From the Atlasing Front Lines
My Baltimore City atlas block 0934 had an unexpected bird this past June and July - a Least Flycatcher calling and acting as if on territory. On Friday, June 20th, armed with tape recorders, Elliot Kirschbaum and Debbie Terry accompanied me on an early morning visit my block to confirm and document this finding. Unfortunately, I was never able to document a mate or a nest site. The closest I came to this was on July 3rd when I had long, close looks at a silent Least Flycatcher acting as if protecting a nest site. I decided not to try to find the nest; rather wait to see if he returns again next year.
Atlas Block 0911Ellicott City - NW: I could hear a Northern Parula Warbler singing in the trees on the edge of field. Walking past the saplings growing in the hedgerow that marked the end of my atlas block I thought that it would be nice to confirm a warbler today. As the Parula led me further into the neighboring block a fledgling started begging in the hedgerow behind me. I turned and approached quietly. A small bird streaked into view and seemed to do a loop before flying back to the trees. A female American Redstart was feeding one of two fledglings found. During the last Atlas the Redstart was not recorded in this block.
Our best Atlas bird confirmation to date is Cooper's Hawk. Paul found a sitting bird on the nest. This was not in Leakin Park where we often see them; but rather, in a small Baltimore County park we checked out to be thorough. He made only three other trips to the nest, seeing fledglings on two occasions. He would not let me tell a soul for fear of spooking the birds, but allowed me to accompany him on one of his brief checks. On this trip, we also confirmed Rock Doves (now "Rock Pigeons."). He graciously offered, "You can post that, if you like!
Zlata and Philip Hartman
Since our last Chip Notes, Baltimore Bird Club member, Zlata Hartman, has died. Her husband Philip, passed away a few months before. For those of you who may not have known her, Zlata was a sweet, gentle soul accompanied with wonderful good humor. She devoted herself to the care of Philip, who had been in poor health over the last few years.
Phil and Zlata rarely missed the Tuesday night talks. Zlata enjoyed the Lake Roland Tuesday walks and Sundays at Cylburn. She shall be missed.
The family invited contributions be sent to the Museum Fund in Zlata's memory. BBC treasurer Paula Warner reports that so far, a total of $850 has been donated.
New Web Page for
Cromwell Valley Park
Hello Everyone. I have been meaning to submit an entry about Cromwell Valley Park for a while now, and this seems like a perfect opportunity. As I'm sure many of you know, Cromwell is a wonderful place for hiking and birding, especially considering its proximity to the Baltimore beltway. Recently, after I spent several months taking photographs for the park, my friend Devin Delmore and I created a new Cromwell Valley Park web site.
The site features over 100 photos of the park and its wildlife by myself and other local photographers; as well as a complete bird list with the relative abundance for each species by season. It also features park history, educational programs, and information on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Any feedback is welcome. It all began when I moved out to Maryland last August after separating from the U.S. Air Force, leaving sunny Hawaii after nearly four years. As there are far too infrequently opportunities to do so, I decided to take about six months off before looking for work out here. I was interested in doing some volunteer work, particularly in natural studies and/or photography. I was hiking practically every day, and researching volunteer opportunities at places like Patuxent Research Refuge. One day in September, my girlfriend Becky found a web page regarding the need for a volunteer photographer at some place called Cromwell Valley Park. I called the park and spoke to Kriste Garman, who invited me to come in for an interview. She also couldn't help asking how I had found about their need for a photographer. She told me they hadn't even sent anything out. It turned out that the page we found was totally obsolete and probably about two years old. They had already found a photographer, had him eventually go on his way and had the spot open up again much later. Maybe someone else will stumble upon the mysterious web page someday long after I move on!
I learned that the idea of creating a thorough park web page was long in the works. As I met people at the park and became more involved, I became interested in helping out. I asked my dear, far-more-technologically-advanced friend Devin if he was interested in developing the site with me, and the rest was long evenings of take-out dinners and HTML. Between the very knowledgeable staff at Cromwell, literature generated by the Friends of CVP, and other materials available at the Sherwood House, gathering information was simple.
