Meadowlark Masthead

The Official Newsletter of the Meadowlark Audubon Society of the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming

Non-member subscriptions of printed copies of this newsletter are available for an annual fee of $6.00 to cover postage and printing.
Make your check out to Meadowlark Audubon and send to: Meadowlark Audubon Newsletter; P.O. Box 2126.; Cody, WY 82414.

Vol. 7, No. 1 -- August 2006

Many thanks to Daryl and Carolyn LeFevre
for providing free photocopying of this newsletter for those who receive it by mail.

Buchanan Wildlife Sanctuary features new ponds, great viewing -- by Julia Smith Lewis

In the early spring, two of our hard-working construction artists created three small shallow ponds to catch subsurface seepage. Backhoe jockey Sean Sheehan pounded the frozen ground to break through the surface while John Ross stood by and kept him lined out.

Even though the continuing drought took its toll on the pond this spring, the hours of backhoe work done by Sean and his loyal assistant, Johnny, have paid dividends as the water came in from the irrigation ditch. Applause please for both of them!

John Stafford and I observed, this spring and summer, the following birds and mammals on the Sanctuary.

BIRDS: Wood Duck drake, Killdeer, sandpipers, meadowlarks, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, gulls, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Canada Geese, Mallards, wigeons, avocets, Red-necked Phalarope, Sandhill Crane adults and one baby, and unidentified baby ducks.

MAMMALS: Mule Deer, prairie dogs, Pronghorn doe with twin fawns, and a Red Fox pair, who reared five kits!!! All this is at the intersection of the Greybull and Meeteetse highways in Cody, for all to enjoy. Evening is a very good time for viewing waterfowl and wildlife visiting the pond. Waves of waterfowl arrive and bathe at the end of the day (200 Canada Geese one recent night).

This sanctuary was set aside by the Rev. Daphne Grimes to honor her parents, Dorothy and George Buchanan.

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Membership Notice

Meadowlark Chapter-Only Memberships Expire August 31st.

Check your mailing label to see your membership expiration date. If you have not sent in your renewal, please take time to do it now. Chapter-Only dues are still only $12.00 per year for either single or family membership. Your dues remain in our local chapter to help pay for local programs and projects.

Make your check out to Meadowlark Audubon and send to:

Joyce Cicco, Membership Chairman
26 North Ridge Drive
Cody, WY 82414
or contact Joyce at:
(307) 527-5030

National Audubon membership renewals:

Please renew your National Audubon membership directly with the national organization.

Not yet a member, but want to join? Meadowlark has two options:

1.) Meadowlark Audubon Society "Chapter Only" Membership - This membership does not include the Audubon magazine. However, all of your dues will remain in the Meadowlark Chapter to help cover the cost of local programs and projects. For the "Chapter Only" membership, send your check, made out to Meadowlark Audubon, to Joyce Cicco at the address above.

The "Chapter Only" membership year begins Sept. 1st, and the annual dues are $12 per year for an individual or a family, plus $1 per month until the new membership year begins. For example, if you are joining in August, your new member dues will be $1 for the month of August, plus $12 for the new membership year of September through the following August, for a total of $13. Thereafter, your membership renewal will be only $12 per year.

2.) National Audubon Membership - To receive the Audubon magazine and become a member of the national organization, send your check, made out to National Audubon, to Joyce Cicco at the address above. A new one-year introductory membership is $20. If you plan to join the national organization, please let our membership chairman send in your dues for you so that our Chapter will receive credit. In addition, you automatically become a member of the local Chapter.

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Win Prizes and help Meadowlark Raise Funds For Conservation Projects

Meadowlark Audubon is currently working on a habitat improvement project at the Buchanan Wildlife Sanctuary in Cody. The sanctuary is located to the east and south of the intersection of the Greybull Highway and the Meeteetse Highway. It is a part of the Beck/Alkali Lake Complex Important Bird Area, where Meadowlark members are doing semiannual waterfowl migration surveys. Reverend Daphne Grimes, owner of the property, has dedicated the shallow seasonal lake and marshland property to benefit wildlife and for the education and enjoyment of the public.

Projects such as these require the expenditure of funds for equipment and materials. Meadowlark has already rented equipment to perform earth work to improve the wetlands. In the future, plans are to build up islands to give birds protection from predators, construct boardwalks and a blind for wildlife viewing, and install interpretive signage to enhance the public's understanding and appreciation of this important area. Volunteers have already been working on this project, and more volunteers will be needed in the future as the plan unfolds.

Here's how you can help.

Meadowlark Audubon is planning to conduct a raffle of donated items beginning at the September meeting and continuing until the final meeting of our club year in May. Items donated thus far include a bird feeder built by woodworking craftsman Harold Perry, two large drawings of birds by artist Marty Speer, one a Bald Eagle and the other a Great Horned Owl, valued at a minimum of $125 each, seven lovely collector's bird plates, an Audubon backpack, a needlepoint picture of a Loon, and a small painting of a Chickadee. In order to give away one or more prizes at each meeting, and to have some special prizes for the final grand prize giveaway in May, members and friends are asked to donate bird related items in new or excellent condition for the raffle. Do you have a painting or drawing, bird feeder, T-shirt, bird book, collector's plate, backpack, bird song recording, or other item you would like to donate for the raffle? If so, call Joyce Cicco, (307) 527-5030, or Co-chair Kristi Jondall, (307) 645-3085, and we will arrange to pick up the item.

...And buy chances for the raffle.

