Minutes – Feb. 21, 2019

Delaware Valley Ornithological Club

Time: 7:35pm

Call To Order:

President: George Armistead
VP: George Armistead/Gregg Gorton; Secretary: Gregg Gorton


Members present: 33; four guests: Ross and Melissa Gallardy, Maria Miller, Candice Detore. 

Reports from Council: 


Committee Reports:


Bonnie Witmer

New Members: Islam Naimul

New Membership Application Received: Rob Fergus


Anne Bekker: Please alert her or Holger Pflicke to any local place that you have conservation concerns about, so the committee can consider how they might be able to get involved. 


Matt Halley: The new issue is in production!

Billings Award:

Art McMorris: Sandra Keller is the 2018 winner, having seen 303 species (302 of them in N.J.), more than any other entrant. The award presentation will take place on March 21, 2019, and members of Bob Billings’ family will be present for the award and for a short talk by Sandra about her year. Congratulations to her!  The area map for the Billings Competition can be found at:  http://dvoc.org/Committees/BillingsAward/Resources/CompetitionAreaMap.pdf

Field Trips: 

George Armistead

Bird Walk at The Discovery Center
The Discovery Center
3401 Reservoir Drive – Philadelphia
February 23, 2019 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am
Trip Leader: TBA
Free to all members and non-members
Join us on a bird walk with a local birding expert as we hike around a site noted for over 150 species of bird visitors every year. With deep water, limited access, and a lake full of fish, the Strawberry Mansion Reservoir is home to some of the most unique bird species in the area. No experience necessary. This is a joint trip with PA Audubon.

Woodcocking at Rancocas Nature Center
March 02, 2019 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

794 Rancocas Mt Holly Rd, Westampton, NJ
Trip Leader: Patty Rehn
Free to all members and non-members
Each year in the late winter, the American Woodcock move northward at the beginning of their breeding season. One of their migration stops is the Rancocas meadow– a reliable spot to catch the male of the species perform a fascinating aerial display to impress the female Woodcocks. Join Rancocas naturalist Patty Rehn at dusk for an informational session and unique viewing opportunity. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather. This is a joint program with DVOC. As Woodcocks can be hard to pin down, an alternate date of Sunday, February 24 is scheduled. We will notify participants when it gets closer, if the program will switch to the earlier date. Register online, call to register or email us at info@rancocasnaturecenter.org.

Discovery Center Bird Walk
The Discovery Center
March 09, 2019 @ 8:00 am – 9:30 am
3401 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA, 19121
Trip Leader: Tony Croasdale
Free to all members and non-members

Woodcocks & Spotlighting for Night Creatures

March 22, [email protected]:00pm 

Cobbs Creek Environmental Center

700 Cobbs Creek Parkway, Philadelphia

Trip Leader: Tony Croasdale

Discovery Center Bird Walk
The Discovery Center
March 31, 2019 @ 8:00 am – 9:30 am
3401 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA, 19121
Trip Leader: TBA

–>Please contact Linda Widdop if you want to lead a trip outside Philadelphia: Linda@techimpact.org

–>Please contact Tony Croasdale if you want to lead a walk inside Philadelphia (for DVOC’s BirdPhilly initiative): Tony.croasdale@gmail.com

(Details for all walks/trips can be found at http://dvoc.org/activities/field-trips/ )

Upcoming Program:

Owl in the Box

February 21, [email protected]:00pm

Speaker: Lisa Potash


Matt Halley: located the Type (Voucher) Specimen of North America’s Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus sanctijohannis), previously called Black Hawk [Falco niger]), which had been collected and described by Alexander Wilson!  Matt displayed the specimen and told the story of how it had been in the Peale Museum and then had been thought to be lost. But he came across it in the Academy’s collection, along with a wooden stand signed by John Cassin (that it had apparently been mounted on), who had written in barely visible writing that it had been received from the Peale Museum. The momentous importance of this find was not lost on members of the audience, who crowded around Matt and the bird, applauded, and took many photos. Matt also displayed a Neotype Specimen of Veery (Catharus fuscescens) that he prepared from a specimen at his study site in Delaware in order to replace the Type Specimen (Stephens, 1817) that had been lost some time ago.  This was a truly remarkable and unexpected moment in the history of the club. 

Formerly Falco niger, now Buteo lagopus

Local Notes:

Marty Dellwo: saw the Gyrfalcon on Nummy Island, Cape May County, NJ. And, also saw a Horned Grebe at Heinz N.W.R., Philadelphia.  And he and Linda Widdop found the Pacific Loon, which was still at Manasquan Inlet (viewed from the Point Pleasant Beach Twp side), Ocean County, NJ. Then, at Island Beach State Park, Berkeley Twp, Ocean County, NJ, they found a Snowy Owl and what appeared to be a Merlin. Finally, he added that a male Painted Bunting was back at a feeder on Dixie Line Road in Newark, New Castle County, Delaware.

Tony Croasdale: noted that he recalls there having been Pacific Loons on inland lakes in years past. 

Phil & Bonnie Witmer: had two screech-owls, both red phase, at the same time in their backyard during the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Anne Bekker: noted that American Woodcock are displaying now at Bombay Hook N.W.R., Kent County, Delaware. 

Gregg Gorton: had only 20 species of birds on the Great Backyard Bird Count walk at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, likely due to the strong winds. But the highlight was finding a Great Horned Owl in a Norway Spruce being mobbed by crows. A Wood Duck was also spotted on the Schuylkill from an overlook.  The walk at Laurel Hill (east), led by Navin Sasikumar, also produced only 20 species, so the simultaneous “dueling walks” had a stand-off. 

Art McMorris: reported that his son was once flying a radio-controlled airplane when it was mobbed by crows! 


Evening Program:

Is Brown the New Green? – The Fusion Ecology of Urban Wildlands       Speaker: Dr. Claus Holzapfel – Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University

Claus gave a very illuminating presentation about the “fusion ecology” of native and non-native species in “waste places,” green urban fragments (such as on the campus of Rutgers- Newark) and brownfields (such as on Liberty Island) in New Jersey. Surprisingly, species diversity is higher in fusion landscapes than in some “restored” areas, though these studies are yet young. Mist-netting of birds at these sites has been part of the diversity research he and his team are doing. This talk expanded our knowledge and our ability to better perceive what is happening in urban landscapes.


Main Meeting Adjourned: 9:08pm

After-meeting Gathering at Cherry Street Tavern:

After the formal meeting, some members enjoyed beverages and bird-chat.