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Issue 4, November 2015

Representing Northeast Indiana

P.O. Box 13131, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46864

Are you getting a paper copy of this newsletter? Want to

continue it in 2016? If so please send $5 to Dave Reichlinger,
treasurer, 4016 Aboite Lake Dr., Fort Wayne IN 46804 by Jan.
15. Checks should be made out to Stockbridge Audubon.
kept their ears tuned for distant avian voices.
Casual human conversations occasionally were
interrupted when a flurry of activity near the rail
indicated that an interesting sighting had been
When the day was over, 33 species had
been spotted from within our 17-foot circle. This
number may not compare with those of some
other Big Sit groups, but the camaraderie of FIBS
(Fox Island Bird Sitters) was second to none!
Please keep this event in mind for next October
its free fun the best kind!

Presidents Words
By Julie Henricks
Sunday, October 11 was a picture-perfect
fall afternoon, with sunshine and just the right
amount of coolness in the air. Several
Stockbridge members and friends spent a few
hours that day on the back deck of the Fox Island
nature center, participating in the Big Sit bird
count (which has been described as a tailgate
party for birdwatchers). Weve been doing the
count for a number of years now, and it always
ends up being a lot of fun. If the weather is
inclement, we can duck inside the nature center
for hot cider or coffee. Treats are available as
well (it wouldnt be a Stockbridge event without
them!). With the pleasant weather this year we
tended to stay outside most of the time, focusing
our binoculars and spotting scopes on the brush
around the pond and on the more-distant tree line.
Those who are experts at identifying bird calls

July 21-Oct. 20, 2015
By Jim Haw
The Black-bellied Whistling Duck found at Franke

Park July 16 was last reported Aug. 26 (Landon

Eagle Marsh and vicinity became a hot spot thanks
to Rodger Rangs sunrise and sunset coverage.
Among his finds were Least Bittern July 23 and
Aug. 1; 68 Great Egrets at Serv-All ponds July 23;
48 Green Herons flying to roost Aug. 20; Blackcrowned Night Herons, both adults and immatures,
peaking at 8 on Oct. 10 and two still there Oct. 17;
Peregrine Falcon Sept. 5; 2 Am. Avocets Aug. 13;
Black Tern Aug. 5; 2 Caspian Terns Aug. 23; two
record-late Blue Grosbeaks, one in SW Allen Co.
Sept. 13 and the other on the Towpath Trail Sept 19
(previous late date for NE IN was Sept. 8); and a
record late Sora Oct. 18, latest by 5 days.
Common Gallinules at Pigeon River were 1 adult
and 5 immatures Sept. 15 (Jim Haw, Sandy
Schacht, Marisa Windell), and 4 imm. still there
Oct. 5 (Haw). Lagrange Co. had 23 Am. Golden
Plovers and 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers Sept 22
(Sam Plew). An American Avocet and 4 Caspian
Terns were at Limberlost Swamp July 27 (Terri
Gorney et al). Limberlost also hosted a Stilt
Sandpiper Sept.22 (Haw) and Sept. 28 (Dave
Reichlinger). Limberlost really got the good birds
Oct. 8-15: Am. Bittern Oct. 10-11 (Don Gorney,
Ryan Sanderson), Peregrine Falcon Oct. 15 (Jeff
Moore), Stilt Sandpiper Oct. 10 (D. Gorney,
Sanderson), Bairds Sandpiper Oct. 8 (Haw),
White-rumped Sandpipers Oct. 8-15, peaking at 43
Oct. 15 (Moore), Long-billed Dowitcher Oct. 1013, high count 12 on Oct. 13 (Haw, Schacht),
Franklins Gull Oct. 12 (Kirk Roth), and Nelsons
Sparrows Oct. 8-13, high count 5 Oct. 10 (D.
Gorney, Sanderson). Another Stilt Sandpiper was
in SW Allen Co. Aug. 3 (Reichlinger).
Notable among songbirds were an Alder Flycatcher
at Pigeon River Aug. 4 (Haw, Schacht); Yellowbellied Flycatcher at Fox Is. Sept. 3 (Rang); Olivesided Flycatcher at Pigeon River Aug. 13 (Plew);
Bells Vireo at the scout lot next to Eagle Marsh
Sept. 2 (Jeff McCoy); Philadelphia Vireo at Fox
Island Sept. 13 (Rang); Sedge Wren at Pisgah

