Silver Feathers Sept-Oct 1997

Silver Feathers is a production of The Senior Group.

Silver feathers describes journeys, pleasures, plans, and musings
about birds, nature, and environmental issues.

To subscribe  e-mail to the editor, Jim Olson, at

Silver feathers is archived at



    From the Nest on the Chippewa

    News and features

    Messages from Readers

    Webbing with Judie

     From the Nest on the Chippewa

Please note the date in the heading of Sept-Oct. We are going to
go bi-monthly for a time as we see how things develop.

We have found so many excellent newsletters out there that cover
some of the same material we do that we have decided to focus a
little more closely on a more personal newsletter dealing with
senior nature related travel and volunteer efforts.

Two newsletters you might check out, if you haven't already, are
the ones put out by  MamaDuck1@aol.com and another by  "Christine
Tarski" . Both are excellent
newsletters and there are several more. Just e-mail to the editor
for details on subscribing.

This new focus  won't exclude an inter generational aspect as
some of you  are doing volunteer work with youngsters now and
we'd like to hear about that.

There are also many excellent environmental advocacy sites out
there so we aren't going to do much in that area except to post a
link now and then in Judie's column.

The one thing we will do to personalize the Feathers a little
more will be to develop a hybrid newsletter/web site starting
with the Nov-Dec. Issue. We have an article lined up to start
experimenting with.

We will put all of the text in the newsletters and all of the
graphics in web locations where they can be linked by an url in
the text of the article in the newsletter. So if you are reading
the newsletter while online you can copy the url (that http
thinggy) and paste to your browser area and see what the article
describes- or if your e-mail system does clickable urls you can
just click and go there- then return to the newsletter to read
the text.

Those without graphic browsers won't miss anything but the
pictures (and sounds if we ever get that sophisticated) We don't
plan, however, on getting lost in technology and will still
concentrate on the written word to deliver the newsletter

Therefore, if you have graphics that go with your essays- notes-
whatever that you send here you can just send along a jpeg or gif
(or pict if a Mac person) file as an attachment when you e-mail
in the article. Please don't send in actual photos as I have very
limited means (time and technology) to scan them here. Don't
worry about size. I do have the means to edit graphic files to
whatever size we need and convert from one format to another.

If none of this makes sense to you, don't worry about it. We will
still concentrate on text in the newsletter.

I will repeat some of this in the address check and call for
submissions for Nov-Dec that will probably get to you in early
November as I will probably be out of action for a week or two in
late October.

Those of you on AOL will probably note from time to time delays
in getting this and other newsletters. AOL has set a policy of
low priority to mass mailings from outside AOL (which the
newsletter is)

    News and Features

Nature on the Move

          - Jim Olson

Many of us spend some time traveling with the seasons, doing some
snowbirding in the winter and north with the birds in the spring.
Of course, for those down under this pattern may vary a little in
terms of specific directions, but many seniors move around a
little in seasonal pursuit of enjoying natural settings and
pursuing hobbies and sometimes volunteer work related to the
environment. We asked some of our readers to describe their view
of this and suggest to others places to visit as we move around.
The responses were varied and interesting:

>From  Marian Leach 

This past year we spent two months in Green Valley, AZ and like
it so well that we're going back for three in 1998. Green Valley,
20 miles south of Tucson, is centrally located for a lot of
wonderful birding, and the Tucson Audubon Society has a hotline
to keep you posted on what is being seen. Lots of birds live
right in the town of Green Valley. We were thrilled to see
roadrunners and Gambel's quail running around everywhere.  Say's
phoebes were often seen at the place we rented, great horned owls
called from the eucalyptus trees, and once a Cooper's hawk stayed
perched and calling for a long time just across the street.
Curved-billed thrashers visited the pyracantha bushes in front of
our place, and cactus wrens darted in and out. Hummingbirds
frequented our feeder daily.

Places we visited last winter included Ramsey Canyon
(reservations necessary for parking), the Arivaca Cienega, Madera
Canyon, the Nogales and Green Valley sewage ponds,and the
Patagonia Nature Conservancy preserve along Sonoita Creek. On the
way home we stopped for a morning at Bosque del Apache NWR south
of Albuquerque, NM and saw   lots of sandhill cranes and a lone
whooper. An excellent guide to the area is "A Birder's Guide to
Southeastern Arizona" by Richard Taylor.  It is published by the
American Birding Association. This year we hope to venture
somewhat farther afield and go to the Salton Sea in California,
the Sulphur Springs Valley including Willcox Playa in Arizona,
the lower San Pedro River Valley, and Cave Creek (where I've been
before but not last winter).

Green Valley, a retirement community, offers many activities in
addition to birding.


>From  Harriet Ferns 

After being full time Rvers for the past seven years we've been
lots of places and done lots of things, but we always seem to end
up back on the Oregon Coast most summers.  It's cool and seldom
really crowded.

