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Minutes of the DVOC
October 16, 2008

The meeting was called to order at 7:40 by President Paul Guris. Twenty-eight members and 1 guest were present. Secretary Art McMorris thanked Connie Goldman for taking the minutes of the Oct. 2 meeting. The minutes of the Oct. 2 meeting were read and accepted.


Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer reported that Scott Weidensaul’s Saw-whet Owl banding project, supported by funds raised by DVOC’s “Lagerhead Shrikes” World Series of Birding team, had started for the year. In addition to banding, Scott has expanded his telemetry studies. So far a telemetry unit has been placed on one bird, named “Dizzy” because he seemed disoriented after his capture and release. He is still within 50 miles of the banding site. An update on the banding project is on the DVOC website under “Counts and Censuses.”

Debbie also reported that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has calculated that wildlife watching is a major part of local economies, comparable to all spectator sports, amusement parks, casinos, skiing, and several other activities combined. More information on this study is posted on the DVOC website in the Conservation Corner, and on the USFWS web site at www.fws.gov.

Field Trips – up-coming trips:

Chair Adrian Binns announced that there will be a trip to Scott Weidensaul’s Saw-whet Owl banding station at Hidden Valley on the Kittatinny Ridge on Saturday November 8. There are still spaces available, but space is strictly limited so if you’re interested, see Adrian ASAP.

Adrian also announced that Sandra Keller will be leading a trip to Brigantine (Forsythe NWR, NJ) on Saturday November 22.

Frank Windfelder announced that he will be running his annual Bake Oven Knob hawk-watching trip on either November 1 or 2, depending on which day is forecasted to have more favorable winds. If interested see Frank, and watch the website for the announcement of the actual date.

Further details of these trips are on the website at www.dvoc.org.

Field Trip Reports:

Frank Windfelder reported on his October 4 trip to Tuckerton Marsh, New Jersey for Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows and other salt marsh birds. Two Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows were found, one of subspecies nelsoni (Ammodramus nelsoni nelsoni) and one A. n. subvirgatus. A photo of the nelsoni bird, taken by Jane Huang, is on the website.

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


Frank Windfelder announced the next few programs. On November 6, Adrian Binns will present “Watching East Africa’s Unique Wildlife.” This is sure to be a lively meeting.

The Nov. 20 meeting will be our Annual Banquet, featuring Pat and Clay Sutton, who will speak about “Birds and Birding at Cape May (a Bird Walk through Time).” Pat and Clay will be signing their new book, on which their talk is based. The Witmer Stone Award, the Julian Potter Award and the Conservation Award will also be presented at the banquet. Bernice and Joe Koplin are again organizing this event, which will be held at the Sheet Metal Worker’s Hall on Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, a venue that we have used before with great success. It is a central location and has excellent food and free parking. The cost is $46.00 per person, with the menu choices being boneless breast of chicken, baked salmon, or a vegetarian entrée. The event is only 5 weeks away; members are urged to sign up now and bring a guest. Full information is available on the website at http://www.dvoc.org/Banquet/Banquet.htm. The registration deadline is Saturday Nov. 15. This is a firm deadline; walk-ins cannot be accommodated.

The speaker at the December 4 meeting will be Scott Weidensaul. He will present a program based on his recent book, “Of a Feather.” Our final meeting of 2008 will be the Members’ Photo Contest on December 18. First prize will be a $25.00 gift certificate for Nikon gear. Please submit photos (digital format only) to Frank Windfelder by December 10. You can submit up to 5 photos in each of the 4 categories: Birds, Natural History (excluding birds), Scenery and Birders.

Nominating Committee:

Chair Colin Campbell reported that the committee is putting together a slate of officers and councilors.


Paul Guris read a letter from Scott Weidensaul thanking the Club for its donation in support of his Saw-whet Owl banding project. In addition to supporting the banding itself, the Club’s donation has made it possible for him to scale up his telemetry studies.

