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THE NIMROD, VOL. I, NO. 2 (MAY 2002)

"THE NIMROD is a publication devoted to Leon County ornithology as well as
other avian matters deemed appropriate.

As of 30 APRIL, your editor had listed 249 "yearbirds" (includes 5
subspecies) - far more than his usual plodding cumulation as of said date.
How so?  In great part by driving westward to New Mexico via interstate Route
10 during 8-22 APRIL in company of Roger Atchison and his inimitable canine
Sophie Airedale. As issues of THE NIMROD are focused on birds of Leon County,
I shall not discourse to any great extent on all species encountered on said
trip, but would like to share with the reader certain observations and
"connections" entertained out west that "parallel" those experienced locally
during past years.

FIRSTLY, however, I again pay homage to Peterson's A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS
OF TEXAS which again served me so well in identification of southwestern
birds, especially through description of vocalizations.  Also, Ken Kaufman's
BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA (2000) proved to be an additional valued and handy
recourse for such purpose.  Many thanks, Jack Dozier, for gift of the latter.

AS MAN ENCROACHES:  While out west this APRIL, I again was impressed by
propensity of certain species to accommodate themselves to human dwellings.
During a brief side-stay in Sierra Vista, Arizona, I was especially surprised
to witness Cactus Wrens (interestingly not Bewick's) nesting under a tiled
roof near our motel while a pair of Curve-billed Thrashers foraged closeby.
The latter sighting reminded me of some summers ago when I monitored a
Curve-bill scurrying on a country club rooftop in Douglas, Arizona, while
fellow birder Ron Christen did 9 holes.  Don't laugh, reader!  That was the
only for-certain sighting I had of said species that summer.

Equally eyecatching this time round were the small flocks of Chahuahuan
Ravens which scavanged in towns and cities, and at times the calls and tail
shapes of other such corvids suggested that even the Common Raven was
becoming more city friendly.  Such latter suggestion may indeed be
"stretching" though Kaufman (P. 270) states that the species is "also moving
into cities in some regions".

Another such type of avian encroachment was observed when Roger pointed out
Purple Martins nesting under the eaves of a service station during a gas stop
in Duson, Louisiana (Lafayette Parish).  Before then, I had found the species
nesting only in Martin houses and gourds, but Tallahassee city employee John
Morrell, a Martin buff, has more recently advised me of such nesting in other
structures, both in Leon County as well as in Gulf County's Port St. Joe.  JM
also informed me that on 3 MAY he found that long-sought-for nesting site of
the Northern Rough-winged Swallow at the Springhill Road Sewage Treatment
Facility - a metal pipe near his work station.  VERILY, as man encroaches, so
do the birds encroach right back!

"EASTERN" BIRDS OUT WEST:  I have found it not unusual to record bird species
far west of their presumed eastern range limits.  These include Eastern
Kingbird (Oregon), White Ibis (Oregon and this time round New Mexico's Bosque
del Apache NWR), Mississippi Kite (Idaho), Red-shouldered Hawk (Colorado),
Virginia Rail (Oregon), Northern Parula (Oregon), Black-and-white Warbler
(Arizona), Orchard Oriole (during two visits to Rattlesnake Springs, SW New
Mexico, including this APRIL), and Rose-breasted Grosbeak seen at the latter
site on a previous visit, all of which, if not local "rarities", were
certainly "unexpecteds" and intriguing reminders of home-away-from-home.

And for what it is worth, Roger and I can attest to the presence of the
Eurasian Collared-Dove in Roswell, New Mexico, which is in line with its
present range extension as indicated in the Kaufman and Sibley guides.  Said
species of course used to be just an "eastern" species.

It's good to be back in good old Leon County!

Gail E. Menk, Editor"

Keith MacVicar
Tallahassee  FL
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