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The Upland

Plover
Publication of the North Country Bird Club, Inc.
March / April 2016
SPRING MEETINGS
Please note the dates of our spring meetings on your
calendar. Meetings are held at Stone Presbyterian
Church (140 Chestnut St, Watertown) and begin at
7:00 pm. Spring meeting dates are:

Wednesday, March 9
Wednesday, April 13
Wednesday, May 11
FIRST SPRING MEETING
Wednesday, March 9 - 7:00 pm
Stone Presbyterian Church - 140 Chestnut St, Watertown

Since 1948

Volume 57 No. 2

2016 MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS


ARE NOW DUE
IF YOU HAVE NOT RENEWED,
PLEASE FILL OUT THE FORM
ON THE LAST PAGE AND
FORWARD IT WITH YOUR DUES
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
MEMBERS WHO HAVE NOT RENEWED
BY MAY 1ST WILL BE REMOVED FROM
OUR ROLLS AND DISTRIBUTION LIST

Program: Eagles on the Nest

FIELD TRIPS - 2016 Season

April Program: The Birds of Spring

St. Lawrence River Parks: Sat, April 9 - 8:30 am


Cornell Lab & Montezuma NWR: Sat, April 23 - 8:30 am
Upper & Lower Lakes WMA: Sat, May 7 - 8:30 am
Red Lake: Sat, May 21 - 8:30 am
Limerick Cedars: Wed, May 25 - 8:00 pm
Chaumont Barrens: Sat, June 4 - 8:30 am
Marlowe Camp, Beartown: Sat, June 18 - 8:30 am
Annual Picnic (Brouse Preserve): Sun, July 10 - 1:00 pm
Marlowe Camp, Beartown: Sat, July 23 - 8:30 am
Perch River WMA: Sat, August 20 - 8:30 am
(please note change of date)
Montezuma South: Sat, Sept 17 - 8:30 am
Montezuma North: Sat, Oct 15 - 8:30 am

NORTH COUNTRY BIG DAY


A New Club Event
See Page 3 for Details
ONONDAGA AUDUBON
Spring Programs in Watertown
Onondaga Audubon will offer two programs this spring at
Flower Memorial Library, 229 Washington Street,
Watertown.
On Wednesday, April 20, at 6 pm, Jeff Bolsinger, staff
ornithologist at Fort Drum, will give an overview of Fort
Drums birds, with emphasis on species declining
elsewhere in upstate New York.
On Wednesday, May 18, also at 6 pm, ornithologist
Gerry Smith will give an overview of species of high
conservation concern in the North Country, with focus
on how we can meet conservation needs of those species
in our area.
Please note also that the annual Spring Bird Festival at
Derby Hill Bird Observatory will be held on Saturday,
May 14, from 10 am to 5 pm. The event will include live
birds of prey, bird walks, activities for kids, and great food.

SPRING BIRD CENSUS


Again this year, seeking to create a more complete
picture of the great variety of birds which can be seen in
our area, the Club will conduct a Spring Bird Census, a
combined effort of members and other interested
birders to survey the bird life in our area during the
entire spring season. The Census will extend from
March 20 (the Spring Equinox) through June 19. The
Census Survey Form is included in this issue. Please
follow the procedure outlined on the form in recording
your sightings, noting whether a given species was first
seen before May 1st or on or after May 1st.

OFFICERS
President
Corky Marlowe
782-4705
Vice-President
Bill Haller
639-6848
Treasurer
Kathleen Killeen
646-6007
Secretary
Christine Bourquin 649-5403

DIRECTORS
Richard Brouse
David Prosser
Mike Shepard
June Walker
Robert Walker

To 5/2017
To 5/2016
To 5/2016
To 5/2017
To 5/2016

Field Trip Coordinator


Richard Brouse
788-6778
Census Coordinator
Bill Haller
639-6848
Historian
Robert Walker
649-2161
Newsletter Editor
Bill Haller
639-6848

ON THE WEB:

NORTH COUNTRY
BIRD CLUB
ON FACEBOOK

FIELD TRIP: ST. LAW RENCE RIVER PARK S


Sat, April 9th - Meet at Arsenal St Wal-Mart at 8:30 am
We will visit state parks along the St. Lawrence River, as well as other birding sites in northern
Jefferson County, to observe migrating waterfowl and arriving songbirds. This is a driving tour, with
only minimal walking involved. It is an excellent chance to add to your Spring Bird Census list.