We have included everything that the park and its visitors have recommended. From Community Supported Agriculture to the Friends of the Sherwood House, we have tried to provide as much information as possible. Naturally, we found photography, birding, and other wildlife to be a focal point. I even linked the BBC to the site long before I became a member. Devin and I plan to maintain the web site for the foreseeable future. We will continue to keep the site updated with each season's events, to include bird walks and family events, and to add new information as it becomes available. Of course, I also plan to continue adding many photographs of the park's flora and fauna.
The web site is still under development. There are a few photos already posted, but I eventually would like to display many more. In the longer term, I hope to create a large repository of photos and information on Eastern wildlife (especially birds). I might even subject viewers to some writing samples (both creative and informative) as it gets going. Please feel free to take a look, and to return sometime soon.
For anyone who has not already visited this peaceful urban oasis, I highly recommend Cromwell Valley Park.
The Cromwell Valley Park web site is at:
The bird list for CVP is at: http://www.bcpl.net/~cvpark/wildlifeAndBirding/fullBirdList.html
Board of Directors Meetings
The BBC Board met on September 9 and October 14, 2003.
HEAR YE! HEAR YE! The archives of Maryland Birdlife, all issues from 1945 -1999, are now available on a searchable CD-ROM (PC/Mac). To obtain, write a check for $2.75 to MOS and send it to:
John Malcolm, MOS Merchandise Manager
10205 Kindly Court
Montgomery Village, MD 20886
Or contact at (301) 977-5788,
Together the state and local Conservation Committees created a service called "Web Action Links" on the MOS Conservation page. This helps concerned citizens contact appropriate officials about conservation matters. Check it out! www.mdbirds.org/programs/conserv.html
Because our Museum of Birds of Maryland is now, suddenly, closed to the public, President Peter Webb appointed a committee to discuss our options.
At the October meeting we learned that family and friends of Zlata and Phil Hartman gave $850 in their memory to the Museum of Birds of Maryland.
To reduce costs, Gail Frantz, Editor, says that Chip Notes will no longer include a list of all upcoming trips -- just changes to the trip schedule since the Program Booklet was published.
In October the Board discussed some budget requests, to be voted upon at the November meeting. Most significant, MOS expects a "donation" to help support the Breeding Bird Atlas project. A donation of $400 or $500 is being considered.
Chimney Swift Report, 2003
By Carol Schreter & Alice Greely Nelson
A bird rehabilitator in Maine had five, hand-raised Chimney Swifts ready for release. Alas! In September, there were no more Swifts in Maine. The rehabber heard of Baltimore from the "Swift Night Out" people at Driftwood Wildlife Association in Texas. For "Swift Night Out" in September 2003, the BBC count in Hampden was the third highest Chimney Swift count in the nation. (See www.concentric.net/~DWA.)
So rehabber Marc Payne of Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine, journeyed 750 miles, from Maine to Baltimore, because we could assure him of a Chimney Swift crowd.
It was a real treat seeing the five young swifts join a flock on October 4, 2003. When we let them loose, there were maybe 20 swifts visible in the area, spread out around. Within a minute or two of the first young released, 250 swifts converged to meet or greet them, at 6 PM. From that time on the numbers of swifts increased up to 1,000 visible in the air, and never dropped lower until the whole flock descended into the chimney, about 7 PM. It was probably a 5,000 Chimney Swift night in Hampden.
From 6:00 to 6:30 PM, every 5 - 10 minutes, one or two young swifts would buzz us, flying maybe 10 feet overhead as we stood in the center of the Mill Center parking lot. We've never seen swifts fly so low overhead. This was certainly the young-uns, coming to see Papa.
It was a great opportunity to actually hold a Chimney Swift. He/she was wiggling like a worm, so excited by being out of that cage, so excited by hearing his/her mates overhead.
During 2003 Baltimore Bird Club members continued weekly migration counts at dusk, spring and fall. We watch the Mill Center at 3000 Chestnut Street and/or the Freestate Bookbindery at 3110 Elm Avenue.
Alice Greely Nelson sends the weekly counts to a migration researcher at William & Mary College in Virginia. (See www.SwiftWatch.org.) The two charts that follow show the BBC Swift Watch Team's weekly counts for 2003.
So now Hampden is nationally known for filmmaker John Waters, the "Hampden Hons," and two very important chimneys.
Chimney Swifts in Hampden -- SPRING 2003 Date Where First Bird In Last In Count Total 4/23/03 Mill Center 7:15 PM 8:20 PM 531 4/27/03 Mill Center 7:48 PM 8:22 PM 1,063 5/01/03 Mill Center 8:00 PM 8:29 PM 388 5/01/03 Bookbindery 8:10 PM 8:20 PM 89 5/10/03 Mill Center 8:08 PM 8:29 PM 754 5/10/03 Bookbindery 8:12 PM 8:25 PM 401 Chimney Swifts in Hampden -- FALL 2003 Date Where First Bird In Last In Count Total 8/16/03 Bookbindery 7:53 PM 8:22 PM 654 8/21/03 Bookbindery 7:54 PM 8:12 PM 750 8/28/03 Bookbindery 7:45 PM 8:15 PM 1,706 9/05/03 Bookbindery 7:30 PM 8:07 PM 7,403 9/11/03 Bookbindery 7:35 PM 7:55 PM 2,200 9/11/03 Mill Center 7:30 PM 7:45 PM 1,542 9/17/03 Bookbindery 7:20 PM 7:40 PM 450 9/17/03 Mill Center 7:12 PM 7:40 PM 3,200 9/25/03 Mill Center 6:46 PM 7:27 PM 3,590 10/02/03 Mill Center 6:05 PM 7:19 PM 5,308 10/09/03 Mill Center 6:35 PM 7:12 PM 1,234 10/16/03 Mill Center 6:10 PM 6:45 PM 233
Birds are counted at the moment each drops into the chimney.
Spring migration in Hampden starts around April 15. Fall migration ends at the first frost.
To watch this event, arrive 1/2 hour before sunset and stay until 1/2 hour after sunset. Note that swifts enter earlier on cloudy or cool evenings.
The 2003 BBC Swift Watch Team included Alice & David Nelson, Carol Schreter, Joan Cwi and Bryce Butler, assisted by many other Baltimore Bird Club members.
The Swift Watch Team is happy to have others join them at the Swift Watch.
Fall Count 2003 Results
Compiled by Debbie Terry
Hurricane Isabel blew through Baltimore Thursday evening and early Friday morning. Her appearance definitely affected our number of birds and birders. Last year 28 birders tallied 98 species of birds; whereas, this year 11 participants counted 83 species. The most numerous fall warbler seen last year was Common Yellowthroat. This year Magnolia Warblers led the count followed closely by American Redstarts. For the second year in a row the Broadwing numbers were extremely low. In 2002 7 Broadwing Hawks were seen and this year only 2 were counted. For those who are interested the complete count follows.
Thanks to all who participated in the 2003 Fall Count. Their names are cited below the species list.
