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Minutes of the DVOC
October 18, 2012

President Art McMorris called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM. Sixteen members and five guests were in attendance.
The minutes of the October 4, 2012 meeting were approved as submitted.


Membership Committee:

Chairperson Bonnie Witmer announced new applicants for membership: Ann Reeves of NJ – regular birder at Heinz Refuge; Skyler Streich – Birder Naturalist at Island Beach State Park. Bonnie welcomed new members Ed Mitinger, in attendance, and his wife Janice Chorba. She also announced new members Penelope Myers, and 15-year old Reed Hennessey.

Billings Committee:

Chairperson Art McMorris summarized the Billings Award, which was started when long-time member Bob Billings died and left $2,000 in his will, to be invested so that the person who sees the most birds be awarded $200 each year. (DVOC devised the rules of the competition). The sum was augmented by fundraising, including a generous $1,000 matching incentive donation by Hart Rufe. Art advised that Frank Hubbard, a DVOC fellow, and life member since joining in 1964, recently contributed $1,000 to the Billings Award. DVOC sent him a thank you note for this generous donation.

Conservation Committee:

Chairperson Phil Witmer reported that the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) just released a report stating that more than one-third of birds within the U.S. (all 50 states) are in need of conservation.

Phil also urged everyone to VOTE in the upcoming Presidential election on November 6. Our votes make a difference in the future of humanity.

Field Trip Committee:

Win Shafer conducted the trip reports and trip announcements:

Trip Reports:

October 6 – Tuckerton Marsh and Edwin B. Forsythe NWR – Leader was Frank Windfelder. Reported 20 Sharp-tailed, 3 Seaside and 1 Nelson’s Sparrow. Also saw Royal Tern and Brown Pelican. Had Lapland Longspur on way out. Small group participated in second half of trip to Forsythe NWR, finding numerous shorebirds.

October 13 – Ashland Nature Center – Leader was Colin Campbell. No report.

Upcoming Trip Announcements:

October 20 – John Heinz NWR – Win Shafer will be the leader.

October 27 or October 28 – Bake Oven Knob – Frank Windfelder will lead this annual trek to the Kittatinny Mountain range for raptors. He’ll advise the final day of the trip, pending weather and wind conditions, shortly before that weekend.

Nov 3 – Saw-whet Owl Banding at Hidden Valley, PA. Leader is Debbie Beer. This annual trip to Scott Weidensaul’s Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station will give participants an opportunity to observe owl-banding and get close looks at Northern Saw-whet Owls. Bring snacks and dress for the weather. This field trip is currently full with a waiting list. The trip meets at 6:30 PM at the banding station, located along the Kittatinny Ridge on Second Mountain in Schuylkill County - approximately 2 hours from Philadelphia.

Ornithological Moments Committee:

Chairperson Rob Bierregard advised there is no report:

Banquet Committee:

Chairperson Barbara Granger distributed copies of Banquet registration form and urged all to sign-up and plan on attending this annual, social event of the club. She currently has 22 people registered. Members and non-members are invited. The banquet is on November 15 at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall, aka Penn’s Landing Caterers on Columbus Blvd in South Philly. Barbara announced that a display table for PA Audubon and a few other display tables would be present.

Bonnie Witmer is organizing a slide show featuring DVOC members that will be played during the cocktail hour. She asked for people to send in photos of themselves to be included in the slide-show.

Phil Witmer advised that the main speaker at the banquet is Stephen Kress, Director of Project Puffin. A You Tube video is posted on the DVOC website. Kress is VP of Bird Conservation for Audubon, and Director of Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine. He pioneered research to restore seabirds, particularly Puffins, which requires a lot of puffins, as the young fly-off for 4-5 years, before returning to the place where they were raised. Kress had to wait a long time to see the success of his efforts!


Vice President Phil Witmer announced upcoming programs.

Nov 1, 2012 – Program Speaker Dr. Robert Curry – “Advances in chickadee hybridization: birds and methods on the move.”

Nov 15, 2012 - DVOC Banquet speaker - Stephen Kress, the director of Project Puffin will present “Restoring Endangered Seabirds: Lessons from Puffins and Terns.”

