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NEXT MEETING: Friday May 7 at the Unitarian Fellowship on Spring Hill Road in Storrs. John Himmelman will present a slide lecture on butterflies of Connecticut. He will discuss what species are to be expected, when and where as well as the status of the Connecticut Butterfly Atlas which has been in progress for several years. Bruce Carver has agreed to bring refreshments. The meeting will begin at 7:30, with refreshments at 7. This will be the last regular meeting this year; there will be a tally meeting at the Fellowship after the May Count (see below for details). The next regularly scheduled meeting will be September 10, when a new slate of officers will be elected.

FIELD TRIPS: (Larry Marcus not available so local field trips were unavailable at the time this is being written.)


Bafflin Sanctuary in Pomfret: Morning bird walks every Tuesday morning March 23 - May 25. Every morning from Thursday May 13 - Wednesday May 19; all at 8 am. Saturday May 9, also at 8 am.

Evening bird walks Tuesday May 18 and May 25 at 5 pm. Join property manager, Andy Rzeznikiewicz

as he leads these trips around the Connecticut Audubon property in Pomfret. All walks meet at the

1895 barn at 220 Day Road in Pomfret. These walks are all free.

Thursday, May 20 at 8 am for a Mystery Bird Watching Walk. Meet at the 1895 Barn on Day Road in Pomfret for a ten mile trip to a mystery location that has Cerulean Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, vireos, orioles, and thrushes.

Call 860/928-4041 for more information and directions.

Early Morning Bird Walk atTrailwood Sanctuary in Hampton on Saturday, May 8 from 6-8 am. $3 for members of Connecticut Audubon and $5 for non-members 455-0759 for details.

White Memorial Foundation: Sponsored by the New Haven Bird Club, Saturday May 8, at 8 am. Look for warblers, rails, swallows, hawks, flycatchers, and maybe cuckoos. Call leader, Lee Schleisinger at 914/937-4685 for details and directions.

New Haven Bird Club also has trips to Central Park in New York City (Sunday, May 9)and a weekend trip to Cape Cod (May 15 and 16)planned. Call John Holland at 212/348-4367 or Steve Broker at 203/272-5192, respectively, if you are interested in either of these trips and would like more information.


essage from Bob Pirrie:

Hello everyone—

Just a quick word on the birdathon. It will be held May 14th to 15th, from 8:00pm on the 14th to 8:00pm on the 15th. Details are in the last newsletter. Call me (Bob Pirrie, 429-8784) if you lost the last newsletter and don’t have the info. I will also bring the necessary materials to the May meeting. Just to clear up a little bit of confusion:

  1. The area to be birded is exactly the same as it always has been—Mansfield and towns that border directly on Mansfield. These towns are Willington, Ashford, Chaplin, Windham and Coventry (but not Tolland). The reason for doing this is to keep records for May count comparable between years.
  2. The birdathon begins and ends at 8:00pm, not 12 midnight. This is because it would be difficult finding a place to meet afterward if we went with the later time. We will be meeting at 8:00pm at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House.
  3. It is not necessary to start at 8:00pm the previous night. This starting time is just for people who want to make an all out effort. I personally will be starting at 4:00am on the 15th.
  4. It is also important to remember that it isn’t mandatory that everyone participate in the birdathon aspect of this May count. If you just want to go out that day for a few hours and then come to the 8:00 meeting to say what you saw, that’s o.k. The only difference is that you will not be eligible for the trophy. Outside teams, however, will be asked to participate in the birdathon if they want to be part of the event.
  5. Having said that, I hope that everyone will get into the spirit of this birdathon, pledge some money (just $15/person if you self-pledge), and try to go for the trophy. The money is for a good cause.
  6. If all of this is still unclear, just call me for info (429-8784), or refer to point #4.

I hope everyone has a good time. Happy birding!

The following is the presentation Bob made for The Coalition to Save Horse Barn Hill, at the meeting of the Master Planning Committee April 28. He asked me to include it in this newsletter.

April, 1999

Dr. Karla Fox

Chair, Master Plan Advisory Committee

University of Connecticut

Dear Dr. Fox and Committee Members,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak Wednesday night on the proposed Pfizer research facility, both from myself and from the Natchaug Ornithological Society (NOS), whom I represented. I especially appreciate being given the opportunity to answer questions on the impact of the proposal on bird species. I would like to clarify a few of the points I made in response to those questions.