Double-cr Cormorant 8 Tree Swallow 5 Great Blue Heron 9 Carolina Chickadee 59 Black-cr Night-Heron 1 Tufted Titmouse 41 Turkey Vulture 10 White-br Nuthatch 29 Canada Goose 125 Carolina Wren 18 Wood Duck 18 House Wren 8 Mallard 347 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 6 Osprey 4 Eastern Bluebird 3 Bald Eagle [immature] 2 Swainson's Thrush 1 Northern Harrier 1 Hermit Thrush 1 Red-shouldered Hawk 3 Wood Thrush 4 Broad-winged Hawk 2 American Robin 82 Red-tailed Hawk 5 Gray Catbird 94 Killdeer 2 Northern Mockingbird 15 Greater Yellowlegs 1 Brown Thrasher 9 Spotted Sandpiper 1 European Starling 268 Laughing Gull 153 Cedar Waxwing 8 Ring-billed Gull 77 Yellow Warbler 1 Herring Gull 2 Chestnut-sided Warbler 5 Great Black-backed Gull 6 Magnolia Warbler 15 unidentified gull 2 Cape May Warbler 1 Forster's Tern 5 Blk.-thr Blue Warbler 6 Rock Dove 20 Blk.-thr Green Warbler 10 Mourning Dove 121 Blackburnian Warbler 5 Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 Pine Warbler 8 Barred Owl 1 Palm Warbler [yellowish] 1 Common Nighthawk 12 Bay-breasted Warbler 3 Chimney Swift 154 Black-&-white Warbler 8 Ruby-thr Hummingbird 4 American Redstart 12 Belted Kingfisher 1 Ovenbird 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker 32 Common Yellowthroat 5 Downy Woodpecker 22 Eastern Towhee 7 Hairy Woodpecker 3 Chipping Sparrow 2 Northern Flicker 52 Field Sparrow 3 Pileated Woodpecker 3 Song Sparrow 7 Eastern Wood-Pewee 11 Northern Cardinal 55 unidentified Empidonax 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 9 Great Crested Flycatcher 1 Red-winged Blackbird 10 White-eyed Vireo 6 Common Grackle 6 Red-eyed Vireo 20 House Finch 3 Blue Jay 50 American Goldfinch 51 American Crow 34 House Sparrow 62 unidentified crow 10 Total Species 83 Total Individuals 2277
Counters: Anne Brooks, Catherine Carroll, Keith Costley, Elise Kreiss, Paul Kreiss, Jim Peters, Steve Sanford, Wendy Taparanskas, David Thorndill, Peter Webb, Joy Wheeler
Tales from Fall Count:
Paul and I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk - - a real one this time - - and scanned the strip of sky we could see to try and locate it. One big bird sailed into view. . . only a TV. No, not a vulture; a juvenile Bald Eagle - - with an Osprey in pursuit! Had I fallen asleep and woken up on the Eastern Shore?
It was a dreamlike fall count. Lots of branches, a few big trees covered with trailing poison ivy vines, and an electric power line, littered our path. We ran into a couple guys in hard hats with BG&E logos on their shirts. "Have you seen the pumping station?" one asked. "How big is it - what does it look like?" "Oh, about as big as a small row house." Paul and I looked at each other, "Nothing like that around here," we replied. They walked off, carrying stuff, looking tired. The sycamore was down in Winans Meadows which had held last year's Baltimore Oriole nest; a confirmation for our Atlas block. The large, decayed "bird tree" was down near the model railroad. This was a tree that always seemed to hold something, even on the deadest day.
We had nice looks at a perching Grosbeak enjoying poison ivy berries, a little streaky red on its mostly brown breast, but found only a few warblers. We reached new heights of intrepidness in viewing these. Picture this - - we're working our way up a muddy, irregular path, none too wide. In front; at a not impossibly high level, in good light; flitting activity. Our best view is only a few feet away from a very active wasp colony to our right - big wasps - rapidly flying in and out of a small tree cavity. Maybe about head level. I'm picturing tumbling back down this path once they notice that we are here and decide to take exception. Meanwhile, we are tentatively approached by a small opossum. Ignoring both wasps and opossum, we found three Magnolia Warblers, one Chestnut-sided, and our one Bay-breasted Warbler of the day. We were lucky that the Bay-breasted had a trace of bay on the breast or we'd have been even longer in a productive but uncomfortable spot.
We saw what looked like one big fluttering bird in a tree, which was revealed to be two Mourning Doves facing each other, their heads very rapidly moving up and down together as if one, wings fluttering. Following this, one bird mounted the other. This is very different from the Mourning Dove courtship which I've seen in my backyard, where one bird does the cooing and pursuing; one bird does the rapidly walking away part; except when halting, mesmerized by the cooing; and both usually end up distracted by birdseed and forgetting the whole thing.
Good birding, and Happy Fall Count, everyone!
Field Trip Reports
July 12, 2003, Kinder Farm Park, Anne Arundel County -Though it seems ages ago now, Steve Sanford led eight others around Kinder Farm Park for a mid-summer search for post-migration birds. This is the same park where a couple of years earlier Steve had found a Clay-colored Sparrow. No rarities were reported from this trip, but many nice birds were seen well. A singing Yellow-breasted Chat, a distant Blue-Grosbeak, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher attacking an immature Red-shouldered Hawk, and many Brown Thrashers made for an enjoyable trip.