Marsh Aug. 1 and Aug. 18 (Haw, Schacht); Redbreasted Nuthatch at Pigeon River Sept. 10 (Plew);
and Henslows Sparrow at Salamonie July 25
(Haw). One Pine Siskin flew over Eagle Marsh
Oct.2 (Rang) and 3 on Oct. 5 (Rang), the first
arrivals of the season.
Jeff Ormiston sent this picture of a leucistic
cardinal, being seen at Fox Is. feeders.

Dave Reichlinger, who is somewhat visually

impaired, has become an expert at birding by
ear. So he invented a new listing category for
himself: heard birds. He just reached a
milestone: 300, with a White-rumped
Sandpiper. Congratulations, Dave!

Would you believe..there are SIX area

Christmas Bird Counts this year!
The first one, Dec. 17, is in Noble Co.
Gene Stratton-Porters life-long love of the birds of
Northeastern Indiana is the perfect match for a

Christmas Bird Count!

at lunch at a time and location designated by each party

leader. Be sure to dress for the weather, including
waterproof, warm boots for wet or snowy conditions. Pack
a thermos and snacks. Some parties may need to bring a
sack lunch.

The GSP CBC encompasses a number of wonderful

properties, including the ACRES Detering and
Lonidaw nature preserves, the Gene Stratton-Porter
State Historic Site, Bixler Lake Park in Kendallville,
and the Chain OLakes State Park.

Persons who live in the count circle can also participate by

counting birds at their feeders and in the yard. There is no
fee for participating as a field observer or feeder watcher.

Our CBC will maintain a static date 12/17, so you

can mark your calendar for years to come! Well have
a hot lunch for participants in the Carriage House
Visitors Center at 12 noon in order to do a preliminary
species count and warm up. You may participate early
that morning with owling, feeder watching or visiting
the many wetlands and preserves in our count circle.

A CHILI SUPPER follows the count at 5:30 p.m. at the

Learning Center at Salomon Farm Park, on the south side of
DuPont Rd. between Lima Rd. and Coldwater Rd (building
opens at 5:00). The Learning Center is the first building
you come to after entering the park. All participants are
invited to eat, share the days experiences, and join in
compiling the days list.

Please register before 12/14 by contacting Dave Fox

at for more information and
for your designated birding location. Its always fun to
pre-scout to get to know the lay of the land and what
birds you might see that day. Dress warmly with
appropriate apparel and if you need any field guides
or binoculars, just let Dave know hes got extras of
most anything you might need.

If you plan to join in the count as a field observer or feeder

watcher, or if you would like further information, please
contact the compiler, Jim Haw, by phone at 485-7802, or email, by December 13 if possible. Also
tell Jim if you are coming to the chili supper.

Keep reading!


The Pigeon River Count will be Sunday, Dec. 20. There
will not be a pre-count meeting, but the compiler, Mark
Weldon, will assign parties and send out maps ahead of
time. Contact him at or 260427-6806 by Dec. 14.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Bird Counts are held internationally each year to
collect data on wintering bird populations, and for the
enjoyment of participants. The Fort Wayne count is held in
a 15-mile diameter circle (an internationally standard rule)
in northern Allen and southern DeKalb Counties.
Participants divide into field parties of two to four, each
with at least one experienced leader, to count all birds
identified by sight or voice in a designated section of the
circle. Parties drive county roads slowly and walk where
public lands or permission from landowners permit.

Pokagon State Park will hold its 36th Annual Christmas

Bird Count on Monday, December 28, 2015. Prior
registration is required by calling the Pokagon Nature
Center 260-833-3506 or by e-mailing park Naturalist, Marie
Laudeman at by December 24th.
Registered participants are then invited to meet at the
Pokagon State Park Nature Center by 7:45 a.m. on the 28 th.
From there we will break up into previously determined
parties and cover different areas within a 15-mile diameter
circle in Steuben County. Hot chili will be provided by the
Potawatomi Inn for all participants to enjoy for their lunch.

