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Newsletter of the Louisiana Ornithological Society


by Joshua Sylvest
These are field notes from a Victor Emmanuel Nature Tour led by Dave Jasper and Rob Day. My trip was sponsored, in part, from scholarship monies received from the Louisiana Ornithological Society, the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Audubon Society and the American Birding Association. Special assistance was provided by Nancy Newfield and Melvin Weber. Additional assistance and guidance were provided by Paul Green, Marty Guidry, James Beck and Tom Sylvest, as well as various members of LABIRD and HUMNET, our LSU Listserv communities. To these folks and others I've surely omitted: THANK YOU!
[Note from the Editor - Joshua provided L. O. S. with a wonderful, detailed trip report that many of you may have seen at the winter meeting. Unfortunately for those who missed it, the report is too long to reproduce here in its entirety. I've chosen Josh's notes from the first (7/20) and the second-to-last days (7/24) of his trip. I hope you enjoy his writing as much as I did!]

Day One

As the clouds break up beneath the plane, I get a glimpseof the mountain ranges where I will spend the next two weeks. The mountains look like hills of dirt with little or no vegetation from the plane and I think to myself: "I'm supposed to find birds here?" Melvin assures me that there are birds down there and he was right. As soon as I walked outside the airport I found Mourning Doves, House Sparrows, and even a few Grackles.
Well, it can only get better! In the parking lot of the Motel 6 where we will be staying, there were a few Cactus Wrens hopping around. Finally, a taste of Arizona birding! After situating ourselves in the hotel room, we head out. We stop near Tanque Verde Creek and get a number of birds right off the shoulder of the road, including Lesser Goldfinch, Phainopepla, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Lucy's Warbler, Bewick's Wren, Gila Woodpecker, Curve-billed Thrasher, Gilded Flicker, Abert's Towhee, Canyon Towhee, and Costa's, Broad-billed, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. After a few minutes, a lady who lived down the street noticed that we were birders and invited us onto her property. We got a few of the same birds there and also a few new ones. Among these were Vermillion Flycatchers, Western Kingbirds, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, House Finch, and Bell's Vireo. With a dozen life birds on our first stop, I was both impressed and satisfied.
We get back to the car and head for Sabino Canyon Recreation Area where we will encounter different habitat and different birds. We start off on a dry, narrow trail with little vegetation consisting of prickly pear cactus and various small bushes and trees. It's pretty hot and the birds are not very active. We did manage to find a Black-throated Sparrow, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and a few Verdins in a small bush right near the trail. I noticed that nearly every bird I saw had its mouth wide open. They must have noticed the heat too. As we climb the road farther up into the mountain, we start getting a few oaks and there aren't as many cactus. I happen to look down onto a large rock and notice a male and female Gambel's Quail. This was a bird that I really wanted to see so I watched them until they were out of sight. I had great looks at this bird and it made me wish that I had a better camera.
We continue up and find a shady spot with some standing water and decide to stay there a while. I got a chance to use my camera this time when a spiny lizard crawled onto Melvin's leg. I snapped a few shots at the skittish little reptile and then refocused my attention on the birds. There were quite a few Canyon Towhees within 20 feet of us so I tried to get a picture of them as well. It may not be much more than a dark spot on a light rock but I did get a picture of the bird! Not many birds around, but we enjoyed the area a little longer and then moved on.
Continuing up the road I heard a Canyon Wren. I never did see the bird, however. We encountered quite a few agave plants on the way up the road, and because they are supposed to be an excellent hummingbird plant, I made sure to check them for hummers. No luck with this, but near the end of the road I noticed a large bird running up the side of the mountain about 35 feet from us. The bird jumped out onto the top of a Yucca and revealed itself as a Greater Roadrunner. Finally, I got my Roadnnnner! The lighting wasn't that great but I did get a decent look at the bird before he jumped back down to the ground and out of my sight.
We reached the end of the road, made the circle and turned around back down the mountain. The most common birds seen going down the mountain were White-winged Dove and House Finch, as was the case when we were walking up the mountain. I checked all the Turkey Vultures twice, but the only hawk that was seen this day was a Red-tailed.
We fmally get back down the mountain and to the car. We get a drink and take a nap there and then head back to the motel. On the way to the motel, I see a probable Lesser Nighthawk, but I did not see much of the bird and decided not to count it. When we return to the hotel room, I write some more notes and compile a list, noticing that I had only seen one Starling the entire day. What a treat, to get 17 life birds in one day and only see one Starling! I was very happy with this and went to bed in anticipation of tomorrow and the birds it would bring. . . .