It is a common misconception that wildlife species can adapt to various changes in their habitats by altering behavior and making do with less. This may be true of some species; indeed, many animals have learned to exist alongside human development quite well. Unfortunately, many species cannot make such adjustments. For species like the american kestrel (a small species of falcon), it is not enough to say that if they have a spot to build a nest and an acre or two to look for food that they will be fine. Species such as this require much more territory to feel secure enough to reside and breed. Many people are surprised when they learn that a particular bird may require several hundred acres of undisturbed land in order to feel safe enough to reproduce. In particular, the kestrel requires an average of 250 acres of territory to breed and an average of 100 acres of territory for non-breeding activities (Stokes, 1979). As regards Horsebarn Hill, the kestrel no doubt already feels pressed by other activities being carried out in that vicinity. One more piece of development, especially one including lighting that might disturb the diurnal rhythm of the kestrel, could be the final straw that drives the bird away from the area permanently.

Imagine if you will, that you are sitting at the breakfast table one morning, feeling a bit unhappy about the condominiums that are being built next door, when a bulldozer drives up onto your lawn and plows down your front porch. The driver seems to take no notice of you as he backs up and takes out the garage. Looking out onto the road, you notice that there are other bulldozers coming, at least two of which appear to be headed for your garden shed. At this point you wisely decide to head out the back door.

It could be said that there is no evidence that the bulldozers will do any further harm to your house; after all, they have only gone after the peripheral parts of the structure. It could also be said that you have no reason to flee; the bulldozers did not wreck your kitchen (although they may have knocked a few dishes to the floor) or your livingroom or den, so the house is still perfectly livable. Yet you did leave, the immediate reason being that your territory was invaded, and that it seemed unlikely that you would be able to continue to live and prosper in your home.

As human beings, we have the capacity to reason out conflicts such as bulldozers attacking our houses. Eventually, you would come back, have the bulldozer drivers arrested, and sue for damages. Birds and other wild creatures do not have this capacity. When development comes, all they know is that a chunk of their territory has been destroyed, that they no longer feel safe, and that it is time to leave and not return.

Where will they go? In all likelihood, nowhere. It is another unfortunate misconception that displaced wildlife will simply find another field or tree somewhere. The problem with this is that habitats have a natural carrying capacity. 250 acres can support one pair of breeding kestrels, no more. If kestrels must leave Horsebarn Hill, any site they find elsewhere (assuming another site exists) is likely to be occupied already. The occupants will not move over to make room—they will chase the interlopers or be chased out themselves (to return to our analogy, it seems unlikely that your neighbors will be kindhearted enough to let you move in with them permanently, should your house be attacked by bulldozers). These occupants may not even be kestrels—interspecies conflicts can and do come into play in these situations.

There are several species of grassland birds that are known to be breeders or have historically bred on Horsebarn Hill—american kestrel, eastern meadowlark, and savannah sparrow, to name a few. Most of these birds, as attested to by the CT DEP, are in trouble in our state. Any environmental assessment performed for this project must, at the very least, address the fate of these birds. I would hope that, in addition, such an assessment would take an honest look at whether further development of Horsebarn Hill is likely to contribute to the extirpation of these birds from our town, and possibly our state. If this project causes the loss of these birds that so many dearly love, it will be a very sad day for myself and the NOS, the town, and the university.

Thank you for reading this letter. Please take these thoughts into consideration when you make your decision.


Yours sincerely,

Robert Pirrie


Natchaug Ornithological Society


CC: Margaret Rubega, Ph.D., State Ornithologist

Stokes, D. W. A Guide to the Behavior of Common Birds. Little, Brown and Company (1979) pp. 50-51.

















BABY WILD ANIMALS….If You Care, Leave Them There

If you see wild animal babies "abandoned" this time of year; it is best to observe them for a couple of hours to see if they are actually abandoned, or if they have simply wandered away from their mother. Often they are not as afraid of humans as they should be and there is actually an anxious parent watching us "rescue" their baby. Keep pets inside and watch carefully before you try to help. As Sue Craig says so eloquently and so often, "put the baby back". If, after a period of time you determine that the baby is actually abandoned, only then call a wildlife rehabilitator. If necessary, it is possible to make a makeshift nest of a plastic container and some grass and put it safely in a tree near where the baby was found. Birds do not have a sense of smell and the parents will usually return and begin tending the baby. Mammals do have an acute sense of smell and are likely to abandon their babies if handled so try not to handle them unless it's absolutely necessary. Also it is illegal to have wildlife in your possession without the proper state and federal permits; so it is often not only better for the animal to be cared for by its parents, it could be better for you, too.

Wildlife parents are the best ones to care for their young so remember that in most cases it is best to "let nature try first."

Local rahab phone numbers: Lutz children's Museum, 643-0949; Bolton Veterinary Hospital, 456-4298; Dorothy Morral, 487-6654.




































Spring migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is under way in the north-central Piedmont of South Carolina. I have been banding hummingbirds here at Hilton Pond near York SC (just south and west of Charlotte NC) since 1984. Although the Piedmont seems NOT to be a hummingbird migratory pathway or staging area, through 1998 I have still managed to capture and band 1,929 RTHU, and have re-trapped many RTHU in subsequent years after banding.

To minimize recapture of banded hummingbirds in my pull-string traps, I am authorized by the federal Bird Banding Lab to mark each bird from York with harmless, non-toxic GREEN dye on the upper breast and throat. (In fact, I use a so-called "permanent" felt-tip marker, but the dye wears or washes

off within a month or so.) This year I am also banding RTHU at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina; these birds are marked with BLUE dye. Last, in early August I band RTHU at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pennsylvania, using BROWN dye.

Because we know little about actual overland migrational pathways for hummingbirds, I would appreciate hearing about any sightings you may have of color-marked hummingbirds during migration this spring and fall.

Color-marking of hummingbirds here at Hilton Pond paid off in October 1991 when a woman in Atlanta saw an "unusual" hummingbird with a green throat and called Bob Sargent, a fellow hummingbird bander from Alabama. Bob drove to Atlanta, trapped the bird, and after reading the band number learned I had banded it in South Carolina. This, to the best of our knowledge, was the first report of a banded Ruby-throated Hummingbird to be recaptured and released away from its original banding site.

In the fall of 1997, a woman in Louisiana, sighted another "green-throated" hummingbird that was likely a female RTHU banded here in York; thissighting further supports the idea that at least some East Coast RTHU migrate not to south Florida but to the Texas Gulf Coast before a trans-Gulf or Mexican overland crossing. This bird may also have been the first "long-distance" sighting of a marked RTHU.

If you see a color-marked hummer, do not attempt to trap it (it's against federal law to do so unless you have a special permit), but please contact me at my personal e-mail address below or at my home phone. If you find a dead banded bird, read the band number and also contact the Bird Banding Lab at 1-800-327-BAND or via their reporting website page at

Thanks for any help you can provide in taking close looks at hummingbirds

at your feeders during the spring of 1999 and again this fall.


(Master Banding Permit #21558)


"The Piedmont Naturalist"

Hilton Pond

1432 DeVinney Road

York, South Carolina


OR . . .


Director of Education & Research

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

6500 South New Hope Road

Belmont, North Carolina 28012

home phone: (803)684-0255

home e-mail:

work phone: (704)825-4490

work e-mail:

work website:



My friend, Jen, has this wonderful poem in her room at school and I wanted to share it with you. Last year we tried to find the author so I could cite him or her and we were unable to do so. This year I typed the first line in a search engine on the internet and found a person that had it quoted on his page. I assumed he was the author and wrote asking his permission to use it. It turned out he was not the author and suggested I print it with "author unknown." Then several weeks later I got an e-mail from him stating that he had found the name of the author and thought I'd be happy to know who it is. So, thanks to the internet and A. Marchand, here it is. I hope you like it.




If the Earth

were only a few feet in

diameter, floating a few feet above

a field somewhere, people would come

from everywhere to marvel at it. People would

walk around it, marveling at its big pools of water,

its little pools and the water floating between the pools.

People would marvel at the bumps on it, and the holes in it,

and they would marvel at the very thin layer of gas surrounding

it and the water suspended in the gas. The people would

marvel at all the creatures walking around the surface of the ball,

and at the creatures in the water. The people would declare it

as sacred because it was the only one, and they would protect it so that it would not be hurt. The ball would be the

greatest wonder known, and the people would come to

pray to it, to be healed, to gain knowledge, to know

beauty and to wonder how it could be. People

would love it, and defend it with their lives

because they would somehow know that

their lives, their own roundness, could

be nothing without it. If the

Earth were only a few

feet in diameter.

by Joe Miller, Moab, Utah