No. 189 BATON ROUGE, LAFebruary 2000

LOS NEWS, Page 3

Table of Contents

Searching for IBWO
IBWO Tee-Shirts
Year of Discovery
Yard List 99 Final Call
The Botanical Birder
Ag Wetlands
Selasphorus ID Article
Selasphorus Figure 1
Selasphorus Figure 2
Selasphorus Figure 3
Selasphorus Figure 4
LOS Pelagics 2000
Winter Meeting Report
Swallow-tailed Kites
Waxwings Poem
Rare Bird Alert
New Members
LOS Officers
LOS Sales
Membership Form
LOS NEWS: Page [1] [2] [3] [4]
LOS Homepage

Louisiana Ornithological Society Pelagic Trips

Louisiana Ornithological Society offers the opportunity to get offshore to search for pelagic birds, marine mammals (dolphins and whales), and other marine life (including sharks and sea turtles) in the Gulf of Mexico.

Trips currently scheduled for 2000:
Sunday, May 28*
Saturday September 23
Saturday, December 2
(leaders to be announced)
* Memorial Day Weekend - make reservations ASAP for lodging in the Fourchon/Grand Isle area!

The destination of the May and September trips will be the Mississippi Canyon south of Grand Isle, but course and destination may be affected by weather/sea conditions, water temperature, locations of blue water and rip lines, and presence of birds and mammals encountered. The December trip will a "green water" trip to search for gulls, jaegers, gannets and other inshore species.
All trips depart at 6 AM from: Capt. Steve Tomeny Charters at Port Fourchon on Flotation Canal Road. The trips will return approximately 6 PM. Our trips will be aboard a 65' Sportfishermen equipped with an air- conditioned cabin, several bunk beds below deck, and two bathrooms. There is no galley on board; passengers are responsible for their food and beverage needs.
Trip cost is $65.00 per person for LOS Members; $75.00 per person for non-LOS Members; or $50.00 per person for Students (special discounted student fare includes LOS Membership).
To make a reservation, send a check made out to Louisiana Ornithological Society' for the total amount of spaces requested for each trip date (specify trip date in memo section of check.) That means, if you are reserving one or more spaces on two different dates, please send two checks -- this makes it much easier to refund money in the event of a cancellation. If you are reserving more than one space, or reserving places for someone other than yourself, please include the name(s) of the other participants. Please include one self-addressed stamped envelope with your check(s) so that your reservation confirmation, pelagic trip instructions and information, and cancellation policy can be mailed to you. Mail your check(s) and enclosed self-addressed-stamped envelope to: Donna L. Dittmann, LOS Pelagic Trip Coordinator, Museum of Natural Science, 119 Foster Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-3216.
For more information about the trips (summer trips with a different charter may be added later) contact Donna by phone (hm: 225-642-5763) or email: or check the LOS webpage at
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Winter Meeting 2000

The winter meeting of the LOS was held on February 4-6, 2000, at the St. Joseph Abbey K.C. Youth Camp near Covington. Seventy LOS members and guests attended the Friday, Saturday and Sunday events. Friday evening's social hour was highlighted by a display of Jennifer and Tom Coulson's raptors. The Harris's and Sharp-shinned Hawks and Great Horned Owl were beautiful birds and allowed everyone to get close looks, even to touch them, and some got to hold the birds. Great photo opportunities were taken advantage of by several members!
Saturday night's meeting was opened by Tom Sherry who gave an update on the 3rd North American Ornithological Conference planned for New Orleans Sept 24-30, 2002. They will be seeking volunteers in the near future for help with many aspects of the conference; amongst several items, they need help with fund-raising ($20,000 is the estimated need) and guides for bird walks & field trips. Email Tom if you are already inspired to volunteer
Jennifer Coulson gave an informative talk on her latest research on the population ecology and status of the Swallow-tailed Kite in the Atchafalaya and Pearl River Basins. See the accompanying article for more details on this exciting presentation.
In spite of the nippy mornings, the field trips on Saturday covered a variety of habitats and participants compiled a total of 138 species sightings for the checklist read Saturday night.
A special thanks from LOS goes to John O'Neill for coming to sign his beautiful new book Great Birds of Texas. The sale of these books provided a significant profit for LOS Sales.
Many thanks to the Orleans Audubon Society who hosted the meeting. In particular, Michael & Kathleen Crago, Phil Fischer and Juanita Grimes.