You can participate in a field party for the day, or for half a
day, morning or afternoon. Most all-day and morning
participants meet inside Halls Restaurant, corner of
Coliseum Blvd. and Lima Rd. by 8:00 a.m. Some of us
arrive in time to have breakfast at Halls before 8. Some
parties meet on their own and go out earlier to find owls at
daybreak. Afternoon-only participants will join their parties

This year the Adams County CBC is changing to the

SANJO (Southern Adams County, Northern Jay

County, and Ouabache State Park) CBC. It will

change from a county wide count to a circle. The
changes are due to the habitat changes in the past
sixteen years in the area. The new circle will include
the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve, Loblolly
Marsh, Music of the Wild Preserve (which now has
trails on it), the Bird Sanctuary Preserve, Rainbow
Bend and Rainbow Bottom, Munro Nature Preserve,
Red Gold Wetlands, Wabash River, private lands with
conservation easements, and Ouabache State Park.
This is a joint effort with Robert Cooper Audubon
Society, Stockbridge Audubon Society, DNR, and
Cardinal Birding Club. We welcome new counters as
there is plenty of good territory to cover. Limberlost
State Historic Site in Geneva is hosting the
CBC Jan 1 2016 with the 3rd annual chili lunch at
noon. Compiler: Terri
Gorney, or call Limberlost SHS
260-368-7428, Randy Lehman.

This land restoration means breaking field tiles, excavating

naturally low areas to become wetlands, removing invasive
species and next spring, planting native grasses and
wildflowers. In just the few weeks of earth moving, weve
already seen the return of numerous frog, butterfly and bird
species including numerous species of shorebirds.
Some have asked what a project like this has to do with an
author or the Indiana State Museum and the answer
is...EVERYTHING! Gene Stratton-Porter became Indianas
best-selling female author by writing about her beloved
home states amazing natural heritage and beauty. She was
inspired every day by the nature that surrounded her Cabin
at Wildflower Woods and was an outspoken opponent of
habitat destruction, over 100 years ago.
By returning these fields to their natural state of wetlands,
grasses and wildflowers, we continue Genes legacy of
preserving Indianas natural heritage by creating a place
where individuals can be inspired by nature through
photography, writing, painting, learning about native birds
or animals, or just simply enjoying the music of the wild
as Gene called it.

The new Southwest Allen Count will be held

Saturday, January 2. Compiler: Cynthia Powers, or 260-638-4291. Contact
her by Dec. 26 to be assigned to a party. Some
parties may meet at 8 at the office of Little River
Wetlands, off Engle Road in Fort Wayne, to pick
up maps. Then meet at Fox Island County Park
about noon; we will have chili to supplement
your packed lunch. This circle includes many
natural areas in Southwest Allen Co.; and we
hope it will be designated as an official Audubon
CBC this year.

The land restoration will be a multi-year project as we

continue to seed and maintain invasive plant growth and
add boardwalks and signage. These efforts will create an
amazing living laboratory for students to learn about
ecology, habitat restoration, botany, ornithology and more.
When Gene lived in Rome City, she said that every species
of bird native to Indiana called Wildflower Woods their
home. While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, we have
seen the number of bird species explode since it was taken
out of cultivation in 2013.
This project is a significant undertaking and couldnt be
possible without the partnerships of so many organizations
like the USDA, Noble County Natural Resource
Conservation Service, GSP Memorial Society, Dekko
Foundation, Olive B. Cole Foundation, Hoosier Habitat and
Land Development, the Indiana State Museum and Historic
Sites Corporation, Town of Rome City and Sylvan Lake
Improvement Association. All of these partners are
supporting this long-term project to return native habitat to
the grounds of the GSP Site in Rome City.


By Tracy J. Fox
If you live near the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site
in Rome City, youve probably seen the significant project
weve undertaken this summer. In July, ground was broken
to begin our major land restoration project. We are taking
nearly 100 acres of land that have been continuously farmed
since 1888 and returning them to the original wetlands and
prairies they were so long ago!

