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No. 182 BATON ROUGE, LASeptember 1998

LOS NEWS

Newsletter of the Louisiana Ornithological Society


Table of Contents

The Birding Trip From Hell Greetings from President L'Hoste
Great Backyard Bird CountThe Botanical Birder
Pelagic Trip Report for August 1998Pelagic Trip Sign-up
Henslow's Sparrow in LouisianaBook Review - West Indies
Jaeger IdentificationGulf Migrations Study Website
CBC Summary 1997/98CBC Quiz
The Journal of Louisiana OrnithologyLouisiana Birdline
Official LOS NewsCorrections - Kelp Gull Article
Art in ScienceLOS Fall Meeting/Cameron Lodging
Membership FormLouisiana Wildlife Rehabbers
LOS OfficersProject Feeder Watch

The Birding Trip From Hell
by David J. L'Hoste
For me, insomnia begins three to five days before every birding trip. Deprived of sleep by anxiety and wasted adrenalin, I toss and turn (flail, according to my wife) as birds crisscross my imagination well into morning hours. The uncontrollable salivation doesn't begin until the night before. When I speak in this fashion of a birding trip, I don't mean hopping down to Grand Isle or Venice for the day. I refer, in these circumstances, to very special trips, trips to faraway places held sacred by birders -- Southeast Arizona, Ding Darling, The Valley.
In May of 1995, with a frequent flyer voucher nearing expiration, I made such a trip, solo, to Northern California. I planned to bird the coastal areas between San Francisco and Monterey, Monterey Bay, and Point Reyes National Seashore. For weeks, I studied guides and maps. I had a few sleepless nights in anticipation. Involuntary salivation commenced on the last night -- the night eighteen inches of rain closed New Orleans International Airport for the first time since Hurricane Andrew. I stopped salivating and started sweating. My frequent and frantic calls to the airport for any word on the resumption of service were answered by a computer reporting departure schedules recorded in drier times. About the time I convinced myself the airport wouldn't open -- past salivating, past sweating, certain my dread would cause several important blood vessels in my head to burst -- the skies cleared briefly, and Delta whisked me away toward the west.
I couldn't convince myself that indeed I had made it away until I landed in Salt Lake City for a connecting flight. I had forty minutes to wait, and I spent it staring into reflections on the glass walls of the concourse and into the darkness beyond and dreaming of birds I knew only from pictures in books. Then, in a husky, sexy, overly-polite voice, the lady at the gate announced the cancellation of my flight -- the last flight out of Salt Lake City.
If fate ever takes you to Salt Lake City, a visually spectacular place, do not, under any circumstances, stay at the Airport Comfort Inn. Comfort is a misnomer, and it is nowhere near the airport. But it is a popular place. Every eighteen-wheeler between Kansas City and the West Coast stops there for the night. Some stop at midnight, some at 2:00 a. m., others don't get in until 3:30 or 4:00. While I didn't get much sleep, the 6:00 a. m. taxi to the airport allowed me to start my Utah list: house finch, starling.
With the screech of the jet's tires on the runway in San Francisco, my clenched jaw slackened, the knot on my brow loosened. Now it didn't matter if the wheels fell off or the mother of all earthquakes swallowed the plane and the city, too. At least I would die in California. I had made it. Everything was rosy now. The shuttle bus to Alamo Car Rental was prompt; there was no waiting for a rental agent. The agent, tan and perky, greeted me with a broad smile and asked the expected, "Hiya. May I see your driver's license and credit card?"
"You most certainly may." Perkiness is contagious, and I was in California and everything was right with the world. "And I have a discount voucher from Delta," I added as I handed her the voucher, my American Express card and the stub of the speeding ticket I had gotten chasing birds on Grand Isle. She peered at the ticket stub in a puzzled way for a moment then smiled, even more broadly than before, as if she had just gotten the punchline.
"No, I need your driver's license," she said through a California-girl giggle.
"But that is my driver's license," I said.
"This isn't a driver's license," she replied.
"Is too."
"Is not."
"Is too." Our conversation progressed on this rather erudite level for several minutes until I finally demanded to see the manager. Tiny beads of perspiration were forming on my temples and where my mustache would be if I could grow one.
As he approached, the manager, two or three years younger than the adolescent with whom I had been having a discussion, pulled headphones from his ears and let them drop around his neck. He was looking down at the Walkman on his belt, adjusting it, as he said, "Is there a problem here?"
"I have a rental reserved in my name," I said.
"Yea, but we need a legal driver's license."
"You think this is an illegal license?"
"I've seen licenses from all over, and I've never seen one like that."
"Well, I'm a lawyer, and I assure you this is a valid license. See, it says 'receipt for driver's license and temporary operators permit.'"
"I don't mean to dis you, you being a lawyer, but it says 'receipt for license.'"
"Listen, I came two thousand miles, and unless I can rent a car, my trip is wasted. I can only accomplish what I came here for if I can rent the car Alamo said it would have for me when I got here."
"Sorry, man."
"You don't understand, I have taken four days away from my office to fly out here, and I want a car. Alamo solicited my business by including this voucher with my frequent flyer ticket, and I want a car."
"Can't help you man."
"I am going to sue you and Alamo -- a BIG suit. On the phone, your agent only asked me what state I was licensed in and if I had a credit card. I told her Louisiana and yes, and on that basis I flew two thousand miles. NOW RENT ME A CAR!"
As I rode down highway 101, I tried to forget the scene at Alamo. I was angry with myself for getting so angry. I told myself that I needed to be more patient with people. Those young people were just trying to do their jobs.
"Do yourself a favor," said the cab driver. "They're not testing your common sense, but whether you know what's in the little book. Take a few minutes to read the little book before you take the test. Here we are. San Mateo Motor Vehicle Authority. Good luck."
First I stood in line 6 to get an application and the little book. After I filled out the application, I stood in line 9 and read as much as I could of the little book. Then I surrendered the little book and the application, and I was handed a California driver's license test. I was told to do my best and then go stand in line 14. I moved to a counter near a corner and calling upon seventeen years of experience as a lawyer and more than twenty-five as a driver, I proceeded to flunk the test. Just how many days does one have to register the sale of a motor vehicle in California? I don't know if it was to promote tourism or because I looked as if I had just been sentenced to death by firing squad, but the lady who scored my test, the nicest lady in California, gave me a license anyway. Two conditions were attached: the license was only good for four days and I had to carry on my person the evidence of my miserable failure -- the written test. Don't ask me why.
Refusing to give Alamo my business, or maybe just embarrassed to show my face, I asked for the cabby's advice and he dropped me at Thrifty. I'll forego discussion of the argument that occurred there. For unknown reasons, rental agents are wary of anyone who has had a license confiscated, temporary California license notwithstanding. Just know this: It was necessary to confer forcefully, as forcefully as I knew how, with two agents and the manager before I was finally able to drive away, further west, as far west as the road would take me and then south, south to Monterey.
At Half Moon Bay, a quaint village on the coast, I telephoned the California rare-bird hotline. It was reporting cattle egret and great-tailed grackle. AAAAAAGGGHHH!!
Epilogue: Everything above is true, or nearly so, except the title. Although I lost several hours of my first day to . . . ahem . . . "administrative necessities," I was lucky enough to squeeze in seven hours birding the coast and nearby forests, from Half Moon Bay to Monterey. The pace was hectic -- time-warped from trying to make up for the lost opportunity. But calling it a trip from hell is decidedly inaccurate for all that happened after my call to the hotline. I saw spectacle after spectacle, things I could never forget -- even if I tried.
© 1998 David J. L'Hoste

