Make your check out to Meadowlark Audubon and send to: Meadowlark Audubon Newsletter; P.O. Box 2126.; Cody, WY 82414.
February 14, 2002 - 7 p.m. in Greybull at the Bighorn Federal Savings & Loan. Game Warden Craig Sax will speak on major game violation cases in Cody and how they affect wildlife resources. He will also update us on the Wildlife Legacy Trust.
March 14, 2002 - 7 p.m. in the E.O.C. Room at the Cody Courthouse. Wildlife Biologist Andrea Cerovski will speak on owl habitats, feeding, lifestyle and special characteristics.
April 11, 2002 - 7 p.m. in the E.O.C. Room of the Cody Courthouse. ANNUAL MEETING; election of officers and directors; speaker TBA.
May 9, 2002 - 7:00 p.m. at Northwest College in Powell. Room and speaker TBA. (Last regular meeting until September.)
February 23, 2002 - Dave Henry, retired from the Forest Service, will lead us on a jaunt up the Southfork of the Shoshone. We'll be watching for eagles along the river, and hope to find the big horned sheep herds at the end of the road. Check your e-mail and local newspaper for details.
Do you have a special birding spot? Then offer to lead a field trip for Meadowlark. Don't worry about guaranteeing birds: we'll find them. Pick a date and time, and contact Field Trip Chair Dorothy Bunn, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Friday was cold and windy; Sunday dawned gray and overcast. But on Saturday, October 13th, 2001, Mother Nature treated us with watercolor-blue skies, and a wash of golden grasses across the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains.
Meeting at the Edelweiss in Clark that morning were Ron and Nova Young, John and KaCey Ross, Pat and Nancy Ryan, Dick and Jo Cook, Jim and Marion Laffin, Joyce Cicco, Susan Ahalt, Bryla (Kit) Carson, Mary Munsell, Andy Rose, Kerri Harkin, Ken Lichtendahl, and Thom and Mary Klein. The goal: to brush up on identifying migrating waterfowl.
We couldn't leave the parking lot, however, without focusing our scopes on a Red-tailed Hawk perching obligingly on a power pole. A crowing Ring-necked Pheasant skimmed over the guardrail, unseen by most with their eyes trained to the sky. Once underway on graveled road 7RP, we realized that there is no shortage of Black-billed Magpies or Common Ravens this year! Northern Flickers also abounded throughout the trip, flashing their salmon red wings as they swooped away.
We pulled over at a small pond, heralded by an ascent of emerald Mallards. Buffleheads, American Coots, American Wigeons and a brace of Pied-billed Grebes were kind enough to stay put so we could glass them. Traveling on, we watched a Northern Harrier hunting over the pasture while White-crowned and Vesper Sparrows flitted through silver-gray sage and willow.
A welcome sight when we reached Paint Creek Lake: ranch owner Roxie Corbett seated outside her antique cabin, a chimaera radiating heat, a coffee pot warming on the Coleman, and gooey chocolate brownies to soothe our hunger pangs. All field trips should be so luxurious! After being refreshed, we honed our spotting skills on more American Coots, Gadwalls, Lesser Scaups and Eared Grebes. Chipping Sparrows in the Russian olives; a murmuration of American Crows overhead; and -- what's that -- an immature Golden Eagle watching us from above. Many thanks, Roxie: you made our day.
Back on the gravel, heading towards Hogan and Luce Reservoirs, we spied dusky female Mountain Bluebirds perched on the barbed wire. Another immature Golden Eagle accompanied us. At Hogan, the wind gusted, nearly toppling our scopes; but that didn't stop us from counting over two dozen Canada Geese, and nine glistening Tundra Swans. A short hike to Luce rewarded us with a few Western Grebes.
Driving back to Edelweiss for lunch, we chased flocks of Brewer's Blackbirds along the utility wires. Since there was little wind on our bend of the Clarks Fork, most of us elected to eat under the elms, where chickadees, American Robins, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Dark-eyed Junco announced our arrival. Our Red-tailed Hawk perched on the bluffs across the river. A majestic Bald Eagle held court with Black-billed Magpies in attendance on the bluff above the coulee. As we watched the Red-tailed Hawk take flight above us, we discovered that a Great Horned Owl was shrouded in the fading greenery right above us! Once scoped, his eyes gleamed fiery yellow as he scoped us right back.