Paul announced that he will be running two December pelagic trips: the first Sunday in December (Dec. 7) from Belmar, NJ, and the following Saturday (Dec. 13) from Lewes, DE. If interested, please see Paul or Anita, or go to their website: www.paulagics.com.

Debbie Beer mentioned that Bert Filemyr has updated the DVOC field checklist of birds of the Delaware Valley region with a few species that are regular vagrants. The checklist is a great resource.

Bert Filemyr reported that Connie Goldman has received the new shipment of DVOC hats, which are priced at $17.00 each.

Local Notes:

Adrian Binns reported that Debbie Beer had a field trip at Tinicum last weekend. A Tree Swallow was seen chasing a Lesser Yellowlegs all around the impoundment for several minutes.

Judy Stepanowski saw an Eastern Towhee and many migrants in Independence Park.

Over 1,000 Chimney Swifts have been roosting at the Shawmont School, and were still there last week. The largest number counted at this roost was approximately 2500. About 250 Chimney Swifts were seen at another location at 18th and Carlton Sts., near Vine St. Other locations with active Chimney Swift roosts this fall are the Jenks School in Germantown, the Dobson School in Manayunk, Chestnut Hill Academy, and the Salvation Army Day School at 222 S. 3rd St., near Walnut, where about 800 Chimney Swifts were reported.

Debbie Beer reported seeing a juvenile Peregrine Falcon at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Frank Windfelder reported that he had seen 143 species so far in the new conservation area near Rhawn St. in northeast Philadelphia. On Sunday, he saw a Vesper Sparrow there.

At 7AM on Monday, Frank saw a Grasshopper Sparrow perched on a stake at Benjamin Rush State Park. When he returned later in the day, the Grasshopper Sparrow was gone but there were 3 Vesper Sparrows.

Mike Fritz led a bird walk at Stone Harbor, NJ last Tuesday. There were 8 Piping Plovers in the area, hanging out in the tire tracks in the sand where they were very well hidden. There were also about 80 Red Knots on the beach.

Art McMorris reported two unconventional encounters with Peregrine Falcons recently. On Oct. 5 he was called to the Ben Franklin Bridge to protect bridge engineers who were being dive-bombed by the overly-aggressive resident Peregrine Falcons while they (the engineers, that is) were attempting to inspect the main suspension cables. Art and Dan Mummert went up on the cables with the engineers to fend off the birds while the engineers completed their inspections. Then, this morning, Art went to the top of the ComCast Tower in downtown Philadelphia to respond to a report of a Peregrine Falcon that was trapped inside the rooftop equipment area. Sure enough, there was an adult male who had gotten into the area and couldn’t get out. Art caught the bird, examined it and found it to be in good health, banded it and released it.

Phil Witmer reported that Audubon PA and the Philadelphia Zoo are conducting a study of birds injured or killed by building strikes in center city Philadelphia. For further information or to help out with the study, please contact Keith Russell: keith.russell6@verizon.net.

Marty Dellwo reported that he recently found a Northern Parula that had been killed by a building strike.

Colin Campbell reported that the Harris’s Sparrow that was reported near the entrance gate at Brandywine State Park was there recently, and may still be there now.

Paul Guris was at Cape May last Saturday and witnessed an amazing hawk flight. At one point, he saw 5 Peregrine Falcons and a Merlin together in the same kettle.

Ornithological Studies:

Steve Kacir presented “Giving up the Heavens: Ten Flightless Birds.” Steve gave a fascinating description of 10 species, some extant and some long-extinct, that had lost the ability to fly. The species ranged from cormorants, parrots and owls to penguins and giant “terror birds,” each with unique adaptations and natural histories that made flight superfluous.

Main Program:

Frank Windfelder introduced the main speaker, Rob Fergus, a Senior Scientist with Audubon, who presented “Urban Bird Ecology and Conservation.” He presented urban bird conservation as the intersection between birds, people and land, and discussed each of their contributions from a rather unique and imaginative point of view. He discussed the many factors that are involved and their interactions, steps that can be taken to promote bird conservation in an urban environment, and conservation programs that are addressing these issues.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 10:05 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary