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Minutes of the DVOC
April 5, 2012
President Art McMorris called the meeting to order at 7:32
PM. Twenty members and four guests were present.
The minutes of the 15 March 2012 meeting were approved as submitted.
President Art McMorris announced that Barbara Granger would be taking over the position of Chairperson of the Banquet Committee, as Bernice and Joe Koplin have stepped down as Co-Chairpersons.
President Art McMorris announced that an advance copy of “How
to be a Better Birder” by Derek Lovitch had been made available for club
members to peruse. More information about this Princeton University Press publication
can be found here: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9671.html
Art McMorris read Jack Mahon’s application for membership.
Chairperson Phil Witmer announced that the Conservation Committee was accepting nominations for the 2012 Rosalie Edge Award.
Phil stated that he is still looking for speakers for the club’s informal summer meetings. Programs can be short or long and deal with any variety of topics. Contact Phil if you can present a program at a summer meeting.
Phil brought a copy of the PA Marcellus Shale Score Card which
indicates legislators’ voting record as it pertains to the Marcellus shale
legislation. This publication was generated by the League of Conservation Voters
and can be accessed online as an interactive website or as a pdf file for download:
Phil presented a summary of a review article published in Bird
Conservation International that highlights the plight of seabirds. Seabirds
may be more threatened than any other group of birds at this point. More information
and a link to download the review article can be found online:
Phil presented some details from the Bird Conservation Alliance’s
Collisions Listserve discussing an article about the sensory worlds of birds
and how they relate to window strikes. Phil noted that the article indicated
that some birds may not look straight ahead of them and have better visual acuity
when viewing to the sides or below and may concentrate more on what they see
in those directions instead of what is directly ahead of them. Rob Bierregaard
noted that danger is rarely in front of flying birds such as Golden Eagles soaring
over a field. Steve Kacir indicated that such phenomena were likely in play
for migrating birds. Art McMorris indicated that some birds may not have good
binocular vision. Rick Mellon noted that window strikes rarely involve a head-on
collision and that birds were more likely to collide with the breast or the
side of the body. Some discussion on post-impact trauma and the illusion of
a window-strike breaking the neck due to the larger number of cervical vertebrae
in birds followed. Rob, Phil and Art contributed to that discussion.
The post from the listserve can be found here:
The article is Martin, G.R., 2011. Through birds' eyes: insights into avian sensory ecology. Journal of Ornithology.
Rob Bierregaard announced that a bill pending in the US House of Representatives seeks to undermine science-based management strategies for the Hatteras National Seashore. Previously, off-road vehicle (ORV) use on the National Seashore had been unregulated. As a result, breeding success of beach-nesting birds and sea turtles at Hatteras National Seashore had been extremely poor. With modest regulations regarding ORV use and beach access, the breeding success of beach nesting birds and sea turtles increased. Now, the ORV lobbying groups are attempting to convince Congress that they have been poorly treated and that their rights of access supersede management of endangered species. Steve Kacir elaborated on this, noting that the people of Hatteras act as if there is no beach available to people anymore and as if there is no beach access at all for ORV users, which is simply not the case. Steve and Rob both indicated that the Hatteras community had become hostile to birds, birders and those whose jobs are to manage the breeding birds. Rob noted that he had written to Representative Jim Gerlach and that Gerlach said he was in favor of the bill because it would give people access to the beach, which indicates that Gerlach is not truly aware of the situation. Rob urged all members to write to their legislators about this issue, as most lawmakers outside of North Carolina might be unaware of the real facts of the situation and think they are simply looking at giving access to beaches. In reality those beaches are still largely available for human access and ORV access. The bill seeks to remove what little has been set aside for wildlife. More information and a form for contacting your legislators can be found online: http://www.preservehatteras.org/
Chairperson Win Shafer conducted the trip reports and trip announcements:
April 7 – Spring Birding Adventure for Young Birders! E.B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Leaders are Sandra Keller and Edie Parnum.
April 15 – West Laurel Hill Cemetery. Joint field trip with the Lower Merion Conservancy Association. Leader is Gregg Gorton.
March 22-Apr 2 – Special Trip to Cuba for DVOC Members: This eleven day birding trip to Cuba was a great success, with all but the most unlikely encountered endemics listed for the trip. The trip listed 166 species for the final tally. Cuba was likened to going fifty years back in time in terms of the culture and technology available to the people of Cuba, and the trip covered a pretty good section of the country. President Art McMorris thanked Win Shafer for putting the trip together and acting as a leader for the field trip. Art McMorris noted that the Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker population had been revealed to be a separate species, Baird’s Woodpecker (Campephilus bairdii), in recent years (via examination of museum specimens), but admitted that the field trip participants did not encounter that species which is likely extinct.
Chairperson Rob Bierregaard announced that Mike Fritz would present “My Big Year” about his award-winning run on the 2011 Bob Billings Big Year Competition at the next DVOC meeting.
Vice President Phil Witmer announced the upcoming programs.
On Apr 19, Kevin Loughlin will present a program entitled, “ Peru: Birds of the Inca and Amazon.”
On May 3, Steve Kacir will present a program about his trip to Australia, entitled “Bush Camping and Spotlighting: A Queensland Adventure.”
On May 17 Dr. Edwin Scholes III will present “The Birds-of-Paradise Project: Revealing an Avian Wonder of the World.”
On June 7, Terry Master will present “Riparian Songbirds: Canaries in an Aquatic Coal Mine.”
On July 5, Bert Filemyr will present “From the Archives: The Strange Case of DVOC Member Charles J. Pennock” as part of the informal summer meeting.