"HELLO!" From New President David L'Hoste
These are exciting times for the membership of LOS and for birding in Louisiana. There is a resurgent interest in our newsletter with Carol Foil's fresh and energetic input as editor; there is immediate and easy access to LOS News and an ever growing body of other information about LOS and birding in Louisiana with the launching of the LOS website; there is a fledgling state-wide, toll-free bird hotline; there is the informative and always entertaining exchange of thoughts and opinions of birders, including leading professional and amateur ornithologists, on the LABIRD and HUMNET mailing lists; there is the opportunity to witness and participate in the defining of Louisiana pelagic birding with the now quarterly excursions by our membership into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico; there is the ongoing Migration Over the Gulf study by LSUMNS, which is adding exponentially to what we know about trans-Gulf migration; there is the new effort by Orleans Audubon Society and the continued good work by Baton Rouge Audubon Society to preserve coastal habitat used as staging and resting areas by neotropic migrants.
Exciting times, indeed, and I am fortunate to serve as the new President of LOS. As president, I look forward to participating in these and further developments and invite the input of each and every member as to how LOS can best serve what in my view is its paramount function: providing opportunity for contact and exchange between and among those who love and appreciate the gifts of nature, especially birds. David J. L'Hoste

Announcement From Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and National Audubon
The 2nd Annual Great Backyard Bird Count (cosponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon) will take place February 19-22, 1999. For the count, every birder in NA is being asked to count the birds you see at your feeders, local parks, and other areas, and to enter your reports at the BirdSource website . The count is a way to add to a vast database (that includes info from the NA Winter Finch Survey, Warbler Watch, Christmas Bird Counts, Project FeederWatch, etc.) that will help make sure common birds remain common and to help species whose numbers are already in decline.
The technology should be in place this year to allow anyone to query the database with specific questions about which species were reported where, down to zip code. Again, there'll be species accounts, bird images and sounds, an extensive Map Room for within- and between-project abundance and distribution comparisons, and other info.
As always, there's no sign up or fee, you just go to the website and enter your data. Last year, we received more than 14,000 reports during a three-day period. This year, we're hoping for even more. If you have questions, please feel free to email me. Thanks!
Allison Wells
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850

The Botanical Birder
by Bill Fontenot
From Ragweed to Riches
Feared and hated by millions of hay-fever sufferers, ragweed has nevertheless proven itself as a vital nutritional link for migrating and wintering birds. Ragweed (Ambrosia[!] sp.) is a New World genus within the Aster family (Asteraceae); and currently comprises some 42 species, the majority of which are annual and perennial desert shrubs. Here 'n Louisiana, 5 species of ragweed occur. Of these, common ragweed (A. artemisiifolia) and giant ragweed (A. trifida) are distributed in nearly every parish of the state. Most all of the bird/ragweed interactions discussed below involve the latter species. Giant ragweed truly lives up to its common name, especially down below Interstate-10, where it regularly grows to heights of 15-20 feet. That an annual species can, within the space of 4 months, attain a size comparable to that of a 6-10 year old tree in southern Louisiana, speaks volumes about the biological dynamics associated with this part of the state. The baffled look on the faces of most visiting botanists and ecologists when confronted with tree-sized specimens of A. trifida readily attests to this fact!
In The Useful Wild Plants of Texas (1995; Volume 1), Cheatham and Johnston mention that ragweed seed in general contains 15-20 % crude protein by weight. It should come as no surprise, then, that many species of seed-eating (granivorous) birds are attracted to it when it is in fruiting condition. After several unsuccessful attempts to lure local wintering Song Sparrows to my backyard seed feeders in northeastern Lafayette parish, I can remember unintentionally leaving several stalks of giant ragweed standing along the ditch in my front yard one year. The result? Instant Song Sparrows - and Swamp Sparrows, and Northern Cardinals, and American Goldfinches, and House Finches. Presently, I'm convinced that the regular "disappearance" of Northern Cardinals from local seed feeders that many of us experience each October down along the Gulf Coast is very probably linked to the abundant presence of ragweed seed within nearby vacant lots, drainage canal edges, etc. Similarly, I attribute the delay between the initial early-autumn appearance of American Goldfinches within our local woodlands and their late-autumn/early-winter appearance at our seed feeders to the ragweed seed (and sweet gum seed) crop out in the wild.
Beyond this more-or-less expected association between fruiting ragweed and granivorous birds, there exists a much more intriguing partnership between fall-migrating insectivorous birds and the ragweed stands themselves. Several years ago, it was Paul Conover and Gary Broussard who first alerted me to the existence of such a partnership. While birding the western edge of the Atchafalaya Basin in late summer (long before ragweed sets seed), Conover and Broussard had observed several birds flitting in and out of a stand of giant ragweed. Stooping under the rank canopy for a closer look, they discovered a diverse group of migratory buntings and warblers - chief among them, the rare and elusive Mourning Warbler! Later, when accompanying National Wetland Center researcher Wylie Barrow during an early-September trip to one of his study plots within a coastal chenier in Cameron parish, I got the best looks that I'd ever had at Mourning Warblers as they foraged alongside Hooded and Kentucky Warblers and Northern Cardinals in an extensive stand of giant ragweed. Barrow is currently considering a more detailed investigation of the insect life within late-summer/early-fall ragweed colonies, but one of the primary denizens that he has already identified is a small, white, geometrid moth, which we noted several birds chasing during our early-fall trip. I'll leave it at that, and let Dr. Barrow apprize us of further details upon the completion of his study. But it seems apparent that ragweed stands act as rather lively insect substrates for fall-migrating birds.
As mentioned above, giant ragweed occurs statewide in Louisiana. It is most thickly distributed along moister alluvial soils and prairie clays associated with bottomland hardwood/agricultural areas and the prairie terrace, respectively. By the same token, you can find it in almost any disturbed site. Look for a large, rank plant - most often occurring in dense colonies - with large (up to 10" long by 7" wide) tri-lobed leaves which are sand-papery to the touch. Break off a branchlet and touch the severed end to the back of your hand, and you'll find out why one of its most common colloquial names is "bloodweed". While I certainly wouldn't encourage growing ragweed in wildlife gardens, it definitely wouldn't hurt to allow stowaways in uncultivated areas of your property, should they occur!

