December Feeder Survey Results

BIRD COLUMN For December 28, 2003

By Benjamin P. Burtt

What birds were visiting feeders in December? That is, are some birds scarce this year? Which birds from Canada have moved into our area this winter? You can compare your sightings with what others are seeing by inspecting the results of the feeder survey that was taken during the first week of December. When numbers of birds are mentioned below, they are the number of birds for every 100 reports..

Skipping geese, starlings, gulls and crows, the most abundant bird right at the feeders was the goldfinch with 1,007. This was also the highest count for that species in the 45 years this survey has been taken. In the past on the average, people had about 5 at their feeder, but this year there were about 12. Some had more and some had less. Sharon Crane of Smyrna estimated that there were about 200 in her yard at one time! Ken Zoller had 50 at West Winfield.

Eighty-two percent of the feeders had goldfinches.

In the winter, the male goldfinch closely resembles the female. To tell them apart, note the arrows in Roger Tory Peterson’s painting of the winter male. One arrow points to the small white shoulder patch and the other directs your attention to the white rump. The winter female has a buff rump and no shoulder patch. The painting is from the “Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America,” fifth edition. ( Courtesy of the Houghton Mifflin Co.)

In the list of birds by number, after the goldfinch came the house sparrow with 751, dark-eyed junco 597. Other relatively abundant birds were house finch, chickadee, blue jay, tree sparrow and cardinal.

There were a number of other birds that were reported in above average numbers for their species. The number of red-bellied woodpeckers was higher than it usually is in December. The same was true for the junco.

Nuthatches were more numerous than they were last year. The numbers continue to go up and down in alternate years. This includes both the red-breasted and the white-breasted. Last year they were down and this year both are up.

Tree sparrows breed far north beyond the limit of the trees where there is brush and weeds. In the winter they come south to spend the winter from the northern border of the United States south to Tennessee. Over the years, the feeder survey has shown that while some come in November, the bulk of them arrive in early December. They were right on schedule this year.
There are a number of northern finches that sometimes migrate south into New York for the winter months. These include evening and pine grosbeaks, crossbills, redpolls and pine siskins. This time there were two reports of siskins, one for redpoll and four reports of evening grosbeaks. While this is an increase over last year, it does not suggest a big migration this winter.


The shortest list this time came from Norma Griffin's 3rd grade class at the New Haven Elementary School. They reported 18 mourning doves, 7 goldfinches and 2 blue jays.
Listing 5 species were Robert and Barbara Domachowski of Clay. There were 6 on Susan Cummins list from Mcgraw. In Lansing, Kellie Stiadle had 7. Tallying 8 species were Ted Williams of Fabius and Pete and Kathy DiPino of Parish.

The typical feeder had 14 species so half of the people had less than 14 and half had more than 14. Who had the longest lists?

Linda Quackenbush of Waterloo has a yard that is very attractive to birds and she listed 30 species. Terry and Wanda Wood of Jamesville tallied 23. Reporting 22 species were Lawrence Abrahamson of Marcellus and Steve and Dorothy Hanzlik of Whitney Point.

Bob Asanoma of Liverpool and Steve Swensen of Baldwinsville had 21. There were 20 on Ken Zollers list from West Winfield. Tallying 19 were David Pardee of Brewerton and John and Elizabeth Wallace of Baldwinsville.

Listing 18 species were Paul Radway of Pompey, Clara Barrett in Clinton, William and Marilyn Fais of New Woodstock and Jim and Doris Wagner of Fayetteville.

Four people reported chipping sparrows, but did not tell how they were identified. As I have written before, the chipping sparrow does not have a red cap in the winter. The top of its head is brown with some black stripes. It normally leaves New York State by mid November.

Many winter reports turn out to be tree sparrows in which the breast spot was not obvious.

The List
Here is a list of all species reported. The first figure for a species, is the total number of them spotted on 100 reports and the second figure, the one enclosed in parentheses, is the number of reports that list the species.

If you divide the number of birds by the number of reports that listed the species, you get the average number visiting a feeder. For the chickadee this is 483 divided by 96 reports. So on the average, people have about 5 chickadees at their feeder. You can compare this to the number visiting your feeder.

Loon 12 (1); snow goose 335 (2); Canada goose 6,238 (45).
Ducks: black 5 (1); mallard 51 (5); turkey vulture 1 (1).
Hawks: northern harrier 1 (1); sharp-shinned 9 (9); Cooper's 7 (7); red-tailed 30 (26); rough-legged 2 (2); kestrel 1 (1).

Pheasant 2 (2); ruffed grouse 2 (1); turkey 137 (9).
Gulls: ring-billed 14 (6); herring 8 (2); rock dove 269 (19); mourning dove 829 (86); horned owl 2.
Woodpeckers: red-bellied 54 (49); sapsucker 1 (1); downy 189 (88); hairy 74 (45); flicker 4 (4); pileated 3 (3).

Blue jay 284 (82); crow 851 (81); raven 1 (1); chickadee 483 (96); titmouse 103 (44); red-breasted nuthatch 57(41); white-breasted nuthatch 123 (75); brown creeper 2 (2); Carolina wren 2 (2); golden-crowned kinglet 3(1).

Bluebird 4 (1); robin 32 (4); mockingbird 4 (3); cedar waxwing 5(1); northern shrike 4 (4); starling 1,143 (44); cardinal 214 (77).

Sparrows: tree 228 (50); chipping 7 (3); song 11 {5}; white-throated 86 (25); white-crowned 7 (5); junco 597 (95).

Red-winged blackbird 21 (5); rusty blackbird 4 (2); grackle 212 (7); cowbird 49 (7).
Purple finch 21 (8); house finch 517 (70); redpoll 1 (1); siskin 2 (2); goldfinch 1,007 (82); evening grosbeak 20 (4); house sparrow 751 (48).


The January Feeder Survey starts next Sunday January 4 and continues all through that week.
If you have not participated before, your report is welcome. Anyone in upstate New York State is welcome to participate. Years ago, our Sunday newspaper circulated all through Northern New York up to the St. Lawrence River and through the Adirondacks. I hope those former readers will join me once again now that this column is available on line.

For each species, report the largest number you see at any one time during the seven days. To read the complete instructions, go to the top of this page, click on LIBRARY on the left and then choose "Feeder Survey Directions."

At the end of the week, put your list on a postcard or in a letter or in an email and send it to the appropriate address on the home page.