September 10, 2003, Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore City - Joy Wheeler led seven other birders around the first of the new cemetery walks. The weather was great to see nine species that included a Cooper's Hawk and a family of American Kestrels. A photographer from the Baltimore Sun, Jerome Jackson, accompanied the BBC birders on this walk and a photograph appeared in the following day's Sun for a bit of free publicity.
September 11, 2003, Chimney Swifts in Hampden, Baltimore City - The Thursday night fall Chimney Swift count started back with a bang led by Alice Nelson and Joan Cwi and attended by eleven Swift counters. It was noted that on this evening, for whatever reason, the Swifts chose to use both chimneys so it was great to have so many counters. The Mill Center chimney had 1,542 Swifts enter and the Bookbindery chimney had 2,200 Swifts enter for a total of 3,742 Chimney Swifts that evening.
September 20, 2003, Cromwell Valley Park, Baltimore County - Elliot Kirschbaum led eight other birds on a 50 species walk with highlights that included a Northern Harrier, four warblers and Scarlet Tanagers.
Sunday, September 21, 2003, Fall Warblers at Turkey Point - Six hurricane weary birders came out to this Cecil County hotspot in search of fall migrants. The hoped for morning fallout did not materialize as the day dawned with cloudy skies and easterly breezes. Led by Joel Martin and venturing off the beaten paths, the birders were able to locate several pockets of bird activity. Highlights were three adult Red-headed Woodpeckers near the hawkwatch and two Nashville Warblers. Other warblers seen were Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Black and White, American Redstart and Common Yellowthroat. A few raptors were moving as well, including Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned and Broad-winged hawks, and American Kestrel. Total was 51 species with eight warbler species.
September 25, 2003, Chimney Swifts in Hampden, Baltimore City - Alice Nelson and Carol Schreter and seven other Swift counters tallied 3,590 Chimney Swifts as they dove head first into the Mill Center Chimney between 6:46pm and 7:27pm. It was noted that the only chimney used by the Swifts on this evening was the Mill Center chimney.
October 4, 2003, Cromwell Valley Park, Baltimore County - Peter Lev tried to lead seven other birders on a very promising walk around Cromwell Valley Park only to be halted by rain. The highlight of this walk was a visiting birder from Connecticut calling out that he had a Black-capped Chickadee.
Lake Roland Walks
September 2, 2003 through October 28, 2003, Lake Roland, Baltimore City:
The popular and always well-attended Tuesday morning Lake Roland walks started back up on September 2nd to monitor the fall migration.
On 9/02, a 37 species walk led by Mary Chetelat, highlights were Great Blue Herons, a Green Heron, a Great Egret and three Pileated Woodpeckers.
On 9/09, a 50 species walk led by Patsy Perlman, again herons were highlights, this walk included a Black-crowned Night Heron. Also, five different shorebirds were present - Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Killdeer were present.
On 9/16, a 42 species walk led by Josie Gray, had all of the herons (including a Yellow-crowned Night Heron), two Great Egrets perched high in a tree over the lake and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
The 9/23 walk led by Mary Jo Campbell was rainy. Mary Jo reports that even though the weather cleared, the paths remained muddy and three birders saw 22 species of birds.
On 9/30, leader Elliot Kirschbaum and twelve others saw 51 species highlighted by six warbler species and six woodpecker species.
Dot Gustafson led the 10/07 walk with 18 others attending. 45 species included the return of Golden-crowned Kinglets, and only a single warbler, a Magnolia
On the 36 species 10/14 walk led by Matilda Weiss and attended by 15 others, the highlight was three Merlins perched together in a bare tree next to a picnic table where the count was being tallied.
On 10/28 Josie Gray led ten other birders on a trip around Lake Roland on this cold Tuesday morning. They found 35 species including a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting in a tree at the beginning of the walk. Later the group added a Red-tailed Hawk to the list. Finally, a new Lake Roland birder wanted to see a Pileated Woodpecker and was rewarded with a Pileated sighting.