David Muth's voice rang out loud and clear over the decks of the Mr. Bud: "It's a jaeger!" LOS pelagic trip regulars might be excused for thinking that this would turn out to be a shearwater; our record of identifying the more confusing birds at first glance isn't very good. But David was right, as he usually is. This bird was not only larger than the Laughing Gulls in the area, it was faster, tougher, and altogether more charismatic. The gulls circled closer to the boat; did they want our protection? Pomarine Jaeger was added to several life lists, but some of us are waiting for the experts' final word. Identifying immature jaegers in the field will never be easy. On the other hand, there has been a significant change in birding over the past few years. Not only did several people take pictures, but Dave Patton and Dan Purrington have both posted images on their web sites for everyone to see, and others may have done the same by the time you read this.
[Editor's note: John Sevenair himself has a great website entitled Seabirds and Whales of Louisiana, where photos of many of the birds studied on LOS pelagics are posted.]
Not long after that we found a pod of pilot whales, and while we were whale-watching a subadult Masked Booby flew up briefly to investigate us. He soared over the boat, giving us all good looks. Next we found the bird of the day, at least as far as controversy is concerned. It was a storm-petrel. We followed as it flew low above the water, occasionally landing to pick up something to eat. The outermost primaries of its right wing were broken or molting, and there was something funny about the tail (but it did seem to be forked), and the bill seemed too large and the legs too short for Wilson's, and the white patch on the rump was . . . what? At least the cameras were clicking, and this time the experts should have enough evidence to make a decision. (Check Dave Patton's web site, for example). Maybe Band-rumped Storm-Petrel will finally make the official state list. Or maybe it won't. Time (and the Louisiana Bird Records Committee) will tell.
There were other birds, of course. Two Masked Boobies were paying more attention to each other than to us, and we were able to drift closer and closer until they filled our binocular fields. What we thought were Bridled Terns passed by some distance away, frustrating us for a while, but finally we were able to ease up on some that were sitting on pieces of floating wood. A shearwater, probably an Audubon's, also flew by in the distance, but we couldn't find another one of those. Occasionally a Magnificent Frigatebird or two floated by overhead, elegant and graceful. Yes, you can see them in Grand Isle and Cameron, but they're always, well, magnificent.
On several occasions during the day a question might have arisen: If this is a birding trip, why is everybody looking down into the water? The answer is simple; there's something magical about dolphins. When you see their fins in the distance; when they come toward you, jumping out of the water, seeming eager to meet you; when a dozen of them are swimming six or eight feet below you, jumping up for breaths of air, turning on their sides to look back up at you, it's hard to think about birds. Roger Breedlove, on duty in the pilot house, had our captain slow us down, and the dolphins stayed with us for a few timeless minutes. I looked up to see a line of hard-core LOS birders kneeling on the hard metal deck, looking at the mammals a few feet below. If the whale watchers find out about this we'll have to make our pelagic trip reservations early. And, who knows? Maybe an expert on cetaceans will come on one of our trips, or look at our pictures, and tell us whether we saw Atlantic Spotted Dolphins or Pantropical Spotted Dolphins.
This was one of our best whale days. Our first cetaceans were Bottlenose Dolphins, four of them, that played briefly under the bow not long after we crossed into blue water. We found our biggest group of whales by going to the wisps of condensation that formed when they exhaled. Mr. Bud moved in slowly, and finally we were among them, probably a couple of hundred Short-finned Pilot Whales advancing along a broad front. The large males patrol on the outside of their groups, while the smaller females with their calves stay inside. A few of these swam and surfaced briefly right under our bow.
The next trip is scheduled for September 19, and it's looking like we may fill up two boats! John Sevenair

Henslow's Sparrow in Southwest Louisiana
by Kenneth Moore
In recent years there has been concern in the scientific and birding communities about the population trend of the Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii). The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data clearly indicates a population decline. Christmas Bird Count (CBC) data indicate that the species is declining on the winter ranges. On the other hand, because of the shy, secretive nature of the Henslow's sparrow the data gathered by the BBS and CBC may not reflect the true population trends. On the breeding range the species generally sings late in the day and the vocalization is a weak insect-like sound. On the winter range the birds prefer to walk instead of fly, making censusing very difficult.
In the fall of 1996 a project was started on Fort Polk and the Vernon Ranger district to determine the winter population status and habitat preference of the Henslow's sparrow in Longleaf Pine forests. We first had to develop a census technique that would adequately count the birds. The Henslow's sparrow will usually flush only when a person walks within a few feet of it. Flushed birds fly a short distance in a low and jerky manner; after landing the birds usually run a short distance. In our study, the Henslow's sparrow was easily distinguished from other sparrows by this behavior. One technique used for censusing grasslands species is the rope drag. In this flushing method, two people drag a rope with jugs tied along its length to create noise for flushing birds. This method was impractical in our study plots because of the number of trees located on the census lines. Instead, we developed a method that involved two people each using two 4-meter bamboo poles to beat the vegetation. A third person centered between the two pole operators served as an observer to monitor for birds as they flushed in front of the survey line. All three individuals maintained a straight survey line approximately 20-meters wide and perpendicular to the transect while walking the length of the transect.
Sparrows were surveyed on 48 transects spaced approximately 0.5 km apart in longleaf-pine habitat. All transects were each surveyed four times in January-February 1996 and again in 1997. Vegetation was sampled in circular plots centered on the point from which a sparrow was originally flushed. Vegetation measurements taken included basal area (tree density), shrub density, canopy cover, litter depth, and herbaceous ground cover. The same measurements were collected at randomly selected points along transects where birds were not detected to represent unoccupied habitat that was available.
We expected to find more Bachman's sparrows on the survey lines than Henslow's sparrows. The Bachman's sparrow is a common breeder in the area and we had observed few Henslow's sparrow before the census started. We were surprised when we counted twice as many Henslow's sparrows as Bachman's. A total of 96 Henslow's sparrows were observed on the survey lines -- 34 in 1996 and 26 in 1997. Just over half of the survey lines had no sparrows detected on them, but some survey lines had several sparrows detected on them, which suggests some transects were located in areas that supported large numbers of sparrows.
Vegetation measurements indicated that the Henslow's sparrows preferred areas with low basal area and with very little litter on the ground. We believe from our observations that the most critical habitat trait that determines whether a Henslow's sparrow will occupy a site in our area is litter depth. The sparrow is a ground forager and rarely flies. With a large amount of ground litter (dead grass, pine needles, branches), the sparrow has difficulty moving through the litter. Litter could also make it difficult for the sparrow to forage for seeds on the ground. Fortunately, the forests on Fort Polk and the Forest Service are burned every three years; this reduces the amount of litter on the ground. Our data indicated that sparrows were more numerous on transects that had been burned within two years.
We started searching for sparrows in areas that had habitat characteristics that we had determined that the sparrows preferred. We soon discovered that small openings (1/4 acre) in mature longleaf pine forest usually had one to three sparrows occupying the site. In one two acre open area that contained a few pine trees we banded over thirty Henslow's sparrows during one winter. The sparrow was also found in pine savannas, but not in the concentrations found in forest openings. We have estimated, based on available habitat and our surveys, that there are 2000-4000 sparrows that spend the winter on Fort Polk and several hundred on the Vernon Ranger District.
During the winter of 1997 and 1998, we placed small transmitters on sparrows to determine their winter home range size. The sparrows were tracked each day using a receiver and antenna, a flag was placed at each location were a sparrow was found, and all locations were recorded using a GPS reading. We were again surprised to learn that the sparrow has a small home range (some had a home range less then acre) and that most sparrows spend the entire winter in one location.
Our study has shown that the Henslow's sparrow can be a common bird in the right habitat and might not be as rare as some have believed. However, our study was conducted on federal land that is managed for the Longleaf Pine ecosystem. Sparrows could be concentrated on such federal lands and be rare on private land where habitat management is not favorable for the sparrow. More studies need to be conducted in different habitats (coastal grasslands) and on private land to determine if the Henslow's sparrow needs more attention from federal agencies and the public than what it is receiving now. Kenneth Moore, Wildlife Biologist Ft. Polk, P.O. Box 362, Rosepine, LA 70659-0362 kmoore@gowebway.com