Every list is important and short ones are just as important as long ones. Lists range from 3 to 30 species and the typical report has 14 species.

This is a project to try to measure how the numbers of each species change over time at feeders in Central New York. It does not matter how many species are attracted to your feeder, for ALL feeders should be counted.

To get in touch with Benjamin P. BurttVia Mail: Write to B.Burtt, Stars Magazine, P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse,, NY 13221.

Via E-mail: Send to Be sure to put “For B.Burtt” in the subject line.

Why starlings and grackles flock together

BIRD COLUMN FOR December 14, 2003

By Benjamin P. Burtt

We will start this column with a question from a reader about the flocking of starlings and grackles. Then we will cover some of the reasons people hate starlings and then some of the useful, interesting and beneficial things about this bird.

Question : Dear Ben:

I saw a large flock of grackles) heading directly east on August 10. Were they starting their fall migration?

I also saw large flocks of starlings in August. Does that early migration mean that we will have a cold winter? --B.R. by email.

CAPTION: Starlings travel about in flocks and hundreds may show up in our backyard as these did at David Ferros home in Auburn. Is flocking of benefit to birds? With many birds in a flock, it is more likely that danger will be spotted and that food will be found. Both of these are of benefit to the species. ( Photo courtesy of David Ferro.)

Dear B.R.: As for the flocks of grackles moving in a given direction in early August, that was not migration. Grackles never start their migration until late October.

Each species migrates at the same time every year to within a week. The timing is governed by their hormones which in turn are stimulated by the shortening of the daylight hours in the fall. The date they start to migrate is not due to a lack of food, nor to some sense that the winter will be severe. It depends on the sun and that does not change.

It is quite normal for starlings and grackles to gather into flocks after the nesting season is over. Each species gathers into its own flock to forage for food and especially to roost together with their own kind at night.

Usually they choose a certain patch of woods. Sometimes starlings roost on buildings. In the 1960s, thousands made a terrible mess each night in down town Syracuse.

Both species start towards their roost at a time that allows them to reach the spot before dark.
In your case, the grackle roost was located east of your home and perhaps 10 miles away. People who live east of that roost would observe the birds flying west in the late afternoon. Those living south of the roost would see grackles flying north.

The History of the starling in the United States

As for the starling, we have them all through the year. They do migrate in a south westerly direction, but others move in from the north so we do not notice any change.

Among certain birds, this habit of roosting or traveling about in flocks is common. In a flock there are more eyes to watch for danger or to find food.

Starlings are birds that are native to Europe and there were none in this country when the Europeans first came here. Now, there is one starling for every U.S. citizen.

This bird was brought here for what might be called cultural reasons. In March 1890, 60 starlings were released in New York City's Central Park by a group who planned to introduce all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare. More were released the next year, and the birds bred and increased their population.

They appeared in Connecticut and New Jersey in 1904, reached Pennsylvania in 1908 and crossed the Allegheny Mountains in 1916. They were in Ohio in 1924, and eventually reached the West Coast by 1942.

Problems with starlings

Wherever they went, they took over the nesting holes that normally would be used by such birds as flickers, great crested flycatchers and bluebirds. Being very aggressive, starlings drove away the other species. The native birds we prefer were not able to nest successfully.

Most people look on them as a nuisance for when they roost together in large numbers, their droppings contaminate the surroundings.

Two redeeming features of starlings

First, they are great eaters of insects and grubs. Secondly and less known is their ability to sing and imitate the songs of other birds and even human speech.

Generally, when we observe a group of starlings sitting in a tree, all we hear are squeaks, chatters, creaking rattles, chirps and wheezy notes, none of which are pleasant to the ear.
Now and then, we may hear some long and drawn-out cheerful whistles which are almost human-like and easily imitated. Young starlings have harsh, rasping, insistent calls as they request the adults to bring them food.

The birds mimicking ability was studied for 10 years by Dr. Meredith West, and Dr. Andrew King at Indiana University. The starling can imitate cats meowing, roosters crowing, babies crying, water running, horns honking, doors squeaking and even hammers hammering.
They can also imitate human sounds, including words and whistled versions of songs.

According to Dr. West, not only do starlings mimic sounds, but they can also string together various sounds into what she describes as "song soliloquies", that is as if it was singing to itself. Some of these included human speech interwoven among others sounds.

The birds can also re-create strings of connected events. They have, for example, imitated an alarm clock ringing, followed by imitations of clinking dishes and of people talking. Another one mimicked the barking of a dog, followed by the sound of a door opening and closing, followed by a voice saying, "Hello!"

Dr. West believes that starlings give back sounds from their environment, perhaps as a means of testing or probing the reactions of people or other creatures around them.

Sometimes their utterances are comical. She cited one case in which a starling exclaimed, "I have a question," as its claws were being clipped. Another got tangled in a Venetian blind cord and started shrieking, "basic research" over and over.

Yet another would utter a sniffling sound and say "hi." This apparently was the mannerism of the person who took care of the bird and had an allergy which caused them to sniff frequently.
Dr. West said that all of the starlings she and Dr. King have studied show an interest in music or whistling. She said they often produce rambling whistled tunes made up of songs that have previously been whistled or sung to them, "intermingled with whistles of unknown origin and other sounds."

One starling would start whistling "rock a bye baby," then switch to "The William Tell Overture? and go back and forth between the two.

People in the 18th century knew about the singing and mimicking ability of starlings. They trained them as musical birds and kept them as pets.

Mozart’s Pet starling

The Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had an interesting experience with a pet starling. He kept a diary of the money he spent, and on May 27, 1784, he made an entry that he had purchased a pet starling. He also wrote that the bird whistled 17 notes of a musical score that he had completed about six weeks earlier, even though the work had not yet been played in public.

The 17 notes appear in the final movement of his Piano Concerto in G Major. This startled and worried Mozart, because he had just sent a copy of his work to his father as insurance against someone stealing it and claiming it for their own. In those days, when there where no copyright laws, others would try to steal the works of famous composers.

A day after he sent the concerto to his father, he walked into a pet store and heard a starling whistling notes from his new concertos final movement! So he did what any new creator would do, - he bought the bird.

Drs. West and King suggest that Mozart had visited that pet shop and other pet shops earlier. Being the inveterate whistler that he was, he probably gave the notes away long before the concerto was played publicly.