As reported in the Board Meeting notes above, to save space and money, the activities will no longer be repeated in Chip Notes. Only changes or additions will be noted. For full schedule information, see the Program Booklet (mailed in August), the Yellowthroat, or our activities web page at :
2002-03 Monitoring program at Fort McHenry
The 12-month period beginning August 16, 2002 and ending August 16, 2003 was an exceptional one for monitoring at the Fort McHenry Wetland. Fifteen new species were added to the Fort list to bring the total species count over the last four years to 209. This number represents 50.7% of the birds on the Maryland checklist. A total of 1,231 monitoring hours were invested during this calendar year. Birds counted in the wetland were 104,365.
The 2002-03 list surpassed all previous year totals with a final count of 183 species! A few of the new species recorded are classified as uncommon visitors to this part of Maryland. These species are: Brant, Northern Goshawk, Black Tern and Grasshopper Sparrow.
Weather played an important part in bringing new species to the wetland. While some might complain about colder than usual winter temperatures and higher amounts of precipitation, the fact is that meteorological conditions were just right for a high species count.
Weather during the period of August 16, 2002 through December 13, 2002, was favorable for our banding operation. 550 birds of 51 species were banded. during these five months. However, after the Christmas holidays the weather changed drastically. Temperatures dropped, winds increased and weekly snowfall prevented the trapping of birds. Rain and snow make nets sag. Winds blow the nets so that the birds see the movement and are able to avoid them.
As spring approached, snow turned to rain so that banding took place only 11 days from March through July. During this time period only 83 birds were netted and banded. No new species were added to the Fort's year list. We hope for better weather conditions in the coming year.
This year, from March through August, the Maryland Atlas Project was carried out again in the wetlands and the Fort grounds. So far, 30 species are known to have nested. These include: Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren, Catbird and N. Cardinal as a few of the confirmed nesting species.
In mid-April a pair of Osprey began building a nest on the platform in the wetland. Each day they added sticks and debris to the nest. They finally finished with a nest cup in the center made of white pine needles and soft grasses. Copulation and egg laying occurred in late April. Incubation began in early May. The pair took turns sitting on the eggs and feeding each other on the platform.
Unfortunately, after 42 days of incubation the pair abandoned the nest. Perhaps the eggs were infertile or the embryos died for unknown reasons. With no signs of life inside the eggs, the adults left the nest. We can only hope that they will return next spring and try again.
An enthusiastic group of NAIB (National Aquarium In Baltimore) staff and volunteers spent a half-day in June working in a steady rain to clean up the beach and rip-rap. The group also did maintenance work on the marsh trail. High tides made working conditions difficult but in spite of the weather the volunteers removed many pounds of debris.
When the weather is uncooperative, various means of adaptive clothing are necessary for walking the trails and filling feeders. Snowshoes were helpful in February to walk on top of the two feet of accumulated snow. Then in the spring, due to frequent rainfall and higher than usual tides, a rain-suit with high boots enabled monitoring to continue without interruption.
Easy forYou to Say
On his Cornell University web site http://birds.cornell.edu/crows/birdname.htm; Kevin McGowan offers advice on the pronunciation of several bird names, including the following:
BUDGERIGAR -BUJ-e-ree-Gar (remember BUJ-e as the short name). Where come from, we just called them parakeets.
GUILLEMOT -GIL-eh-mott. This is English from the French; avoid the urge to do a Spanish double l "y" sound, and keep that terminal "t" on there, it's not THAT French.
VAUX'S (Swift) - Here again we have a bird named for a person, this time William S. Vaux, and we need to know how he pronounced it. Those of you with training in French probably, and understandably, think you pronounce it as would the French - "vo" with a silent x. But you are WRONG (and probably pretentious too). Terres and Websters lists it as "vauks." I talked to someone once who knew some relative of William Vaux and said that they pronounced it "vauks."
Phoebes and Butterflies in September
By Mark J. Linardi
Last evening I walked/birded my mostly private trail along the high wires, located to the west of Lake Roland. This area is rather small and does have it's limitations, however there are many wonderful pieces of nature that can be found here.