Witmer Stone Sanctuary Committee:
Mick Jeitner read a statement concerning the Witmer Stone Sanctuary Committee’s history and accomplishments. What follows is a summary of Mick Jeitner’s presentation: The Witmer Stone Sanctuary was established in 1935. For three years, the Witmer Stone Sanctuary Committee has appealed to the Superintendent of Cape May Point State Park to have the original site of the sanctuary renamed as The Witmer Stone Sanctuary. While the appropriate authorities were being petitioned to get the original site renamed, the placement of signs was approved and the committee raised funds to pay for the creation and installation of those signs, which detail who Witmer Stone was and why the creation of the Witmer Stone Sanctuary had been necessary. The signs were installed at Sunset Beach and additional signs will soon be placed at the Cape May Point State Park hawk watch platform. While those in authority will not allow the renaming of the original site, a sign will be placed at that location that reads, “Former Site of the Witmer Stone Sanctuary,” effectively putting Witmer Stone back in Cape May.
President Art McMorris thanked Witmer Stone Sanctuary Committee Co-Chairpersons Mick Jeitner and Linda Rowan for their three years of work leading fundraising efforts and networking to get the signage installed. With the signs now up, Art noted, this effectively accomplishes the same thing as an official renaming.
Linda Rowan stated that the Committee realized that they could continue to fight for a renaming or just go with signs that presented the history of the site and would get the name Witmer Stone back at the site. As such, the committee decided the latter option was the best and most likely to see real results.
Mike O’Brien announced that he is seeking donations of old binoculars for the Holy Family Home Nursing Home to aid senior citizens interested in birding. Mike noted that the home has seniors aged 70-100 years old who he hopes to get sparked on birdwatching. Please contact Mike O’Brien if you can donate binoculars.
Mike O’Brien announced that the seniors of Holy Family
Home Nursing Home are building bluebird houses to sell. They will be high quality
and cost $35 each with a discounted price if individuals or nature centers would
like to purchase six or more, allowing nature centers to put them up for sale
at a profit. The birdhouses will all be handmade by seniors at the nursing home,
and Mike will bring in a birdhouse for members to inspect.
Mike O’Brien announced that the Woodland Cemetery near the VA Hospital in Philadelphia is looking for volunteers to bird the cemetery and assemble a list of bird species seen at the site. Art McMorris noted that the cemetery was formerly part of the farm owned by John Bartram, for whom the Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda, was named. The Upland Sandpiper was first observed in the vicinity of Bartram’s farm. Tony Croasdale volunteered to help with the bird list.
Marty Dellwo announced that he has a copy of the field guide “Birds of Europe” available for sale.
Bob Horton announced that he has a copy of the field guide “Birds of Cape Cod” available for sale.
Rob Bierregaard announced that his Wynnewood yard list now includes Snow Goose, Osprey and Wild Turkey as well as Fish Crow and Rock Pigeon. Rob noted that his Eastern Screech-owls are on at least four eggs and none have hatched yet.
Tom Reeves reported two Wood Ducks looking for a nest hole in a Beech Tree at Tyler State Park.
Tony Croasdale reported that the Red-headed Woodpecker was still at Wissahickon Valley Park. While he and Dan Efroymson were looking for the woodpecker, they also encountered a Wood Duck examining a cavity about seventy feet up the same tree upon which the woodpecker was perched. In all, Dan and Tony saw nearly fifty Wood Ducks looking for holes while perched in the canopies of tall trees.
Linda Rowan noted that a Red-tailed Hawk was nesting in Levittown, where Wild Turkey and Wood Ducks were also seen.
Win Shafer reported that the nesting Haverford Great Horned Owl seems to have driven out the usual Eastern Screech-owls. The nest is about fifty feet up a tree and boasts a single owlet.
Win Shafer also reported that the Episcopal Academy field trip to Waterloo Mills Preserve in Chester County, PA found Pine Warblers (which are known to nest at that site), a flock of Palm Warblers and Chipping Sparrows.
Mike O’Brien reported that a Downy Woodpecker was at 53rd and Chestnut St. Mike also noted that a Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen at the Holy Family Home. Mike announced that martin houses were being raised at Batsto where there used to be two full houses of Purple Martins. Since 2003, the colony has been abandoned and the hope is to attract a new martin colony.
Steve Kacir reported that he saw the Green-tailed Towhee at Blue Marsh Lake Recreation Area on March 31. That day, Steve also found a diverse waterfowl assemblage on the lake, which included 5 Long-tailed Ducks, 13 Horned Grebes, 9 Common Loons, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers and Lesser Scaup. On April 1, Steve undertook a Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas survey at Bombay Hook NWR, where he found literally thousands of American Green-winged Teal along with one intergrade American Green-winged Teal X Common Teal (AKA Eurasian Green-winged Teal), thousands of American Coot, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Steve reported that others found American Bitterns at Shearness Pool and Bear Swamp Pool that day as well.
Guest of the club and the speaker for the evening, Matthew Halley reported that Newark, DE has seen an influx of Chipping Sparrows and that a Pied-billed Grebe was at the Newark Reservoir.
Vice President Phil Witmer introduced tonight’s speaker, Matthew Halley who presented the program “Multiple Male Feeders at Nests of the Veery – a new perspective on the nesting behavior of Wilson's enigmatic thrush.” The program was full of new discoveries and insights into the behavior of the Veery, and Matthew Halley gave an excellent overview on the differences between empirical research and anecdotal observation.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:47 PM.
Stephen E.T. Kacir, Secretary