Early in this century, North American Ornithologists wrote about the mimicking ability of starlings as the bird began to populate this country. The bird so often imitated the notes of the wood pewee that some New England ornithologists thought that it was the natural call of the starling.

But it was later learned that in England the note was not used by the starling. There are no pewees there. As the cowbird became more abundant here, its calls were often imitated by the starling.

Francis H. Allen, writing early in the about 1910, suggested that the starlings learned many of their imitations from other starlings. He observed trends in their singing. For several years, they imitated pewees and then they shifted to cowbirds.

More than 50 species of birds have been listed as imitated by the starling.

Not all starlings are imitators, and some never seem to indulge in the habit. When you next encounter a flock of starlings, stop to listen. I doubt if you will hear the Piano Concerto in G Major, but you may hear some interesting imitations.

Coming December 28: The birds that were visiting feeders in early December and the results of the December Feeder Survey.

To get in touch with Benjamin P. BurttVia Mail: Write to B.Burtt, Stars Magazine, P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse,, NY 13221.

Via E-mail: Send to Be sure to put “For B.Burtt” in the subject line.

Hummingbirds in December? November Feeder Survey results

BIRD COLUMN FOR November 30, 2003

By Benjamin P. Burtt

The December Feeder Survey starts today and continues through Saturday. Of course December doesn't start until tomorrow, but this is the week we will make the observations.
For each species report the largest number you see at any one time during the next seven days. For example, if you see 12 house sparrows this week, but never more than 3 at a time, then 3 is what you put on the list.

At the end of the week, put your list on a postcard or in a letter and send it to B. P.Burtt, care of Stars Magazine, PO Box 4915, Syracuse, NY, 13221. Or send the results by email to: and in the subject line write "For B. P. Burtt".

List all the species in the order shown in the summary of the November survey on this page.
For complete written instructions, choose "Library" on the left side of this page near the top and click on "Feeder Survey Directions".


What birds were visiting our yards in early November? Were the numbers up or down? Are birds migrating down from Canada for the winter in their usual numbers? These and other questions are answered by this feeder survey.

This year it looks as if we will be seeing some of the northern finches. While only a few pine siskins and evening grosbeaks were spotted on the feeder survey in the first week of November, many more have been reported in the weeks after the survey. One Canadian person mentioned early this fall that the seed crop on the evergreen trees was poor and that these northern finches would probably be moving south to find food.

What birds were appearing at most feeders? Ninety-eight percent of the feeders had at least one jay and one chickadee. Next on the list was the junco with 92 percent of the people reporting it. 86 percent of the people had mourning doves, downy woodpeckers, crows and cardinals.
Just under 80% spotted goldfinches and white breasted nuthatches. 65% had house finches.
This year there were lots of red-breasted nuthatches on the survey and there are many other sightings too. Before 1993 this bird was seen in small numbers and it bred in some of the higher areas of Central New York.

Starting in the winter of 1993-94, the number reported on the feeder survey tripled over what it had been in most of the earlier years. The next year the numbers dropped to normal. Since that time, the numbers have been high every other year. The numbers in the "high years" have continued to be about three times what they are in lean years.

To my surprise, the white-breasted nuthatch population has been following the same alternate year cycle. I suppose it has something to do with changes in the availability of food or nesting success. Both birds eat insects as well as seeds. They both and must find a natural cavity in which to nest. For the moment, I don't have any thoughts as to why their populations go up and down in alternate years. Both species have their "high" in the same year.

This is another bit of interesting information that has come from your helping me gather data for the feeder survey. If you haven't helped with the feeder survey before, can you make observations for the December Feeder Survey? It is fun and you can make a contribution to science. (You can read the directions by selecting the Library near the top of this page at the left and once there, choose “Feeder Survey Directions”)

The cedar waxwing seldom comes to feeders, but flocks move about feeding on berries where they can find them. In the first week of November, there were very few listed, in fact it was the lowest count in many years.

Among the sparrows, the tree sparrows have begun to appear from the north as they usually do, but the big influx comes in December. White-throated sparrows were about normal, but there are more white-crowned sparrows than usual.

Dark-eyed juncos were numerous as they were last year at this time. The big change for the junco was not in the sheer numbers, but in the fact that nearly every report listed them this November.

A Winter Hummingbird

The most unusual bird for the first week of November was a ruby-throated hummingbird at Janet Allens feeder in Syracuse. Normally, most of these birds leave in the last days of September. This bird showed up in mid-October which is the time the last stragglers leave for the winter.

It spent long hours at the feeder every day through November 5. That night the temperature dropped into the low 20's and the bird was never seen again.

Caption: (Photo courtesy of Janet Allen)

Hummingbirds normally leave for the south in late September. The last ones leave by October 15. This hummingbird broke all the rules and first showed up in mid October at Janet Allens feeder in Syracuse. It spent much time at her feeder every day through November 5. That night the temperature dropped to 22 and the bird was never seen again.

This one was reported on the Feeder Survey for the first week of November. Never before in the 45 years the feeder survey has been conducted, has a hummingbird been reported on a November Feeder Survey.

There was another hummingbird at Ray Burts feeder in South Otselic from October 8 to November 6. This bird had a lot of brown on it and he thought it might be a rufous hummingbird. It is identical to the Allen's hummingbird except for some feathers in the tail.
He sent me some pictures that I shared with Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. His opinion was "It certainly looks like a female Rufous/Allen's based on the rufous showing on top of the tail and up the rump. The fact that the tail is longer than the wings rules out Calliope."

This pretty much makes it a Rufous/Allen's. There are usually scattered reports each year of these birds in the Eastern United States.

There was a third hummingbird at Alice Alsever's feeder in Nelson.It was at a feeder very close to the window. She described it as having a lot of rusty color. It was present from November 6 to the 8th.

Unfortunately, I did not hear from any of these people in time to make it possible for anyone else to see these birds.

There is a possibility I suppose that some or all of these hummingbirds were wandering about the south eastern states and were swept in our directions by the winds of hurricane Isabel.
How many species did people see in their yard or flying over? Fifty-six fairly common species were spotted in November compared to 65 in early October. I call these fairly common if they were seen by at least two different people.

In addition to these birds, 23 other species were each reported by 23 different people. This brought the total to 79.

The typical report this time listed 14 species. Half of the people had more than 14 and half had less.


