 15 minutes of waiting

it didn't disappoint. Bard and I watched a nicely plumed

adult fall male forage in a birch for about 20 minutes."


                                             --Matt Young


"I found my first Common Nighthawk of the year but out of bounds at

Lodi Point.  That's it!  I'm never leaving the Basin again."


                                             --Jon Kloppel


"Just this week I saw hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of

Sooty Shearwaters, and dozens of Pink-footed, Buller's, and Black-

vented shearwaters.  Also albatrosses, sandpipers galore, many

species of plovers, murres, terns by the boatload, ducks unlimited,

guillemots, several kinds of cormorants, phalaropes, pelicans, and

on and on.  And not one of them countable for the David Cup!  I feel

so bad I want to cry But there is yet hope!  With the recent

extension of the Basin to include South Africa, I'm hoping that

soon Monterey Bay will be considered part of the Basin, too."


                                       --Dave Mellinger


"Do I qualify for an asterisk on my David/Mc Cup totals since I am

almost 3,000 miles from David Cup land?  I hate to see all those

chumps passing me when I am helpless to do anything about it. I will

be back in town in December and will get a whole bunch of birds then

so I can kick Bill Evans's butt again!"

                                         --John Bower


"The back channel was suffering a veritable infestation of

Green-winged Teal, with Gadwalls galore, and in every opening in

the rushes boasting a male Wood Duck in newly burnished baroque splendor."

                                         --Caissa Willmer


"Hey, where are warbler watching folks from Cornell? Don't you

take lunch?"

                                         --Meena Haribal


"Anyone interested in hearing night flight calls of migrating

birds? Tonight looks like a great night!"

                                          --Bill Evans


May Your Cup Runneth Over,


Allison and Jeff