observed thk winter on the refuge, spent the day hidden
Species seen in higher than usual numbers were
Pied-billed Grebe, Great Egret, White and White-faced Ibk,
Ross' Goose, Wood Duck, Redhead, Sharp-shinned and
Cooper's Hawk, Virginia Rail, Sandhill Crane, Gray Catbird,
Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and Song
Sparrow. Species seen in unusually low numbers were
Canada Goose, Mourning and Ground Dove, Barn Owl,
House Wren, Sprague's Pipit and Grasshopper Sparrow.
Unfortunately, once again, no Prairie-Chickens were seen.
Thanks to the skill of the area leaders and
participant-, I'm sure thk k still the best inland count in the
nation Winnie Burkett, Compiler
A Tree Full of Hummingbirds
by Winnie Burkett
Now, if someone told you that they had seen a tree
full of hummingbirds, wouldn't you assume that it was ako
a tree full of flowers? Well—I would have until last October.
On October 3, 1993, Houston Audubon had a
workday at Boy Scout Woods. While we were working a
birder came up to tell me that there was an oak tree by the
barn behind Smith Oaks that was full of hummingbirds. I
had my doubts, but some of the work party participants went
over to look and returned to report that there was indeed an
oak tree full of hummingbirds. They ako reported that the
hummers, warblers and orioles seemed to be feeding on sap
being exuded by acorn caps left on the tree after the acorns
had fallen out.
After the work party finished I had to go look. It
was easy to find the live oak, you could hear the
hummingbirds before you could see them. There were lots,
between 25 and 50, swarming around the tree. They were
impossible to count as many were arguing over who could
drink out of which acorn cap. The Northern Orioles and
several species of warblers were also feeding from the acorn
caps. It was an amazing sight.
Being curious I pulled an acorn out of its cap and
investigated. The sap was sticky and very sweet. Only caps
of acorns that were loose enough to fall out exuded the
sweet sap. Since only one tree in the area had birds, while
many other trees had acorns, I set out to do a little
"research." I checked acorn caps on other trees and found
that no other tree's acorn caps exuded sweet sap. Their sap
was not too tasty.
Thk sighting generated several questions. Why did
only one tree in that area have sweet sap? Was the tree
diseased? Are there other live oaks that produce sweet sap?
So far I only have an answer to the last question. One of
the women my husbands works with had an oak tree in her
yard full of hummingbirds last fall. She enjoyed the birds,
but couldn't figure out why they were there.
There may be other oak trees full of hummingbirds
out there. So keep your eyes and ears open thk fall.
by Noel Pettingell
30 YEARS AGO/FROM NOVEMBER 19/B SPOONBn I.
[Please note thk Niche was intended for the
Nov. 1993 ksue, not the Jan. 1994! My apologies to
Noel for the mixup. Thk will teach him not to be
too prompt with hk submissions. Ed.]
"We tend to place value on rarity at all levek of experience.
Perhaps that k why these few days live so vividly in my mind.
But I think not I have seen other birds rarer in museum
collections and about which much less k known. My
experiences were in no way unique; others have seen
Ivorybilk, and some have known them far more intimately.
I have had higher adventure in more exotic places. No, it
was the stamp of Fate which impressed thk experience upon
me. Nature k little concerned with the fate of the individual,
but there k no greater tragedy in the scheme of things than
the extinction of a species."
"Search for the Rare IvorybilT by Don Eckleberry
from Discovery, a book of short stories.
Editors: Phyllis and Tony Frank
A total of 209 species were reported. Interesting
sightings of wintering (?) waterfowl and wintering raptors
are included in this report.
Many thanks to everyone who submitted reports and
documentation. Reports for next month are due by February,
but early reports are welcomed. Readers are reminded that
all decisions regarding checklist status are made by the
checklist committee. Publication of a rarity does not imply
acceptance of the record by the editors or the committee.
The CH format remains the same this month. The listing uses
th» following format: bird name, early late dates,
reports/total and summary by county or detailed listing.
The format of the county summary is as follows: county
designation - number of reports/number of birds. The
detailed listing format is as follows: county-(number of
birds) day, observer code. Very rare birds are underlined.
Birds with no previous record on date or vagrant status