Here is a list of all species reported. The first figure is the number of birds spotted by 100 observers. The number in parentheses is the number of reports out of 100 that listed the species. If you divide the number of birds by the number of reports, you get the average number per observer. You may wish to compare this with your own tally for that species.
Great blue heron 5(5); turkey vulture 20 (7); blue goose 8 (1); snow goose 26 (1); Canada goose 9,679 (52).

Ducks: wood 3 (1); black 6 (1); mallard 216 (10); bufflehead 26 (3); hooded merganser 1 (1); common merganser 5 (1).

Hawks: harrier 4 (4); sharp-shined 5 (4); Cooper's 7 (7); red-tailed 25 (20); kestrel 2 (2); pheasant 5 (3); ruffed grouse 10(5); turkey 58 (8); killdeer 2 (1).

Gulls: ring-billed 117 (16); herring gull 30 (4); black-backed gull 5 (1); rock dove 265 (31); mourning dove 495 (86); ruby-throated hummingbird 1 (1).
Woodpeckers: red-bellied 39 (33); sapsucker 1 (1); downy 144 (86); hairy 65 (44); flicker 11 (8); pileated 2 (2).

Phoebe 1 (1); horned lark 2 (1); blue jay 322 (98); crow 595 (86); raven 6 (2); chickadee 415 (98); titmouse 96 (48); red-breasted nuthatch 56 (39); white-breasted nuthatch 127 (77); creeper 2 (2); Carolina wren 4 (3); house wren 1 (1); winter wren 1 (1).

Golden-crowned kinglet 3 (2); ruby-crowned kinglet 1 (1); bluebird 15 (7); robin 259 (30); mockingbird 2 (1); cedar waxwing 34 (5); starling 2,217 (36); towhee 1 (1).

Sparrows: tree 18 (10); chipping 21 (10); field 2 (2); savannah 2 (1); fox 4 (2); song 34 (18); white-throated 66 (29); white-crowned 40 (16); junco 498 (92).

Cardinal 170 (86); red winged blackbird 254 (9); grackle 229 (16); cowbird 40 (4); purple finch 39 (16); house finch 342 (65); siskin 2 (2); goldfinch 556 (79); evening grosbeak 11 (3); house sparrow 551 (49).

To get in touch with Benjamin P. BurttVia Mail: Write to B.Burtt, Stars Magazine, P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse,, NY 13221.

Via E-mail: Send to Be sure to put “For B.Burtt” in the subject line.

Hurricane Isabel and the birds

BIRD COLUMN FOR November 16, 2003

By Benjamin P. Burtt

A day or two after a hurricane strikes the Atlantic or Gulf coast, unusual and rare birds often turn up here in Central New York. For those who enjoy seeing birds that almost never appear here, a hurricane can be a bonanza.

Many of these are pelagic birds. These are birds that have largely cut their ties with the land and spend their lives in the open ocean. They return to land only to breed. Some are from the Atlantic Ocean, east of South America and others from the Caribbean.

Their pictures are shown in your field guide, but we normally never see them unless we are in a boat far at sea. They include shearwaters, fulmars, petrels, and storm petrels. A very rare one would be an albatross , a booby, a frigate bird or a tropicbird.

Other birds that show up here after a hurricane include some that are normally found only on the edge of the sea from New England south to Florida and along the Gulf coast west to Texas.
Today, I want to discuss how the birds get here and what sort of weather conditions they encounter along the way. We will explore the dangers such storms cause for the birds and why so many are killed in a hurricane.

The Nature of a Hurricane

How did hurricane Isabel affect birds? When strong winds were felt, many small land songbirds took shelter to wait it out.

While hurricane Isabel approached from the south east, it is important to know that hurricane winds are not steady winds from one direction. The storm is circular and like a huge whirlpool, 700 miles across, it draws the winds and the birds in them in a spiral path towards the center in a counter-clockwise direction.

When the storm is forming over the ocean to the south and east, pelagic birds are swept into this region from all points of the compass like swimmers going downstream in a strong current.
While the storm is still over the ocean, the whirlpool begins to form a small area in the center where the winds are gentle and the sky may be clear. This is called the "eye" of the hurricane. In Isabel, the eye was 50 miles in diameter, which is large as eyes go.

Land birds may be migrating south at the time and passing over the ocean heading for South America. They too may be drawn into the storm and end up in the eye along with the pelagic birds. After a time, thunder storms form around the eye and before long and it is ringed by a wall of thunder storms, shoulder to shoulder about 7 miles thick. This is called the eye wall.
The highest winds in the storm are just outside the eye wall and were slightly over 100 mph in Isabel.

The birds in the eye are in a sort of sanctuary for there is almost no wind and it may even be sunny. The water below the thunder storms in the eye wall becomes turbulent and there are 40 to 50 foot waves there. These waves move right into the calm air of the eye, so while the air is quiet in the eye, huge waves are commonplace.

The pelagic birds can no longer rest on the surface of the water or even find food there. They must keep flying. Land birds in the eye must keep flying too. This eye moves along to the north west at 10 miles per hour at first.

There are many birds flying about within the eye and the hurricane hunter aircraft have reported great flocks there. Ships that have been in the eye report many pelagic birds flying about and lots of land birds resting on the ship and in the rigging.

On early Thursday morning, September 18, high winds began to buffet the shore of North Carolina. By noon the center of the storm was passing inland at about 20 mph. The pelagic birds were now being carried away from their life at sea, and would not be able to go down to rest or feed unless a large body of water appeared below them as the storm moved along.

If the land birds in the eye could see the ground, some would fly down to rest. However, over the land, the eye fills up with clouds and the visibility is poor, so that all birds must continue flying.
If a pelagic bird became exhausted, it might be so weak that it would drop down through the clouds and could end up in someones back yard.

Check the Hurricane Maps

At this point, I suggest that you look at two maps that I have made. The first shows the path of the storm and the second, shows how the strong winds are arranged around the center of the storm.

Now back to the hurricanes movement over the United States. As the eye of the hurricane with its bird passengers, moved over the land, the winds on the south side of the storm would sweep birds flying there, out over the ocean.

Those on the north side of the storm would be swept to the west and would go inland sometimes as far as Ohio and Indiana.

The hurricane moved to the northwest. As the storm passed over central Virginia at 23 mph, the winds within it dropped to 65 mph, some birds that could see the ground probably left the storm there.

Six hours after passing over central Virginia, the storm was over the panhandle of West Virginia and the spiraling winds were down to 50 mph. However, the storm had picked up speed and was moving over the land at 35 mph.

