Cayuga Bird Club Newsletter -  September 2016
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September 2016

In This Issue:

Cayuga Bird Club Meeting September 12
Speaker:  Marie Read 
Grebe Quest Out West

From the President, Jody Enck


Cayuga Basin First Records

Field Trip Report: Connecticut Hill, Suan Yong

Shorebird ID Walks at Montezuma

Migration Celebration, September 17

NYSOA Meeting, September 9-11

Montezuma Muckrace, September 16-17

Sparrow Identification Walks, October 8,9

Officer Nominations for 2016 Elections

Black-bellied Whistling Duck - First Record

Time to Renew Your Membership

September is membership renewal month for the Cayuga Bird Club. Dues are $15 per family or $10 per student. Payment may be made via Paypal at or by mailing a check to
Cayuga Bird Club, c/o Cornell Lab of Ornithology,
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca NY 14850.

Please include your email address (or addresses for family memberships) with your membership renewal to keep your newsletter subscription address current.


Sept. 9-11  NYSOA Annual Meeting, 
Riverview Holiday Inn, Elmira

Sept. 11  Shorebird Identification field trip for the public, 10 am
Montezuma NWR Visitor Center

Sept. 12  Cayuga Bird Club Meeting, 7:30 pm
Speaker:  Marie Read, Grebe Quest Out West
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Sept. 16-17  Montezuma Muckrace
Montezuma Wetland Complex

Sept. 17  Migration Celebration, 10 am - 3 pm
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Oct. 8, 9  Sparrow Identification Walks, 8:30 am - 10 am
Leader: Mark Chao
Cornell Community Garden

Oct. 10  Cayuga Bird Club Meeting, 7:30 pm
Speaker:  Bob McGuire, Matinicus Rocks!
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

See our Web Calendar for more events and field trips.

Listed below are Cayuga Lake Basin first arrivals reported during the summer months of 2016. 
May 29   Franklin's Gull
June  5  Garganey
June  5  Red-necked Phalarope
June  5  Dickcissel  
June 10  Nelson's Sparrow
June 12  Little Blue Heron
June 12  Sanderling  
June 18  Black-necked Stilt
July  10  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
July  22  Baird's Sandpiper
July  31  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Aug.  3   Ruddy Turnstone 
2016 count to date:   264 species
Thanks to Dave Nutter for compiling these records for the club.  Details are available on the CBC website
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in Ithaca!

photo by Suan Yong

On July 10th, a group of six Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were spotted by Evelyn Kalish at Treman Marina in Ithaca. Many birders were able to view these striking (and photogenic!) ducks that afternoon. This was the first record for Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck in the Cayuga Lake Basin.
Osprey Rescue
See the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Facebook page for the story (including video) of a rescued fledging Osprey found in a parking lot in Savona and its release to the nest at Salt Point for adoption.  Candace Cornell has additional details and photos about the rehabilitation of this Osprey on her blog, On Osprey Time.

Cayuga Bird Club Meeting, September 12
Speaker:  Marie Read

Grebe Quest Out West

Join Marie Read on her summer travels to northern Utah and northeast Montana in search of breeding Western, Clark's, and Eared Grebes. Be prepared for a cuteness overload as we enjoy close-up photos and video clips of the grebes and their young and hear Marie's stories from the field. Plus courting American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Ducks, Short-eared Owls, Common Nighthawks and more.

Wildlife photographer and author Marie Read is renowned for her exquisite bird photos that often tell a story as well as being beautiful. 

Widely published during her 25+ year career providing high-quality photographs to the nature publishing industry, her images are featured in magazines, books, calendars, websites, educational exhibits, and product packaging, nationally and internationally. Marie's articles and photo essays have appeared in such publications as Living Bird, Bird Watching, Nature’s Best, and Women In The Outdoors. Her images have won awards in Nature's Best Windland Smith contest, Nature's Best Backyards, North American Nature Photography Association Showcase, Audubon Photography Awards, and Festival de L'Oiseau. She has authored several books about birds and their behavior, most recently Into The Nest, coauthored with Laura Erickson.

