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DVOC Main Page > Meetings / Programs > December 19, 2013

Minutes of the DVOC
December 19, 2013

President Art McMorris called the meeting to order at 7:31PM. Sixteen members and three guests were in attendance.

The minutes of the 5 December 2013 meeting were approved as submitted.

President Art McMorris welcomed guests. Sign up sheets for the 2014 Annual Members Meeting were circulated with the attendance sheets.

President Art McMorris announced that the club had received a donation of $50 from Mrs. Miriam T Whitten in honor of David R Whitten, who has been a member of DVOC for 74 years. Treasurer Bert Filemyr noted that such donations are usually directed to the Conservation Fund, unless the donors direct otherwise.


Membership Committee:

Chairperson Bonnie Witmer announced that the application of Catherine R Higgins had been approved by DVOC Council.

Bob Billings Big Year Committee:

Chairperson Art McMorris announced that the committee had instituted simplified rules for reporting rare birds. Under the new rules, participants in the Bob Billings Big Year competition would not need to document any species that is on a the state list but not on the review list for the location where the bird was seen. In addition, the form to document rarities has been simplified. Official state lists have also been posted on the DVOC website for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Conservation Committee:

Chairperson Phil Witmer reported that the US Department of Justice had found Duke Energy Renewables guily of violating the International Bird Treaty Act due to fatalities of Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles and other birds at Wyoming wind projects. The company will pay a one million dollar fine and will be placed on probation for five years. The company will also be required to apply for take permits to mitigate continued bird deaths. More on this issue can be found online:

Chairperson Phil Witmer reported on the progress of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1047 (SB 1047), the Senate corollary to House Bill HB 1576. Phil noted that a hearing on SB 1047 will be held on 10 JAN 2014. President Art McMorris then read from a letter that was sent to PA lawmakers in support of these flawed bils, and encouraged all members to contact PA Senators and Representatives and reaffirm their opposition to these bills. More on SB 1047 can be found online:

Bob Horton inquired on the state of Bull’s Island Recreation. The site has a large stand of mature sycamore trees that have harbored Yellow-throated Warblers. In the recent past, one of those trees fell and killed a camper. In response, there had been a proposed action to cut down all the sycamore trees on Bull’s Island. That action had been voted down, and the new strategy for managing the island is currently uncertain. More on that issue can be found online:

Field Trip Committee:

Committee member Bob Horton conducted the field trip reports:
Trip Reports:

No Past Trip Reports
Trip Announcements:

11 January 2014 – Philadelphia Mid-Winter Bird Census (PMWBC): Join the 28th annual mid-winter census which surveys the incredible diversity of habitat and bird species found within the Philadelphia city borders. An average of 92 species are recorded each year including several noteworthy rarities. Contact Keith Russell if you would like to partipate in the census.

18-20 January 2014 – Montauk (Long Island), NY: A trip over Martin Luther King weekend for winter finches, eiders, scoters, alcids and any Eurasian accidentals. Car pool from N.E. Phila at 6AM. Space is limited due to lodging constraints – first come, first served! This is a shared expenses trip open to members and non-members. The final cost for each participant will be determined by expenses incurred. Leaders: Erica Brendel and Chris Walters

18 January 2014 – Cape May, NJ: Meet 8:30AM, location to be announced the week of trip depending on the weather forecast and current bird sightings. Dress for the weather and bring lunch & scopes if available. From the meeting location we will head off in search of what is around. This DVOC trip is a joint field trip with Wyncote Audubon and is free to members and non-members. Leader: Martin Selzer

Ornithological Moments Committee:

No Report.


Secretary Steve Kacir announced upcoming programs:

2 January 2014: 124th Annual Members Meeting. This meeting will be held at the Jenkins Arboretum: 631 Berwyn Baptist Rd, Devon, PA 19333. Since the founding of our club in 1890, the first meeting of every year has been the “Members’ Meeting.” The meeting will feature the Annual Election of Officers and Council members, election of Fellows, reports by the Treasurer and by the Trustees, and other matters of interest. Bert Filemyr will share a short presentation on one of the founders of the DVOC - George Spencer Morris. Afterwards, we will adjourn for socializing over snacks and drinks, organized by Bonnie and Phil Witmer. Bonnie and Phil are seeking contributions of food and drink for this meeting. Please contact Phil and Bonnie if you can bring refreshments to share at the meeting.

