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Minutes of the DVOC
March 15, 2012

President Art McMorris called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM. Sixteen members and five guests were present.
The minutes of the 1 March 2012 meeting were approved as submitted.

President Art McMorris announced that Bernice and Joe Koplin would be stepping down as Co-Chairpersons of the Banquet Committee due to Joe’s diagnosis of prostate cancer. Art thanked Joe and Bernice for their years of extensive service on the Banquet Committee and also announced that the club would be looking for a new Chairperson or Co-Chairpersons to fill the void. Bernice Koplin had noted that she would work with the new Chairperson(s) to help ease the transition.
President Art McMorris announced the sad news that club member Elmer C. Rowley had recently passed away. Elmer’s family reported that Elmer was honored to be a part of the DVOC.
President Art McMorris announced that Gary Stoltz at John Heinz NWR at Tinicum is taking applications for a six week Career Discovery Internship Program (CDIP) through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) for the summer of 2012. The position is a diversity recruitment program targeting college freshmen and sophomores. The CDIP position will involve working with biology, visitor services and maintenance. Prospective employees must have their own housing and transportation. Interested parties should contact Gary Stoltz with any questions.
President Art McMorris announced that the March-April 2012 issue of Audubon Magazine includes an article by DVOC Honorary Member Scott Weidensaul, entitled Unlocking Migration’s Secrets; the article provides an overview of the wealth of knowledge being generated by the use of telemetry data in ornithological field research.


No Report

Bob Billings Big Year:
Chairperson Art McMorris again reminded those who intend to participate in the 2012 Bob Billings Big Year Competition that they need to inform the Bob Billings Big Year Committee of their decision to compete by the March 31 deadline to be eligible to compete. More details on the Bob Billings Big Year can be found on this DVOC website: http://www.dvoc.org/Committees/BillingsAward/BillingsAward.htm

Chairperson Phil Witmer announced that the US Senate had passed a rider that will take the fines paid by BP for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster and use 92% of those funds for Gulf restoration purposed.
Phil also mentioned the Audubon Magazine Scott Weidensaul article on telemetry in studies of bird migration, and then mentioned the ABA Blog article on the use of telemetry to identify the newly discovered overwintering site of Black Swifts. Rob Bierregaard mentioned that the discovery via telemetry was also the first recorded observation of Black Swifts in the country of Peru. Phil mentioned that the same geolocators used in this study had been used by Scott Weidensaul on Northern Saw-whet Owls, but none of the geolocators had been recovered. Rob Bierregaard went on to describe that the geolocators use sunrise and sunset data as reference for determining location, but that the geolocators need to be recovered before data can be obtained and analyzed.
Phil went on to present information from a Science Daily article about a recent article in Landscape Ecology, which presented data indicating that non-native earthworm species invading forests that had historically not had earthworms destroy leaf litter layers. This disruption of normal leaf litter deposition leads to a shift in which plant species are dominant in these forests. Both of these changes contribute to a decline of Ovenbird populations in such habitats. Such changes also contribute to an increase in Ovenbird mortality due to squirrel and bird predation upon Ovenbirds. These introduced earthworms appear to have a greater effect in Midwestern America where such forests had previously been free of any earthworm species. Phil cautioned that we all should beware of introducing nonnative earthworms into the environment, and should not release unused bait into the environment.
Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229142225.htm
Landscape Ecology: http://www.springerlink.com/content/0365k5875x60t6p1/

Field Trips:
Chairperson Win Shafer conducted the trip reports and trip announcements:

Trip Reports:
March 4 – Pinelands Birding, Franklin Parker Preserve, NJ Field Trip led by Tony Croasdale went ahead as scheduled. The participants experienced colder conditions than they had expected, and Win Shafer noted that the NJ Pine Barrens can have frost even in the summer due to radiant cooling. Avian highlights from the trip included Bald Eagles, yellowlegs, Killdeer and Red-headed Woodpecker.
March 10 – Barnegat Lighthouse State Park: The half-day field trip led by Chris Walters and geared for new birders and students went ahead as scheduled. A trip report is available online: http://www.dvoc.org/FieldTrips/FieldTrips2012/FTReports2012/Barnegat2012.htm
Trip Announcements:
March 22-April 2 –Special Trip to Cuba for DVOC members: This trip is full. Leader is Win Shafer.
April 7 – Spring Birding Adventure for Young Birders! E.B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Leaders are Sandra Keller and Edie Parnum.

Ornithological Moments:
Chairperson Rob Bierregaard announced that Chris Walters would be presenting an Ornithological Moment at the next meeting about field identification of loons. Rob noted that he hoped to have Mike Fritz present an Ornithological Moment of his record-setting Billings Big Year experience. In addition, Rob noted that he planned on providing updates of his nestcam recordings of Eastern Screech-owl breeding, going on to note that the birds’ second egg had been laid and that the birds were incubating but not full time. Rob expects the nest to gain at least one more egg, as 2-4 eggs is typical for the species. Mike O’Brien mentioned that Eastern Screech-owls had been nesting in a Wood Duck box at Edwin B Forsythe NWR for 4-6 years, and that the birds typically spend one month on the nest and one month getting out.

Vice President Phil Witmer announced the upcoming programs.
On April 5, Matthew Halley will present “Multiple Male Feeders at Nests of the Veery – a new perspective on the nesting behavior of Wilson's enigmatic thrush.”
On Apr 19, Kevin Loughlin will present a program whose title is still to be announced at this point.
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.”
Vice President Phil Witmer announced that he was currently seeking short programs for the informal DVOC Summer Meetings; such programs can be almost any length ranging from 5-10 minutes up to a half hour. Those interested in presenting programs at the Summer Meetings should contact Phil Witmer.

Bob Mercer announced that the Silver Lake Nature Center is holding a fundraising bus tour of three Bucks County, PA wineries on March 31. More information is available online:

Phil Witmer announced that the Bucks County Audubon Society is holding a fundraiser, entitled “Cabin Fever Fest” at the New Hope Winery on March 24. More information on this event is available online:

Local Notes:
Lamar Corlis reported that FDR Park still retained wintering waterfowl including American Coot, Canada Geese, Mallards, Bufflehead and Ring-necked Duck. The park also had 2 Fox Sparrows and two Killdeer that had been on a soccer pitch before the birds flushed. Afterwards, one of the Killdeer was noted to fly all over the park.
Mike O’Brien reported that on March 7, the abandoned church at 57th and Chester in Philadelphia had 3 Black Vultures perched upon it. Mike wondered if the birds were nesting there. Rick Mellon suggested that the vultures were attracted to a funeral instead. Mike also noted that the nursing home had 16 American Goldfinches.
Rob Bierregaard noted that he had visited the Manayunk church Peregrine Falcon aerie, where the male falcon caught a grackle and presented it to the female, who showed no interest in the grackle. The male stashed the grackle afterwards. The female is getting ready to nest. Rob noted that the best viewing for the aerie can be found by taking Churchview Rd in Manayunk to Terrace St then turning onto Lofty St, which is a side road that presents eye-level views of the aerie at the church. Art McMorris added that once the female Peregrine Falcon is incubating eggs, the nest will be quiet, and added that the first Peregrine Falcon to nest on a manmade structure took place on Salisbury Cathedral in the early 1800’s.
Sally O’Byrne reported that she had scouted for and led a field trip to John Heinz NWR at Tinicum. Sally reported that the Bald Eagle chicks had hatched and were being fed. Sally reported that she had witnessed noticeable changes between scouting on Monday and the field trip that was held on Wednesday. Duck numbers and diversity dropped from Monday to Wednesday. Sally reported Great Horned Owl and Rusty Blackbirds both days. Sally also reported Leopard Frogs, three species of turtles and 7-9 Garter Snakes fresh from their hibernaculum. Sally went on to mention that the Peregrine Falcons at the DuPont Building in Wilmington had laid eggs, and that Tri-State Bird Research and Rescue had a webcam on a pair of Black Vultures nesting in a barn. Art McMorris prompted Sally to mention that the female Wilmington Peregrine Falcon was hatched in Harrisburg, and Sally mentioned that the Peregrines were not incubating their eggs yet.
Wilmington Peregrines: http://www.dosbirds.org/wilmfalcons
Tri-State Black Vultures: http://www.dosbirds.org/research

Rob Bierregaard mentioned that Eastern Screech-owls gradually get into incubating, starting with intermittent brooding that develops into more continuous incubation later.
Art McMorris mentioned that owls as a general rule were more likely to begin incubating early in the egg-laying process, so the eggs would hatch asynchronously. Art mentioned that Peregrine Falcons delay continuous incubation, so the eggs all hatch at about the same time. Rob said that Barn Owls do that, but Eastern Screech-owls start with the first eggs but the majority of incubation begins with the second egg. Rob indicated this was essentially an insurance policy in case of a food shortage at some point during the feeding of the young.

Lamar Corlis reported that an abandoned building at Lehigh Ave in North Philadelphia had two Turkey Vultures, including one spreading its wings and facing the sun. Lamar also reported that there had been a Red-tailed Hawk in that area.

Barrie Ashby reported that the Peregrine Falcons at the Ben Franklin Bridge had attacked a circling Turkey Vulture, and that the vulture was hit by the falcons each time it circled within range of the falcons.

Win Shafer reported that a pair of Great Horned Owls were nesting in Haverford. Win also noted that he had taken the birding class from the Episcopal Academy out birding and they had found Eastern Phoebes and Pine Warblers.

Dino Fiabane reported that he and Peggy had taken a Spring Break trip to central California. Dino reported that they had missed seeing a Falcated Duck that was north of Sacremento. The Falcated Duck was still in the area as of the date of this meeting.

Mike O’Brien reported that an Eastern Screech-owl nest at Edwin B Forsythe NWR had owlets that were able to hide within the pine shavings and give the appearance of an empty nest.

Phil Witmer stated that according to Rob Bierregaard’s comments it appeared that incubation leads to the development of the embryo. Rob agreed and noted that fertilized eggs could be refrigerated then incubated at a later date to begin development. Art McMorris mentioned that his laboratory research had taken advantage of such delayed development by refrigerating fertile chicken eggs until they needed to begin embryonic development upon which point the eggs were moved from the refrigerator to the incubator.

Main Program:
Vice President Phil Witmer introduced tonight’s speaker, Keith Bildstein, Director of Raptor Conservation at the Acopian Center of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Keith Bildstein presented “Vulture and Caracara Research in the Falkland Islands: A Natural Laboratory for Raptor Conservation.”

The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen E.T. Kacir, Secretary