We wintered in the Escapee Cooperative Park in Casa Grande, Az
last year.  Left there in April and after spending several weeks
in the Cottonwood/Sedona area, traveled slowly up to the Grand
Canyon, Monument Valley and Arches National Park. Them on to Salt
Lake City for a few days.  Had heard of an RV Park outside of
Lakeside, Oregon located on a large cattle ranch.  So we came by
there on our way to the coast.  It more than lived up to our
expectations.  Not only could we watch the cowboys working the
cattle on horseback, but they have a herd of antelope, lots of
birds and are computer friendly.

We arrived in Charleston, Oregon on June 15 and have been here
all summer.  Charleston is close to Coos Bay, Or and is located
where the Coos River flows into the Pacific Ocean.  Our park is
located on one arm of Coos Bay and we watch the tides come in,
the birds feed, the eagles fly and the draw bridge raise to let a
fishing boat go to the maintenance yard.  It's a very laid back
fishing community and suits us to a tee.  About 4 miles down the
road is a viewpoint of some rocks called Simpsons Reef.  In the
summer hundreds of seals haul out there and they are certainly
noisy, but a lot of fun to watch.

We will leave here on the 15th of September and travel all of
about 150 miles South on Highway 101 to Brookings, OR. where we
are going to try to stick out the rains and winter storms. We
have been told that yes, they get lots of rain, but it's in what
is known as the Banana belt and has very mild winters.  We'll
see. If they get too much, will pull up stakes and move down to
the Central California Coast for the rest of the winter.


From: joy@shore.intercom.net

Although I do not migrate south myself, I am  most fortunate to
live on the Delmarva Peninsula, a flyway used by a diverse number
of birds and waterfowl. May I suggest: Blackwater Sanctuary near
Cambridge, Md for a spectacular show of Snow Geese, Canadian
Geese, Bald Eagles. The southern end of the Virginia Peninsula
just before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel is the stopping
off place for everything from "butter butts" to Pelicans.There is
a great sanctuary in that area run by the state with viewing
platforms, and great blues,night and even tri-color herons are
often in attendance as are cormorants, egrets and on and on. The
National Asseteague Seashore park in Virginia, much more so than
the Maryland parks for some reason (perhaps it's all the fields
that are planted at the Va. site especially for the migrating
flocks and systems of fresh water ponds that attract more
stopovers) is always abounding in birdlife as well. Particularly
around Thanksgiving.


Two Special Osprey Nests....by Helen Gere Cruickshank*

        - from Birdchat listserv

Follow the Snake River south from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Hoback
Junction, then climb spectacular Hoback Canyon on Highway 191,
the main road between Rock Springs and the Grand Tetons. Here you
may see bighorn sheep, hear snipe winnowing, meet a flock of
migrating male western tanagers, or see a Swainson's hawk
circling above - who can predict what resident creatures may be
seen on any day?

At the Rim, top of the canyon, you are 7,921 feet above sea
level. You have emerged from a canyon known to mountain men and
fur trappers long before the great migration began to the rich
lands of the Columbia River valley or the gold fields of

Abruptly now you are in a treeless land. The smoothly rolling
hills are carpeted with sagebrush, aromatic and silvery-green,
indicative of semi-desert conditions but able to find nourishment
in the soil and withstand the constant drying winds. This is the
habitat of pronghorns and sage grouse. Continue past Pinedale.
The farther you go the drier seems the land. A line of power
poles follows the road into the distance where they seem to
shrink to the height of pins and the road becomes a mere thread
snaking up and down the hills to the horizon.

Suddenly in the distance is a bulky shape on a power pole. It
looks like an osprey nest*. It is! What an astonishing sight in
so dry and treeless a land. Nowhere can we see a glint of water
though some must lie within easy flight of the nest for young
have fledged from it for several years.

lf there is no car in sight, make a U turn and pull up beside the
nest. The highway department has actually paved a pull-off so you
can enjoy the ospreys without danger from traffic. The power
company has lifted the nest several feet above the potentially
deadly wires on stout 2 by 4's solidly braced with iron brackets.
The nest is deep so the incubating bird is sheltered from the
howling wind that sweeps the sagebrush hills and valleys until
far to the east it strikes the rugged snow-capped Wind River
Range that meets the horizon.

When I visited the nest in late May, 1989, the male, perched by
it, faced a gale so strong he bent until almost horizontal to the
ground. Soon he had enough and flew down to the ground about a
quarter of a mile away. Each time a car, a ranch truck or a
tractor pulled up behind me to look at the nest, the male came
back to check. He was an old hand at checking bird watchers for
he did not hurry (perhaps he could not in the face of the gale!)
and never once did he shout the wild and wonderful call an osprey
gives when alarmed. Sometimes he just looked down at the newest
bird watcher and returned immediately to the field where he
perched in the sagebrush. Sometimes he paused for a few minutes
on one of the 2 by 4's. Then the incubating bird usually stood up
and stretched. Perhaps they communicated in osprey fashion.

