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Coulee Birder

Newsletter of the Coulee Region Audubon Society


September-October 2004
Events President’s notebook
Coulee Audubon meetings
Sept. 15 - Rick McGarry will show
Enjoy Coulee Audubon!
slides of his bird photography and dis- BY BOBBIE WILSON and other wildlife through programs,
cuss equipment and techniques. field trips, and volunteer projects. And
Oct. 20 - Randy Hines, USGSwildlife Fred Lesher and I had the pleasure of we have fun doing it! A little bird-list-
biolgist, will speak on the topic ““Migra- being interviewed for “Coulee Conver- ing competition aside, can you think of a
tion Super Highway: Neotropical Mi- sations” on KQEG TV23. (No, don’t better bunch of people than bird watch-
grants of the Mississippi River”. touch that dial. By the time you read this ers?
Programs begin at 7 p.m. at the La the segment will have aired. Besides, it That’s why you can’t go wrong join-
Crosse Public Library, 800 Main St. on wasn’t a very good hair day — except ing the Coulee Region Audubon Soci-
the lower level. maybe for Fred.) ety. It celebrates and protects birds and
Suggestions for speakers or programs The fun part was being asked about other wildlife, and brings together like-
are welcome. Call Gretchen Skoloda at
the Audubon Society, and remembering minded people to enjoy the outdoors in a
781-7502 or
what we enjoy and value about this or- thoughtful, gentle way. In this newslet-
Field trip
ganization. On the national level, ter is a membership form which you can
Oct. 30— Meet at the Memorial Field
Parking Lot, UW-L, at 9 a.m. Birders Audubon is a strong voice for conserva- use to join Coulee Audubon. Please do!
will visit Goose Island, Stoddard boat tion and habitat protection, with a his- Your membership supports the club and
landing, Genoa and possibly Black Hawk tory that goes back to the days of fancy keeps you informed of its activities.
Park to view Pool 8 migrating Tundra hats decorated with egret plumes. And please join us at a meeting or
Swans and ducks and raptors. Partici- Locally, we hold to the same values field trip soon. We’re always looking
pants can bring their own lunch or have of preserving and protecting. We pro- for a few more good people!
lunch at Mamies. Tour leader is Fred mote awareness and enjoyment of birds