As the storm moved across West Virginia into western Pennsylvania on September 19, the winds decreased still further. The visibility was better and birds could leave the storm and return to the earth.

A Pelican turned up at DeRuyter

An immature brown pelican wandering about on the east coast was in the air and apparently, flew northwest to avoid the storm. The winds on the fringes of the hurricane were pushing it in that direction.

When the center of the hurricane was near Pittsburgh, the winds were now pushing the pelican north. With this tail wind the bird eventually found itself over southeastern Onondaga County and spotted the Deruyter Reservoir on Friday September 19.

The pelican cruised over the Reservoir and down below it could see some people struggling to secure their boats, their docks and moorings in the wind and rough water.

The pelican saw Berry Buyea and Charles Beeler Sr. and Jr., Mike Curran, John Kennedy and Jack Konig who shouted, "look there's a pelican" but everyone else laughed. Later however, John Kennedy took some pictures when the bird was far out over the water.

As the pelican flew down the lake, it might have thought to itself, "You fellows think you are having a tough time, you should see what I've just come through."

The bird stayed two days and then disappeared. The only previous record in Central New York ( Region 5) was in 1920. While John's photograph was taken at quite a distance, the bird could be identified. It was the shape of a pelican and was dark in color with no white patches, and that was all that was needed.

Many pelagic birds turned up on Lakes Erie, Ontario and Cayuga. These birds had been flying steadily without food or rest and many died and the survivors that arrived were weak.

A White-Faced Ibis turned up at Montezuma

About a week later, an immature white-faced ibis turned up at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Normally found on the Gulf coast in Louisiana and Texas, it may have strayed to the east before the storm and then was swept north to establish the first record of its species in upstate NY. To see two nice photographs of that bird, go to Images and select "White-faced Ibis". The second hurricane map shows the normal range of this bird where it is colored in red.

Many Birds Died in the Hurricane

How many birds were killed in the storm? We will never know, but now that we understand what the hurricane was like, lets review what they went through.

Birds trapped in the eye when the storm formed over the ocean, could not escape through the eye wall because of the strong incoming winds. If they were still alive when the storm moved over the land, they eventually may have been able to fly down to the surface. This is probably the way the surviving pelagic birds got here.

Many probably died from exhaustion and fell to the ground along the way for they had been flying for two days without rest.

Land birds that were skirting the storm on the east and northern side were not likely to be caught in the storm, but the spiraling wind did push them far inland.

However, birds that flew too close to the storm could be swept into it by the winds that spiraled in. When they reached the eye wall, they would probably be drawn into the wall itself.
Instead of passing through the wall into the eye, the strong winds in the eye wall carried them upward in a tight spiral. How high the birds would go we do not know, but the spiraling winds go up 17,000 to 50,000 feet. The higher the birds were carried, the lower the temperature and the birds could encounter hail and subfreezing temperatures as they were carried upwards.
It does not seem likely that they could survive. Battered and exhausted, they probably were not able to keep on flying and would die there in the sky. The carcasses would be scattered over a wide area and never be noticed.

The hurricane made for some interesting birding, but the birds from the Atlantic Ocean or the coast that were seen, were the survivors and probably many more perished along the way.
There is one other way that the hurricane can make some unusual birds be visible in Central New York. The phalaropes are sandpiper-like birds, but they swim as well as wade. They breed in Canada and some very far to the north.

They migrate south to spend the winter at sea. Since they travel overhead at high altitude, we seldom see them. At the time of the hurricane, many turned up on Lake Ontario and Cayuga Lake. These birds were not blown here by the storm, but as suggested by Dr. Kevin McGowan of Cornell, they probably, saw the huge storm ahead of them and veered to the west to avoid it and then came down on the lakes to rest and sit out the storm.

I am indebted to several people who helped me become more knowledgeable about hurricanes. Chris Brandolino and Peter Hall of WSTM-TV were the first people I contacted. They shared some of their knowledge and told me about the National Hurricane Center and its web site with all the records of Hurricane Isabel.

There I was able to see images of the storm at six hour intervals. I was also able to consult with a hurricane specialist, Tracy Stewart who through a number of emails answered many questions for me. Thanks to you all!

Coming in the next column on November30: The results of the November Feeder Survey and the announcement concerning the start of the December survey.

To get in touch with Benjamin P. BurttVia Mail: Write to B.Burtt, Stars Magazine, P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse,, NY 13221.

Via E-mail: Send to Be sure to put “For B.Burtt” in the subject line.

Titmice on the increase & October Feeder Survey results

Bird Column for November 2, 2003

Here is a discussion of the results of the October Feeder Survey. This includes all the material that appeared in the Post Standard as well as additional details including the species that were most often seen as well as a complete list of all the birds observed.

Sixty-seven people from the Central New York area watched their feeders during the first week of October and sent in a report listing the largest number of each species that they saw at any one time during the week.

The survey is conducted the first week of each winter month. With the help of hundreds of readers for 44 years, useful scientific information has been obtained. It has enabled me to see that the cardinal increased gradually during this period. We have seen the pheasant decline.

Tree sparrows come down from Canada for the winter in November. We found that their numbers increase gradually and reach a peak in February. By early April one-half have returned to Canada. Just a few are left for the May count and they soon leave.

The evening grosbeak also visits from the north, but it only comes every other winter. The red-breasted nuthatch comes down every year, and its numbers are always high one year and low the next.

The count of tufted titmice this October was the highest ever recorded. In the early 20th century it was found only in the Southern states. It started to move northward and two of them were first reported at Bessie Bradt's feeder in Manlius in 1959. By 1980 it was on 10% of the feeder reports. It reached 20% by 1994 and now, 47% of the observers list it.

These illustrations show how your efforts on the feeder survey have provided valuable and interesting information over the years.

The November feeder survey starts today and ends Saturday. Please watch whenever you can and keep a record of the number of birds of each species that you see each time. At the end of the week, list the largest number of each species that you saw at any one time during that week.

I need more people to help with this project. No list is too short. If you live in upstate New York you are invited to participate even if you do not subscribe to the Post Standard. There is a set of directions for participants that includes how to make the observations, how to prepare the report and where to send it. To read those directions, select LIBRARY at the left and once there , choose The Feeder Survey Directions. Some history of the feeder survey is given there as well.