This is a good place to use a car-pod and camera to photograph
ospreys. The light is right, the car gives you pleasant shelter
from the wind which is almost constant. Action is frequent but
unhurried. It was great to find the ospreys so little concerned
by those who paused to look at the nest. Many cars and all the
trucks bearing Wyoming licenses had guns, usually on racks behind
the driver. Yet there was no evidence that the ospreys or the
nest had ever been threatened, a heartening sight in an area
where many a highway sign rusts badly away after being  peppered
by gunshot!

That osprey nest in so strange and conspicuous a place already
has survived the storms of several Wyoming winters. It is built
so solidly that in a gale not a single stick woven into it seems
to shake. It has been built to serve an osprey family for decades
to come. It is a delight to see so many travelers stop to enjoy
the unusual sight of an osprey nest in a desert. Perhaps one day
one of you will hike over the hills and valleys and find the
water where the ospreys catch their food. But do take a canteen
of water with you. It will be a thirsty hike. You will be tired
when you return. I urge you to climb in your car, relax, and
enjoy those ospreys who seem to welcome bird watchers. November

* Helen is eighty-seven when she writes this.


This is story number eleven of twenty essays from "The Nature of
Helen" by Helen Gere Cruickshank and published by The Indian
River Audubon Society.

   Feathers (messages from Readers)

 From : Perry Brett 

I have been working the Ocean City,NJ beach areas protecting
Piping Plover and Least Tern nesting areas  for the Nature
Conservency and the NJ state fish & Game endangered species group
The least Terns are doing ok however the Piping Plovers are
having a poor nesting season.Most of the hatch in our areas will
generate few chicks this year. The problem is
people,seagulls.sand crabs, red foxes and fereal cats. We also at
Corsons Inlet just a mile south of Ocean City have a huge *over a
1,000 birds* Black Skimmer nesting area this year. Quite
spectular to say the least.

Cape May County has over 200 species of birds and is quite
popular with birders. I hope to be able to post hawk migration
numbers from Sept to Dec when the count is completed. Need to
work out a simple ,maybe a spread sheet type format for
reporting. Would expect to update the count twice a week.


From: Jim Olson 

If any of you are going to be in Wisconsin im mid- October you
might consider attending the John Muir Chapter (state) Sierra
Club annual fall assembly. It will be held Oct 10-12 at Beaver
Creek Nature Preserve near Fall Creek, Wisconsin.

There will be birding opportunities and a seminar by wildlife
photographer, Craig Blacklock.

For details on the meeting visit this web site:


note- first web site I've done so be understanding of the
glitches in it.


From: Jentle1@aol.com

The two of us are planning our first Elderhostel trip to Mustang
Island near Corpus Christi, TX in November for a birding session.
It will be our first trip to Texas. We bought a new pair of 10x50
binoculars so each of us will be able to see what's out there,
instead of having to wait.  There are so many trips available.
I'm looking forward to taking pictures that I can paint from
throughout the cold winter months.

ed note-

10x50 is probably a good choice for the boat trip to the Aransas
wildlife area- but a lighter, lower powered pair might be better
for birding on hikes. We we hope you do some paintings from that
experience and please scan them and send along the gif or jpeg
files so we can all see them in later issues. (see ed section)

    Webbing with Judie

Birding on the Web

	- Yjudie@aol.com

Well, here it is everyone......one of the top 5% web sites
visited IN THE WORLD......the Bluebird Box -

The browser is first greeted with sketches of the most popular
bluebird boxes: Peterson, NABS, Hill Lake, Gilbertson.  And there
is even a link to the site that describes how to build them.

This web site is chock full of wonderful information.   The home
page list links to other sites offering all types of titles,
including: FAQ, Nestbox Shareware, Nestbox Drawings, Nesting
Histories, Predators, and Banquet (what our bluebird friends love
to eat), to name a few.  I especially like the Picture
Gallery.....not to be missed on your tour of the site.

At the bottom of the home page is the Commercial section.  Now,
most of us know we are bombarded every day on-line with offers to
sell, sell, sell.....but, I urge you to explore Roberta Lee's
Wildlife Art link......Why?  Because it not only has wonderful,
colorful wildlife pictures, but you must check out the Butterfly
page link.   You don't have to buy a thing here; just enjoy the
beautiful photographs and information about these delicate
creatures.   Personally, I spent two hours at the site.

Before I leave you, I want to share some information I read in
CONNECT, a once-a-month filler in the Sunday paper.  Hopefully,
some of you are already aware of this publication.   Well, last
month a new column appeared called Net Nature and it was
dedicated to Winging it on the Web (catchy title).  It contained
information on bird newsgroups and listed more links (could there
possibly be more!): The Birder Home Page: http://www.birder.com;
Information about BirdChat:
http://www.nbhc.com/birdchat/a9999991.htm; and, of course, the
National Audubon Society: http://www.audubon.org.  Check them

I welcome your comments.  Let me know if you're enjoying the
suggestions, or, better, still, pass along some sites you've
discovered while browsing.  That's me at the top of the page,
Yjudie@aol.com.  I'd love to hear from you.

Next issue:   The Hummingbird page.....you are going to love this


              River Thoughts

       Drifts my river.
       Frigates of reverie
       Float by; reaching the  bend, they wash