The meeting will be held at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Doors open at 7:00 pm and there will be cookies and conversation starting at 7:15. Bird club business begins at 7:30 pm followed by the presentation. All are welcome.

From the President 

Hello Cayuga Bird Club Members!

I hope your summer was enjoyable, and that you are ready for another fall full of great Club activities.  Please plan to come to our first meeting of the fall on Monday, September 12, so you can meet in-person the folks who have agreed to be nominated as your Club officers for 2016-17.  Election of officers will then take place at our annual meeting in October.

Also, I hope to see many of you at the Migration Celebration being held at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on Saturday, September 17 from 10am until 3pm.  Please see the announcement elsewhere in this newsletter about the need for volunteers and how you can help out.

Like most of you, I did not take the summer off from birding. Although I made a concerted effort to bird locally this year (I submitted 223 eBird checklists so far this calendar year, and all are from Tompkins County), the birds have connected me to the wider world.  By watching birds locally, and paying attention to their patterns of behavior, I learn a lot about their world.  I’m sure many of you do the same thing.  

I spend a lot of time thinking about patterns in nature. Some of my favorite patterns to ponder are the cyclical movements of birds. Perhaps these cycles are exemplified by the annual migrations undertaken by many avian species familiar to us, such as warblers, vireos, and orioles. With fall migration well underway, this cycle is there for us to see right outside our windows. But migration is not the only pattern of cyclical movements undertaken by these birds. Consider the daily movements of breeding birds as they cycle around their territories.

A day in June

I’ve become familiar with a lot of the breeding species in my local woodlot. I know that those woods support several breeding territories of species including Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-eyed Vireos, Great-crested Flycatchers, American Robins, and six species of woodpeckers. This past June, each pair of the various species had a geographic territory within the woods, and the adults were busy foraging throughout their territories for food to bring back to their hungry nestlings. Although these daily movements did not necessarily involve foraging around the perimeter of a territory, the adult birds cycled through most parts of their territory several times each day. These are the cyclical patterns of birds on the smallest geographic scale for each species, with the cycles being played out repeatedly within each territory. 

A day in August

By August, I noticed that these daily cyclical patterns had expanded in size. Fledged young of all the breeding species were on their own in terms of finding food. Territorial needs changed, and mixed-species flocks became more of the norm. August is a noticeable transition month for many bird species. Warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and shorebirds (which, of course, don’t occur in my woods) already are moving to places where they can molt safely, and some have headed south toward their wintering grounds. These longer-distance migrants mix in with year-round residents to scour my local woods for insects, spiders, fruits, seeds, and other foods that will provide the nourishment they need to complete growing a new set of feathers and to put on fat for longer-distance movements. It’s common for me to see up to eight or ten species moving around loosely together in foraging flocks. These flocks provide more eyes to look out for predators and allow the birds to take advantage of food items scared up by other birds. In August, the cyclical foraging patterns are played out on a stage the size of the whole woodlot, not just each territory.

One of the things I’ve learned by watching birds in my local woods is that the daily cycles of birds are not constant. Their movements on a day in June are not the same as their daily movements in August. Still, recognizable patterns are there. Daily patterns, seasonal patterns, and of course annual patterns can be found. What patterns of cycles have you noticed about birds?

Happy Birding!

Suan Yong

We had a nice CBC field trip on June 4, starting with a Willow Flycatcher at the Wegmans parking lot. With Dave Gislason leading us through a variety of interesting trails at Connecticut Hill, the seven of us ended up with a good variety of species, though most were visually rather uncooperative. Highlights included Hooded Warbler (singing but seen briefly only by me), Alder and Least Flycatchers, Pine Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Towhee, a female Chestnut-sided Warbler coming in really close to make sure we didn't disturb its little nest with four tiny chestnut-sided eggs:

photos by Suan Yong

We also had a fly-by Broad-winged Hawk, singing Red-breasted Nuthatch and Blackburnian Warbler, calling Hermit Thrush, interesting plumage on fledgling Dark-eyed Juncos, and some Bobolinks to end the morning.

Shorebird ID walks at Montezuma

photo by Dave Nicosia

Dave Nutter and Dave Nicosia have led a number of field trips open to the public at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge this summer. The wetlands of the Montezuma Complex host a wide variety of shorebirds on their southward migration. For these trips the leaders received permission to take people out on the dikes at Knox-Marsellus Marsh and to allow participants out of their cars on Wildlife Drive. This special access provides the opportunity to see different species side-by-side.  The leaders as well as other experienced participants share their expertise, making it possible to practice distinguishing between similar-looking species.

Although this year's drought has drastically reduced the habitat for these birds, Montezuma staff have been managing water levels along Wildlife Drive to create shorebird habitat. In addition to Wildlife Drive, shorebirds have been found at the Morgan Road impoundment near the DEC buildings.

On the August 27 field trip, for example, participants were able to compare the juvenile plumages of Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitcher, and Stilt Sandpiper vs. Lesser Yellowlegs in close proximity.  

left to right:  Long-billed Dowitcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, two Short-billed Dowitchers, two Stilt Sandpipers.  photo by Dave Nicosia

In addition to shorebirds, participants have been able to observe other special birds of the Montezuma Complex, including a Sandhill Cranes, Black-crowned Night-Herons, a variety of ducks, Black Terns, Caspian Terns, Bobolinks, and Red-headed Woodpeckers.

The next scheduled Shorebird Identification field trip, which is open to the public, will be on Sunday, September 11, at 10 am, led by Mike Tetlow from the Rochester Birding Association. Meet at the Montezuma NWR Visitor Center. Register for these free walks by calling 315-568-5987.
Migration Celebration September 17
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will host its 2016 Migration Celebration from 10 am - 3 pm on Saturday, September 17.  

Have fun learning about fall migration and the Cornell Lab’s many research and conservation programs. The day includes live birds from the Cornell Raptor program, walks led by Cayuga Bird Club volunteers, crafts, games, and information on conservation and what you can do to help birds. New this year: behind-the-scenes workshops given by Lab staff showing off new tracking technology, tips and tricks for birding, the chance to build your own nest box, and more!

Free workshop tickets will be handed out at the Migration Celebration welcome table. Space is limited so be sure to arrive early, check the schedule, and pick up your tickets! 

Special Request for Volunteers from Cayuga Bird Club President Jody Enck:
Here is a special call to action for all to consider.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has invited the Cayuga Bird Club to take part in the Migration Celebration.  We will have a table inside the visitor center near the window that looks out over the feeder garden and pond.  We need volunteers to work shifts telling the public about our Club.  We also have been asked by the Lab to help lead bird walks at 10:30am and again at noon.  This is a great opportunity for the Cayuga Bird Club to get some additional exposure as this event typically draws about 1,500 people each time the Lab hosts it.

If you are interested in helping out for a bit of time on that day, please send me an email ( or call me at 607-319-4216 and let me know how you’d like to help out.  You don’t have to be an expert birder or a long-time Club member to help.  It’s fun, you can get a free Lab t-shirt, and you get to meet tons of interesting people.  Please consider helping and let me know as soon as you can!


NYS Birders Conference & NYSOA Annual Meeting in Elmira, September 9-11

The Chemung Valley Audubon Society will host the 2016 Annual Meeting of the New York State Ornithological Association and the New York State Birders Conference September 9-11 at the Riverview Holiday Inn, 760 East Water Street, Elmira, NY. 
Saturday morning will begin with field trips in the Chemung Valley and vicinity. The Meeting of Delegates will take place later that morning while non-delegates continue their birding quests. The afternoon will feature the Paper Session.

At the Saturday evening banquet, Richard (Rob) Bierregaard, research associate of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, will present Tracking Ospreys in the Age of Silicon: Migration, Ecology, and Conservation. Rob Bierregaard has been tagging Ospreys in the eastern U.S. since 2000. He has deployed satellite transmitters on 52 juvenile and 43 adult Ospreys. His studies—the first to collect a significant body of data on juvenile migration— have led to surprising discoveries about the dispersal and migration of naïve Ospreys as they leave their natal territories and explore the world around them.
Dr. Bierregaard focuses on the conservation and ecology of raptors and Neotropical birds. His papers have been published in a number of scientific journals, including Conservation Biology, J. Raptor Res., Ornithological Monographs, and BioScience. Dr. Bierregaard co-authored the Osprey account for the Birds of North America Project, wrote the 81 species accounts for the Neotropical Falconiformes in the Handbook of Birds of the World, and edited Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management and Conservation of Fragmented Communities, as well as Lessons From Amazonia: The Ecology and Management of a Fragmented Forest.
To register, or for details about the weekend's programs and schedule, visit the NYSOA website at

