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Minutes of the DVOC
February 5, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:45 by President Paul Guris. Thirty-eight members and 4 guests were present. Secretary Art McMorris thanked Connie Goldman for taking the minutes of the Jan. 22 meeting. The minutes of the January 22 meeting were read and accepted.


Membership: Chair Connie Goldman announced new members Lynn Roman and Yong Kong, and read the application of new applicant Ron Sinclair.

Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer asked for nominations for recipients for conservation grants from DVOC, to be supported by funds raised by the DVOC World Series of Birding team, the “Lagerhead Shrikes.” Debbie also asked members to participate in the 12th annual “Great Backyard Bird Count” Feb. 13-16, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Details are at www.birdsource.org/gbbc/.

Field Trip Reports:

Bob Horton reported on the Caribbean sailing and birding trip of Jan. 20 – Feb. 2, organized and led by himself and Vincent Nichnadowicz. Five participants started with 4 days in Puerto Rico, where 73 species were seen and 3 heard, including all the Puerto Rican endemics except for the Puerto Rican Pewee and Puerto Rican Parrot. Four participants continued with 10 days of sailing in the Lesser Antilles on a 43-foot sloop. The group visited the islands of St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Bequia and Mayreau. 74 species, including many island endemics, were seen or heard on the islands and at sea. The group also snorkeled in the Tobago Cays, where they saw many species of fish and other sea creatures. Vincent and Colin Campbell then continued to Trinidad for a post-trip extension, where they saw about 120 species, including Oilbirds and Trinidad Piping Guans. The extension ended today; Vincent came straight from the airport to the DVOC meeting!

Tom Reeves reported on his Jan. 24 trip to Conowingo Dam, MD and Muddy Run, PA. Thirty-three species were seen. The best birds were the many Bald Eagles at Conowingo Dam, plus 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers, a Winter Wren, over 50 Great Blue Herons and about 40 Black Vultures.

Tony Croasdale reported on his Jan. 25 trip to Cumberland and Cape May Counties, NJ. The main target was the crane flock which includes 1 Common Crane and several hybrid offspring. Sixteen cranes were found, including the Common Crane, whose origin is unknown. Other good finds were Red-headed Woodpecker and Eurasian Wigeon. The group then split in two, with some going to Collingswood and others to Jake’s Landing for Short-eared Owls.

Debbie Beer reported on her Feb. 1 trip to Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia for winter waterfowl. A good assortment of waterfowl was found, including Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup and American Coot, but the recently-reported Redheads could not be found. The group then went to Darlington Park where they found the recently-reported LeConte’s Sparrow, a lifer for many and a first record for Delaware County, PA.

Field Trips – up-coming trips:

Bob Horton then announced the following up-coming trips:

Saturday Feb. 7: Colin Campbell will lead a trip to Delaware City, DE for winter waterfowl, gulls and landbirds.

Sunday Feb. 8: Tony Croasdale will lead a trip to Manahawkin WMA, NJ. This salt marsh is a great spot for Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged Hawks. Other targets will be Sedge Wren, a reported Snowy Owl, diving ducks and grebes. The trip will start at noon; it is timed for the owls.

Adrian Binns reported that his Feb. 14-16 trip to Ontario is now full and has a waiting list. Targets are winter finches, raptors, and this year’s irruption of northern owls.

Details of all these trips are on the website: www.DVOC.org.


Frank Windfelder announced the next few programs:

Feb. 19, Jeffrey Hall, “Behaving Beautifully.” Jeffrey will describe and illustrate odd and interesting behavior in the beautiful birds of south Florida.

March 5, Jeff Gordon, “Kingfishers and their Allies.” Jeffrey will talk about the kingfishers of the world and their relatives in the Order Coraciiformes: bee-eaters, rollers, mot-mots, hornbills and hoopoes.

March 19, Kevin Karlson, “Shorebirds: a Different Approach to Field ID,” a jizz-based approach described in his best-selling book (with Mike O’Brien and Richard Crossley), “The Shorebird Guide.”

April 2, Bill Evans, “Nocturnal Migration of Birds in the 21st Century.” Bill will discuss night migration and what has been learned from his studies on nocturnal flight calls, and will talk about approaches that could reduce the impacts of wind turbines, communication towers and artificial lighting.

April 16, Andy Smith, “Ten Million Years and Still Going: Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River and Elsewhere.”


Paul Guris announced that the club is arranging for an institutional subscription to the Birds of North America Online. Members can sign up through the club for $25/year instead of the usual rate of $42/year. The successor to “Bent’s Life Histories,” the Birds of North America has a monograph on every North American species, written by experts on the species. Each monograph averages 25-30 pages, and the full series makes a pile more than 6 feet high. The advantages of the online version are that it is continually updated, it contains additional material not included in the print version, it is searchable, and you won’t have to buy a new bookcase. See Bert Filemyr if interested.