Dec 6, 2012 - DVOC Members’ Photography Night. Phil is seeking volunteers to act as judges and/or suggestions for judges. Phil advises the rules will be the same as last year (and will be posted on the DVOC website when finalized).

Dec 20, 2012 - Robert DeCandido and Deborah Allen - “Raptor Migration in South-east Asia.”

Jan 3, 2012 – Annual DVOC Members Meeting – short on business, long on food and drink! During this meeting, Bert Filemyr will also make a short presentation related to DVOC history.


Art McMorris extended condolences to the family, on the loss of Steve Lawrence, DVOC member since 1984. Lawrence died on September 26, 2012. A memorial service will be held November 3, 11:00 AM, at the Chapel at Springfield Residence, 551 East Evergreen Avenue, Wyndmoor, PA. In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to The Friends of the Wissahickon, 8708 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118. Memorial Service details will also be distributed via the weekly DVOC email digest.

Deb Beer read aloud, letters received from Joseph Hernandez (age 14) and Nathanial Hernandez (age 17), respectively, in which they thanked DVOC for supporting them to attend the Northampton County Junior Conservation School camp over the summer.

Mike O’Brien announced bluebird houses are still available, cost $35 each. These are sold by seniors of Holy Family Home Nursing Home.

Local Notes:

From Deb Beer: At the BIG SIT at Heinz Refuge, October 14, 77 species were seen, from 4:30 AM to 5:45 PM, including 12 species not found on any of the 3 other Big Sits at Heinz Refuge. Cumulative Big Sit list is 107 species. Todd Fellenbaum and Adrian Binns assisted with the event all day. The BIG SIT benefits the Friends of Heinz Refuge.

From Deb Beer: Doris McGovern reports that Rushton Woods Preserve in Willistown Township, Chester County, is on track to break their 2010 records in the numbers of Saw-whet Owls being banded this season.

From Phil Witmer: Scott Weidensaul’s Saw-whet Owl Banding Stations along the Kittatinny Mountain ridges have banded ~500 owls. He says there are some interns banding throughout the night in undisclosed locations to learn more about owls moving on ridges versus valleys.

From Mike O’Brien: he saw Black Vulture, adult Bald Eagle in Collegeville, 5-10 Dark-eyed Juncos in West Philly, and seemingly tame White-breasted Nuthatches.

From Rob Bierregard: Martha’s Vineyard last weekend was “knee-deep” in Red-breasted Nuthatches.

From Erica Brendel: her feeders in West Mount Airy are very active, with Red-breasted Nuthatches, one of which is stockpiling seeds. Flocks of Pine Siskins.

From Barb Thorp: many Pine Siskins in the city.

From Art McMorris: White-throated Sparrows, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

From Win Shafer: Hermit Thrushes abound.

From Judy Stepenaskie: last week of September, on Block Island, she had Red-breasted Nuthatches. Yesterday at Independence Park in Philly, saw 6-8 Hermit Thrushes, Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat, Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

From Deb Beer: Heinz Refuge in the past week – American Bittern, Sora, Philadelphia Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, many sparrows, thousands of waterfowl.

From Linda Widdop: Lemon Hill, up near the mansion, has lots of sparrows, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat 2 weeks ago.

Ornithological Moment:

Rob Bierregard presented an unplanned, impromptu Orni Moment from his laptop, “Chip does the Atlantic.” The interesting program featured the life of an Osprey named “Chip,” tagged with a transmitter as a young male in New Hampshire in July 2012. It left the nest on August 21, where it flew to a large river in Rhode Island and stayed there 6 weeks. It charted a course flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Its straight-line signal transmissions indicate that the bird was likely on a ship, at one point seeming to jump from one ship to another. It was heading east, when it should have been going south. Eventually Chip presumably died when it’s signal stopped. The Osprey program started with 10 birds, of which 2 were lost. For more info, google “Osprey Migration.”

Main Program:

Vice President Phil Witmer introduced speaker Derek Lovitch, presenting “How to be a Better Birder” highlighting parts of his newly-published book. His tips and techniques were based on his experiences birding at “Sandy Point” in Yarmouth, ME. He sold and signed book copies after the presentation.


Meeting was adjourned around 10:00PM.

Respectfully submitted for Stephen E. T. Kacir, Secretary,

Debbie Beer