Anyway, last night I ascended the topside of the uppermost valley. This area is comprised of a series of rolling hills that follow the wire lines. Below the wires is a swath of small shrubs and prairie grasses. The butterflies were very active as the suns fading rays painted the slope with one last glorious display. I planted myself in a patch of Paul Noell's lespedeza virginica, better known to us regular folk as Slender Bush Clover, and watched intently for several minutes hoping to get a few photographs of butterflies.
It was then that I saw an American Snout (easily ID'd later at home) perched on the clover. I tried vainly for quite a while to get close to this critter for a decent photograph but was unsuccessful. After this encounter I proceeded to the top of the valley where there is a flat expanse that has a one year-old, run-off pond. This pond has naturalized quite well in the course of just one year. The weeds and sparse wildflowers are filling in nicely. I have seen several foxes, two box turtles, numerous butterflies and grasshoppers. The dragonflies are plentiful and there are some type of frogs that are beginning to proudly populate the pond.
This is the spot where a year ago with my newfangled binoculars I first spotted one or two pairs of Phoebes. They stayed in that area for at least a month before they moved on. Now once again a year later they have shown up. I suppose this is typical of this species to migrate to said area and set up camp for a month? They love perching on the posts surrounding the pond and munching on the multitude of maneuvering insects.
Why Buy Shade-Grown Coffee? -- Updated
By Carol Schreter
Coffee is the developing world's second most valuable export product, after oil. Today, two-thirds of the world's coffee is produced in Central America and the Caribbean. So when coffee growing methods change and threaten bird habitat, that is bad news for birds that breed in North America and winter in the tropics.
Coffee is grown in the world's tropical rainforest regions on hillsides at 500 to 1500 meters above sea level. Coffee is one of the few large-scale commodity crops that can be grown in relative harmony with native forest. Until the 1970s, nearly all coffee was grown on multi-crop coffee plantations -- in the understory of wild fig, avocado, mango, lychee, citrus fruits, nut or other trees.
The Full-Sun Hybrid
The traditional method of growing coffee is now called shade-grown coffee - because an alternative called "sun-grown" or "full-sun" coffee was created.
A full-sun coffee plantation looks like an orchard. The rainforest is cleared. The land is thickly planted with hedgerows of a hybrid coffee plant that produces 30 percent more coffee beans per bush.
Full-sun coffee plantations require more agrochemicals and more maintenance. The naked slopes are vulnerable to erosion. By contrast, coffee grown in the rainforest protects freshwater resources; trees and their roots store rainwater, reduce flooding and landslides, and help recharge underground aquifers.
Bird Habitat Destroyed
Ornithologists find that in full-sun coffee plantations, the number of bird species is cut by half, and the number of individual birds is cut by as much as two-thirds. According to Jeffrey A. McNeely, Chief Scientist at the World Conservation Union, "the widespread conversion to sun-grown coffee is particularly troubling considering that 13 of the world's 25 biodiversity hot spots are in coffee country."
Since 1980, over 40 percent of the coffee area in Columbia, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean has been converted to sun coffee, with another 25 percent of the area slated for conversion. This transition to full-sun coffee was encouraged by funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID) and local governments when world coffee prices were at their highest. Now the market is flooded with coffee and coffee prices are at a 100-year low.
In 1995, Partners in Flight first publicly connected the decrease in the number of migratory birds in the Americas to the increase in sun-grown coffee. In 1998 the American Birding Association (ABA) partnered with Thanksgiving
Coffee Company of California to promote and distribute "Song Bird Coffee," verified by the ABA as shade grown. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center now certifies and promotes a similar product called "Bird Friendly Coffee."
"Organic" coffee marketed to health conscious consumers is grown without pesticides and fertilizers. The organic certification first appeared in the early 1980's in response to "full-sun" coffee.
"Fair Trade" certified coffee appeared after the U.S. rejected long-standing International Coffee Agreement price controls in 1989. Prices paid to growers dropped more than 50%. This is marketed to socially conscious consumers wanting to help coffee farmers earn a livable wage.