Paul announced that he is running two “Dovekie Chase” pelagic trips this coming weekend: from Lewes DE on Sat. 2/7 and from Belmar NJ on Sun. 2/8. See Paul or Anita or www.Paulagics.com.

Paul announced that the Country Girl, captained by Alan Forman, would be running several pelagic trips this summer from Manteo, NC. Mary Gustafson, Mike Fritz and Angus Wilson will be the leaders. The dates are May 30, and 31, June 1, and August 15, 16 and 17. Land birding in the area includes such specialties as Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman’s Sparrow and Swainson’s Warbler. If interested contact Mary Gustafson at live4birds@aol.com.

Also, Paul announced that the Searcher, sailing from San Diego, CA, would be doing a 5-day pelagic trip on April 30 – May 4. Spring targets include Murphy’s Petrel, albatrosses and Xantus’s Murrelet; in September the targets include Cook’s Petrel, Least Storm-Petrel, and Xantus’s and Craveri’s Murrelet. If interested, see Paul or go to www.bajawhale.com.

Tom Bailey announced that the “Rusty Blackbird Blitz” winter census would be held Feb. 7-15. See the announcement on the club website at www.dvoc.org/Conservation/Corner2009/ConservationCorner2009.htm.

Paul announced that New Jersey Birds is looking for a new editor for Region 4, the Lower Delaware Valley, which includes Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem Counties. See Paul, or Don Freiday.

Local Notes:

Tom Reeves reported that he recently saw 2 Sandhill Cranes at Longwood Gardens.

Connie Goldman’s pine Siskin flock in Churchville, PA is up to 60 birds.

Paul and Anita Guris have also been seeing a lot of Pine Siskins at their feeders in Green Lane, PA. Paul suspected that the number of birds was limited by the space at the feeders, so he spread niger seed on the ground, and counted over 200 siskins. Purple Finches are also present in the mix.

Linda Rowan announced that there were quite a few Common Goldeneyes on the Delaware River in the Yardley, PA area. She also saw one of the Scudders Falls Bridge Peregrine Falcons perched on a lamppost at the bridge.

Frank Windfelder reported that he saw 4 White-winged Crossbills at Glen Ford on the Delaware River last Thursday, Jan. 29. He also had two in his yard in the Northeast Airport region of Philadelphia, and Chuck Hetzel found 16 in his hemlock tree in the Spring Lane area of Philadelphia.

Steve Kacir said that Common Redpolls have been reported in PA, mostly in the western part of the state. Redpolls can move late, so stay on the lookout.

Dino Fiabane said that Greg Gorton has been working on a biography of Lancaster PA native Ted Parker. Ted was best known for his expertise in neotropical birds. He was a skilled field birder, and set a big year record in 1971.

Paul Guris recently returned from a sailfishing trip in Guatemala with Mike Fritz and Bill Fintel. Galapagos Shearwaters were playing with the boat, bouncing off the bow shock wave. Eight jumped onto the bow of the boat and started mating. The boat captain said that the birds do this during all seasons, but only at this location. The only known nesting location for this species is in the Galapagos Islands.

Tony Croasdale asked what cetaceans are present at this location, since there can be important interactions, with the birds relying on cetaceans to push prey to the surface. Sometimes there can be obligate bird:cetacean species relationships.

Rick Mellon recalled that “Mad Manx,” a Manx Shearwater, was known for buzzing people on whale-watching boats near Provincetown, MA.

Ornithological Studies:

Outgoing chair Art McMorris announced that Todd Fellenbaum was the new chair of the Ornithological Studies Committee.

Todd invited people to give presentations in the Ornithological Studies series. He is striving for variety in people giving talks and in the subjects presented.

Todd then introduced Adrian Binns, who presented “Distribution of Eastern Screech-Owl Color Morphs.” Red morphs seem to be associated with primarily deciduous forest habitat, and gray morphs with mixed deciduous/evergreen. Florida has a third morph, an intermediate brown form. He presented a hypothesis, gleaned from literature reports and from discussions with several people, that the gray-morph birds are better able to survive stressful periods of heavy snowfall and low temperatures, whereas red-morph birds are better adapted to warmer and wetter conditions. Much discussion ensued.

Main Program:

Mary Gustafson presented “Don’t Just Blink: Look Twice – Texas Style.” She discussed the necessity of double-checking one’s species identification based on first impressions. Her talk was richly illustrated with ID challenges found in her new home in south Texas. The sub-title of her talk was “How I moved to Texas and learned to mis-identify birds.”

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary