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Volume 2, Issue 4††††††††††††††††††† Natchaug Ornithological Society's Newsletter†††††††† December 2001









The meeting will be held on December 7th.Refreshments will be provided by Carol Sutton will be at 7 pm and the meeting will start at 7:30 pm.The presentation will be given by Bob Craig.



Bird Surveys


What are bird counts you ask?Bird counts are surveys that occur at a certain time in a certain region and the participants identify and count all the birds that they see.We have two equally important counts that will be occurring this month:The Christmas Bird Count and the Trailwood Count.The Trailwood Count is a more local count and the Christmas Count is a nationwide survey.According to the USGS, "the CBC 'is the oldest and largest wildlife survey in the world' (Butcher 1990). The National Audubon Society sponsors the survey and publishes results. It is designed as a series of circular count areas, and birders count birds within these 'circles' each year on a pre-specified day around 25 December. With lots of circles (over 1,500) and a long history (the CBC was started in 1900), it is hard to dispute Greg Butcher's 'oldest and largest' label for the survey (Butcher 1990)".According to many birders, counts are a) one of the funniest times to go out and survey the area by yourself or with friends b) a way to give back to birding by donating your time in a nation wide survey of the birds c) a time to competitively see how many species/birds you can find in one day in a certain area and compare your results to other or to your results in previous years d) a day for a beginner to join a more experienced birder in the field in a joint venture geared to identifying every single bird seen that day, it can be an incredible learning experience.Whatever your reason, please join us and participate in either one or both of these counts.The more the merrier and it is guaranteed to be a good day.How can a day birding really be anything but, and what could be better than birding for a cause and with the recent weather patterns it looks like they will be good days in general.

Christmas Bird Count

The CBC will be held December 15th this year.If you have not already signed up for this event and would like to do so please contact Steve Rogers at the meeting or give him a call at 429-1259.

Trailwood Count

The Trailwood Count will occur on December 30th.If you wish to be involved with this one, please contact Sam Higgins at 455-0063.





Field Trips


Date††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Location

January 12th†††††††††††††††††† Daniel Webster, MA

January 21st†††††††††††††††††† Moose Bog, VT or White Mtns, NHdepends upon boreal species sightings

February††††††††††††††††††††††† CT River Ė Bald Eagles

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Cape Ann Ė Tentative overnight trip

March††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Rhode Island Shore

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Pelagic

April†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Local Areas- Bruce

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Northwest Park, Windsor

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Forsythe Natíl Wildlife Refuge, NJ

May††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Local Area

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† White Memorial

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Jamaica Bay, NY

July/August††††††††††††††††† Sandy Point, CT


Future Counts


May††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† May Count

June††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† June Breeding Bird Count








Itís only a Merlin


Date: 11/10/01 we left Hampton 7:20 got up to Salisbury about 10:17 am and returned to Hampton around 7 pm. Weather: 40's, slightly windy but clear. Location:Salisbury, MA, Sea wall area, Plum Island north point for lunch then National Wildlife Refuge


Almost as soon as we began to bird at Salisbury, MA we found a flock of 10 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS.We were soon in the midst of a roving band of no less than a 100 of them.There were times when you barely needed your glasses to see the bills crossing.We birded in the area for at least an hour.We saw a Merlin fly by and were very excited.After having seen a beautiful NORTHERN HARRIER, we thought we were looking at a dark American Kestrel on one of the poles and it turned out to be another MERLIN. Later on in the day, we met up with another group of birders who were trying to determine if a speck on top of a nest was the Gyrfalcon that was supposed to have been sighted nearby in recent days.It was too far away to identify and so after many valiant squints against the wind we finally gave up.Later, we stopped at an area that had a better vantage point and decided that it was only a MERLIN.We explained to Marcia how much a treat to see so many Merlins and to have such good looks at them it was since they were not that common though there was no evidence of their rarity that day.We were able to get great comparison looks at COMMON LOONS, RED THROATED LOONS and RED-NECKED GREBES.By the end of the day we had seen all three species of SCOTERS.



Species seen:

Rock Dove††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Northern Harrier

European Starling††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† American Goldfinch

American Crow†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Cooper's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ring-billed Gull

Greater Black-backed Gull†††††††††††††††††† Herring Gull

Black-capped Chickadee†††††††††††††††††††† Black Duck

White-winged Crossbills††††††††††††††††††† Red-breasted Nuthatch

Merlin††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Morning Dove

Black-bellied Plover†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† House Sparrow

Double-crested Cormorant†††††††††††††††† Blue Jay

Northern Mockingbird††††††††††††††††††††††† Greater Yellowlegs

Long-billed Dowitcher††††††††††††††††††††††† Bufflehead

Common Loon††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Red-throated Loon

Common Eider††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† White-winged Scoter

Black Scoter††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Horned Grebe

Red-breasted Merganser††††††††††††††††††† Brant

Canada Goose††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Snow Goose

Northern Pintail††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Green-winged Teal

Mallard††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Snowy Egret

Dark-eyed Junco††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Gray Catbird

Surf Scoter††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† House Finch

American Robin†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sanderling†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Northern Gannet

Northern Cardinal††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Common Goldeneye

Ruddy Duck††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ring-necked duck

Scaup sp.





