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Coulee Birder

Newsletter of the Coulee Region Audubon Society


November-December 2005
Events President’s notebook
Coulee Region Audubon meetings
are held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednes- Seeking views on flyway festival
day of the month in the lower level of BY BOBBIE WILSON joy. Coulee Audubon is also heavily rep-
the Ho Chunk building, 724 Main resented on the steering committee, with
Mississippi Flyway Birding Festi-
Street, La Crosse. more than two-thirds being chapter of-
val—The Next Generation. The Missis-
November 16 - ficers and members. Another crucial key
sippi Flyway Birding Festival may be
In May and June of 2004, Noel to the success of this festival, however,
approaching a crossroads in its short
Cutright celebrated his 30 years of run- has been the support of National
ning Breeding Bird Surveys by doing Audubon’s Upper Mississippi River
One of our proudest recent accom-
what many said was impossible. He set Campaign, in the form and person of one
plishments as a chapter has been Coulee
out to run 30 BBSs in 30 consecutive days Bonnie Koop. Without her energy and
Audubon’s active involvement in the two
within the boundaries of four Midwest- time on event-related tasks— especially
past birding festivals, with a third an-
ern states. He planned this as a fundraiser tracking registrations, dealing with pro-
nual event planned for this coming May.
for bird conservation - in this case all of spective and registered attendees, and
Our organization’s nonprofit status and
the money raised went to the Important acting as communications central— this
our mailing permit have enabled the
Bird Areas (IBA) program. otherwise volunteer-led event might have
festival’s steering committee to produce
At this month's meeting, Noel will
and advertise this regional nature-ori-
present a slide show of pictures he took See NOTEBOOK, page 2
ented event that many have come to en-
during his campaign as well as a talk de-
scribing his fascinating trip, the birds that
he found and the results that he achieved. Audubon trash pickers
December 17 -
The annual Christmas Bird Count will clean up along Interstate 90
be held on Saturday, December 17. Rick
Kinzie is again organizing the event. Vol-
By MARK WEBSTER collected and left along the side of the
highway for the Minnesota DOT high-
unteers are welcome as we have not had way crew to pick up. Because we had
A beautiful, sunny day greeted us on
sufficient volunteers in the last few years seven people helping, we even had time
Saturday, Oct.22nd for our Fall Adopt-a-
to cover some areas that we would like to pick up the median strip! Along with
Highway Trash Pick up. Seven dedicated
to include. If you have a few hours or all the usual mix of soda cans & plastic
volunteers spent about 2 1/2 hours, on
day, contact Rick at (608) 734-3136 or bottles, beer cans & bottles, and assorted
what was forecasted to be a cold, wet,
at He will be assigning paper wrappings & plastic bags, were two
raw day (the weatherman can be wrong
areas to individuals or groups to cover. types of trash that may indicate several
like this anyday) picking up litter in beau-
The count will be followed by a pot trends, one good and one bad.
tiful sunshine and temperatures that
luck dinner at 5:30 at the home of Mike There appeared to be a large increase
reached the low 50s. The area was along
and Laura Furr, W5324 Cty MM, La in the number of individual milk contain-
a two mile stretch of Interstate 90 &
Crosse. Directions: Take Hwy 14 to MM.
Highway 61 from Dresbach to Dakota,
Go up the big hill. Their home is on the See TRASH, page 3
MN. A total of 36 bags of trash were
left near the top of the hill. Their lane
makes an acute angle from MM and
through a dense pine plantation.
Please bring a dish to pass. Both the We need your contributions of material for the Audubon newsletter.
count and pot luck are open to non-mem- Please send your suggestions for articles, news of events and other
things birders need to know. Deadline for copy is the third Friday of
bers. the month preceding publication. The next deadline wiill be Dec. 16.
January 18, 2006 - Annual Meeting, Send information to: or by mail to Newsletter,
pot luck and slide show. W6396 Riverview Drive, Onalaska, WI 54650.
FeederWatch project begins in November
Project Feeder Watch begins in No- made the project part of their winter feeder ter being introduced into the Bahamas,
vember and people of all ages and skill watching. Their participation helps scien- the dove, a native of the Indian sub-con-
levels are welcome to participate. tists monitor bird populations. tinent, has spread over nearly two-thirds
David Bonter, of the Cornell Lab of For example, last year’s season of the continental United States.
Ornithology, leader of the Feeder Watch showed the inexorable march of an inva- To learn more about Project
program, says that more than 10,000 sive species, the Eurasian Collared Dove. FeederWatch or to register, log onto
participants across North Amrica have According to Bonter, a few years af- or call the lab
toll-free at (800) 843-2473.
New species of dragonfly Cost of particpation is $15.
In other news. the Cornell Lab of Or-
discovered in Wisconsin nithology has annoucned that the defini-
tive reference on more than 700 species
