Silver Feathers   May 1997

Silver Feathers is the e-mail journal of a group of many seasoned
birdwatchers, nature enthusiasts, and evironmentally concerned
netizens  recording their journeys, pleasures, plans, and musings
about birds, nature, and environmental issues.

The editor is Jim Olson,  olsonjam@uwec.edu

For a  subscription (no charge) send an e-mail message to
olsonjam@uwec.edu with the message "Subscribe Silver Feathers"

The newsletter is mailed to subscribers via e-mail and archived
at http://bcn.boulder.co.us/community/senior-citizens/center.html



    From the Nest on the Chippewa (editorial)

    Introductions - Messages from Readers

    Birding on the Internet

    Backyard Birding

    Road Runners Report

     From the Nest on the Chippewa

I am doing this newsletter on the road using my Mac powerbook as Maggie and
I return to Wisconsin from an elderhostel in Victoria, BC where we studied
"Victoria on the Wild Side," and the culture of the First Nations people.

I have had to keep the issue down to less than 20k to make it easier to
mail in one section, and will provide further details of the environmental
issues and natural history information about temperate rain forests on
Vancouver Island in another issue.

Since this is just the second issue of Silver Feathers, I am still looking
for the ideal mix of information and personal
communications opportunities to interest the diversity of
interests and concerns of the readers.

Please feel free to make suggestions for future issues.

I have moved the mailing list from my AOL mail to my Eudora Pro mailer from
my olsonjam@uwec.edu site as I have found AOL mass mailing not as
convenient or effective as Eudora Pro.

   Introductions - Messages from Readers

Elaine Dabbs

My name is Elaine Dabbs, I live in Sydney, Australia and am a
very keen environmentalist.  I've been fortunate to have
travelled from east to west and north to south in our wonderful,
but harsh, country and from time to time, I'll send you snippets
about what is happening here and, perhaps, something about some
of the camping trips that I've done, especially across our
deserts.  I'm fortunate to live in an area of Sydney noted for
its tall trees and gardens.  I delight each morning to look out
my window and wonder at the beauty of nature.  I have four adult
children and various grandchildren - we all love camping and the




I retired form NYS Environmental Department two years ago. Now,
I'm outdoor columnist, writer for National Audubon Society (though not a
member) and an active bird bander. I like to lead trips and will be one
for the NYS bird clubs in search of the "new" Bicknell's Thrush in the
Adirondack Mountains of New York.

The trip to see (let's hope) BITH will be the weekend of June 6th.

We will meet at the base of Whiteface Mountain Road at 4:30 AM. We'll have
a key to get through the gate to drive up. Those who make reservations can
stay Friday night at the motel at the base of the mountain.

 I'll be doing a slide program at tha motel that evening.
After the trip there, we'll go to Saratoga Battlefield to look for
Henslow's &  Grasshopper Sparrows, Golden-wing Warbler & other goodies.


Juncos in the Hudson Valley -Upstate New York
wd2k@juno.com (David a WATROUS)

 The early April sun was pleasant after the April Fools blizzard
and after letting the dog out we lingered on the back porch to
enjoy it for a few minutes. Lighting up the pipe I began to take
stock of the yard work to be started soon and was only hearing
the bird song in the background. Absentmindedly I began to
scatter some seed for the "little guys", the juncos and sparrows
that had given me so much enjoyment throughout the winter when I
noticed a few new faces (or is that beaks?) in the crowd. Most
obvious of course was the fox sparrow but there were a few song
sparrows in the flock also. The regulars were there many in the
brighter spring plumage but something was different. Puzzling
over the change I could see nothing that different but a little
trill from the fence caused me to look that way and I realized
what was happening.

The bird on the fence was a junco whose chirp I had heard
countless times over the winter but this time it was different,
he was singing his "going home " song. Each year they head north
as soon as the snows melt to be replaced by the summer visitors,
the cycle was beginning again. My mind knows that this song is
part of the annual mating ritual but something deep inside tells
me the "little guy" is saying thanks for the food on those cold
winter days.