A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies Herbert Raffaele, James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith, Janis Raffaele
A Book Review by Bob Russell
When James Bond's Birds of the West Indies was first published in 1936, few birders had ever heard of Great Abaco, Saba, Dominica, or Bequia. Fewer still had heard of the Grand Cayman Thrush, Semper's Warbler, Grenada Dove, or the Puerto Rican Nightjar. In the ensuing 52 years, the first mentioned species winked out of existence, the middle two species teeter on the brink of extinction, while the latter species was rediscovered in viable numbers. The West Indies are "hot" now. Air travel has made nearly all of the main islands accessible from any point in America, ecotourism is promoted as a saviour for many of the region's resource-poor communities, and seldom does an issue or two of the new crop of birding magazines go by when there is not an article on some birding adventure in the islands.
The authors of the new Birds of the West Indies tap this wellspring of interest with an excellent guide to the region. Covering the Bahamas, Lesser and Greater Antilles, Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and the distant islands of San Andres and Providencia, the text presents coverage on 564 species of birds that occur or have recently occurred in the region. North American migrants, European strays with at least two documented records, and established exotics are all included so that a birder could reasonably travel to their destination with this one guide without lugging along several other North American texts to assure that they have adequate coverage.
One of the authors' goals was to create a text to "promote an interest in birds among the local people of the Caribbean's islands." To this goal they should succeed admirably. There is a succinct summary by major island groups of the major conservation issues, including recommendations for solving many of the region's problems. Several of the authors are in the vanguard of the growing Caribbean conservation movement and their opinions are based on many decades of experience grappling with the issues.
Each species insert has a basic identification synopsis, local names for the species in other languages when appropriate, notes on voice, status and range, and brief habitat descriptions. Every species is illustrated and both alternate and basic plumage are shown for many North American migrants like the wood warblers. The illustrations vary greatly in quality, but seem adequate for most birders' purposes. A small set of stunning full-page portraits of rare or extirpated species such as the St. Lucian Parrot or Martinique Oriole is a nice bonus. Although most species have a range map, the maps are a weakness in this book. Sometimes only a thin, difficult-to-decipher outline designates the bird's range while at other times a shaded map blowup of a specific island provides adequate coverage. Larger-scale maps would have helped, but would likely have added additional bulk to an already sizeable albeit still portable text.
The latest taxonomic changes are reflected in the species list. Splitters will be pleased to find four species of Stripe-headed Tanagers, two species of Tremblers, and a host of "new" Myiarchus flycatcher common names. Portraits of rarely illustrated species like the extinct Brace's Hummingbird and the Caribbean and Cuban Martins are fascinating to see. There is an intriguing list of vagrants and an exhaustive island-by-island checklist including resident, migrant, and wintering species.
There is a great deal of accumulated knowledge present in this work. Whether you are an arm-chair birder with little desire for meeting face-to-face with a poisonous Fer-de-lance in the middle of a Semper's Warbler hunt but enjoy the fascinating biodiversity of the northern edge of the tropics, or if you're the type that assiduously checks every hummock of habitat at the tip of Plaquemines Parish every spring for that first North American record Cuban Trogon, you will find this an indispensible text to have in your collection.