Parting for our homes, we were all thankful for the spectrum of birds we had seen on our picture-perfect fall day.
The weather smiled on us again (there is always a little bit of heaven out in Clark) with a clear, relatively calm day. A 7-degree temperature was a bit frosty at 8:00 a.m., but the sun warmed us to a balmy 30-degrees around noon. Post-Christmas holiday lag possibly accounted for a low number of counters -- only 10 birders turned out, but are to be congratulated for their extensive coverage of our 15-mile circle. We (Thom and Mary Klein, organizers) want to thank our crew: Pat and Nancy Ryan, Leslie Tribble and her father Neil Colin (all the way from Arvada, CO), Roxie Corbett, and Dennis Saville with his daughters Bonnie and Amy.
We passed the morning in the "urban" half of our circle by counting in the settled western half (along the Clarks Fork). Our first birds were a pair of great-horned owls hooting on the Edelweiss property. Morning highlights included a wild turkey, northern shovelers, a snipe, American dippers, a yellow-shafted flicker, one cold killdeer, and a lone lost western Meadowlark; nice of him to make an appearance!
A walk along the Edelweiss riverfront at noon netted us 7 chukars, plus scores of goldfinches, house finches and common redpolls at the feeders. The afternoon trek across the eastern badlands was not highly productive for counting species, but we did manage to see many eagles. Dennis went to his secret spot to log in his 17 sage grouse.
The ten of us counted 40 species: down by three from last year with five more people counting. Wouldn't you know, a gray jay showed up at my feeder the next morning -- one day earlier, and we would have added a species. We still did manage to identify 867 birds. I'd say that our small crew was really eagle-eyed!
See you next year for the THIRD Annual...
Since a large percentage of the more productive habitat is found along the Shoshone River and the creeks and draws that lead to it, most of the birders bundled up and spent a good part of their time on foot surveying these areas. Open water on the Shoshone, resulting from our mild fall and early winter, attracted a variety of waterfowl. A Cody CBC record of 57 Common Mergansers were logged, along with five Pied-billed Grebes, a first sighting for this species during the Cody count.
Another first, a Hoary Redpoll, was spotted by a sharp-eyed veteran birder. The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding says that the Hoary Redpoll "barely reaches the northern United States in winter...", but that it "Winters irregularly south to southern British Columbia and northern states..."
The preliminary data, not including bird counts made by people at feeders, show a total of 6,051 birds reported, representing 57 species, fairly typical of the results for Cody Christmas Bird Counts in recent years. Mallard ducks ranked highest in numbers of individual birds at 1,372 with European Starlings coming in second at 1,328. Next in descending order were Rock Doves at 586, House Sparrows at 441, and American Robins setting a record at a surprising 384. Cedar Waxwings accounted for 239 birds, (Bohemian Waxwings weighed in at 87), and Black-billed Magpies totaled 218. Canada Geese numbers were quite low at only 175, Common Ravens at 167, Common Redpolls at 125, and House Finches at 106. American Green-winged Teal were next at 104, an astonishing number as the only other record of this species during the Cody Christmas count was in 1986 with only 10 seen at that time.
Dropping below 100 were Bohemian Waxwings at 87, followed by 80 Red-shafted Northern Flickers, 57 Common Mergansers, 55 Common Goldeneye, 39 Gadwall, 36 Pine Siskin, 34 Black-capped Chickadee, 33 American Tree Sparrows, 33 Dark-eyed Juncos, and 28 American Wigeon. Rough-legged Hawks accounted for 25 birds, Greater Sage-Grouse 22, Townsend's Solitaire 20, Horned Lark 19, Golden Eagles 12, and 11 each of the Ring-necked Pheasant, Song Sparrow, and Cassin's Finch. Ten of each the Northern Pintail and American Goldfinch were seen, 9 American Coots, 8 each of Bald Eagles, Harris' Sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbirds, and 7 each of Killdeer and Evening Grosbeak and 5 Great Horned Owls.
Six each of Red-tailed Hawks and Brewer's Blackbirds were counted, and 5 Sharp-shinned Hawks, Mountain Chickadees, and Pied-billed Grebes were seen. At 4 each were American Dippers, Northern Harriers, American Crows, and Downy Woodpeckers. Only 3 Chukars were spotted, and 2 each o f Northern Goshawks, Common Snipe, and White-breasted Nuthatches. And finally, only 1 of the following species were seen: Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Marsh Wren, and Hoary Redpoll. In addition, some birds were identified generally as 25 duck species, 25 Finch species, and 12 Sparrow species.
Information from these Christmas Bird Counts are entered into the BirdSource database, a cooperative project of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Scientists, researchers and interested birders may access count data from 1900 to the present from the BirdSource Web site located at <www.birdsource.org>.
The Christ Episcopal Church was the evening gathering spot where 22 of the field participants tallied the numbers of the day's count and enjoyed a homemade chili supper prepared by Joyce Cicco, rolls courtesy of Susan Ahalt and the Sunset House Restaurant, and a variety of salads, vegetable trays, chips, dips, cake and cookies provided by the Cody CBC participants. The meal was enjoyed by all, and there was a lot of friendly discussion about who saw what, and where.
Thanks to all those who participated in the count, brought food for the supper, and donated money to help defray expenses for postage, copying, food, and disposable dishes and tableware. Thank you to Chuck Neal who has presided over the tally for a number of years and who provides a wealth of knowledge, experience, and historical information about birds found in this area. We appreciate Chuck's help in making our count as accurate as possible. A special thank-you to Rev. Warren Murphy who allowed us to use the Christ Episcopal Church's kitchen and meeting room for the tally of the count and the chili supper.
If you have wanted to participate in a Christmas count but just haven't gotten around to it, why not contact Susan Ahalt or Joyce Cicco about next year's Cody count, Mary Klein regarding the Clark count, or Terry Peters to take part in the Kane (Lovell) count. It's lots of fun. Just ask one of this year's Cody participants: Susan Ahalt, Judi & Mike Blymer, David & Germaine Bragonier, Dave Burke, Pat Chapman, Dick & Jo Cook, Marshall Dominick, Kay Flora, Gwen Fordham, Donna & Kirk Haman, Dave Henry, Lee & Jan Hermann, John Housel, Lolly Jolley, Roy Jordan, Martha Kinkade, Rita & Mac Lewis, Jerry Longobardi, Suzanne Morstad, Ester & Sara Murray, Chuck Neal, Joe Neal, Grace Nutting, Dee Oudin, Edie Phillips, John Roland, Larry Roop, Dennis Saville and his daughters, Amy and Bonnie, Jean Shanor, Sean Sheehan, David Smith, Stan Strike, Joe Vukelich, B.D. Wehrfritz, and Cheryl Wright.
|Canada Goose||744||Black-billed Magpie||71|
|Green-winged Teal||6||American Crow||931|
|Common Goldeneye||5||Black-capped Chickadee||16|
|Common Merganser||2||White-breasted Nuthatch||2|
|Bald Eagle||13||Townsend's Solitaire||1|
|Northern Harrier||30||American Robin||760|
|Sharp-shinned Hawk||2||Bohemian Waxwing||318|
|Red-tailed Hawk||3||Cedar Waxwing||1|
|Rough-legged Hawk||23||Northern Shrike||4|
|Golden Eagle||5||European Starling||327|
|American Kestrel||8||American Tree Sparrow||175|
|Prairie Falcon||1||Dark-eyed Junco (form)||40|
|Ring-necked Pheasant||16||Red-winged Blackbird||602|
|Rock Dove||1419||Cassin's Finch||17|
|Mourning Dove||5||House Finch||13|
|Great Horned Owl||3||Pine Siskin||8|
|Belted Kingfisher||1||American Goldfinch||90|
|Downey Woodpecker||1||Evening Grosbeak||22|
|Northern Flicker||52||House Sparrow||100|
|Horned Lark||358||wren spp.||1|
Watch your thistle and sunflower feeders for common redpolls because they are not normally common down here. I've had them at my feeders since the 6th of December, and also saw a few flocks on the Clark CBC.
The redpoll breeds in the Arctic, and normally winters in Canada. Rough winters drive them further south. This is only the third time that I have seen them in the past 12 winters!