            Birding on the Internet

Message from American Birders Exchange

Hi Bird Watcher!

The on-line birders newsletter, the Beakly News,  is now
bi-weekly and reaches more than 1100 subscribers.  TBN is emailed
every other Wednesday.   Readers are encouraged to send us news
items of interest and we will use the information as space
allows.   We would like to know where you live - it makes keeping
track of birds during migration much more interesting.

The Beakly can be emailed to any internet address, but since The
Beakly is formatted for AOL, the line length, ASCII art, and word
wrap may not be delivered as intended to some email systems.

The American Birders Exchange also sponsors an environmental
action newsletter, THE TALON, which informs readers of important
issues being debated in Congress.  THE TALON is issued
irregularly, as the need arises.

 Email MamaDuck1@aol.com or  Kestrel923@aol.com  for more

Betty Conley
Long Island, NY


Selection of best Internet environmental directories (list of
lists), for about 380 environmental subjects. keywords:
environment, sustainable development, resources, Internet, world
wide web, list, lists, directory, directories, links.

Available in French, Dutch, Italian and German.



The following  Collective Bird Nouns
comes from various posts in the newsgroup

A siege of bitterns             A murder of crows
A team of ducks                 A paddling of ducks
A gaggle of geese               A convocation of eagles
A charm of hummingbirds         A band of jays
A deceit of lapwings            A watch of nightingales
A muster of peacocks            A run of poultry
An unkindness of ravens         A clamour of rooks
A walk of snipe                 A chattering of starlings
A herd of wrens                 An exhalation of larks
A parliament of owls            A charm of gold finch
A congregation of plovers       A kettle of hawks
A covert of coots               A seige of herons
A deceipt of lapwings           A wisp of snipe
A host of sparrows              An unkindness of ravens
A charm of goldfinches          A descent of woodpeckers
A ostentation of peacocks       A mustering of storks
A spring of teal                A fall of woodcock
A rafter of turkeys             A gulp of cormorants
A richness of martins           A murmuration of starlings
A company of widgeon            A cast of hawks
A watch of nightingales         A building of rooks



I Have been chasing birds in New Mexico in the Gila Wilderness
and could not find a connection. Camped one night in the White
Sands Nat'l Monument. It was fantastic. During a late afternoon
sand storm we were huddled making dinner. I was on my third taco
when I heard what I thought was a gull. I looked up and saw the
biggest hummingbird you can imagine. Looked like the 747 of the
species. Then I realized it was a long-billed curlew. He landed
nearby and gave us a great view for a long time.

If you know of any others who would like to receive this
newsletter please let me know. These letters will accumulate at


For more fun with The Dick E. Bird News visit:

         Backyard Birding

Favorite Food Listed

I'm sending this along to any "new" birdwatchers....interesting information
from the NWF:

Habitat is the Key

     The most important factoring influencing the number and variety of
birds using your feeders is the nearby vegetation.  Vegetation is the key
to attracting all types of wildlife to your property on a year-round basis.
For a colorful, information-packed kit to help you develop your yard as an
exciting wildlife habitat, contact:

            Gardening With Wildlife
            National Wildlife Federation
            1400 16th Street, N.W.
            Washington, DC  20036-2266

