Cayuga Bird Club Newsletter -  May 2016
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May 2016

In This Issue:

Cayuga Bird Club Meeting, May 9
Speakers:  Rick Manning and Josephine Martell

From the President, Jody Enck

2016-2017 Budget Proposal


Cayuga Basin First Records

Spring Bird Walks at Stewart Park

Upcoming Spring Field Trips

Field Trip Report: Up to Montezuma,
Colleen Richards

Field Trip Report: Derby Hill,
Gladys Birdsall

Finger Lakes Land Trust Spring Bird Quest

April Meeting Minutes


May 7  Field Trip to Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve, 7:00 am - noon. Meet at Wegmans parking lot at 7:00 am or at the preserve at 7:15 am.
Leaders: Ann Mitchell and Wes Blauvelt

May 9  Cayuga Bird Club Meeting
7:30 pm, Lab of Ornithology 
Speakers:  Rick Manning, Director of Friends of Stewart Park, and Coordinator, Cayuga Waterfront Trail Initiative,
Josephine Martell, Council-woman, City of Ithaca, Fifth Ward.
Making Stewart Park a Bird- and Birder-Friendly Destination

May 14,15  Field Trips to Hawthorn Orchard, 8:00 am - 11:00 am both days. Meet at Oxley Equestrian Center dirt parking lot, Pine Tree Road.
Leader: Chris Tessaglia-Hymes

May 21  Field Trip to Shindagin Hollow, 7:00 am - noon.  Meet at Lab of O North parking lot
Leader: Laura Stenzler

May 22  Field Trip to Robinson Hollow, 6:30 am - noon.  Meet at East Hill Plaza Shopping Center.
Leader: Meena Haribal

May 28-30 Finger Lakes Land Trust Spring Bird Quest
Leader: Mark Chao
High Vista Nature Preserve, Hinchcliff Family Preserve, Logan Hill Nature Preserve, Van Riper Conservation Area. See

June 4  Field Trip to Connecticut Hill, 7:30 am- noon. Meet at Wegmans parking lot near the inlet.
Leader: Suan Yong

June 13  Cayuga Bird Club Picnic, 6:30 pm
Myers Point, Pavillion A, Lansing. Dish-to-pass dinner.

See our Web Calendar for more events and field trips.

First-of-Year Birds Reported during March 2016 for the Cayuga Lake Basin
Listed below are Cayuga Lake Basin 2016 first records reported during the month of March, 2016. Some birds are arriving earlier than their average arrival date.  You can compare this year's arrival dates with previous years on the CBC website.
Mar. 31    Lincoln's Sparrow
Apr.   1    Great Egret
Apr.   1    House Wren
Apr.   2    Solitary Sandpiper
Apr.   2    Palm Warbler
Apr.   4    Little Gull
Apr.   7    Caspian Tern
Apr.   8    Forster's Tern
Apr.   8    Louisiana Waterthrush
Apr.   9    Green Heron
Apr.   9    Black-crowned Night-Heron
Apr.  14   American Bittern
Apr.  14   Broad-winged Hawk
Apr.  15   Least Flycatcher
Apr.  16   Sora
Apr.  16   Common Gallinule
Apr.  16   Blue-headed Vireo
Apr.  16   Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Apr.  16   Veery
Apr.  19   Surf Scoter
Apr.  19   Bank Swallow
Apr.  20   Spotted Sandpiper
Apr.  21   Warbling Vireo
Apr.  21   Magnolia Warbler
Apr.  23   Upland Sandpiper
Apr.  23   Black Tern
Apr.  23   Yellow Warbler
Apr.  24   Chimney Swift
Apr.  24   Northern Waterthrush
Apr.  25   Cliff Swallow
Apr.  25   Wood Thrush
Apr.  25   Common Yellowthroat
Apr.  25   Black-throated Green Warbler
Apr.  25   Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Apr.  26   Snowy Egret
Apr.  26   Common Tern
Apr.  26   Yellow-throated Vireo
Apr.  26   Blue-winged Warbler
Apr.  26   Black-and-White Warbler
Apr.  26   Nashville Warbler
Apr.  26   Northern Parula
Apr.  26   Blackburnian Warbler
Apr.  26   Black-throated Blue Warbler
Apr.  27   Least Sandpiper
Apr.  27   Ovenbird
Apr.  27   American Redstart
Apr.  27   Orchard Oriole
Apr.  28   Great Crested Flycatcher
Apr.  28   Prairie Warbler
Apr.  29   Blackpoll Warbler
Apr.  30   Indigo Bunting
Apr.  30   Bobolink
Apr.  30   Henslow's Sparrow 

