Rice Creek Research Bulletin No. 5: Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Oswego County and Northern Cayuga County, New York

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Smith, Gerald
Ryan, James
The idea for this publication was conceived one day atop Derby Hill at the conclusion of a glorious April day when the skies were crammed with migrants of every description. This flight had involved both high numbers and rare occurrences. As I readied to depart I wished for a data yardstick. Since the only available yardsticks were either the large raw data file maintained by the Region 5 Kingbird editor or 25 years of published reports in the Kingbird, and neither of these was accessible in the field, I was out of luck for that evening. This book is designed to provide that yardstick so that the field observer can compare his or her daily results against previous work. It is an annotated checklist which will aid the observer who is unfamiliar with the general abundance of birds in our area. I also hope that it will serve as a general reference manual which may be carried afield. The data herein were derived primarily from published reports in the Kingbird and from my own field records. Except for a request for data which was mailed in 1976, no intensive attempt was made to collect and review the data in the private files of local observers. Although lack of detailed review of private files has no doubt resulted in errors of omission, it was felt that such errors were the lesser of two possible evils. To thoroughly review personal files would have delayed publication of this volume to perhaps the year 2000, assuming the author was fortunate to live that long. In full realization that some available data may have been omitted, early publication was preferred to an all inclusive summary. The species summaries are based primarily on data through the end of 1977, but in some cases data of particular interest have been included from 1978 and 1979. Yet despite these efforts, this book, as with all such endeavors, is partly obsolete before it is published. It is hoped that this publication will aid further field work resulting in a future revision and updating of this checklist. As the Oswego Area has a relatively brief history of modern field work, a vast amount of knowledge remains to be gained. Even in well worked areas, such as the Lake Ontario shore, relatively little is known. Confounding occurrences, such as hawk flights at Derby Hill in August, shake the foundations of well-considered and cherished ideas about what is occurring in the local bird world. In other less well worked sections of the county data are so scarce that ideas are very difficult to form. Extensive field work remains to be done. I hope that field observers will increase their efforts and contribute to the goal of providing more specific detail in published form. Observers should take time to provide summaries of their raw data. Such summarized data are particularly important for environmental impact assessments. Well-documented information on a favorite birding site could well be an important factor in the site evaluation of a proposed nuclear power plant. I have attempted to make this publication as complete as possible within certain time constraints. However, I fully accept responsibility for any errors. Gerald A. Smith, 1978