Date:11/18/01 we left Storrs at 7:15 and returned at 5pm.The weather was absolutely gorgeous; a little chilly and windy to begin with and ending up in the mid 50ís.Location: the Thames River with stops also at Smith's Cove, Harkness Memorial and Hammonasset state parks.


To be succinct, the day was fabulous.Marcia and myself both needed to come home early and it was onlyby a herculean force of will that we only stayed out a little less than an hour more than what we initially wanted.At the endof the day we had to tear ourselves away from LAPLAND LONGSPURS, SNOW BUNTINGS and HORNED LARKS at Hammonasett State Park.At one point there, our car was surrounded by a tight group of thousands of flying EUROPEAN STARLINGS.I am not usually a fan of introduced species and support aggressive management techniques of them, but sitting there and listening to these birds fly around you was pretty cool.It was the same feeling we had the week before with the crossbills, but much more intense.††



Species seen:

Rock Dove††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† European Starling

Black-capped Chickadee†††††††††††††††††††† American Crow

Ring-billed Gull†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Herring Gull

Double-crested Cormorant†††††††††††††††† Blue Jay

Sharp-shinned Hawk†††††††††††††††††††††††††† American Goldfinch

Downy Woodpecker†††††††††††††††††††††††††† Northern Mockingbird

Black Duck††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Bufflehead

Morning Dove††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Common Loon

White-breasted Nuthatch†††††††††††††††††† House Finch

Great Blue Heron††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Mute Swan

Greater Black-backed Gull†††††††††††††††††† Song Sparrow

House Sparrow†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Northern Cardinal

Red-tailed Hawk†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Cedar Waxwings

Hooded Mergansers†††††††††††††††††††††††††† Northern Harrier

Black-bellied Plover†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† American Tree Sparrow

Common Merganser††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Great Cormorant

Turkey Vulture†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Killdeer

Snow Bunting†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Red-throated Loon

Lapland Longspur†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Horned Lark

Tufted Titmouse††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Carolina Wren

Dark-eyed Junco††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Fox Sparrow

White-winged Scoter††††††††††††††††††††††††† Brown-headed Cowbird

Red-winged Blackbird††††††††






Thanks for your help


BySarah Hume


Last year, I requested the help from N.O.S. to participate in the beta test of a survey that Doug and myself had composed for research projects.My part of the survey was to be used for the completion of my Masterís in environmental studies from California State University, Fullerton.Yes, it was a long commute.†† During the beta test, many of you submitted extremely helpful comments that helped refine the survey into a very effective tool.Instead of including the Rare Bird Alerts this month, (I just didnít have the time) I thought I would share with you what I had learned about them through my research.One thing that I did learn, outside of the survey, was that writing about birding during spring and fall migration rather being out in the field actually birding is a certain form of masochistic torture. Thanks again to everyone that helped on the project.Below is the abstract to the paper.


This project examined the relationship between birderís use of electronic rare bird alerts and how their birding behaviors impact local community economies.A web-based survey was devised and conducted to understand how knowledge regarding rare birds is transferred through the Internet and how subsequent birdersí behavior and spending habits might change.The survey had 77 questions, some with multiple parts, divided into: demographics, birding background, use of non-electronic and electronic rare bird alerts, economics and identity.Identity results are presented elsewhere.To be able to reach the population of birders that use electronic bird alerts, a request to advertise the survey was sent to as many North American alert listserv owners as could be found.From 9 April 2000 to 24 April 2000, the survey was posted on a web site that automatically presented survey questions and scored the answers, and 632 valid responses were received.The respondents came from almost every state in the United States as well as several other nations.Through the use of principal component analysis, the population of respondents was found to be one group with large amounts of variation rather than distinct separate groups.The Internet respondents were demographically similar to other birder samples, but were slightly younger (average age = 46.0) and more ethnically diverse than other studies of birders (Asian-American = 2.0%, Eurasian-American = 92.2%, and Hispanic-American = 1.2%).Results indicated that the rarer a bird, the greater the distance a birder was willing to travel to see it.Also, birders using the Internet checked the electronic rare bird alerts from more places more frequently (every other day) than non-electronic rare bird alerts (1.7 times a month).Although Internet usage did not appear to change the frequency a birder went into the field, it did influence where the birders chose to go and thus where they spent their money.Birders spend money in a wide variety of venues.Per month, the birders spent the most money on transportation and eating expenses. As more of the birding community becomes connected to the Internet, more birders will utilize the Internet to help determine where they go birding.Communities and localities that are better connected to this part of the Internet should be able to attract more birders and thus increase their impact into the local economies.