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APRIL 2000



NEXT MEETING: April This month is our biannual auction meeting and as usual for this meeting, it will be held in the Community Room at the Buchanan Library in Mansfield Center. Items to be auctioned off may be viewed from 7 to 7:30. Bruce Carver will be the auctioneer this year. As always there will be wonderful "bird-related" items to purchase. (Sometimes the connection to birds can be very creative and remote at best!) Mark Szantyr has donated some original art work to the auction; there are often lots of books and magazines. At the March meeting, we voted to earmark any money that is earned this year to purchase a slide projector for the club. Please come and contribute items to be auctioned off and have fun. (If you have something to contribute and are unable to attend the meeting, call Bruce Carver and arrangements can be made to pick items up or they can be dropped off at his store, With A Wink And A Smile in Willimantic.) But it's more fun if there are a lot of people at the meeting. Also, as usual at this meeting, donations of wine or cheese and crackers will be greatly appreciated.

Bruce says, " Bring your wallet and your sense of humor."

FIELD TRIPS: Monday April 17, at 7 pm. Annual walk to observe the mating dance of the American Woodcock. Meet at the parking lot at the levee of the Mansfield Hollow Dam on Route 6 in North Windham and we will travel to a location where we can watch and hear them. Please call Sam Higgins at 455-0063 if you plan to attend this trip.

Sunday April 30, Bruce Carver will lead the annual local walk to see what Neo-tropical migrants have arrived and which lingering winter species can be found. Meet at the Town Hall in Storrs and be prepared to leave promptly at 7 am for this half day trip. Bruce intends to end at 1 pm, but if the birds are being cooperative there will be an option to stay out longer.

Directions: The Audrey Beck Mansfield Town Hall is located near the intersection of Routes 275 and 195 in Storrs. Meet at the south parking lot; the one nearest the traffic light on the corner.

From Margaret Rubega: "This takes just a half a minute a day, and helps save the Rainforests. The son of a friend of a colleague (whew) put this site together with these people and their sponsors. You simply go to the site once a day, or whenever you can, and click "Save the Rainforest," and the sponsors of the site give money based on the number of people who click each day. "

If you have subscribed to the NOS listserve you already know that Chris Ephlick has seen an eagle flying over his house in Eagleville, that the Seebers are seeing a Saw-whet Owl "in the usual place" and that Bruce Carver has found a Lesser Scaup, a Northern Pintail and 12 snipe at Pleasant Valley Road. If you want to subscribe also, go to the NOS web page and click on e-mail list and find the instructions you will find there. The more of us that are reporting sightings the more exciting this will become.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is asking for your help with three projects this spring. One, Birds in Forested Landscapes" is interested in learning "how much forest is enough to make sure the birds we know and love will be around for our kids enjoy." The Birdhouse Network will study birdhouse observations "for science and conservation" by observing nesting data and Project Pigeon Watch will teach children how to observe and record data of common urban birds. If you are interested in more information about any or all of these studies, please call 1-800/843-2473 or e-mail at They may be found on the internet at

The Migrants Return

With the migrant birds returning, an old, old question presents itself again. Why do they come back?

Migration has baffled man for a long time. We now know far more about it than ever before, but most of our knowledge is about the how rather than the why. The way birds migrate rather than the why, the way birds migrate rather than the their reasons. We speculate about food supply, and nesting habits, and living space, and even about the ways dispersion benefits the species and the effect of climate on fertility and growth. We know a great deal about flyways and migration routes, and we can chart schedules by the weather maps. But all such knowledge still leaves the basic question unanswered.

Why should hummingbirds return all the way from Central America? Certainly not because they are crowded there, nor because they are hungry for the nectar from bee balm and jewelweed. Why do the swallows return? Northern mosquitoes surely are no more tasty or nourishing than those that breed in Southern swamps. Why should orioles come back? Merely to hang their nests in Northern elms?

The migrants filter in and begin to sing. And as the chorus grows, all through April, the puzzle becomes more baffling. The birds sound almost exuberant. They sing like exiles returning to a beloved homeland. And none of the explanations really explain. They flew away last fall, and now they are coming back, as they have done for eons. We still don't know why, but we welcome them.

Hal Borland

N Y Times 4/21/65