Second-To-Last Day

Today we are headed for Circle Z Ranch. It is located across from the Patagonia rest area and is really nice for birding. Although it is not open to the public, we had access through the VENT tour. We found our first new bird after a few minutes and it was a Thick-billed Kingbird. It was fairly far off and in the top of a tree, but we later managed to get a closer look. We tried playing the tape for Varied Bunting for almost 20 minutes before we finally got a female. We later found another female, and although we got great looks at it, we wanted a male. We then switched over to Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. This bird came in more quickly but kept himself well hidden for a while before showing himself on the end of a bare branch. It was a brief visit but everyone got good looks before he lost interest in the tape and flew off. Next, we paid a visit to the Rose- throated Becard nest. It was only a few minutes before the bird showed up, but it was a female. We were happy with it though and watched it for as long as we could. A few other nice birds seen here were Western and Summer Tanagers, Broad-billed Hummingbird, and a Black Vulture. I was very pleased with the stop although I wanted to see the male Varied Bunting.
Not to worry, one of the first birds we saw at the Patagonla Rest Area was a male Varied Bunting. He sat there in the sun letting the light reflect off of him at every different angle for a long time, and no one sald anything the entire length of his visit. It was one of the best looks at any bird that I had seen the entire trip. After eating lunch, we head to the Patton's to find a few hummers. The most common hummingbird here by far was the Broad-billed, although there were also a few of the more common ones.
We return to the cottages to look at our hummers again. I decided to experiment with how close I could get to the hummingbird feeders and still have the birds come and feed. I stood there with my nose about six inches from the feeder for hours, and it actually worked. There were male and female Black-chinned, male Anna's, male Magnificent, and a female Blue-throated all within half of a foot from my face! It was incredible. I even had a female Black-chinned come and feed from a flower that I had in my mouth. I could have done this forever, but the sun was going down and supper was ready, so I finally left the feeders for my bed, after a more than satisfying day.

Big Thank You to Paul Conover
The LOS depends on the volunteered time of many people to keep things running smoothly. There are several key positions that require considerably more time than others. During my term as president I was fortunate to have a great group of workers in all key positions. One particularly demanding job is that of Newsletter Editor. The bi-monthly task of putting together the news and articles involves a large contribution of personal time.
Paul Conover eagerly accepted when I first asked if he would be interested in taking on the challenge. Since 1994, we have benefitted from his fine editorial skills as well as his exceptional knowledge of birds. Paul also took on the added responsibilities of Secretary/Treasurer in 1995 and 1996, until we received another blessing in Judith O'Neale. Paul and wife Ashleigh will be moving to Tallahassee, FL this surnmer where Ashleigh begins work on her doctorate, and Paul begins applying his recently received degree in education.
From everyone in LOS, I thank you Paul for all the hard work and the job well done!
-- Dave Patton, Past President

Hi! I'm Your New Editor
This is the place for me to introduce myself to L.O.S. As I've had a bit of experience with the editing of a journal in my professional life (veterinary dermatologist), I volunteered to try to take over from Paul as editor of your newsletter. I've been birding (off and on) in Louisiana since 1972 and in the early 80's I was one of those fortunate few who got to chauffeur for Bob Newman. In a former life :-), I was even more fortunate to earn an M.S. with George Lowery.
This is an exciting time in communications and we bird people are on the forefront in the utilization of the NET and other e-resources for communication. I will be trying to take advantage of all those resources and provide some gleanings and glimpses of that world of information on these pages, for those who remain stubbornly or forlornly un-plugged (and also for those who have better things to do than web-surfing).
A paper newsletter may soon begin to seem anachronistic, but for now, it seems still important to our organization to maintain this form of communication. So, we'll be posting our business here and also we'll continue publishing the neat trip reports submitted by our members for the vicarious birding pleasure these provide. I also have asked some of our members to provide regular submissions in hopes of provoking some thought and discussion about birds, our Louisiana environment and the changes we're all living through, and also about the various ways that we all as LOS members enjoy and study those things.
And I want to invite some Letters to the Editor -- for publication or for private commentary -- about anything you see or that you don't see in these pages. Please WRITE or CALL or FAX or EMAIL. I hope to hear from everyone!
-- Carol Foil, Baton Rouge

Seabirds and Whales of Louisiana
Schedule and Sign up Information
Trip dates for 1998 will be:
-- June 13
-- August 8
-- September 19
-- December 12

On each trip the boat is scheduled to leave Venice at 6 AM and return at 6 PM.
To reserve a spot, make out a heck for $65.00 to the Louisiana Ornithological Society and send it to Bill Hemeter, 1825 Audubon Street, New Orleans, LA 70118. Reservations are made by payment only, on a first come, first served basis.
There are 38 spots available per trip, and refunds are made only if a trip is canceled or if a replacement is available from a waiting list.
There is a WEB SITE! for some more information about the trips: http://www.xula.edu/~jsevenai/offshore.html. Or you can call Bill Hemeter, our intrepid and tireless Pelagic Trip Organizer, at home (504- 861-3117) or at work (504-392-1618), or e-mail him at bhemeter@bellsouth.net.