by Donna L. Dittmann & Steven W. Cardiff
"A" is for AGE; "B" is for BODY SIZE; and "C" is for CENTRAL RECTRICES----the first three things to assess as a jaeger approaches. Then, "D", "DON'T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS!," "E", EVALUATE plumage and soft part details (bill and leg color), and "F", note the upperwing and underwing FLASH (can you actually count the number of white primary shafts?). Finally, if possible, "G", GET a series of photographs or video tape (a single picture rarely shows enough detail to clinch an ID). Sounds simple? Sometimes, but not always.
Like their relatives the gulls, jaegers have distinct alternate, basic, and juvenal plumages, as well as sub-adult (first basic, second, and third year) plumages. Sub-adult plumages of jaegers are less clear-cut than those of gulls, increasing the difficulty of determining relative age. Further adding to the complexity of jaeger identification is that all species exhibit plumage polymorphisms (light, intermediate, and dark morphs). Most field guides only illustrate standard plumage types: light and dark morph alternate-plumaged adults, and a generalized immature or juvenal plumage. Such treatments greatly over-simplify identification problems of this group, and create confusion because many jaegers observed do not neatly fit the field guide descriptions. Birds of the Western Palearctic (BWP), Vol III (Cramp et al. editors, 1983) provided a modern accessible reference that included a detailed sequence and description of jaeger plumages. Although the text is difficult to assimilate, it is still our personal favorite reference. Seabirds, an identification guide (Harrison, 1983) was the first field guide to address jaeger plumages in detail (introducing many observers to definitive basic plumage), and was followed by Advanced Birding (Kaufman, 1990). Both of these sources provide helpful information to augment standard guides. Skuas and jaegers, a guide to the skuas and jaegers of the world (Olsen and Larsson, 1997) is the next step up for those particularly interested in jaeger identification. This guide is the most detailed to date, and includes 7 color plates and 93 black and white photos devoted to jaeger identification. It is the first guide to illustrate some of the more difficult birds to identify: worn and bleached individuals, birds in active molt, and sub-adults.
Despite all the published treatments of the problem, jaeger ID continues as one of the foremost challenges for US birders, especially along the Gulf Coast where it is difficult to gain experience because jaegers are generally few and far between, and where even fewer individuals allow close, leisurely studies. Jaegers are generally inaccessible, and only one species, the Pomarine Jaeger, is currently regular in Louisiana in any numbers. Also compounding matters for Louisiana observers is that a large proportion of birds that will be encountered will not be in definitive alternate plumage, thus making it difficult to practice "jizz" of individuals of known species.
Jaeger Identification Characters
When you observe a jaeger, what features should you look for? Few single field marks are "diagnostic" for any one species. As mentioned above, the ABCs are a good way to begin. A bird's age is important, so as to put observed field marks into proper context. Underwing lining color, shape of central rectrices (= middle pair of tail feathers or "T1s"), undertail covert pattern, and leg color are helpful to age an individual. Non-dark juveniles and sub-adults have barred or checkered brown and white wing-linings; these linings get progressively darker as the bird ages. Underwing linings are solidly dark in adults at all times of the year, but note that some dark morph birds (Pomarine and Parasitic jaegers) can have essentially all dark underwing linings at any age. Leg color of all juvenile jaegers is bright blue with just the distal half of the foot (toes and webs) black; the rest of the foot and leg darkens with age (except Long-tailed Jaeger; most individuals retain a juvenile-like pattern). Undertail coverts are black in adults, barred in juvenal and sub-adult plumages; the pattern and coloration of the bands is helpful for species recognition in fresh plumage (generalizations: crisp even-width bands of dark brown and white in Long-tailed and Pomarine, more wavy, less defined, rusty-white and brown in Parasitic).
Body size and shape is another helpful starting reference point. Jaegers are sexually dimorphic with respect to body size, males generally smaller than females. There is overlap in size between Long-tailed and Parasitic, and Parasitic and Pomarine jaegers. Because jaegers rarely pause next to more familiar species for direct comparison (other birds generally do not want to associate with them) it can be difficult to get a good relative size assessment. Jaegers also maneuver quickly around their hapless victims, and apparent size seems to fluctuate from moment to moment. Further confusion may result from comparing light-colored birds (gulls and terns) to dark-colored jaegers, or from deceptive viewing conditions at sea. In general, Pomarine is about the size of or bigger than a Ring-billed Gull; Parasitic, about the size of or bigger than a Laughing Gull; and Long-tailed, more or less the size of a Franklin's Gull. Pomarine, the largest species, also tends to look the bulkiest, possessing broadest-based wings (primaries appear proportionately shorter and narrower than the broad secondaries), and a proportionately short, broad tail. Long-tailed is the smallest species and typically appears proportionately long-and slender-winged and has a proportionately long tailed and overall graceful appearance. Parasitics are in between, but generally are more Pomarine-like in overall proportions. It is often possible to recognize extreme individuals by size, proportions, and flight style in the absence of other field marks - but this is a risky proposition in most instances. Beware of subjective dogma regarding size and jizz (e.g., "barrel-chested Pomarine," "tern-like Long-tailed"). Such descriptions may only misdirect you from a correct ID. These statements are oversimplifications and were no doubt derived from extreme individuals. Your jaeger-time will be more productively spent studying and describing diagnostic suites of characters. On the water, jaegers have a distinctive silhouette; compared to a gull, jaegers' long wings give their rear end a more "tipped-up" appearance.
The central rectrix shape of alternate-plumaged jaegers is well-covered in all field guides. Only Pomarine possesses long (often twisted) or short, wide, and blunt or rounded T1s. Whereas both Parasitic and Long-tailed have pointed T1s of various lengths (based on age and stage of molt), only Long-tailed has proportionately very long and slender T1s. T1 shape, presence or absence, may also be of importance at other times of the year. The T1s of juvenile Long-taileds are short and rounded versus more pointed feathers on Parasitics; T1s of 1st and 2nd spring Long-taileds are often worn to a thin, thread-like projection. The T1s are molted twice a year in Pomarine and Long-tailed; these species may lack T1s (or appear that way) during molt, and possess short T1s in basic plumage. Parasitics shed their T1s only once a year during a complete post-breeding molt.
As noted above, "D" stands for don't jump to conclusions based on your initial impressions of age, size, and tail. Continue to observe the jaeger as long as possible, noting as many of the important plumage features as possible (see illustration). Remind yourself that ID characters in this group are largely subjective and subtle, and that, in many cases, only well-studied combinations of features will allow a positive ID.
