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. 3, No. 4 -- March 2002

Membership Meetings (see Meeting Information Page for current listing)

April 11 - The Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, April 11th in the EOC Room of the Park County Courthouse, Cody. It will begin at 7:00 p.m. with voting on the slate of directors. Following announcements of the upcoming trips and meetings, a presentation will be given on International Migratory Bird Day.

Kari Allanson, Wildlife Biologist on the Bighorn National Forest, will give the program. She will speak on public involvement, importance of conservation actions, Important Bird Areas, and the possibility of a Migratory Bird Day celebration in the Big Horn Basin.

May 9 - 7:00 p.m. at Northwest College in Powell. Room and speaker TBA.

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Upcoming Field Trips (see Field Trip Information Page for current listing)

Saturday, April 6, 2002 - Opportunities to see the birds of the Basin will begin on Saturday, April 6, when the BLM's Dennis Saville leads a trip to a sage grouse lek. Interested birders should meet at 5:00 a.m. in the parking lot of the Cody K-Mart and we will car pool from there.

Saturday, April 20, 2002 -Waterfowl will be the focus of a trip to the Bragonier property in Willwood. Participants will meet at the Cody K-Mart, this time at 7:45 a.m.

April 27, 2002 - The east side of the Basin will be explored on Saturday, April 27, when Terry Peters leads a trip to the Yellowtail wildlife area. Birders are to meet at the Big Horn Canyon Visitor's Center (east of Lovell) at 7:30 a.m. It will be a fairly short walk, bring a sack lunch and water. The trip will probably be completed by noon.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - John Roland will lead a group limited to 12 people on a trip to Bear Canyon, just across the Montana border. This trip will leave Powell at 6:15 a.m., and 4-WD vehicles will be required. Be prepared for a two-mile hike; one mile in, followed by a lunch break, and one mile out. To sign up, e-mail Dorothy Bunn at <fillinger2@hotmail.com>.

Friday, May 24, 2002 - Dennis Saville and /or Terry Peters will lead a group out on the Chapman Bench. Meet at Mentock Park, on Blackburn Ave, across from Fremont Motors, at 8:00 a.m. This will be a short walk, and be finished by noon. Bring a lunch and water.

Saturday, June 1, 2002 - Meadowlarkers have been invited to join Marshall Dominick at the ranch for a half day of birding and easy walking. Bring your lunch and don't forget your binoculars. We expect to be headed back to town by 2:00 p.m. Meeting time and location for carpooling will be announced later, or for more information, contact Dorothy Bunn at <fillinger2@hotmail.com>

Saturday, June 8, 2002 - Sean Sheehan will lead a group on a 2-3 mile hike onto the T-E Ranch on the Southfork. This hike will be limited to 20 people. Sign up with Dorothy Bunn, <fillinger2@hotmail.com>, or call (307) 587-3012. Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the BLM Twin Creek Trailhead which is clearly marked, about 25 miles up Southfork. Car pooling will be required from there. Bring a lunch, and water.

Saturday, June 22, 2002 - John McGough will lead a group up Shell canyon. Meet at Shell Falls at 7:00 a.m. Car pool from there to Brindly pond road. After the hike, we are invited to Johns place on Trapper Creek for ice cream and lemonade. Participants should bring along a lunch for all field trips, as well as binoculars and field guides.

Friday through Sunday, September 13, 14, 15, 2002 - Meadowlark to Host Audubon Chapter Campout and Field Trip to Beartooth Ranch in Clark, Wyoming.

Meadowlark Audubon invites all Wyoming Audubon Chapters to join them in a weekend of birdwatching fun at the Beartooth Ranch Audubon Center in Clark, Wyoming.

For more information, see next article, "Special Overnight Field Trip for Audubon Members in Wyoming."

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Special Overnight Field Trip for Audubon Members in Wyoming

by Mary Klein

September 13-15, 2002, Friday through Sunday - Meadowlark Audubon invites all Wyoming Audubon Chapters to join them in a weekend of birdwatching fun at the Beartooth Ranch Audubon Center in Clark, Wyoming. The campout is scheduled through the weekend.

The Beartooth Ranch is the newest addition to Audubon Wyoming's planned chain of educational centers. It is located on the bank of the wild and scenic Clarks Fork River, at the base of the majestic Beartooth Mountains.

In between your birding hikes, you can cast for trout or take a short sidetrip to the fabulous Clarks Fork Canyon -- bring your geology field guide, and your spotting scope to scan for peregrine falcons.

To reach the Ranch, take State Highway 120 north from Cody for 30 miles. Turn left at the Edelweiss Store on Road 1AB. Go four miles to the fork in the road; take the left fork. Turn left again immediately on Road 8UC, and follow this about 4 more miles until you reach the Ranch.

The Ranch sits on over 600 acres of rolling sagebrush steppe, surrounded by tremendous views, and offers plenty of camping space for everyone. The riparian corridor along the river is favored habitat for eagles, hawks, dippers and many species of waterbirds.

Bring your tents or RV's, and your own supplies, and join us for one, or both nights of camping. Please call or e-mail Mary Klein, Meadowlark Secretary, 307/645-3223, <eweiss@nemontel.net>, by September 1st, so Meadowlarkers have some idea of the numbers of people who will be attending.

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Beartooth Ranch Tree & Shrub Grants

by KaCey Ross

At this time there is snow on the ground at the Ranch. The moisture is welcome as we get so little. Our irrigation rights are secure for three more years, but we may not exercise them this year. Downstream users whose livelihood depends on water asked us not to use our allotment last year and depending on stream flow, we may choose to do this again.

We are writing grants for two programs which will give us trees and shrubs to plant as a windbreak in the area adjacent to the buildings and a drip system to water them. Nothing will be planted until 2003, but soil preparation work will proceed this fall.

As Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate with scheduled workdays, we are trying to compile a list of members willing to work if called. If the forecast looks promising for a weekend, we might schedule something with a few days notice. Call John or KaCey at (307) 587-5282 or e-mail at <JohnRoss@wtp.net> if you wish to be included. There is as much work to do as we can find time and hands to do it.

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Meadowlark Ranks High in 2002 Great Backyard Bird Count

by Mary Klein

This year's Great Backyard Bird Count took place February 15 through 18, and our Powell area zip code placed second in the number of species seen! (We have to qualify "Powell area," as Clark has the same zip, although it is located 25 miles from Powell.) We logged in 29 accepted species; Casper took first place with 38.

Thirty-one different zip codes reported in Wyoming. Other Wyoming cities in the top ten were: Cheyenne (23 species); Lander (22); Douglas (20); Dubois (20); Jackson (19); Sundance (19); Big Horn (15); and Greybull (13). The most common birds reported were house sparrows, black-capped chickadees and magpies. The biggest flocks of birds were grey-crowned rosy finches, house sparrows and starlings.

At our Edelweiss site in Clark, we counted 24 species. The grey-crowned rosies were are most numerous species, and really put a dent in the thistle seeds. However, the redpolls, house finches, goldfinches and pine siskins did manage to get their share. Also at the seed feeders were tree sparrows, chickadees, house sparrows, song sparrows, starlings, and black rosy finches. Our seven chukars showed up for their corn every day, as did our resident cock pheasant.

The magpies enjoyed the "blue food" from my refrigerator, and the hamburger suet -- also sampled by a downy woodpecker. A great-horned owl and a pair of flickers pretty much stayed in the trees; ravens cavorted in the pasture. Both bald and golden eagles kept watch on the river bluffs, much to the dismay of the rock doves.

Canada geese and mallards sounded the alarm on the river when the northern harrier went out hunting.

Linda Straub also reported from Clark. She saw many of the same species, but added sage hens, golden-eyes, a red-tailed hawk, horned larks, a merganser and a long-eared owl. Is Clark an Important Bird Area, or what?

Other folk must have reported from the Powell area, based on the size of our "map dot" on the Birdcount web page. Go to to check it out yourself. And, mark your calendar: next year's GBBC is scheduled for February 14 - 17.

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Membership Matters

For all membership correspondence, please contact:
 
Joyce Cicco, Membership Chair
26 North Ridge Drive
Cody, WY 82414
(307) 527-5030
<jcicco00@tritel.net>

Is your Joint National Audubon and Meadowlark membership about to expire?

Check your Meadowlark newsletter mailing label to see the most recent information we have on your expiration date. If you would like us to send in your renewal to National Audubon for you, please send your check to Joyce Cicco, Membership Chairman, at the above address.

Not a member, but want to join? Meadowlark now has two options. Please see the Membership Page for more information.

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Member News - In Memorium

Roy Jordan, a Charter Member of Meadowlark Audubon, died during the night of February 28, 2002. Roy enjoyed birds and birding, though severe migrane headaches and other health problems prevented him from attending more recent field trips and meetings. Those who knew him will remember his gentle manner and his ability to identify many unseen birds by their songs.