LOS Spring Meeting - April 24-25, 1998
There were 132 members and visitors registered for the spring LOS meeting in Cameron. Lots of good weather was on tap for the weekend which made for slow birding but the checklist had a respectable 187 birds listed for Cameron Parish on Saturday. Charlie Lyon gave us two great slide programs on Friday and Saturday night. Thanks, Charlie for pulling double duty.
Marq Webb of the U.S. Forest Service was at our meeting on Friday night recruiting volunteers for the Bird Monitoring Program to sample 130 points in central and northern Louisiana between May 15 and June 7. Anyone who is interested in participating in this program may contact Kermit Cummings (kccbirder@aol.com) for additional information.
Dave Patton and Grace Eyster represented LOS at the 1998 State Science Fair in Baton Rouge. LOS awards trophies and prizes to outstanding young people with entries. This year's LOS winners are: Senior Division: Debbie Williams - Prairieville; Junior Division: Neenah Polman - Robert; Honorable mention: Phillip Sylvest - Gramercy. Phillip is a LOS member and exhibited his project at the Friday night meeting. Congratulations to all of you!
Roger Breedlove announced the prizes for the two winners of the 1998 parish birding contest will be 1999 pelagic trips. The two winners will be Most Birds Seen in a Parish and Highest Percent of Birds.
At the LOS Board meeting on Friday night, the board voted to pledge $2,000 to Orleans Audubon for the purchase of land on Grand Isle. The board also approved the establishment of a LOS web page which can be found at: http://www4.linknet.net/LOS. The board also tentatively approved a 1-800 number for A RARE BIRD ALERT to be handled by Michael Crago in New Orleans. When this number is established, it will be published in the LOS News.
LOS would like to thank Marianna Tanner and Judy Fruge for again taking care of registration; and Nettie and George Broussard, Eloise Mullen and Joseph Vallee for help with hospitality, sales and other duties as assigned. As always, the Cameron Knights of Columbus members put on an excellent dinner Saturday night. Thanks to everyone involved.
The LOS Fall Meeting will be October 23/24, 1998. The winter meeting will be in Shreveport January 29-31, 1999.
Judith O'Neale, Secretary/Treasurer

Instructions for Reporting Louisiana Bird Observations

--by Steven W. Cardiff, J.V. Remsen and Donna L. Dittman

Official Louisiana State Review List (September 1997)


LOS Cloth Patch: $5. 00 + $l.00 p/h

LOS decal: $1.00 + $.5O p/h

ABA Trip List: $1.25 + $.5O p/h

Louisiana Checklists: 15 for $5.OO pp

Make check payable to LOS
Order from: Judith O'NeaIe
504 Whitebark Dr, Lafayette LA 70508-6362

Gleanings From The Web
Recent lively discussion was enjoyed by those subscribed to LABIRD-L about those reviled INTRODUCED SPECIES. This discussion inspired some poetry, and in this submission, John Sylvest was responding to comments from Bill Fontenot and Paul Conover about the Eurasian Collared Dove (aka Scuz Dove) and Brown tree snakes.
Enjoy . . .
Ode to Bill & Paul
--Jboy (labird's staff theologian)
a tallow tree, a collared dove
a pair of starlings making love
intrusions ever episodic
why worry over old dioxin
or any other tasteless toxin
concerns that wax quixotic
volcanic forces are erupting
ocean tides our marsh corrupting
ice age approaches with the cure
el nino, twisters and typhoons
brown snakes, hyacinths, rabid coons,
kudzu, cowbirds are all that's sure
for meteors are raining down
earth's greenery will soon be brown
no star wars shields defending
our helios is burning out
so what is all the fuss about?
entropic process never ending
so bill take heart and paul relent
less your valuable energy's spent
toward the heat-death of the universe
embrace eurasian lookin'
pigeon exchange biology for good religion
all will get better after all gets worse---

Great Texas Bird Classic
The 2nd Annual Great Texas Birding Classic was great fun. Last year, our team, sponsored by Compaq/Houston Audubon, won with a score of 298. This year (same 4 guys -same sponsor), we finished 2nd with 297 and the winners (Wildbird Magazine) had 298. Third went to Leica with 284. We had a 2 bird lead over Leica and a 10 bird lead over Wildbird after the valley leg (207 - 205 -197). Things were still tight after the central coast leg and we had kept the same order, although Wildbird gained about 5 birds on us (253 - 251 - 248). Leica had trouble in the piney woods on the upper coast run and started dropping back. About 7:00 p.m., we were still a couple of birds ahead of Wildbird, though we didn't know it. They opted to try for rare gulls at Bolivar and we chanced that the incoming tide would impede any such efforts and decided to try for Monk Parakeet, King Eider (first state record found the day before during scouting by Leica) and Black Rail. We got the Monk, but missed the eider and the rail. Wildbird found Lesser and Great Black-backeds, Iceland and Glaucous. Their last minute strategy paid off and they simply beat us. I don't think we'll do it again next year. Although fun and competitive as hell - the grind is unbelievable. We ate out of a grocery sack, drank from a cooler and got by on about 2 hours sleep per night for a week, not to mention the many hours devoted to scouting for a month before the bell sounded. But, who knows -- after we've caught up on our sleep --
Report from Roger Breedlove

LA Rare Bird Alerts And Message Phones
Thanks to Michael Crago a toll free number has been activated for Louisiana. It is a joint project between Orleans Audubon Society and LOS.
Toll Free Number: Statewide 1-877-834-BIRD
l. For general message
2. Birding hotspots in LA (SE only at present)
3. To leave a rare bird sighting
4. Field Trips
5. Rare birds
6. Meeting information
7. BirdLine (LABIRD)
In the New Orleans area the RBA remains 834-BIRD. Please send Michael any information on field trips and meetings which should be posted on this line. Michael L. Crago, 523 Broadway St., New Orleans LA 70118-3515, 504-866-0408 ppdcrago@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu
Baton Rouge Audubon RBA: 504-768-9874 SW Acadiana Audubon RBA: 318-988-9898

LOS Officers And Board Members
President:Matt Courtman, P.O. Box 3197, Baton Rouge, LA 70821
504.387.4000; bswbr.mmc@em2.com
Vice-President:David J. L'Hoste, 5708 Annunciation St., New Orleans, LA 70115
(h)504.899.5018; (w)504.566.0056; lhoste@lhostelaw.com
Sec.-Treasurer:Judith O'Neale, 504 Whitebark, Lafayette, LA 70508
318.981.1011; jloneale@aol.com
Past President:Dave Patton, 122 Memory Lane, Lafayette, LA 70506
318.232.8410; wdpatton@bellsouth.net
Board Member:Robby Bacon, 357 Washington St., Lake Charles, LA 70605
Board Member:Kermit Cummings, 517 Hiawatha Trail, Pineville, LA 71360
318.640.0312; kccbirder@aol.com
Board Member:Melvin Webber, P.O. Box 245, Reserve, LA 70084
LOS News Editor:Carol Foil, 1180 Stanford Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
(h & fax) 504.387.0368; (w) 504.346.3119; foil@vt8200.vetmet.lsu.edu
Journal of Louisiana Ornithology: Dr. James Ingold, Department of BioScience, LSUS, One University Place, Shreveport, LA 71115

Volunteers Needed
Louisiana is under-represented in the citizen science projects of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon's BirdSource Projects! These great citizen science projects need backyard birders and other birders to send in their Louisiana observations. Help end the Northeastern and West Coast bias in these data sets.
For Project FeederWatch, you only need record birds at your feeders once every two weeks from November through March. One Birdsource project that needs Louisiana observations is Warbler Watch. The purpose of this on-the-web project is to track the migratory movements and breeding distribution of North America's warblers.
For more information, you can visit these websites: http://birdsource.cornell.edu/pfw/; http://birdsource.cornell.edu/warblers or write to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, P0. Box 11, Ithaca, NY 14851-0011.

Studies In Neotropical Ornithology
OrnithoIogical Monographs #48 has been published. This commemorative volume aclcnowledges the central contributions of the late Theodore A. Parker III to neotropical ornithology. Each copy is $49.95 and add $4.00 per copy for S&H. Make payment by Mastercard, Visa or check and send to:
Assistant to the Treasurer
AOU, Department of Biology
Southwestern College
100 College Street
Winfield, KS 67156

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LA Checklist ||  LBRC ||  LOS News ||  LOS Sales ||  Meetings ||  Pelagic Trips
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LOS News Editor: Carol Foil, 1180 Stanford Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
(h & fax) 504.387.0368; (w) 504.346.3119; foil@vt8200.vetmet.lsu.edu

posted 10June98