Minutes – April 15, 2021 Delaware Valley Ornithological Club

Academy of Natural Sciences is closed due to COVID-19. Zoom Meeting: Instructions for meeting registration and how to use Zoom were announced on website and weekly digest.

7:00 PM The Pre-Meeting focused on bird sightings.

Call to Order: President: Linda Widdop

Call to Order: 7:32pm
Registrants: 63 [50 members, 13 non-members]; 37 signed on for the meeting (some had more than one person per device).

Linda welcomed all to the meeting and introduced the officers. She noted that the normal meeting timing of 7:30 – 8pm Club Business would be shortened so that Victoria Sindlinger and Debbie Beer could present their Billings Big Year highlights and be able to start the main program at 8pm, as usual.

Minutes from the last regular meeting on April 1, 2021 were approved.

Committee Reports:

Membership Committee: Bonnie Witmer

New Members: Barbara and Philip Stollsteimer

New Applicants: Jen Pierson-Winterle, Gina and Robert Strecker, Shane Murphy, Walt Nadolny and Sharon Hardy, David Singer, Catherine van de Ruit and Thomas McKearnan, Joan Parry, Valerie Marshall, Karen Gee

Conservation Committee: Anne Becker

Lights Out: Our skies are getting darker, as documented by Victoria Sindlinger’s images – thank you, Victoria – and kudos to Stephen Maciejewski not only for his tireless efforts over the years to monitor and document bird fatalities due to collisions with glass, but for his capacity to forge relationships with building owners and managers which has driven them to support our cause. Thanks to monitors Sam Bucciarelli, Stephanie Egger, Dan Kalamarides, Stephanie Petro, Ian Schramm, and Dani Smith as well. For more information on Bird Safe Philly and how you can help by participating in Lights Out at home, by reporting collisions to iNaturalist, or by donating, visit Bird Safe Philly

Help Philadelphia’s parks: Following a 20% budget cut to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, our parks saw a 100% increase in use last year. Please sign this petition to restore that $12.5 million in funding to allow PP&R to continue and expand their work of urban ecosystem management so that we can continue to watch the birds we love. (hit “take action” at left.) www.philaparks.org

Here is some help for and information on the Delaware Bay’s horseshoe crabs and Red Knots, whose populations continue to be threatened by climate change, and now by increased vaccine production as well: New Grant Increases Protections for Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds

Youth Birding: Brian Quindlen

From Victoria Sindlinger concerning Lights Out Philly: Twice I have gone downtown at midnight to document which building are participating, and to what extent. Once was the night of March 31st, the second time was  the night of April 7. To document the changes, there are several before-and-after pictures, as well as some pictures of single buildings (both lit and dark) and a time-lapse video.

Some interesting observations- though the new Comcast building seems to always be the first to go out, they continue to turn off only the spire projecting above the rest of the building. Many other lights are left on and must still pose quite a danger to birds.  PECO and the CHOP Roberts Center seem to rage on full force.  On the flip side, buildings surrounding Rittenhouse Square have been nicely darkened, at least on March 31st. The Blue Cross building is also very dark. Also, here is a link to a blog post I wrote about Lights Out, and encouraging people to participate: Great News for Philly’s Migrant Birds!

Victoria Sindlinger recites her haunting yet hopeful poem about a Philadelphia bird catastrophe with a backdrop of beautiful bird photography and music here: The Fall of the Migrants

From Katrina and BQ: The Youth Birding Committee recently held an informal weekend bird walk at FDR Park in South Philly, which totaled 45 species. Another informal trip to Barnegat Inlet was unfortunately canceled due to inclement weather. To tie into Victoria‘s report about Lights Out Philly, here is an article from News-O-Matic about the effort with an interview with BQ: News-o-Matic: Lights Out Philly

Bob Billings Award: Art McMorris

Welcome to Karen Walter and Liz Billings who joined the meeting for the Billings award presentation to Victoria Sindlinger and Debbie Beer. They tied to win the 2020 Bob Billings Big Year award. Victoria and Debbie each saw an impressive 272 species of birds in the DVOC program area in 2020, in spite of all the restrictions due to Covid (e.g. no pelagic trips)! The award was presented to Victoria and Debbie. Each gave a brief talk about their Big Year efforts.