Sixty six fairly common species were seen. In addition to these 66 fairly common birds, 22 others were each reported by only one person. So the total of all reports was 88 species.

As usual in October, the Canada goose was the most abundant bird with 6,765 per 100 reports. Next came the starling with 858. There were 479 house sparrows, 464 grackles and 465 mourning doves.

After the mourning dove, the other abundant birds were the goldfinch, blue jay, crow, chickadee, house finch and rock dove.

In addition to the numbers, we can ask how wide spread each species was. That is, what percentage of the feeders attracted the bird?

Almost everyone had blue jays and chickadees. Eighty-seven percent had mourning doves and goldfinches. Other species spotted by over half the observers were crow, white-breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker, cardinal, house finch and Canada goose.


Some people have long lists and some have short lists. Every list is important regardless of its length. It tells us what birds are visiting your vicinity. It tells us what the numbers are for the species you have. When all of the lists are tabulated, you can see how many of the species are visiting the average feeder.

Sometimes an observer does not send a list because there are not very many birds on it. All your lists are important. So let me hear from you. By counting them and keeping a copy of the list, you can also compare the way the numbers change at your feeder during the winter or from one year to the next.

The shortest list on the October survey came from the combined observations of two third grade classes at the New Haven Elementary School. In October, they saw 4 mourning doves, 1 blue jay and 5 goldfinches.

The typical list this time had 14 species on it. There were 4 on the list from Debbie O'Connell of Camillus. Eight species were listed by David Bigsby of Verona Beach, Alan Fitch of Marcellus, Elaine Lyon of Cortland, Albert Neveu of Scriba, Linda Shuron of Solvay and Donald Windsor of Norwich.

The longest list was turned in by Paul Radway who lives near Pompey. He tallied 43 as he did last year. Bill Purcell of Hastings reported 41 species and so did Ken Zoller of West Winfield. Linda Quackenbush of Waterloo had 39.


The first figure for each species is the number of birds spotted on 100 reports and the one in parentheses is the number of reports out of 100 that listed that species.

If you divide the number of birds by the number of reports, you get the average number of birds visiting a feeder. Lets do it for the goldfinch. There were 446 seen by 86 people. 446 divided by 86 is 5.2. So that means the average person had about 5 of them in sight at once. How many goldfinches did you have?

Here is the entire list:

Great blue heron 5 (5); turkey vulture 54 (24).

Ducks and geese: snow goose 71 (1); Canada goose 6,765 (62); wood duck 5 (2); mallard 34 (6); common merganser 1 (1).

Hawks: osprey 1 (1); harrier 3 (3); sharp-shinned 10 (10); Coopers 4 (4); goshawk 1 (1); broad winged 1 (1); red-tailed 11 (11); kestrel 7 5).

Pheasant 5 (4); ruffed grouse 8 (4); turkey 65 (10); killdeer 2 (2).

Gulls: ring-billed 211 ( 9); herring 9 (2); rock dove 218 (20); mourning dove 455 (87); screech owl 1 (1); horned owl 2 (1); barn owl 1 (1); hummingbird 2 (2); kingfisher 3 (3).

Woodpeckers: red-bellied 26 (21); sapsucker 2 (2); downy 122 (72); hairy 54 (41); flicker 57 (27); pileated 3 (3); phoebe 13 ( 9); kingbird 1 (1); tree-swallow 22 (2).

Blue jay 411 (93); crow 401 (84); chickadee 366 (95); titmouse 90 (47); red-breasted nuthatch 36 (26); white-breasted nuthatch 113 (75); Carolina wren 6 (5); house wren 5 (4); winter wren 1 (1).

Golden-crowned kinglet 22 (6); ruby-crowned kinglet 6 (2); bluebird 8 (4); Swainsons thrush 2 (1); wood thrush 1 (1); robin 164 (33); catbird 12 (10); mockingbird 6 (1); brown thrasher 2 (2); starling 858 (26); cedar waxwing 93 (5); warbling vireo 1 (1).

Warblers: blue-wing 1 (1); Tennesee 2 (6); Nashville 3 (2); black-throated blue 3 (2); yellow-rumped 26 (6); black-throated green 2 (2); palm 1 (1); mourning 1 (1); yellow throat 3 (2); rose-breasted grosbeak 2 (2); scarlet tanager 1 (1); towhee 7 (5).

Sparrows: tree sparrow 3 (2); chipping 78 (24); field 9 (3); savannah 3 (2); song 69 (32); swamp 1 (1); white-throated 191 (35); white-crowned 120 (29); junco 147 (47); cardinal 203 (69); rose-breasted grosbeak 2 (2).

Red-winged blackbird 114 (10); grackle 464 (18); cowbird 10 (4).

Purple finch 13 (7); house finch 275 (56); goldfinch 446 (86); house sparrow 479 (36).

To get in touch with Benjamin P. BurttVia Mail: Write to B.Burtt, Stars Magazine, P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse,, NY 13221.

Via E-mail: Send to Be sure to put “For B.Burtt” in the subject line.

Wrens, Hummingbirds and October Feeder Survey begins

BIRD COLUMN FOR October 5, 2003

By Benjamin P. Burtt

I have decided to write this column every other week from now on. Thus the next one will be published on Sunday October 19.


The October feeder survey starts today and ends Saturday the 11th. Please watch when you can and send in a report promptly after you complete your observations.

For each species, report the largest number you see at any one time during the week. For example, if you see 12 jays this week, but never more than three at a time, then three is what you put on the list. List all the species in the order shown in your field guide. Put each species on a separate line with the number first, followed by the birds name. Please write the number of species at the top of the list.

At the end of the week, put your list on a postcard or in a letter and send it to B.P.Burtt, Smokey Hollow Rd., Jamesville, NY 13078-9548. You can send results by EMAIL to Please include your town ).


Dear Prof. Burtt: I like having the house wren around, but I have heard that wrens cause trouble for bluebirds and other hole nesting birds. Is this true? --J.L. Phoenix.

Dear J.L.: The house wren does try to prevent other birds from nesting in holes nearby and it frequently causes quite a bit of trouble for these birds. If a bluebird house is put near some shrubbery there may be great difficulty in their nesting there because of wrens trying to use the same box.

If wrens are nearby as bluebirds build their nest, they will "buzz" the bluebirds. This harassment may continue throughout incubation. Often wrens will puncture or even remove the eggs of other species.