2016 count to date:   209 species
Thanks to Dave Nutter for compiling these records for the club.  Details are available on the CBC website
April Cayuga Bird Club Meeting Minutes recorded by Becky Hansen are available at the CBC website.  

Ospreys are nesting!

Keep up with the Salt Point Ospreys through Candace Cornell's blog, On Osprey Time. 
You can find nesting Ospreys around Cayuga Lake on the Cayuga Lake Osprey Trail.

 residents, remember to vote May 3 on the proposed purchase of 15 acres of creek-front on Pinckney Road, for wildlife preservation and protection from development.  For questions on the proposal or to determine your polling place, contact
Montezuma Audubon Center Wildlife Festival, May 7. Many family activities, featuring live animal shows, music, magic and more!

Derby Hill Festival - May 14

Also- view daily counts from this season's Derby Hill Hawk Watch here.
eBird Global Big Day - May 14

On 14 May, birders from across the world will unite to answer a single question: how many birds can we find as a global team? This happened last year for the first time on the inaugural Global Big Day, when collectively we recorded more than 6,000 species.

We hope that you’ll be able to get out and enjoy the birds of your area on May 14, sharing them with the world through the Global Big Day. Put your park, town, county, state, or country on the map, and be a part of the team! eBird will provide the tools for you to take part. If you’re still unsure how to help, you can learn how to participate here.
Self-paced Waterfowl ID Course
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is offering a self-paced course in Duck and Waterfowl Identification as part of their "Be a Better Birder" series. Developed by Kevin McGowan, this course includes more than 3 hours of video instruction, 21 quizzes, and 2 puzzles. Bird enthusiasts of all levels will benefit from the expert ID tips throughout. Check it out on the Bird Academy website. ($52 for Lab members). 

Cayuga Bird Club Meeting, May 9

Speakers: Rick Manning and Josephine Martell

Making Stewart Park a bird- and birder-friendly destination

Rick Manning will share thoughts and plans being discussed by the city of Ithaca for making Stewart Park a bird- and birder-friendly destination. In addition, Josephine Martell will talk about ideas being considered to manage the Canada Geese that frequent the park. 
Rick Manning is the Executive Director & Founder of the Friends of Stewart Park and the Coordinator & Founder of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail Initiative. Rick is a Professional Landscape Architect in New York State and his practice during the past fifteen years has focused on planning and design of park and trail projects for a range of public clients throughout New York. In recent years his work has increasingly focused on Ithaca’s waterfront - completing the Cayuga Waterfront Trail and the revitalization of Stewart Park.
Josephine Martell serves as a Councilwoman in the City of Ithaca in the fifth ward, which includes Fall Creek and Cornell Heights. She has worked in the animal welfare and conservation fields for nearly fifteen years doing public policy and communications work. She is currently the city’s point person for management of the Canada goose population at Stewart Park.  Josephine holds a MS in public policy from the Center for Animals and Public Policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and is pursuing doctoral research at Cornell University examining how message framing and word choice impact long term species conservation and management.
The meeting will be held at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The evening will begin with cookies and conversation at 7:15 pm. Cayuga Bird Club business begins at 7:30 pm, followed by the speakers' presentations. All are welcome.