Victoria’s Big Year with Liz and Karen in the background
Club members listen to Debbie’s talk about her Bob Billings Big Year.
Karen Walter and Liz Billings

Field Trips: Linda Widdop

Field Trips are starting up again. Look for new trips added to the schedule on our website: DVOC Field Trips.

Participants must follow all the COVID-19 Guidelines as posted on the website and must sign a participant release to attend the field trip.

Programs: Gregg Gorton

The speaker for the next program on May 6th, will be Matthew R. Halley: Integrative Systematics & Evolution of Seasonal Migration in the Nightingale-Thrushes (Aves: Turdidae: Catharus)


More information at https://dvoc.org/wp/activities/meetings/ for this and other upcoming meetings.


Navin Sasikumar: The iNaturalist City Nature Challenge is in 15 days. It takes place from April 30th to May 3rd:  If anyone would like to lead field trips for the Challenge, let Navin know.

Local Notes [via the chat]

Linda Widdop: A pair of American Kestrels have been hanging around Fox Chase Farm for about a week.  Louisiana Waterthrush along the creek last Thursday.  2 Pine Siskins continue in my yard in Montgomery County (Abington) as of this week.

Debbie Beer: 4/14 FOY Blue-headed Vireo in my backyard, Springfield Delaware County, PA.  Two Bald Eagle nests along Delaware River behind PHL Airport.  One at edge of Fort Mifflin/Tank Farms (depending on your county affinity) has a chick!  The other nest, opposite UPS shipping building, is sitting tight, but cannot ascertain if chicks.

Luc Jacobs: Broad-winged Hawk in Ridley Creek Park, PA.

Vinobha Pannerselvam: Blue-Winged Teal was there in Bradford Dam. Chipping Sparrows are back in the feeder along with a Pine Siskin and 5 Purple Finches to today, 4/15.

Martin Dellwo: Still plenty of White-throated Sparrows in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA and two Dark-eyed Juncos sticking around a few days.  There was also a Pine Warbler for two days.  On 4/12, an Osprey flew over Rittenhouse Square at lunch time, a first for that hotspot.  Orange-crowned Warbler at Heinz has been around for a few days at least and showing a little orange.  At Heinz last Sunday, 4/11, after skies cleared out and brightened, there were minimum 11 Osprey, a large kettle of Turkey Vultures, and two Broad-winged Hawks.

Barb Bassett: 4/8 Louisiana Waterthrush, Mantua, NJ, 4/12 FOY Brown Pelican, early Rose-breasted Grosbeak, early Solitary Sandpiper, Common Yellowthroat, Sedge Wren Cape May Point, NJ.

Linda Timlin: A friend saw and photographed 2 Bald Eagles from the South Street Bridge, Philadelphia, PA this week.

Evening Program:

Endangered, Extinct & Little-known Birds from the Collections of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel: Some Remarkable Stories about Avian Biodiversity The speaker was Jason Weckstein, associate professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) at Drexel University and associate curator in the Department of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel. Jason gave a fascinating talk about the amazing specimens from the Academy’s collection.

For those interested. A story of finding a new species is documented in the book: Parrot Without a Name.

There were many questions. Here is an example taken from the chat:

Victoria Sindlinger: Could you elaborate on what the collecting process is like, and what the profession a bird specimen collector would look like?

Rob Bierregaard: Collections are usually made using mist-nets or shotguns loaded with “bird shot” – very small pellets so the specimen isn’t seriously damaged. Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were people who made their living collecting specimens and selling them to museums. That does not happen anymore. Now collections are made by researchers affiliated with natural history museums like the Academy of Natural Sciences.  Material from the toe pads is used for DNA analyses without damaging any of the plumage.


After the presentation and questions, the meeting was adjourned at 9:58pm.