[cayugabirds-l] About that Marsh Wren...

2020-05-05 Thread Dave Nutter
I keep thinking about the migrant Marsh Wren I discovered in its temporary 
home, a tiny remnant of Cattails in Newman Golf Course. I’m accustomed to 
seeing and hearing Marsh Wrens only during the breeding season and in huge 
Cattail marshes like we find in parts of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. 
Perhaps “my” bird was eventually headed to Montezuma, or someplace similar. 

A hundred and ten years ago, when Lab of O founder Arthur Allen was researching 
his thesis on the ecology of Red-winged Blackbirds, his study site was the 
marsh at the south end of Cayuga Lake. I once read that thesis, and as I 
recall, his map showed the marsh covering what is now most of Allan H Treman 
State Marine Park, Cass Park, and Newman Golf Course. He included a note of 
dismay that the marsh was ruined in 1912 when Cayuga Inlet was dredged for 
shipping, and the spoils were thrown up on the banks, wrecking the natural 
drainage of the marsh. Today we can play on dry land because that whole area 
was further filled with dredge spoils (and worse stuff!) in the ensuing 
decades. But if I remember correctly, Marsh Wrens were among the many species 
the thesis listed as present. So, the ancestors of the bird I saw might have 
lived right where I found it. 

That was my perspective. Marsh Wrens live in big marshes. Finding one in a tiny 
marsh is odd, a surprise, the exception, maybe an emergency situation. Only a 
couple other times do I recall finding a migrant Marsh Wren, and it was in a 
place it would not have bred, for example the ditch between the back of 
Wegman’s and the parking lot for the Eagles Club on Cecil Malone Drive. That 
area may have been extensive Cattail marsh, too, within my lifetime. We humans 
have destroyed a lot of big marshes, and my migrating bird was lucky to find 
even a bit of marsh, I thought. 

But I wasn’t thinking like a migrant. That bird did not stop at Newman Golf 
Course last Friday morning in order to breed there. It only needed shelter and 
food for a few hours. You don’t buy a house and a farm when you’re on the road. 
You eat at a diner, rent a bed in a motel room, and then you keep going. There 
may be hardships during migration requiring “any port in a storm,” but the 
weather that night was mild, and the was wind helpful, so that leg of the 
bird’s journey was pretty ordinary. And if all you need is a few square yards 
of marsh, then maybe migration needn’t be too stressful. There are probably 
ditches with Cattails all over the eastern US, maybe pretty easy to find, 
generally ignored by people, and the smaller the bit of marsh, the less likely 
it is to be occupied by some other bird who is defending turf to raise a 
family. 

Before people drained marshes, dug ditches, and built railroads, there were 
beavers, landslides, floods, and river meanders creating wetlands, while 
succession filled them in. Habitats change naturally*, so birds who migrate 
must be ready to look for alternative sites to breed or to rest en route. Maybe 
stopovers in tiny isolated Cattail stands are a useful strategy or even 
standard practice among migrating Marsh Wrens. [*Natural change of habitats is 
not a defense or excuse for the absurdly rapid and extensive changes that 
people cause.]

Now I’m wondering how many times I’ve passed a few Cattails during migration 
and been unaware of a quiet Marsh Wren resting and fattening up for a day or 
two until the winds are favorable again. And I wonder why my bird was quietly 
singing early in the morning. Maybe it was telling other Marsh Wrens, “This 
ditch is occupied, go find your own single-bird-sized piece of habitat!”

I still think habitat conservation is very important, especially for big 
marshes that host breeding populations of many species, but also for smaller 
marshes, and now even tiny ones. 

And that reminds me. On Sunday morning I interrupted my birding bike & hike 
trip to Stewart Park and Renwick Wildwood to join Laurie for a rare car jaunt 
to see the wildflower collection at Mundy. I like wildflowers, especially 
Toadshade, and she enjoyed the FOY Great Crested Flycatcher overhead. While we 
were in the neighborhood I convinced her to take a side trip to the Newman 
Arboretum, specifically to Houston Pond, the one with the boardwalk across the 
middle and marsh on one side. We rested there, admired the coursing Barn 
Swallows, and wondered how to count Red-winged Blackbirds as they keep flying 
in and out of the cattails, how long it takes downy goslings to stop being 
cute, and whether adding a second log or rock in the water would double the 
number of turtles climbing onto each other to bask. Then I heard a grunting 
noise in the marsh, and with some skillful binocular use Laurie had her best 
look ever at a Virginia Rail. 