From the President 

Hello Cayuga Bird Club Members!

The birds are telling us that spring is definitely here. Migration started slowly in February with waterfowl and some raptors on the move. It picked up speed, volume, and diversity in March, with several  species of blackbirds, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and a few other landbirds. Things really picked up in April with the first vireos and warblers gracing our fields and forests. Now that May is here, get out and be prepared to be amazed!

You might also decide to look for nests. I’ve got an American Robin nesting in a bush to the left of my front door, and a Northern Cardinal in the bush to the right. Out in the woods beside my house, I’ve been watching a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers excavating a new cavity in a Red Maple that has evidence of several years of homesteading. Both the female and male take their turns excavating. I’ve watched them switch jobs at the nest-site on five or six occasions. One bird will be busy excavating while the other is out patrolling the boundaries of their territory. I’ll often notice this non-excavater when it responds to a nearby neighbor drumming. Sometimes a drumming duel ensues. Sometimes one bird or another crosses that imaginary boundary between territories and two screaming bodies will hurtle through the woods like Ewoks being chased by Empire Stormtroopers on Endor. Often after one of these intense encounters, the home pair meet at the nest hole. They vocalize softly, dip and bow and their heads to each other. Then they switch roles. The excavator flies off to defend the home territory and the other bird takes over excavating. 

Building a nest is hard work. So is ensuring that a nest egg can grow and be protected. Your Club officers, directors, and some very diligent members have been working hard on your behalf to protect and grow the Club’s nest egg. In recent years, we haven’t focused heavily on having an official Club budget which tracks income and expenditures on an annual basis. This approach served our needs at the time. 

Over the past few months, however, we’ve had several requests for new expenditures. Two of those came from within the Club – proposals from both the Program and the Field Trip committees. Another was the awesome donation the Club made to the Friends of Salt Point for a kiosk and educational signage. More ideas for supporting other worthy projects were being talked about. It became imperative to know with some level of certainty what our annual income and expenditures were, and how much of a nest egg the Club has (and should have).

Thanks especially to our Club treasurer, Susan Danskin, we know that our annual income is about $2,300 and our typical annual expenses are about $2,100. Please see the budget in this newsletter for more detailed information. So, what about the proposals from our two Club committees for additional expenditures? And what about the idea of protecting and growing a Club nest egg? 

Please see the brief article by Susan Danskin providing a summary of the decisions by the executive committee about three budget-related ideas generated at the April monthly meeting. Several people thought it might be a good idea to raise our dues to provide more money to support new ideas, but most of the committee believed that it was important to develop and sustain a budget with our current dues level as a starting point. Dues will remain at $15 per year at this time.

The Field Trip committee and the Program committee each proposed allocating $200 for club activities. Specifically, the Field Trip committee proposed paying for field trip leaders’ expenses for overnight field trips (e.g., to Niagara Falls). The executive committee was virtually unanimous in opposing this proposal. The Club has had a 100-year history of volunteerism that has served us well and that we strongly believe should continue. The Program committee proposed paying lodging expenses of one out-of-town speaker per year. The executive committee was split about this, but it was decided to do this for one year. We will continue to make every effort to identify and attract speakers from the pool of incredible folks who live in Ithaca and nearby.
That’s it for now.  Get out there and enjoy the birds!


2016-2017 Budget Proposal

Following the budget discussion at the April meeting, a draft budget was shared with the membership via email and input was solicited. Based on the responses received, the elected officers and directors addressed three questions:
1) Should we raise dues to $20?  
The leadership proposes leaving dues at $15 for 2016-2017, but to consider an increase to $20 for 2017-2018.

2) Should we budget $200 for field trip leader travel expenses?  
The leadership opposed this idea so these funds are not included in the proposed 2016-2017 budget.  

3) Should we budget $200 for out of town speaker expenses?  
The leadership supported this idea so these funds are included in the proposed 2016-2017 budget.  After a year, the leadership will determine the level of membership interest in additional out of town speakers and potentially propose a larger amount for 2017-2018.