Preferred Foods of some Common Birds

Mourning dove.............oil (black sunflower; white and red proso, and
German (golden) millet
Blue jay......................peanut kernels and sunflower seeds of all types
Scrub jay....................peanut kernels and black-striped sunflower
Chickadee..................oil (black) and black-striped sunflower; peanut
Tufted titmouse...........peanut kernels; black-striped and oil (black)
White-breasted nuthatch...........black-striped sunflower
Red-breasted nuthatch..............black-striped and oil (black) sunflower
Brown thrasher............hulled and black-striped sunflower
Starling.......................peanut hearts, hulled oats and cracked corn
House (English) sparrow............white and red proso, and German (golden)
millet; canary seed
Red-winged blackbird.................white and red proso, and German
(golden) millet
Common gackle........................black-striped and hulled sunflower;
cracked corn
Brown-headed cowbird...............white and red proso, and German (golden)
millet; canary seed
Cardinal......................sunflower seeds of all types
Evening grosbeak........sunflowers seeds of all types
Purple finch.................sunflower seeds of all types
House finch.................oil (black), black-striped, and hulled
sunflower; niger
Pine siskin..................sunflower seeds of all types
American goldenfinch...hulled sunflower, niger and oil (black) sunflower
Rufous-sided to whee...white proso millet
Dark-eyed junco...........white and red proso millet; canary seed; fine
cracked corn
Chipping sparrow..........white and red proso millet
Tree sparrow................red and white proso millet
Field sparrow................white and red proso millet
White-crowned sparrow................oil (black) and hulled sunflower;
white and red proso millet; peanut kernels and hearts; niger
White-throated sparrow.................oil (black), black-striped, and
hulled sunflower;
 white and red proso millet; peanut kernels
Song sparrow..............white and red proso millet

The above articles were reprinted from Wild Bird Feedings, a publication of
the National Wildlife Federation.

Yjudie@aol.com (Judith A. Yannarelli)

          Road Runners

A Nebraska Long Weekend
opsrey@ari.net (Norm Saunders)

                   A Nebraska Long Weekend
                 Norm & Fran's Spring Tonic
                      March 13-16, 1997

We  were  both  in  agreement: even though this hadn't been  a
terribly severe winter, it was just hanging on altogether too
long!  We needed a short  vacation, a getaway, something to clear
the cobwebs  and  get us through  these  last  few  weeks of

So  I  said  to  Fran,  somewhat  hesitantly,    "How about
Nebraska?"   And  so,  in  a very short space  of  time, we went
from tentatively  looking  for  a Spring Break  to  a long
weekend  in the heartland  of Tall Grass Prairie Country, to see
the phenomenon  of the Sandhill  Cranes  along  the Platte River
Basin  and  of  the massing squadrons of waterfowl in Nebraska's
yRainwater Basin District.

Most of the crane activity seems to be focused along a 50-mile
strip of the  Platte  River, running between Grand Island and
Kearney (pronounced Carney).   On  Thursday  we  spent the
morning  flying  and  the early afternoon  driving from Lincoln
to our motel in Grand Island.   We were torn about where to stay,
in Grand Island or in Kearney.  The latter is the  site of a
major branch of the University of Nebraska and a gorgeous old
Midwestern  town in its own right.  Kearney is the locale  for
the annual  Audubon Convention, as well, and sports a wide array
of hotels and  motels in every price range, as well as many
excellent restaurants. On  the downside, Kearney is another 60
miles further west (Grand Island was  a 90-mile drive from the
airport in Lincoln), so we decided to stay in a Holiday Inn just
off the Grand Island exit from I-80.  As it turned out,  most  of
the crane activity seemed to be here rather than further west, so
it was a fortuitous decision.

There  are  two  nature centers in this area, both  must-visits.
Crane Meadows  Nature Center at Alda, about 6 miles west of Grand
Island, was the older of the two but perhaps the one less well
known.  The other is the  Rowe Sanctuary, a property of National
Audubon situated a few miles southeast  of  Kearney.   Friday we
spent  doing  an  auto-tour  of the farmlands surrounding the
Platte near Kearney, compliments of  the Rowe Sanctuary.   While
we  didn't see as many Sandhill  Cranes  as  we had anticipated,
we were still seeing flocks of over 1,000 birds  in field after
field.   The  auto tour route also turned up  our  first Harris'
Sparrows of the trip and superb looks at both Western Meadowlarks
and a Northern  Shrike.  We come from a state where Meadowlarks
have been all but extirpated in many locales, so to see fields
filled with hundreds of these  beautiful songsters was pleasure

The  biggest  news of the day for us though was that a  single
Whooping Crane had shown up the previous Monday, the earliest
ever recorded date for  this  species'  arrival along the crane
migration  area.   You can appreciate our excitement as we rode
up and down the dusty back roads of the area, scanning flock
after flock of feeding Sandhill Cranes, looking for  the
tell-tale tower of white feathers.  You can also  imagine our
disappointment at not finding the bird this day.