16 January 2014: Robert Peck - "Exploring the West with John James Audubon: The Last Expedition"

Nominating Committee:

Chairperson Chris Walters announced the slate of candidates for the election to be held at the 2 January 2014 Members' Meeting:

Phil Witmer – President
Steve Kacir – Vice-President
George Armistead – Secretary
Bert Filemyr – Treasurer
Linda Widdop – DVOC Council
Gregg Gorton – DVOC Council

Nominations from the floor were solicited, and you could hear a pin drop. One cricket chirped, but no new nominations were provided.

DVOC Councillors ending their terms at the Members’ Meeting are Connie Goldman and Bob Horton. DVOC thanks Bob and Connie for their service to the club.


President Art McMorris reported on the continued recovery of Alan Brady, who had recently suffered a stroke. Alan is in a nursing home, and has recovered from a bought of pneumonia that he contracted after entering the nursing home. Art said that Alan loves to have visitors but tires easily. Information on the nursing home and its address can be found in the DVOC Weekly Digest.

Mike O’Brien announced that he would again be offering bluebird boxes for sale at the usual rates of $35.00 each or $20.00 each for orders of six or more bluebird boxes.

Local Notes:

Bert Filemyr reminded members that Snowy Owls are about, and went on to explore some of the dynamics of this unprecedented Snowy Owl irruption that has become a sensation across northeastern America and the into the Great Lakes region. Bert mentioned that conventional wisdom points to a lack of food as a cause for typical Snowy Owl irruptions. However, this year, the Snowy Owls enjoyed tremendous breeding success on the breeding grounds due to a massive lemming prey base this summer. The birds that are moving south are not starving, but have been pushed south by older, more experienced Snowy Owls that have successfully defended their winter hunting territories. In a bad year, Snowy Owls may lay as few as three eggs, and in good years a brood can reach up to eleven eggs. Most, if not all of the Snowy Owls moving south this year have been young birds, and many have been in good condition. These birds may never have seen humans or our technology before and often behave in a naïve fashion that can put the birds at risk. Birders should enjoy the phenomenon but also be sure to give the owls some space. Later, Art McMorris spoke on the pitfalls of identifying Snowy Owls to age class and sex. Sexing and aging Snowy Owls is not a straight-forward pursuit. Usually older male birds are very white and the younger females are very dark with a continuum of older females and younger males coming in at the middle of the spectrum. One should not become overconfident on the ability to identify sex and age in this species, however. Exceptions to the rules of light old males and dark young females abound – not to mention the challenge of correctly identifying birds within the central range of the spectrum. A careful observer might choose to forego slapping a label on a bird (Eg adult female or juvenile male) and simply document the appearance of each snowy owl instead by photo, sketch or written description.

Barbara Granger reported on her business trip to Karachi, Pakistan where she enjoyed the numerous Black Kites that filled the skies. Barbara noted that her time in Pakistan was complete with a soundtrack of screaming kites and the mullahs calling the Muslim faithful to prayer.

Marty Dellwo reported that a Northern Shrike has once more been reported from John Heinz NWR at Tinicum. American Pipits visited Fort Mifflin, while Pennypack on the Delaware hosted American Pipits, Horned Larks and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Art McMorris reported some sightings from recent Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs). Art heard a Vesper Sparrow sing during the Glenolden CBC. Art and Chris Walters gave an overview of the Cape May CBC which hosted a menagerie of avian rarities including Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, White-eyed Vireo, Black-legged Kittiwake, Western Kingbird and multiple Snowy Owls.

Marty Dellwo mentioned that the Glenolden CBC Circle may be moved to incorporate new territory, but others had their doubts. Chris Walters noted that the Glenolden CBC had been held for over 75 years.

Bonnie Witmer reported that a crow was at the feeders in her yard.

Mike O’Brien reported that crows are often seen at 53rd and Chestnut in Philadelphia, nearly daily.

Bonnie Witmer reported that she spotted a Snowy Owl while driving on Route 476, just before the Springfield Exit.

Bob Horton reported that a Lapland Longspur and a Snow Bunting were at Assunpink Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Manasquan Inlet hosted many Northern Gannets, some feeding close to the inlet. Two Common Goldeneyes were on Lake Como.

Ornithological Moment:

No Ornithological Moment.

Main Program:

Vice President Phil Witmer introduced Kevin Loughlin, who presented a sweeping lyrical travelogue highlighting many aspects of his work with Wildside Nature Tours, entitled “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.”


The meeting was adjourned at 9:18PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen E.T. Kacir, Secretary