Please take the time to read through the accompanying 2016-2017 CBC Budget as proposed by the leadership. At the May 9 meeting, this budget will be brought before the membership for a discussion and vote.  

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Danskin

Spring Bird Walks at Stewart Park

Cayuga Bird Club members have recently led several bird walks at Stewart Park, particularly in the area of the "swan pen", and  Fuertes observation platform. President Jody Enck led the first of these walks on April 2, and had a group of 18 people join in.  Birds seen included Osprey, Bald Eagle, a Great Blue Heron, Hooded, Common, and Red-breasted Mergansers, and other waterfowl.  This walk was covered by the Ithaca Journal.  You can read the story (includes photos) here.

Jody also led walks on April 16th and 30th for about a half-dozen birders each time.  At least one participant has been to all of the walks held there in April.  The turn-over in species and numbers has been fascinating to note. The addition of nesting birds and even newly-hatched young has added a lot to our experiences. Jody notes that it’s been particularly fun to meet new people, laugh and tell stories with them, and watch some incredible birds. 

Dave Nutter led a second Stewart Park walk on April 10, with help from Sandy Wold.  Here is Dave's report:

The sun came out, and the wind died, and about a dozen birders joined me for a slow stroll around the Swan Pond. Some beginning birders saw several life birds, and we all enjoyed spectacular looks at our breeding ducks. Any place that boasts WOOD DUCKS and HOODED MERGANSERS and COMMON MERGANSERS and MALLARDS is pretty special. Farther out were a few of our visiting waterfowl - scattered BUFFLEHEADS, a flock of SCAUP sp off Treman, about 50 RUDDY DUCKS near East Shore Park (including some breeding plumage males, their blue bills hard to discern against the water's reflections), and the biggest surprise for me, a male COMMON GOLDENEYE. There was also a distant COMMON LOON and a few distant RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. We had an introduction to immature gull ID. We also got great looks at an EASTERN PHOEBE, a BELTED KINGFISHER, and a bold DOWNY WOODPECKER. Songbirds included a pair of BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS, males of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and COMMON GRACKLE, SONG SPARROW, HOUSE SPARROW, HOUSE FINCH, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, and AMERICAN ROBIN. Several additional species were heard. The show stoppers, however, were two OSPREYS flying past together, and an adult BALD EAGLE first flying south, then perching in Jetty Woods for quite awhile, then flying west and soaring high. I want to thank Sandy Wold for helping, Will Harrod for sharing his scope and expertise, and Stuart Krasnoff for a hot tip on some lake ducks. I think the trip was a great success. I cannot do this again for several weekends, but if anyone else would like to lead such a walk, an announcement on CayugaBirds-L and to Friends of Stewart Park via Rick Manning <> will help get the word out. People really appreciate learning about the birds seen in and from this park!

Update:  Warblers are arriving at the Swan Pond: I've seen several Yellow-rumped and I've heard rumors of a nearby Palm. Yellow should show up any minute now. Green Heron, Great Egret, and Black-crowned Night-Heron have been seen in the vicinity. Also Northern Rough-winged Swallows have been at the pond at times. Caspian Terns patrol the lake, where there are also dozens of Double-crested Cormorants. This is the time of year to see their old-man-hairy-eyebrow crests. If you get a close look check out their emerald eyes, and if you ever see one panting on a hot day, look inside its mouth at the blue lining.

--Dave Nutter

Upcoming Field Trips

Yellow-rumped Warbler, photo by Meena Haribal

We have a number of field trips scheduled during the month of May and early June.

On Saturday, May 7, Ann Mitchell and Wes Blauvelt will lead a birding trip to Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve. Meet at Wegmans parking lot (west end, near the inlet) at 7:00 am or at the preserve at 7:15 am. The trip will last until approximately noon. Wear long pants tucked into socks or boots to protect against ticks. Bring water and a snack.