Tickets will be sold at meetings and will be priced at $10 each, or three for $25. Or if you can't make it to a meeting, you can call Joyce or Kristi to get your tickets. Consider your ticket purchases as donations to the conservation fund, or better yet, as chances to win some really nice prizes. Either way, you and our wildlife will be the winners.

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Team grows expertise with continued waterfowl counts --by Jo Cook, Joyce Harkness and Nancy Ryan

Meadowlark Audubon members began the Beck Lake Complex Bird Monitoring Program in September, 2005. While informal monitoring was done in the past, this program involves ten weeks of monitoring during each fall and spring migration. Phil MacClinton and Dr. Charles Preston, curator of the Draper Museum of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, gave a workshop in waterfowl identification. A future workshop on shore bird identification is planned.

Working the March 20-May 20 count were: Gilbert and Sue Hatcher, Dorothy Bunn, Joyce Cicco, Rita Lewis, Fran Wells, Donna Haman, Betty Marie Daniels, Jackie Anthony, Nancy Ryan, Joyce Harkness and Jo Cook.

Spring migration brought waterfowl in their breeding plumage, bright colors that made identification much easier than the drab brown predominating in the autumn months. Most viewers felt that although there were fewer birds to count than in the fall, the warm spring weather made the counting more enjoyable. Many shore birds had arrived by the end of the count, giving us an opportunity to learn to identify birds that had not been present for the fall count.

An enthusiastic group of bird monitors is looking forward to resuming the pursuit this fall. For information about monitoring or observing, contact Nancy Ryan at 307-754-0114.

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Meadowlark offered variety of field trips

Thanks to the skills our members provide, field trips this spring and summer included caves, archaeology, ecology, plants and birds. Following are reports from a few of those trips.

Big Horn Canyon - Saturday, May 13 was a very windy day with birds either crouching in the brush or flying by at 50 mph. That didn't stop 10-12 dedicated birders from seeing or hearing over 60 species. Because of park road construction, birding was confined to the Yellowtail habitat and Britten Springs areas.

Birds seen included: great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, eared grebes, western grebes, pied-billed grebes, white pelicans, greater sandhill cranes, common coots, common loons, gadwall, blue-winged teal, mallards, ruddy ducks, lesser scaup, cinnamon teal, Canada geese, kingfishers, spotted sandpipers, northern harriers, peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawks, kestrels, turkey vultures, ring-necked pheasants, rock doves, mourning doves, red-shafted flickers, black-billed magpies, ravens, common grackles, western meadowlarks, yellow-headed blackbirds, brewer's blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, northern orioles, cliff swallows, barn swallows, violet-green swallows, bank swallows, cedar waxwings, ruby-crowned kinglets, starlings, rock wrens, marsh wrens, house wrens, yellow warblers, yellow-rumped warblers, yellowthroats, warbling vireo, black-headed grosbeak, towhees, song sparrow, savannah sparrow, house finch, chipping sparrow, goldfinch, and lazuli bunting. Neil Miller was pretty sure he saw a northern waterthrush at the fish hatchery. - by trip leader Dr. Suzanne Morstad

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Sheep Mountain - When Sean Sheehan agreed to lead a field trip to Native American sites at the base of Sheep Mountain near Cody, he announced that participants should be in "proper condition" for the 3 - mile hike. The 11 people who met him at the Wal-Mart parking lot on the morning of April 15th were relieved when he declared that we "looked relatively fit."

The first site was an antelope jump where we saw some antelope, many years after the Native Americans (possibly Shoshone) utilized the driveline and jump to harvest their ancestors. The antelope quickly climbed higher up, leaving us to examine the rock ledge and the human-manufactured rock driveline that led to it. We continued to climb, stopping to appreciate early flowers that clung to the topsoil of the windy ridge. One definitely had the feeling that earlier people considered the place to be sacred, emphasized by the rock structures that were used in some ceremonial way (probably for vision quests or similar types of inspiration, and possibly of Crow origin). Sean noted a rock structure that could have been used as an eagle trap, and said eagles still like to use the structure today, probably for the wide-angle view that it provides. Although Buffalo Bill Reservoir fills the valley now, the North and South Forks of the Shoshone River would have been visible there before the dam's construction, and the vistas of Carter Mountain and the Bighorn Mountains would have always made this location very inspirational. - by trip participant Jo Cook

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Caving - Through his work with BLM, chapter president Dennis Saville arranged trips to view Spirit Mountain Cave on Cedar Mountain west of Cody. Despite having to rearrange dates due to weather, two trips into the cave were done March 18th and 25th for nine participants, providing a good opportunity for inexperienced people to see the cave interior. Although the hike down to the cave entry is strenuous, the inside part of the cave that the groups visited did not involve arduous spelunking. Both trips allowed local people to see first hand the cave that had once been a tourist attraction for the town of Cody. The cave currently is managed by BLM as a primitive cave and requires a permit for entry;. Meadowlark Audubon will try to have more caving field trips in 2007.

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Chapman Bench lek - On a pleasant April Fools day, Dennis Saville led an early morning outing to watch the spring courtship ritual of the Sage Grouse on Chapman Bench north of Cody. Male grouse gather in an area with low vegetation and less sagebrush where the females can see them. They inflate air sacs on their throats to produce a booming kerploop sound, spread their feathers to their white throat feathers are conspicuous and spread their tail feathers in a wide arc. They are quite impressive!! The 15 participants were amazed at the sight of over 100 male Sage Grouse. Females were harder to count but were estimated at more than 50. It was certainly worth the effort of getting out before the sunrise.

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