- - Dave Nutter

> On May 2, 2020, at 6:35 AM, Dave Nutter  wrote:
> 
> Yesterday morning I biked through the mist to Stewart Park on the Cayuga 
> Waterfront Trail, assiduously inputting every ID into eBird as 

[cayugabirds-l] Chimney swifts ... Union Springs 5/5/20

2020-05-05 Thread John and Fritzie Blizzard
On Mon., 5/4/20 I thought I saw a chimney swift  but wasn't certain. 
Today I saw 2 over the campus of Union Springs Academy but didn't have 
time to watch for more.  Swifts have nested in the tall chimney of the 
girl's dorm off & on for at least 10 yrs.. I have seen them flying over 
here & down in the village many times. They may have been there longer & 
regularly but I just haven't paid attention. I know they nested in 
another unused campus chimney many yrs. ago,


They bring me great pleasure so I'm happy to know they are here.

Fritzie B.

Union Springs, NY



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[cayugabirds-l] Veery

2020-05-05 Thread Suan Hsi Yong
FOY veery in the woods here by Six-Mile Creek, hopping around silently
checking out the large tree that fell over the winter, allowing for a great
unbinoculared view of its spotless front and reddish upperparts. Also FOY
for me Yellow Warbler down near the second dam.

Suan

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[cayugabirds-l] Goetchius Wetland Preserve (FLLT), Tues 5/5

2020-05-05 Thread Mark Chao
On Tuesday morning, I visited the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s Goetchius
Wetland Preserve.  I found a satisfying subset of the species that others
found this past weekend (no Sedge Wren), plus one unexpected new visitor.
Here are some highlights.



* PEREGRINE FALCON overhead, speeding northbound into the wind.  An
exciting surprise, and maybe unprecedented for the Spring Bird Quest!   My
brief view and one bad photo do not show dangling jesses, but the bird’s
feet appeared to be balled up on something.  If anyone was taking a captive
falcon out for sport around Slaterville Springs this morning, would you
please let me know?



* VIRGINIA RAIL grunting spontaneously in the middle of the southernmost
cattail patch accessible by foot from the parking area.  (Others found up
to seven Virginia Rails, three American Bitterns, and a Sora here on
Saturday and Sunday.)



* Two WILSON’S SNIPE issuing rich chirps at rest from the cattails, then
rising up and wheeling spectacularly together in the blue sky



* SOLITARY SANDPIPER in the original southern portion of the preserve, in a
close mud patch surrounded mostly by open water



* BROWN THRASHER teed up and singing a loud, varied, and wonderfully
musical song in a hedgerow in the newest part of the preserve (acquired in
January 2019) on the east side of Flatiron Road, with EASTERN BLUEBIRD,
YELLOW WARBLER, and PURPLE FINCH singing nearby



* BOBOLINK, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, SAVANNAH SPARROW, and FIELD SPARROW all
singing (though not often, except the Field Sparrows) in the northern
section



The Land Trust has painstakingly pieced the preserve together over the
years.  It made the first two acquisitions in 1995, a total of 36 acres.
Since then, via three more acquisitions, the Land Trust has acquired the
wetlands and open fields to the north (2007 and 2011) and the new wet
meadows and hedgerows to the east (January 2019).  Two more pending
acquisitions will bring the preserve to more than triple its original size!



Mark Chao



PS.  The gray-morph EASTERN SCREECH-OWL has been regularly present in its
cavity along Siena Drive in northeast Ithaca, including yesterday and today.

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[cayugabirds-l] A different orchard oriole

2020-05-05 Thread Donna Lee Scott
A “first summer male” yellow w/ black throat, eating jelly at feeder near my 
kitchen window!
Meanwhile, 1 of adult males is back at 2nd jelly feeder in back yard, taking 
turns w Baltimore oriole male.

What a treat!

Donna Scott
Lansing
Sent from my iPhone

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[cayugabirds-l] Orchard orioles

2020-05-05 Thread Donna Lee Scott
Not one, but two male orchard orioles just came to my jelly and orange feeder 
in back yard!
First ever I have seen Orchard orioles here, not to mention they are my first 
of year for these birds.
This was just after a female and a male Baltimore oriole ate the grape jelly 
and orange.

Besides the beautiful, clear singing of the Baltimore orioles, one of my gray 
cat birds has been singing the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard from that 
species.

Cat birds are not going to the jelly /orange feeders, so I don’t think they are 
the cat birds from last year who couldn’t get enough of those foods. They keep 
eating suet a few inches away from the jelly/ orange hanging dish.

Donna Scott
Lansing
Sent from my iPhone

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