Chris Tessaglia-Hymes will lead two trips exploring the Hawthorn Orchard in the town of Ithaca, on the mornings of May 14 and May 15 from 8:00 am to 11:00 am.  When the Hawthorns are in bloom, this small area is a spectacular magnet for migrating warblers.  And since the trees are not very tall, birds are more easily visible than in other places, often seen at eye-level! Meet at the dirt parking lot at the Oxley Equestrian Center on Pine Tree Road. We will walk to the Hawthorn Orchard from there. The trails through the Hawthorn Orchard can be wet and muddy, so waterproof boots are helpful for this trip.

On Saturday, May 21, Laura Stenzler will lead a trip to Shindagin Hollow State Forest from 7:00 am to noon. Shindagin Hollow is south of Ithaca and consists of mature and young woods, gorges and a cedar swamp. We will see and hear a large variety of warblers including Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Hooded, Canada and Redstart, all of which nest there. In addition, we should see Yellow-throated, Blue-headed and Red-eyed vireos, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Winter Wren and many more birds.  We will mostly be driving, getting out and listening and then driving some more. Bring a snack and something to drink. Meet at the north (far) parking lot of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 

The following day, Sunday, May 22, Meena Haribal will lead a field trip to Robinson Hollow State Forest from 6:30 am to noon.  Meet at the East Hill Plaza parking lot, in front of the Cornell Payroll Offices near the East Hill Plaza bus stop. We will look for breeding species like Canada Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush and others birds including Prairie Warbler. Bring water and snack and dress for the weather.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30, Mark Chao will lead a series of walks at Finger Lakes Land Trust Preserves in his eleventh annual Spring Bird Quest.  See details below.

On June 4, Suan Yong will lead a Cayuga Bird Club field trip to Connecticut Hill. Meet at 7:30 am at Wegmans parking lot (away from the store, by the inlet) or at 7:50 am at the intersection of Connecticut Hill Rd, Boylan Rd, and Lloyd Starks Rd. Plan to finish by noon. 

These trips are open to both members and non-members of the Cayuga Bird Club.  All levels of experience are welcome.

By Colleen Richards

Northern Shoveler, photo by Chris Pelkie
Highlights of CBC trip to Montezuma with a total 75 species:
Kathy Strickland and I along with 4 others enjoyed a beautiful day at the Montezuma Wetlands Complex.

A great start as we headed up the lake: Eastern Meadowlark in N Lansing and later a Northern Mockingbird.

Boat house in Aurora: counting the Common Loons (~120), Paul Anderson found a single Red-throated Loon and others soon confirmed. Pair of Merlins flying and calling behind us during this stop.

Montezuma visitor center: 2 Solitary Sandpipers and 3 Wilson’s Snipe.

Wildlife Drive: a single Caspian Tern and 3 Canvasbacks.

Knox Marcellus Marsh: 4 juvenile Bald Eagles actively fishing, 4 Sandhill Cranes, distant ??Mute Swan, small flock of Snow Geese, and a slightly co-operative Savannah Sparrow (until the camera came out!).

Martens Tract: added American Wigeon, finally, and Wood Duck to our waterfowl sightings, and our first Eastern Bluebird of the day.

Railroad Road: a pair of Trumpeter Swans, fishing OspreysCommon Gallinule, and Eurasian Wigeon. As one pair of binoculars and 2 scopes alighted on and ID’ed the Wigeon, the flock flew up and circled farther and farther away to the north...
Many thanks to Paul, Chris, Will and Claus for being our eyes and ears for a fun day of birding!