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Choosing to Receive Newsletter Online

If you would prefer to read your newsletter online at our Web site, contact either Cheryl Wright at <csawrite@wtp.net>, or Joyce Cicco at <jcicco00@tritel.net> to have your name removed from the "snail mail" list. When a new issue of The Meadowlark newsletter is published and added to the Web site, we will send you a short e-mail notice so you can access it over the Internet. And you will be saving paper as well as helping our Chapter reduce its copying and postage expense.

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Officer and Director Nominations for 2002-2003

The Nominating Committee of Meadowlark Audubon, made up of Dave Burke, Susan Ahalt, and Joyce Cicco, has completed its slate of nominees for the election of officers and directors at the Annual Meeting on April 11, 2002.

The committee is pleased to announce that the following people have accepted nomination as officers and directors for the coming year:

            President (a two-year term):  Dave Burke was elected president
            last year and still has another year remaining on his term.

Meadowlark Election Ballot for 2002-2003
 
Vice-President:               Dennis Saville
 
 
Secretary:                        Mary Klein
 
 
Treasurer:                      Susan Ahalt
 
 
Directors:                        Dorothy Bunn
                                        Joyce Cicco
                                        Carolyn Hicks
                                        Terry Peters
                                        Chuck Preston
                                        John Ross
                                        Nancy Ryan
                                        Craig Sax
                                        Sean Sheehan
                                        Cheryl Wright
 
 

 

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ColonyWatch, a Volunteer Monitoring Program for Colonially-Nesting Birds

ColonyWatch is a new monitoring program for colonially-nesting birds, initiated byWyoming Partners in Flight, to discern threats to the health of the bird colonies. It involves volunteers helping to monitor the colonies by following established protocols and then submitting the information to the project coordinator. During this first nesting season of the monitoring program, ColonyWatch plans to focus on Great Blue Herons and Burrowing Owls. In addition to the monitoring program, ColonyWatch would also appreciate receiving any information about the locations of colonies of these two species.

ColonyWatch has developed the following list of nesting sites for the Great Blue Heron: Twin-Butte Lake (Albany), Webb Lake (Albany), Hawk Springs Reservoir (Goshen), Wardell Reservoir (Big Horn), Beaver Creek Reservoir (Carbon), Pathfinder Reservoir (Carbon), Little Snake River (Carbon), Glendo Reservoir (Converse), Oak Creek Reservoir (Crook), Lone Tree Reservoir (Crook), Crow Creek Reservoir (Crook), Alzada Reservoir (Crook), Guernsey Reservoir (Platte), and Parkman Reservoir (Sheridan).

If you, or anyone you know, would like to participate in the ColonyWatch program, or if you have information not on the above list about colonially-nesting birds, please contact Rich Levad at <rich.levad@rmbo.org>.

Article from Rich Levad, Special Monitoring Projects Coordinator
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, West Office
337 - 25 3/4 Road; Grand Junction, CO 81504
(970) 241-4674    Web site: <www.rmbo.org>

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"An Incredible Experience"

by Mary Klein

Yesterday I held a bald eagle. It was an awesome and humbling experience--- one that I will never forget.

Susan Ahalt took me along on a rescue mission in Clark. We found the immature bald hiding under a shrub next to a woodpile. I hung back, not sure how to approach such a large hunter. But Susan -- in her no-nonsense manner -- just picked him up. He is starving, suffering from exposure, and has a badly broken wing that will have to be amputated. He is now being doctored by Susan at Ironside Bird Rescue.

When we got in Susan's truck, she nonchalantly plopped the bird in my lap. He laid his head in the crook of my right elbow; his tail feathers stretched across the shift stick. Words really can't express the feelings I had holding him, but I want to thank Susan for this incredible opportunity.

She named him "Clark Kent" after our town, and because she hopes that he will be a "Superbird." I am praying for his recovery.

Yesterday I held a bald eagle...Postscript on Clark Kent, the Eagle

Unfortunately, Clark was too emaciated to survive, and died the next day. But if every cloud has a silver lining, this story has one too.

Susan was overhead discussing the injured eagle at the Edelweiss. The next day, Mary Klein received a call from Bill O'Mara of Clark: his son had found an injured hawk. Susan drove back to Clark and picked up the bird: a male northern harrier that seemed to be suffering from a concussion. A week later, she released him in the field where he was found. He rocketed off to rejoin his mate.

If Susan had not been in Clark attempting to rescue the eagle, the O'Mara's would have had no idea what to do with the hawk. So, although Clark died, his death allowed the harrier to live.