Judith O'Neale, Secretary - Treasurer, LOS

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Swallow-tailed Kites in the Atchafalaya

The swallow-tailed kite has two subspecies whose winter ranges overlap in South America. The bird that breeds in Louisiana, the northern subspecies, is listed as a Category 1 and Audubon species of concern because of its declining population. The U.S. population underwent a major population decline at the turn of century. Losses were attributed to both logging & shooting. (Jennifer described the logging of 1000 year old cypress in Louisiana). The historical range included 16-21 states, north to Missouri. At present Florida and South Carolina host the largest breeding populations, but Louisiana is an important part of the current breeding range as well. Today, some of the former habitat that was lost is recovering, but the kite has been slow to recover its population within its former range. This is the focus of much of the research on the breeding biology of the STKI.
Jennifer and co-workers have found that the kites prefer a habitat described as the interface between forest and swamp. It can be found in suburbs near swamp as well. The birds often form small colonies with 2-6 breeding pairs. They arrive between 10 March - 15 April, nest April to May, hatch young May to June, and depart mostly in August. The birds utilize a variety of habitats, but the need to drink on the wing dictates the necessity for some open water. The are using edge-habitats, as mentioned, and the ones Jennifer has found nesting are in stands averaging 54 year old and110-150' tall. They lay 1-3 eggs. The young eat wasp larvae, other insects, and a variety of vertebrate prey, which she has found to be a very important category. They are fed lots of green snakes! The young fledge around 40-50 days, but remain dependent on their parents for some time afterwards. It is too soon to tell for the Atchafalaya, but nesting success rates are round 72 per cent in the Pearl River basin. Amongst the causes of nestling mortality, Jennifer and others have recorded avian predation (both owls and hawks), inclement weather, human disturbance, and parasites. Some of the birds have been fitted with radio-transmitters and a few with patagial wing markers so that post-breeding movements can be studied.
Before departing to the wintering grounds the kites gather in pre-migration roosts, where they are most easily censussed, from boats or airplanes. She showed us population census data gathered by airplane showing pre- estimates of 150 birds for the Pearl River area.
LOS thanks Jennifer Coulson and her co-workers for her research on a bird that we all treasure and for the very interesting presentation to LOS. Jennifer would really appreciate being notified of any and all sitings of STKI wherever they are observed by LOS members.
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WAXWINGS by Billy Leonard

Small brown birds, moving as one
a ball of birds, separate, come together.
Light in bare winter branches, become as leaves.
Disappear, again a living flying mass, changing shape,
nervous, jittery, never settled. Perched, streaming
from winter bare tree to green lush holly, full ripe red
berries. Gorging, feeding, singing high pitched
zee zee berry song. Stream of birds back and forth,
tying holly to cypress. Then....
Fast Brown Streak, Explosion of Birds!
Birds flying everywhichway! No flock now!
Sharpshinned in bare branches plucking brown feathers.
Falling in silence
to fall on
still quiet
Billy Leonard
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We share the sponsorship with Orleans Audubon Society. Check it out! 877-834-2473
Birders from all over the country are taking advantage of the service. In the Month of January there were calls from California, Colorado, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Louisiana birders are calling from all over the state, too. The rare bird alert transcripts are also reported on the LOS webpage
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Do you know about BirdSource?

Sponsored by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, BirdSource sponsors many Citizens and Science data gathering projects including Irruptive Bird Survey, Autumn Hawk Watch, Winter Finch Survey, Broad-winged Hawk Survey, Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, Great Backyard Bird Count, and Classroom FeederWatch. As Spring migration is coming soon, why not look at Warbler Watch?
Here's what they say about Warbler Watch at the BirdSource Website:
Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers are highly migratory. Most species spend the majority of the year in transit or wintering from the southern-most U.S. to South America. Birds return to their northerly breeding grounds just long enough to breed and raise young. Therefore, to better understand these birds, we need to map not only their summer distribution but their wintering and migration patterns as well. Migration routes vary among species; in fact, many species' migrations are different in the spring than they are in the fall. We know that Tennessee Warblers, for example, move up through the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys in the spring, while in the fall, they typically travel farther east. Blackpoll Warblers likewise take a more easterly path in the fall, with a large portion of these migrants heading out over the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and continuing their migration as far south as the Peruvian Andes. Warbler Watch will map the migratory routes of all North American warbler species.
Check out the warbler watch webpage at
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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) 225.387.0368; (w) 225.346.3119;

posted 18February2000