First, thank-you to the Montezuma NWR, particularly Visitor Services Manager 
Andrea Van Beusichem and Biologist Linda Ziemba, for allowing this series of 
walks onto the dikes at Knox-Marsellus Marsh, where the public is usually 

Second, a big thank-you for the great work of co-leader Bob McGuire, without 
whom I would not have agreed to lead. Similar thanks to Josh Snodgrass and also 
to the several other experienced, scope-wielding birders whose help we 
requested, including Dominic Sherony, Mahlon Hurst, and Reuben Stoltzfus, to 
help find, point-out, show, and explain the ID of the shorebirds. 

Third, thanks to the approximately seventy people who joined us. Clearly there 
is great interest in seeing and learning about the many birds which Montezuma 
NWR in general and Knox-Marsellus Marsh in particular harbors in summer. I am 
really glad we could offer a couple of Saturday trips which can accommodate 
members of the strong Amish and Mennonite birding communities in our area.  

The weather was good: there were some clouds to reduce glare, but the rain held 
off, and the temperature was comfortable even though humidity was high. 
Creating and maintaining freshwater shorebird habitat is a challenge, and the 
previous night’s rainstorm reportedly reduced the mudflats significantly. The 
birds, though often distant, were numerous, varied, and active, and they 
provided pleasure, excitement, and challenge. Participants seemed happy. Below 
is a bird list I have compiled based on several reports. There may be 
omissions, as it was impossible to be with, to stay in communication with, or 
to interview everyone, so please let me know if you were on the trip and found 
additional species.

There are still 3 shorebird walks scheduled of which I am aware, all officially 
starting at 7am at the Montezuma NWR Visitor Center:

Sunday 25 August, principal leader Dave Nicosia
Saturday 31 August, principal leader Josh Snodgrass
Sunday 8 September, principal leader Dave Nicosia

These guided walks are free and open to the public, and I am certain that 
people willing to share expertise and scope views will be especially helpful to 
the official leaders. There are still a few more species of shorebirds whose 
arrival we await.

- - Dave Nutter

Species observed on K-M walk 17 Aug 2019 - composite list
Ducks were all in eclipse, female, or immature plumage

Canada Goose - 100+ flew in from E 
Trumpeter Swan - adult pair      
Wood Duck - several      
Blue-winged Teal        
American Wigeon  
Mallard - many   
American Black Duck     
Northern Pintail        
Green-winged Teal        

CANVASBACK - rare, 1 male, continuing from last week and before          
Ruddy Duck - 1 male      
Pied-billed Grebe - many, mostly striped-faced immatures, minus 1       
Mourning Dove   
Ruby-throated Hummingbird        
Common Gallinule - several, mostly immatures     
American Coot   
Sandhill Crane - adult pair + fly-in adult pair with large juvenile 

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER - transition plumage       
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER - several, mainly on distant mud in vegetation 
KILLDEER - flocks of 8 & 20 flew W as we arrived, several remained 
RUDDY TURNSTONE - 1 K-M flyby, 1 later in Eaton pond     
STILT SANDPIPER - 1 juvenile later at Mays Pt Pool, seen by at least 9 people 
who had been on the K-M walk       
LEAST SANDPIPER - often on distant mud in vegetation      
WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER - 2 or more on distant mud in vegetation, found by 
Reuben Stoltzfus, seen by several others      
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER - greatly outnumbered by Leasts 
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER - 15 juveniles. Distant, difficult to discern plumage 
details. When feeding, only flat backs were seen. Several showed orange in 
tertials and some of those showed barring. Color, shape, & size of grouped 
birds seemed uniform. Some singles & small groups were not identified to 
species. Although Tim Lenz, viewing from East Road before our walk, reported 
several LONG-BILLED Dowitchers, I am unaware of any positive ID of that species 
by our group from the road or the dikes.
WILSON’S PHALAROPE - 1 pale juvenile near NE corners, swimming and pecking at 
surface algae     
LESSER YELLOWLEGS - several      

Ring-billed Gull - many adults, some juveniles 
Herring Gull - 1 uniformly dark juvenile, larger than Ring-billed Gulls and 
Caspian Terns. We did not see the juvenile Laughing Gull which was reported the 
previous evening and the following morning.
Caspian Tern - many adults, some juveniles       

BLACK TERN - 2 non-breeding plumage adults flying and perched

Double-crested Cormorant

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN - 1 summer adult continuing from last evening

American Bittern - 1
Great Blue Heron - many          

GREAT EGRET - 100+       

Green Heron      
Black-crowned Night-Heron - several, mostly flying over Puddler or perched in 
trees along Puddler dikes         
Northern Harrier
Cooper’s Hawk
Bald Eagle - adult      

BROAD-WINGED HAWK - 1 juvenile high flyover     

Downy Woodpecker - 1    

MERLIN - feeding atop pole on East Rd as we left        

PEREGRINE FALCON - 1 juvenile made multiple low passes over K-M early on. As we 
were leaving, the apparent same Peregrine for several minutes dove many, many 
times at an isolated stripe-faced immature Pied-billed Grebe on the water in 
the north channel. Each swoop of the Peregrine caused the grebe to quickly 
flinch, duck, dodge, freeze, or submerge at the last moment, an amazingly quick 
and effective judgement and action. During this long period no contact was 
made, and it seemed that perhaps the Peregrine was holding back, either due to 
its own youthful limited skills, or to avoid all risk of injury to itself, or 
to tire out its naive and confused prey. Although the grebe spent several 
seconds underwater a couple times and moved a few feet, it did not particularly 
swim toward a group of similar grebes 20 yards away, which I think might have 
improved its odds. Certainly flying away from an adept falcon would have been a 
poor option for a gangly grebe, assuming it was mature enough to fly. 
Eventually the Peregrine struck the grebe several times in succession, 
progressively injuring, maiming, and killing it, before finally grabbing the 
inert body from the surface and flying north over the woods. Peregrines are 
celebrated for their ability to grab and quickly kill a bird in flight by 
biting its neck, or to stoop at high speed to kill with a mid-air raking or 
impact of talons, then catch the carcass before it reaches the ground. But the 
only other Peregrine kill I have witnessed was like this, a series of harrying 
passes which eventually led to injury, and that time the falcon actually 
dispatched its prey, a Willet, by drowning it. It’s gruesome, but predators 
gotta eat, too.

Willow Flycatcher - 1 silent Traill’s Empidonax in a Willow on dike
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird        
Blue Jay        
American Crow   
Northern Rough-winged Swallow   
Purple Martin   
Tree Swallow    
Bank Swallow    
Barn Swallow - most swallows; other swallows reported mainly singles    Marsh 
American Robin  
Gray Catbird    
European Starling       
Cedar Waxwing   
American Goldfinch      
Song Sparrow - singing  
Swamp Sparrow - singing         
Orchard Oriole  
Red-winged Blackbird - a few at K-M, hundreds in cornfield to W 
Common Yellowthroat - several
Yellow Warbler - several         

PINE WARBLER - seen by several and photographed          

Northern Cardinal       


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