In one yard a day after the young bluebirds had hatched and the parents were away, the wrens went into the bluebird box and killed all of the youngsters.

You can prevent some of these problems by carefully choosing the location of the box. Wrens prefer brushy places and bluebirds like open country. Put the bluebird boxes in open areas and then add a few more boxes in brushy places for the wrens.

Generally the wren wins out over the bluebird, but now and then a bluebird will defend its nest vigorously. One reader mentioned several years ago that a bluebird did hold a wren down on the ground and kill it.

Mr. Burtt: Can you tell me when we should stop feeding the hummingbirds for the season? P.B. (town not given in email.)

Dear P.B. Your question suggests that you have read that we "should" take the hummingbird feeders down so that we will not keep them from going south on time.

That is a myth and is not true. Birds migrate at about the same time each year, but different species migrate on different dates.

All birds migrate when there is still plenty of the food. It is the shortening of the daylight that tells them to go and not a shortage of food. Having food available will NOT keep them from migrating.

In fact, birds always migrate while there is still plenty of food available. They must be able to stock up and have energy reserves for the long migration. If they do not go until food is scarce, they could be too weak to migrate.

Sometimes a bird is ill and does not have the strength to migrate. It can not go until it gets its strength back. In such a case it may save the birds life for you to have food out that is easy to get.

Most hummingbirds start south in late September. Now and then a few will linger in Central New York until mid October. The latest date on record is November 10.

We should put food out until they have all migrated. Keep food available until October 15.

Dear Ben: What type of binoculars do your recommend? We have seen an increase in the number and kinds of birds in our yard and would like to see them more clearly from a distance. -E. T. Syracuse. ( by email)

Dear ----- ( No greeting or salutation ): Do you have a recommendation or website for selecting binoculars used in bird watching? - - E. V., Ilion ( by email )

Dear R.T. and E. V.: There are several decisions to be made when selecting binoculars. Useful information to help you make these decisions can be obtained from two recent publications.
I suggest that you send a stamped , self addressed long envelope to each of the following addresses.

Write, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, 150 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca NY 14850 and ask for a copy of the article on binoculars by Ken Rosenburg.

Write Bird Watchers Digest, P.O.Box 110, Marietta, OH, 45750 and ask for a copy of the December 1999 article "Choosing and Using Binoculars"

Benjamin P. Burtt, a Syracuse University professor emeritus and a Jamesville resident, writes a column every other week on birds for Stars. Write to him in care of Stars Magazine, P.0. Box 4915, Syracuse, N.Y. 13221. Send e-mail to Be sure to put "For B.Burtt" in the subject line. He will answer as many questions as possible.

To get in touch with Benjamin P. BurttVia Mail: Write to B.Burtt, Stars Magazine, P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse,, NY 13221.
Via E-mail: Send to Be sure to put “For B.Burtt” in the subject line.

Albino female Cardinal in Manlius

BIRD COLUMN FOR August 17, 2003
By Benjamin P. Burtt

Now and then albino birds are reported. These are birds that have white feathers in place of the usual colors of their normal plumage.

These white feathers may cover the whole bird, but usually they only replace part of the feathers. Such a bird is said to have partial albinism.

Such a condition is quite rare,. Two scientists who studied birds by capturing and banding them, handled some 30,000 birds over a period of 10 years. Only 17 of those birds had albinism to any degree. This is less than half of 1%.

For the average person who knows the common birds around his home, a partially albino bird is unlike any bird ever seen before. We tend to identify birds by the color of the different parts of the body. Quite naturally, the observer assumes that the bird is some new species that wandered by.

If a bird is carefully described to me, I can usually say that there is no bird around here that normally has that plumage and that it is probably some common bird with abnormal plumage colors.

Once you realize that it is probably a common bird then you can consider the shape and size and ask what species it might it be? You can also ask, what birds are mingling with it?

Last year I was contacted by Don and Marge Svedman of Manlius who had a partially albino female cardinal in their yard.

When it first appeared in February of 2002, the male was feeding the albino as they do in courtship at that time of the year. It is still around their property now and a photograph taken by Svedman appears with todays column.

This beautiful bird is a partially albino female cardinal that has been living in Manlius for two years. (Courtesy of Don Svedman )

I am very pleased to be able to share this image with you for very few people ever have a chance to see such a bird.

You will notice that there is red in all the usual places where red appears on a female cardinal. It is on the tip of the crest, on the wings, tail and beak. In other words the red pigment was not altered. What is missing is the normal brown color of the female and those feathers have no pigment and appear white.

This is the result of a genetic change and a chemical is missing that is needed to make the colored pigment. As far as we know, this bird had this plumage when it first fledged.

In some cases, a patch of white feathers will appear on a bird that up to then has had its usual colors. This can be caused by an injury, some dietary deficiency or some hormonal change at the time the feathers are developing.

A British bird bander trapped the same blackbird every year and in the fifth year, the bird had patches of white all over its body that were not there previously. Another became progressively white over a three year period.

Totally albino birds are those in which all the feathers are white. The eyes, leg and bill will have a pinkish tinge because the color of the blood shows through when there is no pigment in the tissue.

Such birds are extremely rare in the wild. They are conspicuous and more likely to be caught by predators. They often have weak eyesight and the lack of pigment makes the feathers brittle. Such feathers often wear out before the next molt and the bird will not be able to fly well.

One other problem when there are many white feathers, is that the bird is not recognized by prospective mates or others of its own kind.

One scientist reported a pure albino female red-winged blackbird in an immense September flock that was chased repeatedly by its companions. It always returned to the flock to be chased again.

The Manlius female cardinal shown in the illustration apparently is recognized as a cardinal by the male. I suspect that it is the red color in all the right places that identifies her and whether the rest of the bird is the usual brown or whether it is white apparently does not matter.

With a few species, it is normal for the plumage to become white and then change back each year. The ptarmigan is a brown, grouse in the summer that gradually becomes white each fall. This is not albinism. It lives in the open country far north beyond the limit of the trees. It is also found at high altitude in the Rocky Mountains.

The white plumage makes the bird hard to see in the winter snow. In the summer it becomes brown again. That color then matches the bare and rocky terrain where it breeds.

One time on a family summer trip to the Rockies years ago, we all watched a ptarmigan slowly walking across a rocky slope only 20 feet away. When it stopped moving, it blended so well with the background that it just disappeared!