New season! Bird photographer to give Sept. program

Join us for the first Coulee Region biologist with the US Geological Survey, River”. The talk will discuss what
Audubon Society meeting of the new Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences neotropical migratory birds are (focusing
season. Rick McGarry will present a pro- Center in La Crosse, and has studied primarily on songbirds), why they are
gram on Bird Photography on Wednes- many birds including neotropical song- important, what species are found migrat-
day, Sept. 15. birds, colonial waterbirds, waterfowl, ing and nesting along the Mississippi
Rick’s dramatic photos earned prizes loons, and raptors, researching reproduc- River, and causes of mortality.
in the Oktoberfest photo contest last fall, tive/nesting success, contaminant effects, The presentation includes an exten-
the first year he entered. He will show and radio telemetry research. His topic sive display of migrant birds discussed
slides of his bird photographs, explain the is “MIGRATION SUPER HIGHWAY ? in the presentation.
various techniques he used to get the Neotropical Migrants of the Mississippi
photos and answer questions about the
equipment used. Programs follow a short
business meeting which starts at 7:00 We need your contributions of material for the Audubon newsletter.
p.m. at the La Crosse Public Library, 800 Please send your suggestions for articles, news of events and other
Main St. (lower level). Refreshments are things birders need to know. Deadline for copy is the third Friday of
served after the program. the month preceding publication. The next deadline wiill be Sept. 20.
The Oct. 20 program will be pre- Send information to: or by mail to Newsletter,
W6396 Riverview Drive, Onalaska, WI 54650.
sented by Randy Hines. He is a wildlife
Lakeside cottage may hasten birds’ decline
By University of Wisconsin abundance of species. Comparing that humans inhabiting the landscape.
information services data to U.S. census data and the National “Houses, we think, may represent a
Landcover Dataset, a satellite survey of better indicator of impact (on native bird
In their desire to get close to nature land cover in the U.S., the Wisconsin and species) than human population,”
by building lakeside cottages and homes Forest Service team was able to sketch a Lepczyk explains.
in the woods, Americans may very well broad picture of human pressures on na- The study results portray an increase
be hastening the decline of many native tive forest bird species. in exotic bird and generalist species, such
bird species that breed in forest habitats. “We have found in the Midwestern as European starlings, pigeons, crows and
The development boom in the United States that as land cover becomes jays, as a consequence of increased hous-
nation’s rural areas is putting increasing more human dominated, the number of ing density on the rural landscape.
pressure on forest ecosystems, and the species declines,” says Lepczyk, who led What clearly puts some native forest
resulting decline in native vegetation and a team that examined the roles of land species at risk is the outright loss of
the increase in human activity - ranging cover and housing density on 137 species wooded habitats as roads and lawns re-
from all-terrain vehicle use to predatory of birds, native and exotic. Of those, 37 place native vegetation, says Pidgeon.
pets roaming the woods - is putting more species were affected negatively by hu- Not only does such development shrink
and more native birds at risk, according mans, while 13 species had positive rela- available breeding habitat, but it also
to research presented Aug. 4, at the an- tionships and 23 species exhibited a mix opens corridors for bird predators such
nual meeting of the Ecological Society of adverse effects and benefits from hu- as raccoons and skunks. Lawns also pro-
of America in Portland, Ore. man shaping of the landscape. vide foraging areas for brown-headed
The research, conducted by a team “This mirrors nationwide results pre- cowbirds, parasitic birds that lay eggs in
of scientists from the University of Wis- viously reported by Audubon,” says other birds’ nests.
consin-Madison and the U.S. Forest Ser- Pidgeon. “Roads provide access and increased
vice, details broad patterns of birds’ re- Now, Pidgeon has expanded the study edges that nest predators including jays
sponse to housing growth and land cover to begin to examine how the pressures of and crows use,” Pidgeon says, “and we
change in the lower 48 United States. housing growth and land cover change know from the work of others that an in-
The bottom line, according to UW- have altered bird populations during the crease in predation accompanies an in-
Madison researchers Anna Pidgeon and past 30 years across the 48 contiguous crease in housing density” as the domes-
Chris Lepczyk, is that as rural forested United States. “We are seeing geographic ticated animals that accompany humans,
landscapes are developed and parsed by clusters within the U.S. where some spe- cats and dogs in particular, exact a heavy
roads and openings for new houses, cies populations are increasing, which we toll on native forest bird species.
many native bird species are at risk as suspect is due to increases in both gener- What’s more, human activities, such
deep forest breeding habitat is perfo- alist and exotic species,” says Pidgeon. as the growing use of all-terrain vehicles
rated. While human population has grown and the replacement of native vegetation
Using data from the Breeding Bird significantly across the continental United with exotic and ornamental plants, re-
Survey, a broad-based effort to monitor States since the 1970s, Lepczyk says the duces cover and food resources for na-
bird populations across North America, number of houses sprouting up in previ- tive birds.
the researchers looked at changes in the ously undeveloped areas is likely having Native species like house wrens, rob-
a greater impact than the raw number of ins and catbirds can benefit from human
changes to the landscape, but species like
the scarlet tanager and some warblers
Morning on the Marsh campout offered depend on large, contiguous tracts of for-
BABCOCK, Wis. — People can get est to successfully reproduce.
dry clothing and foot gear, and should
a close up and personal view of thousands Humans, according to Pidgeon and
bring binoculars, cameras and tents if they
of sandhill cranes, geese and other wa- Lepczyk, can benefit some birds by es-
have them. The Skills Center can provide
terfowl that stage at the expansive tablishing feeding stations, sources of
binoculars, tents and associated camping
Gallegher Marsh complex in Sandhill water and nesting boxes. But the in-
gear upon request, and will provide Sat-
Wildlife Area at the Sandhill Outdoor creased density of housing, especially in
urday supper and Sunday lunch.
Skills Center’s annual “Morning on the northern deciduous forests, is having a
Registration is limited to 20 people on
Marsh” camp-out on Oct. 2 and 3. net negative impact.
a first-come, first-served basis and is con-
Participants should plan to arrive by “Whole species, like the Cerulean
firmed by mailing in a registration fee of
2 p.m. on Saturday and will depart by 11 Warbler, could be in jeopardy if we don’t
$25 per person by Sept. 24.
a.m. Sunday preserve enough large tracts of mature
Checks should be made out to DNR-
Campers must provide their own deciduous forest. The $64,000-question
sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and warm, See MARSH, page 4 is how much is enough?” says Pidgeon.
Major birding effort gets Coulee support
Coulee Region Audubon stalwart The three “extra” routes were to provide tal U.S. and southern Canada. More in-
Lennie Lichter, who maintains our some protection against problems that formation about the BBS can be found at
website, has received recognition from were likely to be encountered. Through- h t t p : / / w w w. p w r c . u s g s . g o v / b b s /
leading Wisconsin birder Noel Cutright out the “Campaign” he paid all his ex- index.html.
for helping Cutright with his 30-day penses out-of-pocket, and all of the Most states now have Important Bird
birding and fund-raising event this sum- money he raised goes toward bird con- Areas (IBA) programs. IBAs are sites that
mer. servation, specifically the Important Bird provide habitat essential for breeding,
Cutright, who spent the entire 30 days Areas program. feeding, wintering, or migration of one
of June birding, said that he wouldn’t “I wanted to do this to raise aware- or more bird species. IBAs may be large
have exceeded his goal of raising $30,000 ness of the value of long-term bird moni- or small and either publicly or privately
without his web site that Lichter designed toring projects like the BBS and the criti- owned, sharing characteristics such as
and operated. “Sending Lennie almost cal need to do more for bird conserva- high bird diversity, threatened or endan-
daily updates wasn’t always easy; I was tion; I did it for the birds,” Cutright re- gered species, or the presence of unusu-
in some pretty remote areas,” commented marked. “In my wildest dreams I never ally large numbers of birds. To be desig-
Cutright. imagined completing all 33 routes con- nated an IBA, a site is nominated and then
Cutright was attempting to conduct secutively, with all the potential pitfalls evaluated based on standard scientific
30 North American Breeding Bird Sur- that are out there – rain, wind, impass- criteria to ensure its significance to birds.
veys (BBS) in celebration of his more able roads, car problems, oversleeping, Audubon chapters, scientists, and the
than 30 years of participating in the BBS and others.” general public may nominate sites. Rec-
- with a goal of personally raising The Breeding Bird Survey roadside ognition of an IBA does not confer any
$30,000 to help bird conservation. routes conducted by Cutright are part of legal or regulatory status and is entirely
Cutright succeeded in this endeavor, a Federal program started in 1966 to voluntary.
christened the “Quad 30 Campaign,” rais- monitor the status and trends of North The Important Bird Areas Program is
ing more than $36,000 to-date. American bird populations. The survey directed in the U. S. by the National
Cutright - who serves as chair of the relies on participants skilled in bird iden- Audubon Society and is coordinated in-
Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative’s tification. Each route is 24.5 miles long, ternationally in more than 120 countries
Important Bird Areas committee and is with stops at 0.5-mile intervals. At each by BirdLife International. There are more
immediate past-president of the Wiscon- stop a 3-minute count is conducted; ev- than 1,500 IBAs identified throughout the
sin Society for Ornithology - covered 33 ery bird seen or heard within a 0.25-mile U.S.
BBS routes in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michi- radius is recorded. Surveys start 30 min- To read about Cutright’s unique ex-
gan, and Minnesota. The first route was utes before sunrise, must be done under perience or to contribute to his Quad 30
completed in Ohio on May 30, and a suitable weather conditions, and take al- Campaign, please visit http://
Wisconsin BBS on July 1 concluded the most 5 hours to complete. Over 4,100
field effort – 33 consecutive BBS routes! BBS routes are located across continen-

Planning begins for 2nd Mississippi Flyway Festival

Based on the success of the first Mis- migration. The 2004 festival attracted nearly 100
sissippi Flyway Birding Festival, a com- Coulee Region Audubon was one of participants from seven states. About 30
mittee has started planning for a second the major partners in the first event, pro- volunteers donated their time to making
event next May. viding both volunteers and financial over- the event a success.
Craig Thompson, chair of the com- sight for the commitee. The festival included guided field
mittee that planned the first festival held Gretchen Skoloda, co-chair of the trips all three days, a picnic and speaker
April 30-May 2 this year, said that the fund raising subcommittee, praised the on Friday evening and a social event at
committee would welcome additioinal local tourism community for strong sup- the Pump House on Saturday evening that
volunteers. Contact Bonnie Koop at the port of the event. Sponsor donations and included live music, a nature photogra-
local Audubon office (784-2992) if you fees from this year’s registrants has left phy show and slide presentations.Birding
are interested in helping to build the repu- the event in a strong financial position to sessions by motor boat and a canoe and
tation of the La Crosse/Upper Miss re- continue its mission o f providing a ex- kayak birding tour were offered in addi-
gion as a premier birding area. cellent birdingn experience for partici- tion to guided hikes.
Thompson said that the planners are pants and raising the awareness of the im- A similar format is likely for the 2005
studying a proposal to hold the 2005 portance of birding and bird habitat event. Suggestions as to changes or ad-
event the second weekend in May, thus among the residents and communities ditions would be welcome. Send them to
placing it in the peak period of the spring along the river. Bonnie Koop <>.

See CHICAGO, page 4

MARSH from page 2
Skills Center. Include the name of each dhill Outdoor Skills Center, PO Box 156, <>. More
participant, and the address and daytime Babcock, WI 54413. information on the Sandhill Outdoor
phone number of one person in each Inquiries on the status of registrations Skills Center can be found on the DNR
party. Send your registration fee to: San- may be sent via e-mail to: Web site.

PRESIDENT BOARD MEMBER YES, please enroll me as a member of the Coulee
Bobbie Wilson Mark Webster Region Chapter (Z19) of the National Audubon
608-788-8831 608-787-6398. Society at the introductory rate of $20 for one year
BOARD MEMBER or $35 for two years. Membership benefits include
VICE PRESIDENT Emily Campbell The Coulee Birder and Audubon Magazine.
Gretchen Skoloda 608-534-5548
608-781-7502 Name______________________________________
TREASURER Bonnie Koop Address ____________________________________
Mary Sullivan (608) 784-2992 or e-mail at
City _________________________St ___ Zip _______
SECRETARY Dave and Gretchen Skoloda Mail along with your check to:
Pat Heim 608-781-7502 NAS Membership Data Service
608-784-2083 P.O. Box 51005, Boulder, CO 80323-1003