By WisDNR specimen collected by Smith in Eau Claire of North American birds, some 18,000
MADISON – Six years after the County in 1989. The 1.8-inch dragonfly pages of the Birds of North America are
original specimen was collected along also goes by the common name of sand now available via The Birds of North
the banks of Wisconsin’s Eau Claire snaketail. America Online at http://
River, the scientific community has of- This is the second new dragonfly spe-
ficially recognized a new species of cies discovered by Smith who collected Cost of the service is $40 per year.
dragonfly discovered by a state Depart- an undecided species in the St. Croix The service includes video clips that
ment of Natural Resources biologist. River in 1989. The 1989 find was even- show the bird behaviors you are reading
A medium-sized insect with an im- tually named Ophiogomphus susbehcha about, recordings of bird vocalizaations
pressive name, Ophiogomphus smithi in 1993 with a common name of Saint and image galleries with close-up views
(pronounced smith-eye), is named after Croix snaketail. “Susbehcha” is Lakota of plumages, nests, eggs and habitats,
its discoverer, William Smith, a biolo- for dragonfly. Interested persons can go to http://
gist with the DNR Bureau of Endangered Dragonfly larvae in Wisconsin are or call (866)
Resources. Originally thought to be an found in almost any reasonably clean 924-7362.
example of an already-named dragonfly water body with permanent or seasonal
species, the determination of O. smithi open water. While many common showy Audubon president
species of adult dragonflies are associated
as a distinct species was confirmed when calls for action
two other entomologists in the mid 1990s
recognized important differences in the
See DRAGONFLY, page 4 on river management
Letter to the NY Times Editor by John
NOTEBOOK from page 1 Flicker, President of National Audubon
Society August 31, 2005
“New Orleans is paying a deadly
collapsed under the weight of the work The steering committee would wel- price for decades of mismanagement of
involved. come input and ideas from our chapter. the Mississippi River. But New Orleans
Now Bonnie’s attention is being di- The Board will deal with this topic, among didn't cause the problem alone, and it
rected to other projects. The geographic others, at its next meeting, at 6:00 on can't solve it alone. The Louisiana coast
area for establishing and mapping Wednesday, November 16, prior to the is sinking and vulnerable because so
birding trails along the river— a key part regularly scheduled Coulee Audubon much of the natural sediment needed to
of her work on the Campaign— has been meeting. Members with thoughts to share replenish coastal wetlands is trapped up-
enlarged. It makes sense that her role or who want to learn more are welcome stream by 29 dams and thousands of
in birding festivals should be to inspire to attend. Next, festival steering commit- miles of levees from Minnesota to the
their creation and help get them tee members will join us at February’s gulf. What little sediment reaches Loui-
“fledged.” But now this La Crosse area board meeting to work on this some more. siana is then routed away from the coast
festival is like the baby bird that has to The Mississippi Flyway Birding Festival by an Army Corp of Engineers naviga-
learn to fend for itself. In future years, is a great event that seems to accomplish tion canal. The solution requires chang-
can we manage without Bonnie? Would worthwhile awareness and conservation ing how the entire river is managed. That
we hire someone to do her work? How objectives. Whatever form it may take takes cooperation from 10 states, and
would the event remain affordable? in the future, your active involvement will leadership from Washington.”
Should we simplify the event so it is help ensure its success. Let us hear from
manageable by volunteers? What about you!
partnering with another agency?
Details cited in process of confirming
sighting of Ivory Billed Woodpecker
NEWSWISE - On April 25, 2004, viewed the researchers’ rationale for Also, using models of ivory-billed
University of Arkansas researcher David claiming that the video captured an ivory- woodpeckers, scenes were reenacted with
Luneau accidentally kept a video cam- billed woodpecker. Though blurry, the an out-of-focus camera, revealing a strik-
era running as his canoe drifted through video shows the bird’s outlines and black ing similarity to the actual video. Frames
a bayou in the Big Woods of Arkansas and white coloring, he said. from a video of a pileated woodpecker
— and recorded an ivory-billed wood- The main difference between ivory- model were shown for comparison.
pecker. The video, blurry because the re- billed and pileated woodpeckers is in the Other evidence is that in one segment
corder was on auto focus, was the main placement of the black and white color- of the Luneau video, a large bird partially
piece of evidence featured online in an ing, especially on the wings, and accounts peeks out from behind a tree trunk, show-
April 25 Science Express paper claim- for why an untrained eye may easily mis- ing a portion of its white wing. Research-
ing the rediscovery of the woodpecker, take a pileated for an ivory-billed wood- ers from the Lab of Ornithology placed a
once thought to be extinct. While skep- pecker. On an ivory-billed woodpecker, stuffed ivory-billed woodpecker on the