Osprey, photo by Chris Pelkie

Cayuga Bird Club Derby Hill Hawk Watch Trip
by Gladys Birdsall

Four people joined me on Sunday, April 24th, for a trip to the Derby Hill Hawk Watch on Lake Ontario, owned by Onondaga Audubon. We arrived around 9 AM to the south lookout. There were light NNE winds but the sky was clear, with plenty of sunshine. The time period between 9 and 10 AM had just over 120 Broad-winged Hawks migrating. In the distance we could observe a group (or boil) of, for example, 6-10 hawks circling up on thermals and then gliding out of them. Several times, hawks glided right over us offering great views from below. You could see the dark wing lining and the wide tail bands on the Broad-winged Hawks. Mixed in with some of these boils would be Sharp-shinned and/or Red-tailed Hawks, offering the chance to see the size differences between them and distinguish some of the different field marks, especially between the buteos. Others species observed were Osprey, Turkey Vultures, a couple Ravens, and a few Double-crested Cormorants. In the field behind the South Lookout we had some nice looks at an Eastern Meadowlark. David Wheeler, the hawk counter, handed out some copies of The Rough-leg, a newsletter and report, written by David on the 2015 spring migration at Derby Hill, including raptor and non-raptor highlights for the season.

We went to the North Lookout to see what might be out on the lake. A Brown Thrasher was scuffing around under a bush, looking for eats. We did see Long-tailed Ducks out on lake. We had some great looks at Red-breasted Mergansers, both on the water and as they flew “below us”. Several Caspian Terns flew by while we were there.

We stopped back at the South Lookout, ate some lunch and at about 12:30 decided to head out. The wind had picked up, pretty brisk, and it was getting cloudy. But the morning migration was really fun to observe, and everyone felt they now knew the Broad-winged Hawk pretty well.

Thanks to Ton Schat, Laura Stenzler, Jae Sullivan and Camila Faraday for venturing up to Derby Hill with me. It turned out to be a pretty good morning for hawk migration, and David felt there could still be a day or two with a large Broad-winged Hawk migration if the weather cooperates.
Finger Lakes Land Trust Spring Bird Quest
Cayuga Bird Club member Mark Chao will once again be leading Spring Bird Quest walks on Finger Lakes Land Trust preserves over the Memorial Day weekend. This is Mark's eleventh Bird Quest, with new walks for 2016. These walks celebrate birds and the Finger Lakes Land Trust's work to preserve their habitats across the region.

The weekend starts with a walk at 8 am on Saturday, May 28, at High Vista Nature Preserve in the town of Scott, followed by a walk at the Hinchcliff Family Preserve in Spafford at 10 am. Sunday's walk will be at Logan Hill Nature Preserve; meet at the United Health Services parking lot at 54 Main St., Candor at 8 am. On Monday, May 30, explore VanRiper Conservation Area in the town of Romulus, beginning at 8:30 am.  

You can read about last year's walks on Mark's Spring Bird Quest blog.  On that quest, Mark found 121 bird species and raised almost $9000 for the Finger Lakes Land Trust!

These walks are free and open to the public, but donations are welcome.  For more information and directions to the preserves, see You may also make a donation in honor of Spring Bird Quest at

Cayuga Bird Club

Educating and inspiring the birding community of the Cayuga Lake Basin and Central New York since 1914

The Cayuga Bird Club meets on the second Monday of each month, September through June, beginning with refreshments at 7:15 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Johnson Center on Sapsucker Woods Road. All meetings and most field trips are free and open to the public. Membership costs $15 annually per household, $10 for students, payable in September. To join, send a check (made out to “Cayuga Bird Club”) to Cayuga Bird Club Treasurer, c/o Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY 14850. Online payment option is available at the Cayuga Bird Club website.

Members receive via email the monthly Cayuga Bird Club Newsletter, from September through June. Newsletter submissions may be sent to Diane Morton, Of particular interest are articles about local bird sightings, bird behavior, birding hot spots, book reviews, and original poetry, art, and photos.  

Cayuga Bird Club Officer Contact Information is available on the Cayuga Bird Club website.  

Chickadee illustration in masthead by Karen Allaben-Confer
Stay in touch with the Cayuga Bird Club through our Facebook page and Cayuga Bird Club Website
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Cayuga Bird Club
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca NY 14850