The ABA reports that 80% of Fair Trade Certified coffees sold in the U.S. are shade-grown and organic. Nature lovers should still seek out coffee labeled shade grown -- to help these three certification movements converge.
Because shade-grown coffee grows more slowly than full-sun coffee, it costs a bit more. The major players, known as "the cans" in industry lingo (selling Folgers, Maxwell House and Nestle), have not yet started to pay attention because of price. But Dunkin' Donuts will soon serve Fair Trade expresso coffee, by the cup. Maryland birdwatchers drink shade-grown coffee at their annual convention and it is served at the National Aquarium.
What Coffee Drinkers Can Do
PROTECT OUR BACKYARD BIRDS by drinking Shade-Grown Coffee!
Shade-grown coffee offers winter habitat for birds that breed in Baltimore. The birds listed below were nesting in Mt. Washington in the summer of 2003. They fly to Central and South America for the winter.
Where to Buy Shade-Grown Coffee
BBC Mail Order
The Baltimore Bird Club is now offering its merchandise for sale through its mail order section. The following items are available. All prices include shipping costs.
Baltimore Bird Club's Birding Site Guide - $12.00
Baltimore Bird Club T-Shirt - $18.00 (only XL left)
MOS Patch - $3.50
MOS Decal - $3.50
Please make your check or money order payable to "The Baltimore Bird Club" and send your order to: Joseph Lewandowski, 3021 Temple Gate, Baltimore, Maryland 21209.
Back Yard Birding and Beyond
By Gail Frantz
• Overlea-Fullerton, Sep. 18, Sharon Murk: I'm not sure how common they are in this area, but I've never seen one. This morning at about 9:30 I heard this loud, strong "smack ..... smack..... smack" (sort of like a really loud and hard Cardinal chirp). Looked out the window and there, in the Dogwood tree was this large (like a robin) brown bird, white belly with black streaks, yellow eyes sort of like a grackle, long tail and curved bill. I looked it up in my field guide and I'm 100% positive it was a Brown Thrasher. It hung around in the yard for about 20 minutes (couldn't always see it, but I could heard it). I don't know much about them, but I thought it was pretty cool. I hope it stops by again!
• September 5, Ray and Shirley Geddes consider themselves lucky. When Isabel blew through Bayside Beach, their lovely cabin was scarcely touched. Shirley reports that she: Heard a Screech Owl from my bedroom window at Bayside last night 4:30 A.M.
In late October Shirley saw a Spotted Towhee in her yard for two days . Several birders came over two days after her last sighting, but the bird did not oblige them. This is a western bird that has only one "unsubstantiated" sighting in Maryland according to the "Yellow Book" (1996).
• October 5, from Rick Cheicante: Whereas the activity at our feeders has been very quiet over the past few weekends, visitors to the yard today included a Red-breasted Nuthatch squeaking about the top of a large fir and a Sharp-shinned Hawk stopping in to check out our Isabel-rearranged arboretum.
• Timonium, Oct 7. Lester Simon writes: This year, the last days of summer have given us a bonanza of 7 bird species. We live in Hampton with a wooded hill behind us which actually borders the Loch Raven water shed. In addition to three feeders, we have a birdbath with recirculating water which we clean as necessary and add fresh water daily. This is the primary attraction. In addition to the usual birds, we have seen the following warblers: Blue-winged, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Ovenbird, Black-and-white, Common Yellow Throat, Redstart, Wood Thrush, Towhee, Brown Thrasher, Scarlet Tanager, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson's Thrush, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Brown Thrasher, Catbird. We have heard: Pileated Woodpecker, Black-billed Cuckoo. Red-shouldered Hawk.
• Cromwell Valley Park, October 10, from Georgia McDonald: Yellow-bellied sapsucker was the best bird of the morning, followed by a Common Yellowthroat. Kestrels seem to have set up shop in the park; have seen 2 or 3 hunting there the last few times I've visited. White-throated sparrows & Ruby-crowned Kinglets arrived about a week ago, Catbirds and Phoebes are still scattered around.
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