Saturday we set aside to look more carefully for the Whooping
Crane and we  viewed at least a dozen different spots where the
bird had been seen the  past few days, all to no avail.  Finally
we took a break for lunch at a lovely coffee shop in old downtown
Grand Island then went back once again  to stop at the Crane
Meadows Nature Center.  This time they sent us  off  in a
slightly different direction and, hurrah!, there was that
magnificent  bird  (one  of only 158 left in the  wild,  we  were
told) feeding  in  the  middle of an enormous flock of about
7-8,000 Sandhill Cranes.

Sunday,  our  last  day, we set aside the morning to  take  a
leisurely driving  tour  of  the  Eastern Rainwater Basin area,
situated between Lincoln  and Grand Island and south of I-80.  In
this area the seemingly never-ending  winds  have  scooped out
occasional  depressions  in the ground,  none very deep, which
hold snow-melt and rainwater runoff from the  winter.   These
wetlands don't stay wet  very  long,  but they're normally  wet
when  it matters--when the Central Flyway  waterfowl are massing
and  moving  north  to  their  Canadian  nesting  grounds. An
unfortunate  Arctic Express the day after we arrived left  most
of the ponds  frozen solid, but the few that were wet, were
filled to the brim with  20 different species of waterfowl.

How  should you dress if you go there?  Well, the day before we
arrived it was sunny and calm with the temperature in the 60's.
The Thursday we arrived  it was raining hard, the temps were
dropping into the low 30's and  the wind was blowing very hard
out of the northwest.  On Friday we awoke  to  a temperature of
-10 degrees F, accompanied by winds topping out  at  50  mph,
giving us wind chills of at least 30-40 degrees below zero--the
most breath-taking cold we've ever experienced!  Saturday it
snowed   all  morning,  but  the  wind  abated,  making  the  25
degree temperatures  feel downright balmy.  By Sunday the wind
had  picked up again  but  was blowing hard out of the south, so
by the time we pulled into  the  rental car return lot at the
Lincoln Municipal  Airport, the temperatures had once again
climbed into the 60's.  Enough said?

How expensive is it?  Motels run from $25-60 per night.  TWA from
BWI to St. Louis to Lincoln was $195 each, round trip.  A Hertz
car was $25 per day.   Food  was  cheap, good, and plentiful
(just stay  away  from the Holiday Inn in Grand Island dining
room--icky).  An evening in the blind at  either  Rowe  Sanctuary
or Crane Meadows is $15  per  person. Make reservations WELL in
advance!  So, for two people for four days, figure on  about
$800.   We  spent  a bit less but our  tastes  in  food are,
admittedly, somewhat less than 4-star.

Norm & Fran Saunders
Colesville, MD

          The Poets Corner

              A  Guest at Lunchtime

A seal flopped up on the marshy spit
        Near where herons often sit in hunchback stillness
As profound as they are rooted to their fishing ground.

Bronze, he was, with a glistening sheen
        So smooth he could have been a sculpture of himself,
Until he swivelled to inspect me up the hill.

The tide's at flood. Will it float him soon
        (It's eleven now and high at noon) like inflated toys
That bob away unheeded by the child at play?

In the risen tide his head, and tail
        Cocked up like wren on rail; then nothing where the
Had been to bless my marsh. Lunchtime had come, I guess.

Allen Bragdon
on Bass River
April, 1977

 The grey wind of March
 Blows cranes up from the river,
 The sand bars empty.

 A heron stands mirrored
 In the glassy pond's stillness.
 Quick! He has a fish.

 Marian Leach 

		    	Seventeen Vultures

		Shrouded in black, perched in a tree,
		Seventeen turkey vultures, staring at me.