tics have refuted the video, claiming that white feathers run along the trailing back actual tree where the video was shot to
it shows a pileated woodpecker, Cornell edges of its spread wings, while black show that the white corresponds to the
University researchers are standing feathers trail along a pileated white outer wing of the perched bird.
firmly by the video as evidence of the woodpecker’s wings, from the bird’s Still, skeptics claimed this could be the
existence of the ivory-billed woodpecker. body all the way to its wing tips. underwing of a pileated woodpecker ex-
Ken Rosenberg, director of the Rosenberg showed frames from the tending from behind the trunk and reveal-
Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Conserva- Luneau video, indicating that only white ing white feathers. To counter this claim,
tion Science Program, offered a frame- feathers were visible along the broad Lab of Ornithology members in Arkan-
by-frame analysis of Luneau’s video at trailing edge of both the underwing and sas physically measured the tree trunk
the American Ornithologists’ Union upperwing. To show the differences, the that appeared in the video, Rosenberg
Meeting at the University of California- video frames were compared with blurry explained. They also measured a roost-
Santa Barbara, in August.. Rosenberg re- frames of pileated woodpeckers. ing cavity from a 1935 photo of an ivory-
bill. Using the actual tree trunk and cav-
ity, which the lab has in its possession,
TRASH from page 1 the researchers were able to take the rela-
tive measurements from the images and
ers; you know, the plastic 8 to 12 oz. type snagged reptile swaying back and forth make absolute measurements of the bird’s
sold at convenience stores, or more re- as the eagle flew low over the treetops. wings.
cently in school vending machines. There was also one roadside ash tree with While the distance from the pileated
Maybe this is indicative of an increase in 4 Cedar Waxwings perched on its leaf- woodpecker’s wrist (part of the ulna, one
milk consumption by people who litter or, less branches, basking in the sunshine. of the wing bones) to tail-tip measures
more seriously, an increase in milk con- On the other side of the tree, 4 White- 29 centimeters (11.4 inches) on average,
sumption by young people who are choos- breasted Nuthatches were busily probing the wrist-to-tail tip distance in the video
ing milk instead of soda. The second trend for food in the rough bark. Behind that reaches a full 35 centimeters (13.8
deals with a rather large quantity of empty tree was a large conifer filled with Red- inches), which is in the upper range for
cold-medicine packages found. Specifi- winged Blackbirds singing away, ivory-bills. The size of the wing ruled out
cally, these were empty packages of grouped up, ready for migration, and en- that the frames were of a pileated wood-
pseudoephedrine used to make Metham- joying some lovely October sunshine. I pecker, Rosenberg said. When one audi-
phetamine. This is the first time these have think we all enjoyed being out there on ence member asked about sightings of
been found to my knowledge, and not a such a beautiful day and doing something pileated woodpeckers with extra white on
good trend. good for the environment. I know I did! their wings, Rosenberg said that he and
It was a good morning though, and our Thank You to the other volunteers his colleagues were aware of molting
heads weren’t always looking down for who helped out (several for the first time): pileated woodpeckers that lose some of
the next discarded piece of litterbug de- Tim Collins & his granddaughter Jenna; their black feathers, revealing more
light. Looking up into the bright sunshine, Denise Edmunds and her daughter Patty; white. But, he added, he has never heard
6 Bald Eagles were soaring above the John Schuppel; and my energetic wife of such molting occurring symmetrically,
Minnesota bluffs. At least two appeared Marilyn. It was a true group effort. as the wings in the Luneau video appear.
to be juveniles. One juvenile looked like “We think the body of evidence con-
it had a large snake in its talons, the Mark Webster, Coordinator firms the presence of at least one ivory-
billed woodpecker,” said Rosenberg.
DRAGONFLY from page 2
with small ponds, cat-tail/bulrush tional stream dragonfly fauna. A few are “They’re an important part of a
marshes, and sedge marshes, several spe- found in seasonal ponds that fill with stream ecosystem,” says Smith.
cies prefer specific types of wetlands and spring rains and dry up over the summer.
bodies of water. Wisconsin has an excep-
Coulee Region Audubon Society
Contacts Local Membership
Bobbie Wilson Dan Jackson [ ] $15 Household [ ] $30 Supporting
608-788-8831 608-483-2271
[ ] I'd like to receive the newsletter electronically
Gretchen Skoloda Kurt Brownell Name______________________________________
608-781-7502 608-269-6124 Address ____________________________________

TREASURER AUDUBON OFFICE City _________________________St ___ Zip _______

Mary Sullivan Bonnie Koop
608-785-7095 (608) 784-2992 or e-mail at
Email ____________________________________
Mail with your check to:
Mark Webster Dave and Gretchen Skoloda PO Box 2573
608-787-6398. 608-781-7502 La Crosse, WI 54602-2573 Thank you!

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