List of Columns

Each of the columns available on this web site and listed below contains all of the material that appeared in the newspaper and in addition , each one usually has some extra information on the subject.

Click on the date to display the column on your computer screen.

Sept. 14, 2008 - Topic: The bird behavior called "anting" occurs when a bird is observed beside an ant hill picking up ants, crushing them in its bill and then rubbing them on its feathers.

Jan 7, 2007 - Topics: The great horned owl, the first bird to nest in the spring.

Dec 10, 2006 - Topic: Making Nest Boxes

May 14, 2006 - Topic: How to keep birds from attacking their reflection in a window.

Jun26, 2005 - Topic: The rose-breasted grosbeak arrives for the summer

Jun 12, 2005 - Topic A pileated woodpecker has been attacking his reflection in outside rear view mirrors of cars as well as his reflection in the windows of homes nearby in a suburb near Syracuse, NY. When he taps the mirror or the windows he smashes them!

May 29, 2005 - Topics: 1. Reader question as to how to get more than one pair of bluebirds to use the nest boxes he has put out for bluebirds. 2. The Results of the May Feeder Survey.

May 15, 2005 - Topics: 1. Reader question about the nature of the cardinals nest and eggs. 2. The “All About Birds” website from The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology now available to the public. 3. The Birds of North America website from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology with the complete life histories of the 716 North American birds.

May 1, 2005 - Topic: How to deal with starlings and house sparrows that try to take over bluebird nest boxes. The May feeder survey starts today. The results of the April Feeder survey.

April 17, 2005 - Topic:The Derby Hill Bird Observatory ( the Hawk Lookout ). Why this is such a great place to see hawks in the spring. How to reach Derby Hill and the approximate dates for the arrival of spring migrants in the next two weeks.

April 3, 2005 - Topic: Reader question: what is the bird with a red breast, but is not a robin? Arrival Dates for migrants from Mar 30 to Apr 17. The eastern towhee. The results of the March feeder survey. The April survey starts today.

March 20, 2005 - Topic: Migrants that arrive in the next two weeks with emphasis on the fox sparrow and the special courtship ritual of the woodcock.

March 6, 2005 - Topic: The first birds to arrive in the Spring Migration including some comments about the first flycatcher, the phoebe plus the Results of the February Feeder Survey.

February 20, 2005 - Topic: The Great Horned Owl, the First Bird to Nest Here in the Spring plus Making a Nesting Platform for the Great Horned Owl.

February 6, 2005 - Topic: The Unusual Fall Migration of the Tree Sparrow plus the Results of the January Feeder Survey

January 23, 2005 - Topic: Identifying Coopers and Sharp-shinned Hawks in your Yard,. How to tell one from the Other.

January 09, 2005 –Topic: The Results of the December Feeder Survey

December 26, 2004 - Topic: Providing Shelter Near the Feeder to bring in more birds

December 12, 2004 - Topics- The Results of the November Feeder Survey

November 28, 2004 - Topics: Food Storage by the Chickadee, titmouse, nuthatch and blue jay.

November 14, 2004 - Topics: Why crows are bolder and being seen near our homes, in our parks and even roosting in towns overnight.

October 31, 2004 - Topics: The Results of the October Feeder Survey plus a question from a reader, “Where have all the male Goldfinches gone?”

October 17, 2004 - Topics: Suet Feeders for woodpeckers and other insect eating birds. Several models of suet feeders are described and there is a discussion of the best places to put them.

October 3, 2004 - Topics: The October Feeder Survey starts today.
Fox Sparrows Migrate South through Central New York this month.

September 19, 2004 - Topic: The Birds that migrate in September and early October . The Feeder Survey, what it is and complete Instructions as to how you can help with this scientific project.

September 5, 2004 - Topic: The Danger to Birds Caused by the Reflections from Glass Windows.

August 22, 2004 - Topic: The Breeding and Nesting of the Gray Catbird and why the male flaps his wings a lot when he is near the nest.

August 8, 2004 - Topic: Wind turbines and Birds.

July 25, 2004 - Topic The killdeer and its Nesting Habits

July 11, 2004 - Topic: Attracting Birds with Bird Baths and Dripping Water

June 27, 2004 - Topic: How to Attract Bluebirds, Making a nest box, where to put it, dealing with house sparrows, starlings, tree swallows and raccoons.

June 13, 2004 - Topic: How to attract hummingbirds to your yard

May 30, 2004 - Topics: The Birds that were at feeders during the first month of May. The results of the Feeder Survey for May. May 16, 2004- Topics: The last Spring Migrants and a review of a device that can be used in your house to hear the sounds of birds outside even though the windows are closed.

May 2, 2004 - Topics: Spring arrival dates for the next two weeks. The results of the April feeder Survey.

April 18, 2004 - Topic: Spring arrival dates for the next two weeks. Why do birds sing and why do they sing so much more often at dawn than later in the day?

April 4, 2004 - Topic: Spring arrival dates for the next two weeks. The results of the March Feeder Survey .

March 21, 2004 - Topic: Time schedule for the early spring migration plus the habits of the fox sparrow which arrives this week.

March 7, 2004 - Topic: The Results of the February Feeder Survey and migrant red-winged blackbirds arrived a few days ago.

Feb 22, 2004 - Topic: Bald headed cardinals and blue jays in late summer. How does this happen?

Feb 8, 2004 – Topic: The January Feeder Survey Results and the abundant redpolls.

Jan. 25, 2004 – Topic: Is it unusual to have a pileated woodpecker visit a suet feeder?

Jan. 11, 2004 – Topic: What are the best types of seed for attracting a variety of birds? Which seeds are best for a bird that can not crack open sunflower seeds because its bill is too small?

Dec. 28, 2003 – Topic: The December Feeder Survey Results. The most abundant bird was the goldfinch.

Dec. 14, 2003 - Topic: Why starlings and grackles flock together.

Nov. 30, 2003 - Topic: The November Feeder Survey Results. A hummingbird was still visiting a feeder in the first week of November!

Nov. 16, 2003 - Topic: Hurricane Isabel and the Birds.

Nov. 2, 2003 - Topic: The Oct. Feeder Survey Results. Titmice are still on the increase in Central New York.

Oct. 5, 2003 – Topic: Oct. feeder survey starts today and responses to two readers’ questions: Do wrens really harm other birds? When should I stop feeding hummingbirds?

Aug. 17, 2003 – Topic: Albino female cardinal in Manlius.