The common redpoll looks almost identical to a pine siskin (which looks almost identical to a winter goldfinch...). Note two narrow white stripes on the back from the nape to the tail, if viewing them from above. The most striking field mark is a bright red cap on the forehead, and a black chin (similar to a male house sparrow's). The male redpoll also has a pink breast. The redpolls are delightful visitors, and a welcome addition to any winter feeder watch.
HIGHS 42 42 40 35 32 32 39 36 41 31 27 28 41 40 34 46 42 31 30 33 30 33 24 22 18 16 14 20 28 27 30 HIGHS
LOWS 30 31 26 24 26 24 24 20 20 21 22 19 25 24 25 27 21 15 14 14 26 13 13 18 13 12 8 10 13 13 23 LOWS
The species is an early nester, and territorial nesting can begin in late fall or early winter, depending on your location." -- From "Birder's World" Magazine
Did you know:
* that hummingbirds' feathers are short so they'll lose heat at night?
* that the eyelash viper can catch Amazon hummingbirds on the wing?
* that the small wings of the rufous hummingbird give it the agility to compete with larger species?
-- From "The World of the Hummingbird" by Robert Burton
The sound of dueling flickers greeted me as I left the house early Sunday in spring. One flicker furiously hammered his beak against a tree, to be answered momentarily by another not far in the distance. Which would reign?
The tree drillers were joined by smaller chirpers in a boisterous symphony of birds in the 'hood. I couldn't help but notice the chickadees' refrain sounded my name. Before ascending the steep pedestrian trail off Skyline Drive, I spied an old nest perched precariously on a tree branch overhanging the street. A robin's loud peep drew my eye to the top of a nearby fir. It was proof enough for me that spring had arrived, despite what the calendar showed.
As I walked slowly up the heart-pounder trail, I heard the honking of two Canada geese -- another sure sign of spring, but winter could get a last laugh. As I looked upwards, I lost my footing on a thin glaze of ice still clinging to the sidewalk. I landed squarely on my round behind.
At the top of the hill, I continued southward along 11th Street. At the corner of Stampede Ave., I saw four nervous deer bounding from the safety of a thick, tall hedge. They disappeared so quickly, I thought I'd imagined them.
The chain link fence of the Livingston School grounds fluttered the sunlight into my left eye and created an illusion of an old-time movie. It kept me entertained as I approached the golf course, where the greens still looked brown.
A magpie in flamboyant tuxedo crossed my path then zipped ahead, cruising for carrion. I paid no heed to signs prohibiting unauthorized vehicles and crossed a rough planked bridge over a mostly dry canal containing patches of thickly drifted snow tinged with dirt. I savored the rushing wind through the conifer boughs.
A brush and scrap lumber heap were the end of my civilized trail, so I hiked into the sagebrush and over bumpy terrain of earth gaping with cracks that would thirstily guzzle any trickle of moisture. A fence temporarily daunted my passage, but I found another dirt road to follow. Its deep ruts were still firm in the cool morning but promised quick thaw to slippery mud. A silver oil drum pierced with large holes from target practice sat awkwardly next to a "caution, gas pipeline" sign.
A less traveled fork beckoned me to the ridge top. Human footprints in the fine soft brown dirt showed only faint treads. Deer prints and scat overlaid them. The trail up the ridge became gravel, and my eyes cast downward to scan for fossils or other stone treasures. Patches of a lichen-like ground cover prevailed.
I heard the soft twittering of a bird, less frantic than those in town. I knelt to clumsily retrieve my binoculars from my backpack as the bird perched on a sagebrush. Because I was looking into the sun, I couldn't easily identify it. I guessed it was some kind of lark, though its song was nothing like a meadowlark's. I tried to glass it as it struggled to fly into the wind.
I wandered dreamily along the ridge top, looking at the seascape of rock outcroppings lapping the expanse like wind-whipped rock waves. The waves were guarded by distant circumference of mountain sentry, their snow caps snug.
The rim was a box seat in a stadium feast for the eyes, but the raw, chilly wind challenged my comfort. It was time to head home. I tweaked some brittle sage and held it to my nose for an aromatic spur.
From: The Nocturnal Naturalist by Cathy Johnson