The number of pale primary feather shafts can be crucial to identification. The majority of jaegers show the following pattern: Long-taileds (2), Parasitic (4-5), and Pomarine (5-6). Although there is some variation within species in number of white shafts, the extremes of Long-tailed (2) and Pomarine (6) are essentially diagnostic. Not to be confused with the pale primary shafts, all species have white bases to the primary feathers (see illustration); these contrasting white areas create the wing "flash." The amount of white visible as the primary "flash" on the upper surface of the wing is directly related to the degree the individual feathers are spread in flight and whether they are covered by the primary coverts (worn or molting birds appear to have a much larger flash if the coverts are worn or missing). Only adult (and older subadult) Long-taileds can show essentially no upperwing flash; Pomarine Jaeger typically shows the largest flash. Underwing flash is produced the same way. Again, only adult Long-taileds are essentially "flash-less". Some Pomarines (unlike the other species) can show a second light crescent area basal to the "flash" (a double-flash). Beware of individuals in wing molt and/or with very worn outer primaries as this may affect the number of white shafts present or the overall effect of the wing flash.
Other important features include: 1) Contrast of upper surface of the wing. Adult and advanced sub-adult Long-taileds have a distinct contrast between the paler back and upperwing coverts and the flight feathers. This pattern is less obvious in Parasitic, and essentially lacking in Pomarine. 2) The pattern of underparts can provide insights into age (presence or absence of breast band, pattern of undertail coverts) or plumage stage (alternate vs. basic). Head pattern can also provide clues (streaking or light patch at base of upper mandible present on Parasitics). Bill shape is also helpful. Parasitics have proportionately long, slender bills with only a slight hook. Both Long-tailed and Pomarines have more prominently hooked bills, Long-tailed relatively short and thick as compared to a Parasitic, Pomarines appearing generally more massive in all proportions. The coloration of the bill can also provide clues: adults show all dark bills, whereas subadults and juveniles are usually bicolored. 3) Presence of barred upper tail coverts may be suggestive of a particular species (e.g., prominently barred, and essentially almost "white-rumped" at a distance may indicate Pomarine), or sub-adult or basic plumage.
Plumage characters are affected by wear and molt. Assessing the presence of molt or wear can be especially helpful to determine a bird's age/plumage type. "Fresh" plumage is usually indicated by paler feather tips (prominent in juveniles). As the feathers wear, the lighter tips are abraded off; prolonged wear will result in more ragged-edged or broken feathers. Worn feathers may become bleached by the sun, taking on a "blonde" appearance. Extreme wear may even "skeletonize" feathers to the point that only the shaft remains. In general, jaegers are in relatively "fresh" plumage by early to mid-winter (juveniles fresh in late summer-fall). Basic plumage is acquired by a complete molt that includes all of the body and flight feathers (except for juveniles that have a partial body molt and retain juvenal flight feathers until the following summer/fall). Birds molting from alternate to basic plumage may be observed during fall migration and early winter: jaegers encountered during this period will likely appear in a transitional plumage and show gaps in the wing or tail (missing or growing-in flight feathers). Alternate plumage is acquired by a partial body molt that is usually begun on the wintering grounds and proceeds during spring migration, often not fully completed until after arrival on the breeding grounds. During late winter and spring, birds may appear in transitional plumage (molting from an immature-like basic plumage to alternate plumage) and Long-taileds and Pomarines may appear shorter-tailed as they grow in their alternate T1s. Individual variation in degree of body molt varies greatly in first summer and other sub-adults. Summering individuals found in Louisiana often fall into this category, being extremely worn, bleached, and generally ratty. They may possess different generations (ages) of feathers, from fresh to nearly skeletal. Onset of pre-basic molt in these non-breeders may begin as early as late spring. These birds represent the greatest identification challenges as they often seem to defy age determination and stage of molt. Summering birds are often in poor condition, and may seek sanctuary on beaches. Surprisingly, jaegers are often more difficult to identify when they are holding still - sitting on the water or standing on a beach. This is because many of the "diagnostic" characters such as wing pattern, tail, undertail, etc. are concealed. Thus, onshore jaegers, even those accompanied by extensive photographs, often prove difficult to identify conclusively, especially if there are not any flight photos.
"G" is for get photos. Photographers will have an obvious advantage in capturing details for subsequent analysis; the camera or video tape sometimes captures marks not noticed or not well-resolved by the eye. With a good set of photos, identifications can often be resolved long after the bird has disappeared (sometimes years later!). As for those sight records, once the jaeger disappears over the horizon, immediately jot down as many details as possible. Hopefully, the sum of all the characters observed will enable you to determine age class, plumage type, and species identification. Speaking from experience, don't count on being able to remember the details later, as the next jaeger in view (or the next, or the next) may blur your memory of the preceding one. Remember, few jaegers readily fit the "standard fieldguide" plumages.
Status of Jaegers In Louisiana
Our knowledge of the status and distribution of jaegers in Louisiana waters in largely incomplete due to a lack of offshore coverage. What little data is available suggests the following patterns of occurrence. Pomarine Jaeger appears to be an uncommon spring and fall transient, and winter resident offshore. This species is occasionally encountered during the summer, when stragglers are sometimes seen onshore. Many observations of this jaeger have been from nearshore waters, where it is usually observed harassing gulls behind shrimp boats. By watching aggregations of birds feeding behind shrimp boats, the likelihood of seeing this species, especially during the last week of April and early May (when often in full alternate plumage) is good (contrary to the belief that Parasitic is the inshore jaeger). It is regularly observed on the Sabine CBC just off East Jetty at Cameron. It has also proven to be the most numerous jaeger in deeper offshore waters. Pomarine Jaeger was removed from the LBRC Review List in September 1997. Both Parasitic and Long-tailed jaegers are currently on the LBRC Review List. Records of Parasitics are scattered throughout the spring, fall, and winter. It is probably more common than reported, with the paucity of records likely attributable to the lack of coverage. To date, there are only two accepted records of Long-tailed Jaeger for Louisiana. Both are documented with specimens: Cameron, 24 April 1965 (Louisiana Birds, Lowery 1974) and from off South Pass, 28 May 1990 (8th Report of the LBRC, Dittmann & Kleiman, ms). This species is probably a regular transient in blue water off Louisiana and potentially a rare summering species.
All three species have been reported at various inland sites during hurricanes or tropical storms, although few records are currently accepted to species. All species are possible on large inland bodies of water during migration, particularly in fall (when reported from many other inland sites throughout the United States).
Quiz (use other references as necessary): What species of jaeger is depicted in the accompanying illustration, and why. Can it be identified? Hint: observed offshore during May. LSUMNS, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA

Gulf Migration Study Continues This Fall
The lead scientist on the project is Bob Russell. Other platform observers for this fall are Mac Myers, Brian Gibbons, Rick Knight, Jon King, Stacy Peterson, and Dave Patton, and David Muth filling in when needed. The LSU "Migration Over the Gulf" Project now has a web site: http://transgulf.org.
At this site you will find general information about the study, photos of offshore platforms and migrants using platforms, radar images and interpretations, biographies and pictures of project personnel, real-time correspondence about fallouts, preliminary interpretations, and links to other migration sites. In addition, weekly updates of the offshore observations are posted to the site each Monday. Much more material will eventually be added, including many more bird-on-platforms pictures. Recently the weekly update was delayed because of Hurricane Earl-- which resulted in the evacuation of the entire team.

Summary of Louisiana Christmas Bird Counts 1997-98
by Steven W. Cardiff
The number of Louisiana CBCs remained at 21, with the absence of Tensas River N.W.R. and the addition of Lacassine N.W.R.-Thornwell (Lacassine). Most counts enjoyed favorable weather, but Baton Rouge, Sabine N.W.R. (Sabine), and Thibodaux were handicapped by heavy late afternoon rain, Bossier-Caddo-Bienville (B-C-B) endured all-day light rain, and Bogue Chitto N.W.R. and Reserve dealt with subfreezing starts.
Excluding several "questionable" species, a combined 257 species were detected, apparently breaking the previous statewide record of 255 in '83-'84. Leading the way, as usual, was Sabine with 180 species, followed by Creole at 161, and Johnsons Bayou and Lacassine with 156. Baton Rouge's 151 was completely unexpected, as was B-C-B's 123; both were new count records by wide margins, despite rain. Greater Roadrunner and Burrowing Owl were missed statewide for the second straight year. The 7,129,997 individuals statewide was about the same as last year; Crowley (2.18 million) and Lacassine (3.6 million) accounted for 81% (80% of which were Red-winged Blackbirds).
Rarest of the rare: Cinnamon Teal (Lafayette, New Orleans), Swainson's Hawk (Lacassine), two Solitary Sandpipers (Creole), Ruff (Pine Prairie), Franklin's Gull (B-C-B), Glaucous Gull (Grand Isle), Calliope Hummingbird (St. Tammany), Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Baton Rouge, Lafayette), Allen's Hummingbird (Baton Rouge, St. Tammany), an astounding four Bell's Vireos (Crowley, Johnsons Bayou-2, Venice), "Audubon's" Warbler (B-C-B), Townsend's Warbler (Lacassine), Western Tanager, Black- headed Grosbeak, Spotted Towhee, and Orchard Oriole (Baton Rouge), two more Spotted Towhees at Creole, and Bullock's Oriole (Johnsons Bayou, Reserve). Most impressive among the many other reports of unusual species: 20 Sandhill Cranes at St. Tammany; far-inland Am. Avocets, Yellow Warbler, and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows at B-C-B; and an out-of-habitat Henslow's Sparrow at Lacassine.
Nine CBCs (same number as '96-'97) reported seven species of hummingbirds (one more than '96-'97), but total individuals plummeted for the second consecutive year to 111. Baton Rouge hosted most species and individuals (6/50), followed by Lafayette and Reserve (4/16), and St. Tammany (3/18). Rufous and Rufous/Allen's were down by 50% from '96-'97. Above-average numbers of Ruby- throateds detected in southern Louisiana through winter '97-'98 were barely reflected by the CBCs (eight on two counts vs. five on three counts last year).
Of remarkable magnitude were counts of 18,773 Double-crested Cormorants (Shreveport), 32 Ospreys (New Orleans), 25,347 Am. Coots, 46 Le Conte's Sparrows, and seven Baltimore Orioles (Baton Rouge), 107 Eur. Collared-Doves (Sabine), and 88,647 Boat- tailed Grackles (Lacassine). Eur. Collared- Doves mushroomed to 185 on nine counts (vs. 67/4 in '96-'97). Absent last year, Red-breasted Nuthatches invaded in modest numbers (50 on 14 counts). Purple Finches and Pine Siskins remained scarce, Am. Goldfinches were relatively uncommon in southern Louisiana, and House Finches slid to only 277 on 10 counts.
In terms of the overall scheme of things, the '97-'98 CBC season in Louisiana comes close to defying any coherent explanation. As has been the case during previous relatively mild CBC periods, a good assortment of Neotropical or coastal winterers remained north of their normal ranges. But, despite good weather in most cases, many counts were nonetheless considered disappointingly "average." The exceptions were B-C-B and Baton Rouge, where the combination of mildness, optimal local habitat conditions, and good coverage may have accounted for an unprecedented diversity of waterbirds and lingering passerines.
I will take this opportunity to pass along a few reminders and cautions for compilers/observers to keep in mind during the upcoming '98-'99 CBC season. Compilers, please check your count forms several times for accuracy before submitting them to National Audubon. All counts were generally well-compiled, but very few were completely mistake-free. The most common errors are mis-counted species or individuals totals, entering numbers next to the wrong species, omission of species, and missing details for boldfaced species. Mis-counts usually result from "neutral" entries such as various "forms" or "sp." being included in the species total.
Boldfacing automatically means that details are required, and the various details must account for all the individuals reported for that species. In addition to what, where, when, who, etc., "details" must include descriptions, and must be written by the actual observers on, or as soon as possible after, count day (e. g., second-hand details written by someone other than the actual observer are unacceptable). Observers, please don't humiliate compilers by making them beg for details for months after the count. Just get it over with and write-up your unusual birds on count day. Finding good birds and writing good details is something to be proud of, not dreaded.
In the meantime, it is a compiler's responsibility to relentlessly pursue details, including following-up on details that may not have been submitted by the time the count form is turned in to NAS. If, after a reasonable effort, details are not forthcoming, then compilers should notify me about the deletion of undocumented species or individuals. [For observers that are chronically delinquent with details, or who are otherwise unwilling to document the unusual birds that they report, I would simply suggest that compilers team them with more conscientious participants.] Otherwise, a "no details" or "unconvincing details" notation will be inserted; undocumented individuals in excess of those accounted for by details will be deleted and the total individuals will be adjusted accordingly. Compilers are also responsible for evaluating the strength of details for boldfaced species, before they make the decision to include unusual species on their count.
Beginning in '98-'99, I will be paying more attention to several CBC-related bird distribution/ID situations that have become more of a problem the past couple of years:
1) Canada Goose - this species is a commonly kept "barnyard" goose throughout the state (usually "large forms"). Occasionally, free-flying, resident, "feral" flocks become established, but usually remain relatively sedentary near their home farm, park, or golf course. With time, some of these "populations" may proliferate and expand to levels of "countability." But for now, such birds do not belong on CBC lists any more than do muscovies, "Easter ducks", or "dinner geese." An exception is the established and slowly expanding introduced "large form" that is resident in coastal Cameron Parish (originating from introductions at Rockefeller Refuge). The "Lesser" Canada Goose (mostly hutchinsii), a "small form," is the expected wild-occurring Canada Goose in Louisiana (with a few "large forms" occasionally mixed-in), and they have increased dramatically during the last decade as a wintering bird in northern, central, and southwestern LA. The species is still a relatively rare and local wintering bird in southeast LA, however, and reports of Canada Geese from that area should be accompanied by details and justifications of why they are considered wild vs. feral/captive. On all CBCs, please indicate whether "large" or "small" forms are involved, if known.
2) Mottled Duck vs. Am. Black Duck - this combo has always presented an ID challenge, primarily in cases of Am. Black Ducks being reported within the range of Mottled Duck in southern LA. Recently, however, Mottled Ducks have been reported in central and northern LA with increasing frequency. There is also the problem of Mallard X Am. Black Duck hybrids, and possibly even Mallard X Mottled Duck hybrids. Therefore, details will be necessary for all Am. Black Ducks, and for any Mottled Ducks north of Hwy. 190.
3) Bullock's Oriole vs. Baltimore Oriole - As has recently been discussed in several venues, there is a serious and underrated problem in distinguishing females and immatures of these two species. Details of face pattern, wing pattern, undertail coverts, and general dorsal and ventral coloration are crucial for positive ID; photos are highly desirable. Please remember that Bullock's Oriole is a Review List species and requires extensive documentation. Reports with only sketchy details are best reported as "Northern Oriole sp."
4) House Finch vs. Purple Finch - House Finches are sometimes mistaken for Purple Finches by inexperienced observers, and I am becoming increasingly skeptical of Purple Finches that are reported on southern LA counts during "non-invasion" years such as the past winter. For example, during the '97-'98 period, several counts reported single digit numbers of both species. In such situations, I would appreciate receiving documentation for all Purple Finches.
-- Museum of Natural Science, 119 Foster Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803-3216. Telephone: 504-388-2855. Email: scardif@unix1.sncc.lsu.edu

CBC Trivia Quiz
by Marty Guidry
[ Editor's note: As a follow-up to Steve's CBC report, I asked Marty for permission to reproduce this quiz -- and tentative CBC-98 dates that he originally posted to LABIRD- L.]
With the Christmas sales already starting at some of the stores it's time for Christmas Bird Count fever to hit. With temperatures dropping like hot cakes (I wish) thoughts must be turning to fall migration and the winter counts. Anyway, in hopes that we can better schedule our counts to allow maximum participation by those folks wanting to make several counts I'll announce that the Sabine NWR Christmas Bird Count will be Saturday, December 19, 1998. I guess that sets the Crowley Count on December 18th, the Johnson Bayou Count on December 20th and the Creole Count on December 21st - assuming these four counts remain on the same relative days. [These are theoretical dates!]
Now to get everyone's blood boiling (pun intended with our warm temperatures) - here's a short quiz on Louisiana Christmas Bird Counts.
1)What was the first year that a Christmas Count was held in Louisiana?
2) Where was this first LA Christmas Bird Count held?
3)How many different Christmas Bird Count circles has LA had since the counts were initiated? (Count only circles wholly within the state of LA)
4)What now-extinct species of bird was seen on a LA count?
5)Which LA count circle has the longest run of consecutive Christmas counts without missing a year?
6)How many Christmas counts were done in LA in 1997?
7)What is the most species of birds ever seen on one LA Christmas bird count? Which LA count circle was it?
8)Where was the most southern count ever done in LA?
9)What is the least number of species ever seen on a LA Christmas bird count?
10)With how many states has LA shared a Christmas Bird Count circle (i.e., the circle included land within both LA and another state)?
BONUS - Who was the first person to ever conduct a Christmas Bird Count in LA?
Answers
Journal of Louisiana Ornithology
There is now an e-mail address (and a new editor, announced last issue, for the Journal of Louisiana Ornithology. All correspondence regarding the journal should be directed to: Jim Ingold, Editor, Department of Biological Sciences, LSU-Shreveport, 1 University Place,Shreveport, LA 71115; NOTE NEW TEMPORARY PHONE NUMBER: 318.797.5236; los-jlo@pilot.lsus.edu
Art in Science
The Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University will honor John O'Neill, Doug Pratt and other talented museum artists in an upcoming show entitled Art in Science: Zoological Illustration at LSU. During the run of the show Drs. Pratt and O'Neill will be presenting talks in Foster Art Gallery. The show will run October 9 23, 1998. There will be am opening gala Friday, October 9 at 7:30 pm. For information call the LSUMNS at 504-388-2855.
Louisiana Birdline
Toll Free: 1-877-834-2473 (BIRD)