Were excited about this project and know Gene would be

happy to see the return of Eastern Meadowlarks,
Grasshopper Sparrows, Eastern Kingbirds, Northern
Harriers, Sandhill Cranes and so many other birds that
enjoy this type of habitat. Theyre coming back home for

few plants which cannot disguise themselves when I pass


the first time in over 125 years!

And now, just for fun:

Animals can also trick the innocent birder. Not only do they
move, thus drawing ones attention, they make noise. I have
often gone plunging through the underbrush to track an
unfamiliar bird song or call, only to discover a squirrel or
frog taunting me when I arrived at the source. Many insects
are also quite capable of making bird-like sounds, and I
have mistaken the appearance some of the larger flying ones
for hummingbirds or warblers. Small mammals, like mice
or chipmunks, scurrying underfoot have appeared in
the guise of winter wrens or sparrows. A deer seen at a
distance through the trees has caused me to call out Barred
Owl, much to the amusement of fellow birders. And
speaking of fellow birders, I have also mistaken them for
birds, both when seen through the woods or especially
while they were pishing or playing recorded bird calls. I
wonder how many birds identified by ear were actually
other birders playing recordings!

Things I Have Mistaken for Birds

By Steve Sarratore
A great deal of the joy and excitement of birdwatching
happens when one actually recognizes which bird youre
looking at or listening to. But as every birder knows, its
easy to make mistakes. Even the best birders occasionally
misidentify a bird, mistaking a vireo for a warbler or a coot
for a duck. But this article is not about those kinds of
errorsthis is about things that are not birds that I have
mistaken for birds.
Unfortunately, this has become an area of expertise for me.
I have only been a birder for about twelve years, and during
that relatively short time, I have mistaken thousands of
things for birds. These errors seemed forgivable when I first
started out, but I assure you that I make just as many such
errors now. To help me (and you) understand the nature of
this problem, I have divided the mistaken identities into
three groups:

Inanimate Objects:
Living objects like plants or animals are certainly not the
only ambushes awaiting birders. I have joined many others
in mistaking random inanimate objects for birds. Who
among us has not screeched their car to a halt to get a
better look at a Snowy Owl, only to focus instead on a
white trash bag? Some objects are designed to deceive:
plastic owls, intended to scare away pigeons or gulls; bird
silhouettes adorning bird feeders; or the ubiquitous concrete
ducks and geese used as lawn decorations for unfathomable
reasons. Each of these has fooled me at least once. Actually,
almost any object seen from the right angle in the wrong
light can become a bird. I have raised my binoculars to look
at road signs, trash bins, soda bottles, beer cans, stones,
rusted farm machinery, sports equipment, and utility poles,
to name just a few.
But finally, none of these misidentifications will deter me.
For every frustration, there is at least one compensating
pleasure. I still recall the joy of my first good look at a
Baltimore Oriole, and the wonderful surprise of adding
Wood Duck to my very urban yard list when a pair landed
in my walnut tree while I was mowing the grass. These
moments keep me coming back for more. I am certain that
I will also keep making mistakes. Why stop now? Ive
become pretty good at it!

Inanimate Objects (a.k.a. other stuff)

Perhaps the most common culprit for misidentification is
the tree. At first this may seem unlikely, as a tree tends to be
enormous and a bird tends to be small, but many parts of
trees may be readily taken for birds. How often I have
caught a quick glimpse of rapid movement high in the
branches, only to discover a leaf flapping in a breeze when I
raised my binoculars. Autumn is particularly troublesome as
I have risked whiplash turning to get a look at rapidly
moving oak, maple, or hickory leaves fluttering by. The
variety of colors in the autumn leaves, loved by so many,
make it even worse. I have also mistaken stumps and
broken branches for hawks or owls and pieces of bark
for Brown Creepers or woodpeckers. Indeed the tree
seems to be an elaborate set of snares designed to deceive
the gullible birder.
But trees are not alone in this nefarious activity. I have
mistaken many other plants for avian life including an
upturned lily pad for a duck, corn stubble for a Wild
Turkey, and a clump of reeds for a Sora. I have also been
fooled by vines, bushes, and on one particularly
embarrassing occasion, a tomato. It seems there are very

Its a privilege to live in Indiana!