Make your check out to Meadowlark Audubon and send to: Meadowlark Audubon Newsletter; P.O. Box 2126.; Cody, WY 82414.
Over the winter, I have also noticed how the Big Horn Basin is making strides in cooperative resource management groups to reduce Russian olive’s dominance in riparian areas. This non-native tree outcompetes native olive (silverberry), cottonwoods, willows, dogwood, and sumac, among others. Our riparian areas are more diverse than people realize. After the impenetrable thickets of Russian olive and salt cedar are cleared, the niches will once again be available for vast plant community changes for the better. These habitats will support more wildlife in the future. It is exciting to see local people take charge and steward the land. The Big Horn Basin has able and can-do people!
Over the winter, we have been fortunate to have interesting and inspiring speakers who showed the mechanics, spirit and beauty of nature—all of which is important to understand as a student of the natural world. Here is but one example of something to ponder. You may have all noticed more golden eagles this year. Our mid-winter eagle count has confirmed this: there were almost twice as many golden eagles observed this year as compared to last! I like to wonder about what the mechanics of this increase were. Maybe you have your own ideas as to how and why this happened—if so, I look forward to hearing them!
Enjoy the spring!
-- by Destin Harrell
President: Destin Harrell (2nd year of 2-year term)
Vice-President: John Rumm (1-year term)
Secretary: Rosemary Hughes (1-year term)
Treasurer: Lisa Marks (1-year term)
Directors: (1-year term): Sean Sheehan
If you are interested in becoming a Board member, please contact Destin Harrell, 307-899-0147 or <email@example.com >.
Bald Eagles were more numerous than in past counts with 20 tallied (13 adults and 7 immature). Other high counts included 99 Northern Flickers, 85 Dark-eyed Juncos, 69 American Crows, and 556 Common Ravens. If you would like to see a large number of ravens in one location, check out the Cody landfill! Waterfowl numbers were generally lower than in many past counts, perhaps due to the much lower than average temperatures during the first half of December and the few days before the Cody count, resulting in the lakes and all still water being frozen over. Temperatures were low on the day of the count, but the sun was shining and there was almost no wind, so participants completed their routes in relative comfort.
Several species were represented by a single bird: Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin, Hairy Woodpecker, Clark’s Nutcracker, Brown Creeper, American Dipper, and Red-winged Blackbird. A large flock of 100+ Snow Buntings was seen this year, and although 774 European Starlings were counted, that total falls far short of the 3,444 seen ten years ago.
Participants in Cody’s 2009 Christmas Bird count tallied three of the “Four Wyoming Crows”—American Crow, Common Raven and Clark’s Nutcracker—shown in this illustration from Wilbur Clinton Knight’s The Birds of Wyoming (1902), with Pinyon Jay being the lone exception.
Most of the day’s participants joined in the evening tally of the count led by Chuck Neal, held at the Christ Episcopal Church Parish Hall. The potluck and soup supper followed, and all enjoyed good food and camaraderie.
To view the entire results for this and preceding year’s counts, visit the National Audubon site at http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/index.html, and, on the menu, choose either Current Year or Historical Results. Cody’s Count Code is WYCO. To join the group for the 111th CBC, on Sunday, December 26, 2010, please call Joyce Cicco at 527-5030, or Susan Ahalt at 527-7027.
-- Joyce Cicco
Counters tallied 3828 birds, representing 34 species. American Crows were down (only 12 were found, versus 102 in 2008), as were Rock Doves (520 versus 1287) while Common Ravens were up, from 20 in 2008 to 50 in 2009, as were Black-billed Magpies at 30 birds, more than double the number reported in 2008. The bad news is that tallies of almost all birds were lower than in previous years—and, in some cases, markedly so. Apart from Canada Goose (899), Mallard (36) and Barrow’s Goldeneye, no waterfowl were reported, likely due to a lack of open water: all of the ponds and most of the Bighorn and Shoshone were ice-covered, and only a few small, spring-fed creeks had open water. Yet the numbers of birds usually seen in fields or at feed lots were also down, and for this there is no obvious explanation. To cite just one example, 506 Red-winged Blackbirds were counted in 2008, and 222 the year before; the 2009 count yielded only three blackbirds. Also absent, or present only in reduced numbers, were raptors, woodpeckers (except for 41 Northern Flickers), Horned Larks, chickadees, waxwings, most sparrows, Pine Siskins, and finches. Full results are available at http://cbc.audubon.org/cbccurrent/current_table.html, using the code “WYKA.”
Thanks to everyone who participated—we hope to see you, and others, for the 2010 CBC in December!
-- Suzanne Morstad
Breeding Bird Survey [BBS] route locations within Meadowlark's coverage area are shown on this map of northwest Wyoming. Courtesy Andrea Orabona, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
To find out how you can become a Citizen Scientist and collect valuable information for any or all of these monitoring programs, please contact Andrea Orabona, by email at <Andrea.Orabona@wgf.state.wy.us>, or by phone: 307-332-7723 ext. 232, or toll free at 1-800-654-7862.
-- by Andrea Orabona, Nongame Bird Biologist, Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Our chapter began developing the scholarship program back in 2007. Deb Woodbridge, who passed away in 2008, was hugely instrumental in launching the program. Through t-shirt sales and donations made in her name, we raised enough money to establish the scholarship fund.
The scholarship will be awarded to a high school senior (including home-schooled students) who will be graduating in 2010, and whose career goals support the mission of the Audubon Society—focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats, and conserving and restoring natural ecosystems for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.
For more information, e-mail Lisa Marks at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Thanks again to everyone who helped make this scholarship possible!
While many Meadowlark members have been instrumental in helping to produce, assemble and preserve documentation of the society’s operations, special appreciation goes to three individuals who held the position of Chapter Historian/Scrapbook Chair since the organization’s inception: Jackie Platt (1999-2001), Susan Ahalt (2001-2005), and Sue Hatcher (2006-2009). Along with them, Joyce Cicco has unofficially been the “keeper of the institutional memory” from the outset, and spent untold hours producing a detailed history of the society from 1999 through 2007, a copy of which is included in the collection. We deeply appreciate their vision, dedication and commitment to ensuring that Meadowlark’s organizational heritage is preserved for posterity!
In addition to documenting the formation, activities and projects, and operations of Meadowlark Audubon Society, materials in the Meadowlark archive will offer future researchers invaluable details about migratory and resident bird populations, the ecology of the Big Horn Basin, and regional conservation and environmental efforts during the first decade of the twenty-first century. The materials currently comprising the Meadowlark archive represent the first installment of what, it is hoped, will become a growing collection to document the society’s ongoing history. Harper especially urges Meadowlark members to consider donating materials in their possession that can help “personalize” the collection, such as correspondence, field notebooks, diaries or written reminiscences about their experiences with the organization. The finding guide to the collection will help interested members learn what materials already exist in the archive.
The Meadowlark Audubon Society Collection is available to researchers by appointment at the McCracken Research Library. To make an appointment, please contact the Library at 307-578-4063, or via e-mail at <email@example.com>.
-- John Rumm
Theodore Roosevelt on a backcountry sojourn in the northern Great Plains, 1885 (National Park Service.)
In the spring, when the thickets are green, the hermit thrushes sing sweetly in them; when it is moonlight, the voluble, cheery notes of the thrashers or brown thrushes can be heard all night long. One of our sweetest, loudest songsters is the meadow-lark; this I could hardly get used to at first, for it looks exactly like the eastern meadow-lark, which utters nothing but a harsh, disagreeable chatter. But the plains air seems to give it a voice, and it will perch on the top of a bush or tree and sing for hours in rich, bubbling tones.
Out on the prairie there are several kinds of plains sparrows which sing very brightly, one of them hovering in the air all the time, like a bobolink. Sometimes in the early morning, when crossing the open, grassy plateaus, I have heard the prince of them all, the Missouri skylark. The skylark sings on the wing, soaring over head and mounting in spiral curves until it can hardly be seen, while its bright, tender strains never cease for a moment. I have sat on my horse and listened to one singing for a quarter of an hour at a time without stopping. There is another bird also which sings on the wing, though I have not seen the habit put down in the books.
One bleak March day, when snow covered the ground and the shaggy ponies crowded about the empty corral, a flock of snow-buntings came familiarly round the cow-shed, clambering over the ridge-pole and roof. Every few moments one of them would mount into the air, hovering about with quivering wings and warbling a loud, merry song with some very sweet notes. They were a most welcome little group of guests, and we were sorry when, after loitering around a day or two, they disappeared toward their breeding haunts.
Volunteers should bring water, lunch and sunscreen. If you plan to participate and will be coming from Cody or points to the north and east, please meet at the west end of the WalMart parking lot by 9 am.; if you will be coming from the South Fork area, please meet at the intersection of Lower Southfork Road and Old Stagecoach Trail at 9:15. In case of inclement weather, the project will be rescheduled for late May.
For more information, please contact Sean Sheehan, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
In this project, which will take place on June 12, Meadowlark will be affixing plastic reflective markers on barbed-wire fencing adjacent to Greater Sage-Grouse leks on YU Bench northeast of Cody. The markers, which have been installed elsewhere near known lek-sites, greatly reduce grouse mortality rates by deterring them from flying into, and becoming impaled on, barbed-wire. Volunteers will attach two reflectors per 16 running feet of barbed-wire fences located within a six-mile radius of a lek-site, and will cover roughly 70 miles of fencing. In addition to affixing the reflectors, volunteers will also help track grouse mortality by looking for feathers as they walk the fence-lines. We greatly appreciate the support of Rex Myers and Susan Richards, who are generously underwriting the purchase of the reflectors. Volunteers should bring gloves, water, lunch and sunscreen, and meet at the K-Mart parking lot by 9 a.m. In case of inclement weather, the project will be rescheduled for later this year. For more information, please contact Destin Harrell, 307-899-0147 or <email@example.com>.
Afterwards, we’ll plan to look for Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) and Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), both of which are plentiful in the area. If attending, please bring water, lunch and your camera and/or spotting scope, and meet at the K-Mart parking lot by 5 a.m. For more information, please contact Destin at 307-899-0147 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Meadowlark vice-president John Rumm will lead an early morning walk along Cody’s scenic Shoshone River Trail. In addition to warblers, this trail offers good habitat for tyrant flycatchers, blackbirds, thrushes, waxwings, orioles and other perching birds. If attending, please wear appropriate footwear and bring water, and meet at the parking lot beneath the Belfry Bridge (off 12th Avenue) at 7:30 a.m. For more information, please contact John at 307-899-3087 or <email@example.com>.