20th Annual Montezuma Muckrace - September 16-17

This ‘Big Day’, a 24-hour birding event and premier fundraising effort of the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, is open to birders of all  ages and levels of expertise. Teams bird together from 7:00 PM Friday, September 16, until 7:00 PM Saturday, September 17, trying to locate as many bird species as possible within the Montezuma Focus Area. Teams can register under several categories: competitive, collegiate, recreational, family/mentor, youth, low-carbon, or photo. Winning teams over the past several years have identified as many as 148 species. In 2015, participants raised over $10,000 for habitat and public access projects in the Complex.

The Montezuma Wetlands Complex is a globally-significant Important Bird Area and supports a million or more waterfowl of at least 30 species, thousands of inland migrating shorebirds, a myriad of ‘confusing’ fall warblers and many rare and endangered species. The 242-square mile Montezuma Focus Area, which was highlighted under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan as critical migratory bird habitat, serves as the boundary for the Muckrace.

For more information on the Muckrace or to register a team (deadline is September 4), go to

The Cayuga Bird Club is sponsoring this year's Arrogant Bustards team, composed of Bob McGuire, Ann Mitchell, Susan Danskin, Gary Kohlenberg, and Diane Morton, for the Montezuma Muckrace. You can make a donation in support of this team (or any other team) for this Montezuma Wetlands Complex fundraiser at .

Sparrow Identification Walks at Cornell Community Garden in October

  Mark Chao will lead two walks with a focus on Sparrow Identification on October 8 and 9, from 8:30 am to 10 am. Meet at the parking lot for the Cornell Community Garden on Freese Road.  Be prepared to walk on uneven ground among tall, possibly wet weeds. We may also visit other nearby sites as birding conditions warrant.
Officer Nominations for 2016 Elections

At the Cayuga Bird Club Meeting on October 10 we will be voting for Club Officers and one Director, who are all up for re-election. The officers are listed below. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor, but if you’d like to nominate someone, please make sure that person wishes to be nominated!

President: Jody Enck

Jody Enck started birding about 50 years ago as a wee lad growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania.  Since then, he's been learning more and more about birds and birders.  Jody especially loves watching birds in his back yard and learning what the local residents are up to.  He also has been known to be a closet lister with more than 500 species seen in the U.S. He has a background in both wildlife biology and social science and enjoys meeting birders of all types. He hopes to continue the great Club tradition of welcoming all birders no matter what their interests and helping them feel like they really belong in the Cayuga Bird Club.

Vice President: Wes Blauvelt

Wes has been a member of the Cayuga Bird Club for about 15 years and has actively participated in the Christmas Bird Count.  Wes's interests in birding began as a boy and he has been fortunate to travel around the world chasing birds. In retirement, Wes hopes to become a more active and productive member of the bird club.

Treasurer: Susan Danskin

Susan has been club treasurer since October 2009, after stepping down from her position as club president. She is looking forward to continuing her work. She has been a club member for a number of years, working on various committees and leading many field trips.

Recording  Secretary: Becky Hansen

Becky moved to Ithaca fairly recently, after nearly 40 years in the NYC area,hoping to take advantage of the opportunities here to learn more about birds. She enjoys participating in the bird club meetings, field trips, the Christmas bird count, and going to Monday Night Seminars. She leads some of the weekend bird walks at the Lab of Ornithology. She also loves traveling all over the world to get to see wonderful birds and places. Becky is happy to have the chance to serve as recording secretary for the Cayuga Bird Club.

Corresponding Secretary: Colleen Richards

Colleen has been corresponding secretary since 2008.  She organizes the monthly club dinner which honors the speaker and encourages member interaction as well as corresponding with our program speakers each month to assure they have all they need for their engagement.

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