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. 9, No. 2 -- December 2008


Beck and Alkali Lake Fall Bird Count 2008

A group of intrepid Meadowlark Audubon Society enthusiasts recently completed a 9-week fall migration bird count in mid-November. The Monday morning counts focus on the lakes south and east of Cody.

While waterfowl tend to be the dominant species seen, they are by no means the only ones. We have seen raptors like sharp-shinned hawks and rough-legged hawks, plus white-faced ibises and black-crowned night-herons. Also a treat to see were a sanderling, avocets, and a semi-palmated plover. It was daunting at times, especially in the middle of the migration season, to arrive at our counting station at Alkali Lake and be confronted with hundreds and hundreds of birds. We regularly saw many mergansers and ruddy ducks, grebes, scaups and wigeons, gadwalls and pintails. Occasionally we would spot a loon, which was exciting. One time we saw 50 swans; at a distance, we couldn’t tell if they were trumpeters or tundras. We regularly had good sightings at Buchanan Wildlife Sanctuary southeast of the airport, now that it has been improved following the Audubon Society’s substantial earth-moving work in 2007.

Society members participating in the counts were Joyce Harkness, Donna Haman, Dorothy Bunn, Jo Cook, Fran Wells, Nancy Ryan, Jackie Anthony, Deb Woodbridge, Joyce Cicco, and myself. Joyce Harkness expressed the view that she became progressively better at species identification the longer she came on the counts. She felt especially good about now being able to identify shovelers, gadwalls and scaups. Deb Woodbridge was a great resource for the group because of her extensive general bird knowledge and expertise in distinguishing one species from another, and her patience in teaching that to the rest of us.

In our 9 weeks of bird counting, we tallied some impressive numbers. The particulars are as follows:
Week 1: 886 birds and 27 species
Week 2: 1051 birds and 25 species
Week 3: 1635 birds and 25 species
Week 4: 2512 birds and 30 species
Week 5: 1416 birds and 24 species
Week 6: 1274 birds and 22 species
Week 7: 1013 birds and 27 species
Week 8: 838 birds and 23 species
Week 9: 636 birds and 22 species

Our spring bird count is set to begin around the vernal equinox and will go for 9 weeks. Anyone interested in joining is certainly welcome. Contact any one of the fall counters for details. Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, as there are some days when it can be quite cold and/or windy. But, after all, this is Wyoming and some rough weather is to be expected. Spring will come, though; it always does.
--by fall bird counter John Osgood

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Bluebird Housing on the Rise

Recently, Dudley Woodbridge built and donated many bluebird houses the the Meadowlark Audubon Chapter! Thanks so much Dudley! Donna Haman and KaCey Ross, along with volunteer helpers, have been selling these houses, complete with use instructions at the local holiday craft fairs. They have sold at least 20 so far! These houses will help increase the number of homes available for bluebird families during the recent economic crisis. If you have been thinking about putting up a new bluebird house, talk to Donna Haman or KaCey Ross.

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WANTED: BOARD MEMBERS ! ! ! !

Do you have any good ideas to bring to the Meadowlark Audubon Chapter? Then join the Audubon Board! Current board members are generally nice, like birds, and attempt to keep meeting times short! We really need more board members and would love it if anyone is interested! The board meets the first Thursday of the month (September-June) at 7:00 in the evening in Cody. Let us know during the general meetings or e-mail Lisa Marks at <arithon_7@yahoo.com>

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Calling All Wyoming Bird Watchers: More Eyes Needed to Tally State Birds

Ithaca, NY, dateline November 10, 2008 - Bird watchers in Wyoming are invited to sign up now for the 2008-09 season of Project FeederWatch. More participants are needed from the state to track the numbers and kinds of birds at feeders each week and then send the information to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The information provided becomes part of the world’s largest database on feeder-bird populations.

"An invasive bird from Asia, the Eurasian Collared-Dove, is taking Wyoming by storm," says Project FeederWatch leader David Bonter. "We need to hear from more bird watchers in the state to get an accurate picture of what’s happening with this species and our native birds."

Wyoming FeederWatchers reported 73 species this past season with the Rosy Finch reported in the greatest average numbers.

FeederWatchers across North America submitted more than 115,000 checklists during the 2007-08 season, documenting unusual bird sightings, winter movements, and shifting ranges, information scientists use to monitor the health of the birds and of the environment.

"I participate in FeederWatch because it sharpens my observation skills and makes me really look at the birds that visit my feeder," says FeederWatcher Nancy Darnell of Newcastle. "By looking more closely, I see uncommon birds that I might miss and I see common bird behavior that I might not even notice otherwise. It is a great winter time activity for the whole family."

Project FeederWatch welcomes participants of all ages and skill levels. To learn more and to sign up, visit <www.feederwatch.org> or call (800) 843-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, a bird-identification poster, a calendar, instructions, and the FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights, reporting results.

Visit the "Explore Data" section of the web site to find the top 25 birds reported in your region, rare bird sightings, and bird summaries by state or province.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Lab’s web site at <http://www.birds.cornell.edu>

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Are You Counting Birds this Christmas???

Give a gift to yourself and to the historic records of the Meadowlark Audubon Chapter this Christmas...come join in the Christmas Bird Counts! With three different counts in the Cody, Clark, and Kane areas, it’s easy to pick a day that works. You can practice your birding and even learn some new species!

These counts help to create a historic record of the bird species and their numbers in the area. Plus, participants get to share their birding adventures from the day over a fun, delicious, warm meal with friends afterwards. What more could you ask for? So, put on your binoculars, grab your bird book, fill a thermos with hot chocolate and come join the fun! Just give Suzanne, Joyce, or Kathleen a call (their numbers are listed below on the calendar) to let them know you’re coming, and we’ll see you there!

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Catch Some Great Bird Watching Opportunities in Montana this Summer

Mountain Bluebird Trails will be celebrating their 35th Anniversary June 12-14 2009 in Great Falls, MT.

Some speakers include the following:

Also, the Montana Audubon Society will be presenting WINGS ACROSS THE BIG SKY June 5-7, 2009, in Great Falls, MT. Birding opportunities abound, from Giant Springs to Gates of the Mountains; and birds ranging from Burrowing Owls to Calliope Hummingbirds. Up to 20 different field trips to participate in!

For information regarding both meetings, go to <www.mountainbluebirdtrails.com>

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We're Looking for Articles for the Next Newsletter

Enormous thanks to all who contributed to this month’s newsletter! John Osgood, Deb Woodbridge, and Suzanne Morstad have been regular and wonderful contributors of articles to the newsletter. Articles are welcome from anyone and everyone! If you sighted a rare or cool bird, send me a quick e-mail and we can feature that species in the newsletter! If anyone has articles they would like to include in the March newsletter, please e-mail them to Lisa Marks at <arithon_7@yahoo.com>

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