A joint project of the Orleans Audubon Society and the Louisiana Ornithological Society
Upcoming events:
Fall Meeting October 23/24 -- Cameron
Winter Meeting January 29/30 -- Shreveport
WHOOPS! CORRECTION: Kelp and Herring X Kelp Gull Hybrids.
[Because of PC & Mac dyslexia, some important ID lines were omitted from this article in the July News (181). Please make a NOTE of the following correction with bold-faced text being that left out of the original, and with apologies from the editor.]
"Kelp gull shares the same orbital ring color as Lesser Black- backed (red or scarlet), very different from that of Western or Yellow-footed gulls (usually yellow/orange). Iris color of Kelp, including the Chandeleur birds, is whitish-yellow (African subspecies reported as brown), same as Lesser Black-backed, most Western (L. o. wymani may also show darker irises), and Yellow-footed gulls. Documentation of "pure" Kelp Gulls should include photographs that focus on the above characters."
ALSO:Publication of this article on the LOS Website generated some discussion amongst international gull ID afficionados. Donna Dittmann and Steve Cardiff wish to add the following clarifications in response to comments they have received about their LOS News article:
"no other white-tailed gull species, except Great Black-backed, possesses a nearly black mantle with little or no contrast between black primaries and blackish-gray mantle" This statement is not correct. The Scandinavian subspecies of Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus f. fuscus) is equally "black-mantled." We intended to insert "that has occurred on the Gulf Coast" following "white-tailed gull species", but accidentally omitted that from our text. We are unaware of any verified records or L. f. fuscus from Louisiana or elsewhere on the Gulf Coast. Though superficially similar by virtue of mantle and leg color, L. f. fuscus is a much smaller and more delicate bird than Kelp Gull, and not likely to be confused with that species. Its occurrence in Louisiana seems unlikely. We again emphasize that this discussion was restricted to birds in definitive alternate plumage; birds in earlier plumage stages may be somewhat paler-mantled.
"mirrors on P10" versus mirrors on P10 and P9. Because all pure Kelp Gulls thus far observed in Louisiana have possessed only a mirror on P10 (elsewhere, some Kelps apparently do possess a smaller mirror on P9), and because most Lesser Black-backed Gulls (L. f. graellsii) that occur in Louisiana also show that pattern, and because that is also the pattern shown by the Chandeleur "F1" hybrids, we did not address comparisons of birds with mirrors on both P10 and P9. We opted to keep our discussion as simple as possible. The mirror on P10 is the common shared feature. The intent of the article was to introduce Louisiana observers to the Chandeleur hybrids, and not a thorough treatise of identification of any of the species discussed; we apologize if the scope of the article was misinterpreted. An in-depth analysis of the occurrence and hybridization of Kelp Gull in North America will be published elsewhere.
LOS FALL MEETING
The 1998 LOS Fall meeting will be the weekend of October 23 - 25. The meeting both nights will be in the Knights of Columbus Hall behind Our Lady of the Sea Catholic Church. Friday registration will begin at 6:30 p.m. with hospitality table and the meeting following at 8:00 p.m. Our speakers will be Dennis Demcheck and Karen Fay showing slides of Nancy Newfield's HummerQuest tour to Ecuador in July.
Saturday morning David L'Hoste will lead a field trip to area birding spots. We will meet at the Cameron Motel at 7:00 a.m. Saturday buffet will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the reading of the checklist and LOS business meeting around 8:00 p.m. Our speaker for Saturday night will be Cecilia Riley, Director of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.
Please pre-register if possible. Registration fee is $5.00 and the buffet is $10.00. Pre-registration helps Marianna and the K of C in planning. Registration and buffet monies will be refunded if you let Marianna know by Friday that you can't come.
Fall Meeting 98 Registration Form
ACCOMMODATIONS IN CAMERON:
CAMERON: Cameron Motel and Restaurant (1.800.609.5529); Town and Country Motel (318.775.2921); Gilbert's (318.775.7375); Gulf Motel (318.775.2880); Chateau Chenier (318.538.2389).
CREOLE: Rutherford Motel (318.542.4148).
HOLLY BEACH: Cajun Cabins (318.569.2442); Joe Nick's Motel (569-2421); Tommy's Motel (318.569.2426); Lagneaux's Cabins (318.569.2242); Seabreeze Apts. (318.569.2385); Edward Hebert (318.569.2357); Gulfview Apts. (318.569.2388); Nana's (318.569.2543); Holly Beach Motel (318.569.2352); Cajun Riviera (318.569.2345); Roy's Cabins (318.569.2346); Harrington's (318.569.2345).
Louisiana Wildlife Rehabbers
When friends and neighbors are aware of our interest in birds and wildlfe,we may be called upon to provide help or assistance to injured or orphaned wildlife. For your interest here is a list of some licensed Louisiana Wildlife Rehabbers. Baton Rouge: School of Veterinary Medicine 225.346.3333; Grand Coteau Noel Thistlewaite, Wildlife in Distress, 318.662.1053; leonthistle@centuryinter.net; Lafayette: Kathryn Diaz, Wildlife in Distress, 318.232.0121; boodles@popalex1.linknet.net; Lake Charles: Suzy Heck, Heckhaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, 318.477.6129; Ruston: Alona, licensed wildlife rehabilitator, 318.255.5573, elliemae@bayou.com. There may be others. To add to or correct this list, email me at lcfoil@ibm.net or call 225.387.0368. ---- Carol Foil
PROJECT FEEDER WATCH
Help Scientists Study Backyard Birds
Put your bird feeder to work for science! Join the thousands of FeederWatchers who have turned their backyard hobby into valuable research. Watch birds for Project Feeder Watch once every two weeks from November through March. Feeder watchers receive a free bird identification poster and the newsletter, Birdscope, covering the latest Feeder Watch results, articles on bird behavior, answers to bird questions... For information about signing up for 1998/99, call 1-800-843-BIRD or check out the website: http://www.ornith.cornell.edu
MEMBERSHIP FORM
If you would like to join LOS, or perhaps send a gift membership to a friend on the verge, here is a printable membership form.
Dues are payable in January of each year; please check your mailing label for your dues status and renew promptly if you are in arrears.

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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

design
posted 12September98