FIELD TRIP: CORNELL ORNITHOLOGY LAB & MONTEZUMA NW R


Saturday, April 23nd - Meet at Arsenal St Wal-Mart at 8:30 am
We will visit Cornell Universitys world-renowned Lab of Ornithology on a springtime Saturday to view
a great variety of bird species. The lab facilities and the Labs Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary provide an
experience available virtually nowhere else in North America. On our return trip, we will also visit the
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Reservations are required before or at our April 13 meeting.

FIELD TRIP: UPPER & LOW ER LAK ES W MA


Saturday, May 7th - Meet at Arsenal St Wal-Mart - 8:30 am
Upper & Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area is located between Rensselaer Falls and Canton in
central St. Lawrence County and includes the Indian Creek Nature Center. The WMA has extensive
woods and wetlands and a number of observation sites. The Nature Center features an elevated
boardwalk through a marsh, as well as extensive trails through woodlands. We will visit during the
spring migration to look for birds in a variety of habitats. The trails are well maintained and level, but
appropriate footwear is strongly recommended, as spring rains may result in wet or muddy areas.

ONONDAGA AUDUBON
Derby Hill Field Trips
On two spring Saturdays, April 2 and April 30,
ornithologist Gerry Smith will lead field trips to the
lakeshore bird observatory at Derby Hill to look for
migrants, including waterfowl, sparrows, and
departing winter birds. The trips will last from 10 am
to 4 pm. To sign up, contact Gerry at 315-771-6902.

ARBOR DAY CELEBRATION


Saturday, April 16 - 9 am to 2 pm
South Jefferson HS - Rt 11, Adams
Again this year, North Country Bird Club will provide a
display and information table at the Arbor Day
Festival. The Festival includes exhibits and displays
by a wide range of local organizations. Come and
enjoy this fine event at South Jefferson High School.
If you would like to assist at our table, please contact
Club President Corky Marlowe or the Editor.

Please note the change of date for our


Perch River WMA Field Trip to
Saturday, August 20th. Onondaga
Audubon has scheduled a field trip to
Perch River on Saturday, August 27th
(our previously announced date), and
we would like our members to have the
opportunity to take part in both field trips.
After all local field trips, participants are
invited to join for lunch at a nearby
restaurant, if their schedule permits. These
gatherings always prove to be most
enjoyable (and entertaining) events.

Become a part of Cornells


Project FeederWatch.
For information and to participate,
visit the FeederWatch website at
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/.

For detailed info about birds,


visit the website of
the Cornell Ornithology Lab
A beautiful set of bird-themed notecards is given by random selection, each time
and of Cornells renowned
Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary the Plover is issued, to a member of our Club whose dues are current, to provide
at http://www.birds.cornell.edu extra incentive for members to keep memberships in good standing. We would like
to congratulate Sheree Brosk of Carthage, selected as this issues recipient.
Information about programs of the Department of Environmental Conservation, conservation news, and regulation updates are distributed by a
targeted e-mail system. Subscribers select from 100+ topics. To subscribe: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/NYSDEC/subscriber/new

INFORMATION SOURCES FOR REGIONAL SIGHTINGS


A list of birding organizations and list serves for New York (and other states) is available at http://www.virtualbirder.com/vbirder/
Northern New York Birds List Serve: Subscribe at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Northern_NY_Birds.
Click on the Join This Group button and follow the on-screen instructions. (You will need to have or to set up a Y ahoo account.)
Oneida Birds List Serve (sightings in Central New York): Subscribe at http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/Oneidabirds.
Click on the Join This Group button and follow the on-screen instructions. (You will need to have or to set up a Y ahoo account.)
Cayuga Birds List Serve: Sightings of birds in the Finger Lakes Region with a focus on the Cayuga Lake Basin.
E-mail Cayugabirds-L-Request@cornell.edu. In the message body put JOIN Your name (first and last name in quotes). 2

NORTH COUNTRY BIG DAY - A New Club Event


In recent years, the American Big Day event has given birders the opportunity to use their skills in a friendly competition, with teams
seeking to identify the greatest number of bird species in a 24-hour period. This year the event was expanded to a Global Big Day.
In an effort to provide this type of opportunity for birders in our area, and to create yet another setting in which our members and friends
can share their enthusiasm for birding with one another, North Country Bird Club will sponsor a North Country Big Day event this spring.
Teams of two to four birders will work together to identify as many species as possible between midnight and midnight of a day in
mid-May. We are not specifying a particular day for the event, but ask teams to choose any single day between Saturday, May 14, and
Friday, May 20, for their participation. While team members may bird individually and record species at their feeders on the teams
chosen day, the intent for the event is that the team will bird together for much of the time spent in the field. To encourage wide
participation, we will list the members of all teams, as well as all species recorded, but note the number of species recorded only for the
team which finds the most. More details and a checklist will follow in the next issue. Plan to be a part of this new and exciting event!
We continue our series on birding hotspots in our area with a contribution from Club
member Lynn Chavoustie. This is the fifth article in the series, which we plan to develop
into a birding guide for Northern New York. If you are interested in contributing an article
for a future issue, please contact the Editor. If you would like to see a favorite birding
hotspot included, but prefer not to put together an article, forward detailed information
about the location, and the Editor will prepare the article. For now, please enjoy this
continuation of our series. [ All photos on this page by Lynn Chavoustie ]

