Big May Day Count 2018

42nd Annual Big May Day Count

Saturday, May 12, 2018

 

Our Silver Streak; or, the Yachtsman's Guide from Harwich to SciPlease join the Tippecanoe Audubon Society for the annual “Big May Day Bird Count” (BMDBC) on May 12th. The objective of the BMDBC is to count the number of birds of each species occurring in a participating county from midnight to midnight on the second Saturday in May. This data snapshot provides a valuable scientific record of the bird populations occurring each year in Indiana. e results will be compiled, analyzed, and published in the Indiana Audubon Quarterly.

This will be TAS’s 42nd year participating in this count, which is sponsored by the Indiana Audubon Society. We will cover all of Kosciusko County to document the spring migration. is should be a great time to get your annual look at warblers, thrushes, and shorebirds as they pass through our area. Typically, our group observes over 125 species in this count. Both experienced and novice birders are needed, and you may participate for a whole day or part of a day.

To participate, contact Greg Clark using the form below.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

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By Margit Codispoti

It was late November when I heard a mewing sound from a tree in my back yard. I immediately thought catbird but it was too late in the year to expect a catbird in Indiana. Then I spotted the bird on the tree trunk, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius). I had never associated the sapsucker with a mewing sound but when checking the recordings on my bird app, I verified that the cat-like call I heard was indeed a sound the sapsucker makes.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a migrant through northern Indiana and usually seen March to April and September to November. The sapsucker breeds in Canada and northern states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Sometimes stragglers are seen in northern Indiana during Christmas bird counts.

Like other woodpeckers, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is mostly black, white and red, but as its name indicates, its underside is yellowish in color. It is somewhat larger than a downy woodpecker. To distinguish the sapsucker from other woodpeckers, look for the long white stripe on the side of its wings. On the male the red throat is the most obvious distinguishing mark. Both sexes have red foreheads and a black shield on their chest. It is usually found climbing up, down, and around tree trunks.

The name ‘sapsucker’ describes its feeding behavior. It drills a series of holes creating a ring into tree trunks and then feeds on the tree sap and any bugs that have been trapped in the sap. Sapsuckers choose tree species with high sugar concentrations in their sap, such as paper birch, yellow birch, sugar maple, red maple, and hickory.

When sapsuckers drill too many holes in any one tree, they can girdle it, cutting off the flow of sap to the branches, possibly killing the tree. This is more of a problem in northern states, but when it happens in orchards and other trees important to humans, it can be a problem.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are cavity nesters. The male does most of the work excavating the cavity over about 2 to 3 weeks. No lining is placed within the nest; the eggs are laid on wood chips left over from the excavation. There are 4-6 eggs per clutch, and incubation lasts 10-13 days. Young fledge after 25-30 days.

In addition to the mewing sound mentioned earlier, the sapsucker also has a squealing call, a repeated quee-ah, quee-ah, that’s territorial and they make a waa call when disturbed or to alert others to danger. Like other sapsuckers, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker’s drumming is slower and more irregular than other woodpeckers. Its stuttering cadence can sound like somebody tapping out morse code. In addition to trees with good resonance, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers also drum on metal surfaces — like street signs or chimney flashing — to amplify their territorial messages. The drumming is usually done by males during breeding season.

April Field Trip to Spurgeon

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Saturday, April 14th at 10:00 am

This ACRES preserve has rolling topography and old growth forest. We will look for summer residents and early migrants. For more on the site, see acreslandtrust.org.

From Ligonier, take SR 6 east 2.5 miles to CR 600W. Turn left (north) and follow the county road 2.25 miles to the parking area on the right (east) side.

Owls and Rodents Program

You may recall that This program was originally scheduled last Spring but, was cancelled due to a power outage at Manchester University. Let’s hope I didn’t just jinx it for this year.

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Monday, April 9th at 6:30 pm
Hoff Room, Manchester University Student Union

The consequences of using Barn Owls to control pest rodents: a case study

For many years, the sugarcane agricultural industry in south Florida has been implementing a nest box program in an attempt to inflate the local population of Barn Owls. It is hoped that these birds serve as biological controllers of rodent pests. This program has resulted in one of the densest populations in the world of what is typically considered an imperiled species. From 2005-2006, Jason Martin studied these owls and their relationship to both their prey and the agricultural environment in which they live. In this talk, he will present the findings of his research as well as potential conservation implications.

Jason Martin received his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation from the University of Florida. Following this, he worked as a biologist for the state wildlife agencies of Florida and New York. He currently lives in Warsaw, IN and works as a wetlands biologist for Kleenco Maintenance and Construction.

Use the form below to request more information.

2017 Christmas Bird Count Results

By Dave Hicks

TAS participated in the 118th annual Audubon Christmas Count on December 30, 2017.  The weather was not very pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 8 to 14ºF, winds up to 29 mph and wind chill down to -10ºF.  It was the coldest day of any of counts dating back to 1975.

The number of individual birds seen was rather low – only 5325 vs. 10359 for our long-term average.  Since lakes and many streams were frozen, relatively few waterbirds were seen.  Some field parties had a disappointing day.  Casey Jones commented that “We ended the day with 14 measly species when this area – with open water – would normally produce at least 30 species.”  However, the total number of species seen was surprisingly high, at 65 (plus one hybrid).  This is the fourth largest species list for TAS’s Christmas Count.

No species new to TAS were seen this year.  Some species that were rare in this year’s count (only 1 or two individuals) included Common Merganser, Northern Harrier, Pileated Woodpecker, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Belted Kingfisher and Common Grackle, among others.  As is typical of our counts, the most abundant species included Canada Goose, House Sparrow and European Starling.  However, American Coots were rather uncommon this year, and Horned Lark and Dark-eyed Junco were more abundant than usual, perhaps because of cold weather to our north and west.  Mute Swans continue to be lower than their peak in the late 2000s-early 2010s.

Participants were Rebekah Bailey, Margit Codispoti, Al Crist, Beth Deimling, Steve Doud, Alex Forsythe, Dave Hicks, Deb Hustin, Casey Jones, Stan Moore, Jim Townsend and Nick Yarde.


  • Pied-Billed Grebe 13
  • Hairy Woodpecker 1
  • Mute Swan 73
  • Northern Flicker 4
  • Tundra Swan 1
  • Pileated Woodpecker 1
  • Canada Goose 1249
  • Blue Jay 57
  • Gadwall 4
  • American Crow 133
  • Mallard 544
  • Cedar Waxwing 25
  • Mallard hybrid 1
  • Eastern Bluebird 28
  • American Black Duck 2
  • European Starling 409
  • Redhead 67
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch 1
  • Ring-Necked Duck 82
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch 24
  • Lesser Scaup 6
  • Brown Creeper 2
  • Common Goldeneye 42
  • Carolina Wren 1
  • Bufflehead 3
  • Winter Wren 1
  • Hooded Merganser 13
  • Golden-Crowned Kinglet 2
  • Common Merganser 1
  • Black-Capped Chickadee 17
  • Great Blue Heron 4
  • Tufted Titmouse 26
  • Bald Eagle 4
  • Horned Lark 433
  • Northern Harrier 2
  • House Sparrow 433
  • Cooper’s Hawk 4
  • Pine Siskin 2
  • Red-Tailed Hawk 19
  • American Goldfinch 45
  • Rough-Legged Hawk 2
  • House Finch 85
  • American Kestrel 2
  • Snow Bunting 57
  • Wild Turkey 35
  • Fox Sparrow 1
  • American Coot 321
  • Song Sparrow 49
  • Sandhill Crane 62
  • Swamp Sparrow 2
  • Ring-Billed Gull 6
  • White-Crowned Sparrow 2
  • Rock Pigeon 96
  • White-Throated Sparrow 5
  • Mourning Dove 57
  • Dark-Eyed Junco 360
  • Barred Owl 1
  • American Tree Sparrow 258
  • Belted Kingfisher 1
  • Field Sparrow 5
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker 3
  • Northern Cardinal 92
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker 22
  • Red-Winged Blackbird 5
  • Downy Woodpecker 16
  • Common Grackle 1