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The "Pelicatross," or What I Saw at Sea

by Grace Nutting

It had been another exciting day out to sea. The warm afternoon sun and the gentle rocking of the boat lulled many tired bodies to sleep. Through half closed eyes I happened to see a large brown heavy bodied bird raise its wings for takeoff. The wings bore each a white patch and there was only one sea bird marked like that.

Beth, the tour guide, and I saw it at the same instant. "South Polar Skua!" she called, and then both of us were yelling, "Skua, skoowaah!" All the other birders rushed to the bow of the vessel, almost trampling us underfoot.

I last saw South Polar Skuas thousands of miles south of California. They are called South Polar Skuas because they are the only bird ever seen flying over the South Pole.

There is considerable controversy over whether there are three or six species of skua, and I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say this bird was spending the Antarctic winter off the west coast of North America. It would be fascinating to track its wanderings and to see if it returned to its breeding grounds in November, the start of the Austral spring.

This fall I took two pelagic birding tours offered by Shearwater Tours. Both began in Monterey Bay and went six miles out to sea. For a land birder, the abundance of avian life so far distant is overwhelming. Here are species, some surprisingly tiny and delicate, which never approach the shore except to breed. Like penguins, they stay where the food is.

Our guides were at a high pitch. One had just identified the first Greater Shearwater seen off Monterey, the ninth spotting of a Streaked Shearwater, and, just last week, a Short-tailed Albatross. We saw none of these, but were able to see Flesh-footed, Black Vented, Buller's, Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters. Some very perplexed Tufted Puffins showed up, and Rhinoceros and Cassin's Auklets were everywhere. Two out of three Jaegers went past bent on mischief. I learned that the Pomarine Jaeger, the largest, tackles gulls. The Parasitic Jaeger prays on the small gulls and terns and the Long-tailed Jaeger, smallest of the three, specializes in harassing small terns.

Most magnificent of all was the Black-footed Albatross seen on the second day.Laterinthefternoon, I thought I saw it again, but the guide said, "That's a pelicatross!" I had mistaken a Brown Pelican.

While several birds came close to the vessel, others passed at a frustrating distance and at very high speed. I got barely a glimpse of the Storm Petrels.

In addition to birds, the ocean offers other attractions such as Mola-Molas, turtles, and whales. I saw Right Whale Dolphins, Humpbacks, common Dolphins, Blue Whale and the famous Orca. Having seen hundreds of Orca pictures, I still gasped when two big bulls rose off the bow. The dorsal fin of the male Orca is taller than I am and can be seen for over a mile. The black and white animals gleamed like polished stone. Most touching of these cetacean sightings was our encounter with a brand new baby Orca. It was a shadow of its mother, while an adult male stayed between the boat and the pair as long as we stayed in the vicinity.

We saw a Rhinoceros Auklet taken by a Blue Shark right before our eyes. Sea Lions came by to inspect us and Sea Otters lay on their backs in the kelp beds close to shore. No matter whether you were watching the water, rocks along the break-water, or even the trees around the dock, the was something interesting going on. Truly, I would find it hard to find a better way to spend the day!

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The Peregrine

by Cheryl Wright

The sky is a cloudless cobalt. Haze hovers over the meadow very near the ground. A distant speck in the clear sky looms ever larger. The wind sighs, setting golden coined aspen leaves snickering like school girls. Long dun colored grasses ripple. The smell of autumn is so strong you can lick it from the air. A rabbit hunches under a sage bush. Ducks scurry to shelter in dark cattails at water's edge. A deer stands poised. Moisture laden clouds jostle mountain tops. Too heavy to rise, they judder down steep slopes like flocks of sheep rushing to water. A falcon hovers over the meadow. A black mask, a peregrine. A camp robber breaks chattering from cover. The raptor folds her wings, plunging toward earth like an arrow shot from a crossbow.

She hits the jay and, screaming her triumph, lifts skyward, prey clutched in talons.

A second smaller peregrine approaches. The falcon flips over, flying upside down and extends her catch. The tiercel swoops in grabbing the prey from his mate and veers off toward the west. The peregrine stays, continuing to circle the meadow. She rolls and dives, then climbs, riding air currents ever higher into the empyreal light. Long evening rays tip her wings in silver. A redwing blackbird alights in the meadow and begins to sing up the evening star. The falcon ceases circling and hovers. Suddenly she stoops and strikes the redwing. Rising gracefully, grasping her prey, she glissades westward. A coyote yips. Another, across the lake, answers. The sun sets, painting red fingers across the evening sky, and suffusing mountain peaks in crimson. Silence grows as day ends. Night showers earth with her brightest stars.

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The Vulture, a poem by Hilaire Belloc

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