BIRDING HOTSPOT: OLD SWAMP ROAD


LYNN CHAVOUSTIE
Old Swamp Road is located a half mile north of Three Mile Bay,
running eastward from NY State Route 12E. It is approximately two
and a half miles long and ends at Burnt Rock Road, another good
road to bird on. A left turn onto Burnt Rock Road will take you back to
12E. A right turn will take you to the Millens Bay Road (Co Rt 8).
Old Swamp Road is most active in the spring or early summer
months. It contains a variety of habitats including cornfields, grassy
fields, and a flooded hardwood swamp.
This road is where I have had many of my "first" sightings, including
American Kestrel, Yellow Warbler, Black-Crowned Night Heron,
Great Horned Owl and Eastern Blue Bird. This is the road where I
marveled at 16 Cedar Waxwings all in one tree and on another day
was surprised to see hundreds of Canada Geese resting in a
cornfield just a few feet from the road.
If you pull your vehicle off to the side of the road and sit, you are sure
to see Great Blue Herons and Wood Ducks. This past summer I
watched Black Terns fly back and forth across the wetland area.
This road is also full of wildlife. In the spring the peepers are
deafening, muskrats may show up, and deer may be seen crossing
the road.

CEDAR WAXWINGS SHARING

Old Swamp Road - Three Mile Bay

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS


TALKING - Old Swamp Road

FLOCK OF CEDAR WAXWINGS


Old Swamp Road

WOOD DUCKS
Old Swamp Road

NORTH COUNTRY BIRD CLUB SIGHTINGS


Please forward notable sightings for the next issue by April 15, using the contact info on the last page.
A good idea of the variety of waterbirds which migrate through our area during fall and early winter is given by the report submitted by Steve Guy of
sightings made on the far eastern end of Black River Bay on a Saturday in mid-December. The sightings included 2600 Canada Geese, 5 Mute Swans,
1252 Tundra Swans, 2 Gadwalls, 4 American Wigeons, 6 American Black Ducks, 127 Mallards, 5 Northern Shovelers, 8 Canvasbacks, 4 Redheads,
6 Ring-necked Ducks, 525 Greater Scaup, 150 Lesser Scaup, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Bufflehead, 10 Common Goldeneye, 20 Common Mergansers,
1 Ruddy Duck, 25 Bonapartes Gulls, 62 Herring Gulls, and 12 Great Black-backed Gulls. Other species sighted during the trip included 12 Rock
Pigeons, 3 Blue Jays, 3 American Crows, 2 Black-capped Chickadees, 6 Dark-eyed Juncos, 2 Northern Cardinals, 3 House Finches, and 2 American
Goldfinches. Steve also reported a Red-breasted Nuthatch at his feeders throughout January, 6 Bohemian Waxwings in Watertown on New Years Day,
a Great Blue Heron flying north over I-81 on January 9, 8 Hooded Mergansers on Black River Bay on January 15, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk which
dined on several Pigeons and Juncos at his feeders between January 11 and 16.
Snowy Owls were not as numerous as during the previous two winters, a pattern expected for the species. While Corky Marlowe and Bill Haller were
birding with Dick and Marion Brouse on January 7, the four sighted two Snowy Owls flying and hunting in the same area along Favret Road near Cape
Vincent. Soon after, they had an excellent look at a Short-eared Owl perched on a post further down the road. Earlier that day on and near Point
Peninsula, the four sighted about 25 Tundra Swans, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, multiple Bufflehead, 12 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 Rough-legged
Hawks, 2 immature Bald Eagles, and several flocks of Snow Buntings. On January 10, Corky and Bill sighted a Snowy Owl along US 11 near Evans
Mills. On January 24, they sighted two Snowy Owls near Gunns Corners, one along NY 12 and one along the Hart Road. Corky and Bill sighted the
two Snowy Owls near Gunns Corners again on February 11 and February 20, then the one along Hart Road on February 21. They have not seen
either bird since then. Kathy Killeen sighted a Snowy Owl near Horse Island in Sackets Harbor on February 28.
On February 7, Dick, Marion, Corky, and Bill were birding on Point Peninsula when they met Linnea Rowse, also birding in the area. The five moved on
together around Point Peninsula and Cape Vincent, sighting two Snowy Owls, one on the road to the Isthmus and the second along Favret Road. At
Long Point State Park, they sighted 12 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Common Mergansers, a Common Goldeneye, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, a Northern Flicker, and
several American Robins. At Point Peninsula Village, the group sighted a Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Mute Swans, a Herring Gull, multiple Bufflehead,
many Canada Geese, and an immature Bald Eagle. Further out on the Point, they sighted 8 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Common Loons.
Snow Geese were sighted several times over the winter, but the major migration this year seems to have moved through the Champlain Valley. Lynn
Chavoustie reported substantial numbers of Snow Geese in a field along Smith Road near Limerick just before New Years. Corky and Bill spotted 2 on
the ground there on December 31, and 25 or so flying in that area on New Years Day. There have been several reports of large flocks flying over, but
no other reports of Snow Geese on the ground. Also on New Years Day, Corky and Bill sighted Snow Buntings at several locations near Perch River
and on Pillar Point. They sighted three small flocks of Snow Buntings in the Gunns Corners
FUERTES PAINTING
area on February 20. Kathy reported a flock of Cedar Waxwings at her home in Sackets
From the State Museum in Albany
Harbor on January 26 (see photo next page). Lynn Chavoustie sighted Horned Larks along
Published in Birds of America, 1917
Case Road on January 22 (see photo next page). Bill has had a Red-bellied Woodpecker at
his feeders on several occasions this winter.
The Editor wishes to express sincere thanks
to Mrs. Rena Young for the gift of a copy
The Bald Eagles are back at the nest by Perch River WMAs Lower Pool. Corky and Bill
of this magnificent volume
sighted one there on New Years Day, then two on January 9. On February 7, from the
Depauville Road near the Perch River bridge, Corky, Bill, Dick, and Marion sighted two
NORTHERN FLICKER
mature Bald Eagles perched together in a tree along the Perch River. One or two Eagles
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
have been seen there on several occasions since. On February 23, Corky and Bill sighted
one there and a second in a tree by the stream which passes under NY 12E just south of the
Case Road. On February 28, they saw two mature Bald Eagles in the Lower Pool nest.
On January 24, Corky and Bill saw 20+ Wild Turkeys along NY 12E near Chaumont. Doris
Gibson reported 15 Wild Turkeys at her home on Keyser Road near Perch Lake on January
23. On February 29, Doris reported several Lapland Longspurs feeding in the gravel along
her driveway. (For a detailed report on Doris sightings over the winter and a few of her
associated thoughts, see the article on the next page.)

Eagle Convention in Sackets

NORTHERN CARDINAL
Sackets Harbor January 2016
Photo by Kathy Killeen

On January 27, shortly after 10:00 am, the


Editor received an e-mail from Tom McKay of
Sackets Harbor reporting that 3 mature Bald
Eagles and 2 juveniles were working on a
dead Catfish on a shoal near Horse Island. A
couple of Crows and a Gull stopped by, Tom
noted, but werent allowed near the carrion.
At 10:30, Tom reported 6 Eagles present, and
by 11:00 there were 7. At 11:30, Tom sent a
final report indicating that 10 Bald Eagles were
now congregated at the spot. A photo of this
remarkable gathering of Eagles, taken by a
photographer who was nearby, can be viewed
on Facebook at the I Love Upstate NY page.

ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK - LIGHT MORPH


Town of Henderson February 23, 2016 Photos by Susan Favreau
Long-time Club member Doris Gibson has reported several times during February from her home on
Keyser Road, near Perch Lake, noting birds seen there and nearby. The reports give an idea of the
wide variety of bird life here in Northern New York even during the winter. Doris, one of our most
experienced birders, assisted the DEC in surveys of the birds at Perch Lake for many years. On
February 6, Doris reported 5 Tree Sparrows and 3 Chipping Sparrows in her yard, while on a trip to
Clayton she sighted 5 Dark-eyed Juncos, 2 Mourning Doves, 15 Rock Doves, and 20 Snow Buntings.
As the Buntings flew up from a field on that snowless day, Doris was reminded of an old saying: When
the Snow Buntings are showing their white side (i.e., flying), it will snow in three days. The first
significant snow of February followed three days later, on the 9th. Coincidence? Or do birds
understand the weather better than we do? On the 14th, Doris reported 15 Goldfinches, 5 Tree
Sparrows, a Mourning Dove, and a Blue Jay in her yard. On the 18th, she sighted a Northern Cardinal
there, then saw 20+ Snow Buntings near Perch Lake. On the 19th, Doris added Dark-eyed Juncos and
Black-capped Chickadees to the birds she had seen in her yard during the month. Over the 27th and
28th, she sighted a pair of Hairy and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, a pair of Northern Cardinals, 2
White-breasted Nuthatches, 4 Black-capped Chickadees, 9 Tree Sparrows, 5 Chipping Sparrows, a
House Sparrow, 5 Dark-eyed Juncos, 3 Blue Jays, 15 American Goldfinch, 4 Mourning Doves, and 5
European Starlings. Then on the 29th came those Lapland Longspurs mentioned in the Sightings.

ANOTHER IN OUR INTERMITTENT SERIES ON THE DERIVATIONS OF BIRD NAMES: The


origins of the names of several birds found in our area during the winter, some among the most
common of all bird species, have interesting, often ancient origins. The name Sparrow comes
originally from very ancient times. In Old English, the name is spearwa. But that is derived
ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) sper, meaning simply bird. PIE is the ancient
language from which a wide variety of modern European and Asian languages are derived. Its
origins date to 3500 BC, so the Sparrows name has a long pedigree. Finch is also ancient,
coming to us from the Old English finc, but ultimately derived from PIEs pingos, which may simply
have been meant to imitate the call note of the bird. Nuthatch comes from the Middle English
nuthake, dating to the 1300s. The name translates nut hatchet, a reference to the birds eating
habits. Bunting has a more obscure origin. It can be traced to the term bountyng, from about
1300. That term may be derived from the earlier term buntin, meaning plump, or from an Old
English word no longer known, but akin to Germans bunt, which means multi-colored. Longspur
has a much more recent origin, coming from Modern English, and refers to the long claw on the
hind toe of each of the birds feet.

CEDAR WAXWINGS ON A GRAY WINTER DAY


Sackets Harbor January 30, 2016
Photo by Kathy Killeen

TUFTED TITMICE
Watertown December 12, 2015
Photo by Lauri Piiparinen

HORNED LARKS
Case Road (Town of Lyme)
January 22, 2016
Photo by Lynn Chavoustie

For the Birds, a set of events sponsored by the Thousand


Islands Land Trust, is scheduled for Memorial Day
weekend. On Saturday, May 28th, several educational
stations will be open to the public from 10 am to 3 pm at Boldt
Castle. Stations will be presented by the Common Nature
Center, Talons! Birds of Prey, NYS Audubon, the Cornell Lab of
Ornithology, and others. On Sunday, May 29th, birding trips of
about two hours duration will leave at 7 am from several
locations. Following the trips, presentations about area birding
topics will be given from 10 am to 12 pm at Zenda Farms near
Clayton. Detailed information is available at TILTs website,
www.tilandtrust.org, as well as on their Facebook page.
For information on Onondaga Audubon field trips & programs:
http://onondagaaudubon.com

THE UPLAND PLOVER


P. O. Box 634
Watertown, NY 13601
On FACEBOOK: North Country Bird Club

NORTH COUNTRY BIRD CLUB MEMBERSHIP


Membership is for the calendar year. Dues are per individual.
Renewals are due by January 1st. To ensure that you receive Club
materials, be sure to give your correct mailing address below.

Consider joining the New York State


Ornithological Association (our Club is a
member organization).
Membership
includes a quarterly journal (Kingbird) and a
newsletter (New York Birders).
Details at www.nybirds.org.
The Cornell Lab now offers predictions of bird
migration patterns. Track migrations and
determine what will move through our area as
the season progresses at http://birdcast.info

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Meetings / Programs: March, April,


May, September, October, November,
(Second Wednesday of the month)
Field Trips: Spring - Summer - Fall
Spring Bird Census
North Country Big Day
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Newsletter: The Upland Plover
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Ornithological Association, Inc.

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North Country Bird Club
P.O. Box 634
Watertown, NY 13601

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ITEMS FOR THE NEXT PLOVER ARE DUE BY APRIL 15


If you have sightings, photos, or other items for the May / June edition,
please forward them to the Editor by April 15.
Contact info: Bill Haller, Editor - Mail: P. O. Box 6, Dexter, NY 13634
E-mail: haldex@twcny.rr.com - Phone: (315) 639-6848 (9 am to 9 pm)