Minutes – February 3, 2022

Due to concerns of COVID-19, meetings will continue to be held virtually rather than in person at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Zoom Meeting: Instructions for meeting registration were announced on the website and weekly digest.

7:00 PM The Pre-Meeting discussed some local notes, the Steller’s Sea Eagle, and bird feeding during snowstorms.

Call to Order: President Gregg Gorton

Call to Order: 7:30 PM

Registrants: 70; 56 members, 14 non-members (51 signed on for the meeting, some with more than one person per device)

Gregg welcomed all to the meeting and introduced the officers. 

The minutes from January 22, 2022, were approved.

Reports of Council

Gregg Gorton: The new Council had their first meeting on January 25th. 12 Council members and Nilesh Shah (as a guest of Council) met on Zoom. The key takeaways from the meeting were:

  • Gregg nominated Linda Widdop as trustee to replace Hart Rufe and she will join Chris Walters and Paul Guris
  • Nilesh Shah (membership chair) raised important points about the new member application process that might require a change to the by-laws. Currently, there is a 7 day wait period between when a person submits a membership form and before they are formally introduced as a member of the Club. Gregg appointed a sub-committee chaired by Nilesh to look into the process of streamlining new member applications. 
  • Gregg created a DEI committee to expand outreach and grow in terms of diversity and inclusion. The committee will be chaired by Navin Sasikumar and Gregg asked for volunteers to serve on the committee. If you are interested in serving on the Committee, please reach out to Gregg Gorton or Navin Sasikumar. 

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Nilesh Shah

New Members in January: Kristen Cooney, Katrina Clark, David Moyer, Manuel Dominguez, Mandy and Patrick Gibson, Johannes Nelson, and Michel Hoessly and Selina Luger.

Field Trips – Linda Widdop

Email Linda Widdop, linda@techimpact.org, if interested in leading any winter trips. 

The next field trip will be ‘Winter Gulls at Glen Foerd’ led by Holger Pflicke on February 19. On the 20th, Barb Bassett will lead a trip, ‘In Search of Sandhill Cranes’ at Predricktown Marsh. Also on the 20th, Robin Irizarry and Leigh Altadonna are leading a joint trip with Wyncote Audubon at the Discovery Center to look for wintering birds, as well as see an origami display by Victoria Sindlinger. On the 26th, there is a joint field trip to Middle Creek with Wyncote Audubon 26th led by Judy Stepanaskie, and on the 27th, there is a field trip to Barnegat with Linda Widdop. See the field trips page for all upcoming field trips: https://dvoc.org/activities/field-trips/

Rob Horton reports that the Lakehurst Trip might not happen this year as well. 

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

Conservation – Gregg Gorton filling in for Anne Bekker

There will be a gathering of Bird Safe Philly volunteers, initially scheduled for the 9th of February, but has since been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns to a future date.

Billings – Gregg Gorton filling in for Art McMorris

Brian Quindlen (“BQ”) is the winner of the 2021 Bob Billings Award with 257 species. The award will be presented to BQ at a DVOC Zoom meeting to be scheduled in the near future, with members of Bob Billings’s family present, and BQ will give us a brief talk about his big year effort.

See https://dvoc.org/about/committees/billings/.

Communications – Navin Sasikumar

The DVOC web host has been moved to a new hosting provider, Dreamhost due to resource throttling issues with our previous provider, Hostpapa. 


Victoria Sindlinger: The Discovery Center will be showcasing Victoria’s art installation, Hope in the Night, an exhibit of 150 origami birds that represent the 1500 birds that died in the mass window collision event in Center City 2020. The installation will continue until the Bird Safe Philly meeting and will be displayed at the Visitor Center. 

Bonnie Witmer: Phil and Bonnie are doing a Zoom presentation on Great Backyard Bird Count at Radnor Conservancy. http://www.radnorconservancy.org/events

Local Notes (from the chat)

Barb Bassett: Clarksboro, NJ Eastern Screech-Owl calling in the evening

Steve Mattan: January 16. Piney Place. Southampton, NJ: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied, Downy, and Hairy Woodpeckers, and Northern Flicker. 

Linda Rowan: Fox Sparrow in Levittown. Bucks County .

Patrick McGill: Eastern Screech-Owl still calling on his block in the Germantown area almost nightly for over a month now.

Bonnie Witmer: Bonnie and Phil have had two new yard birds in their Chester County home in the past week and a half: Eastern Bluebirds on the birdbath and a Northern Mockingbird eating Chokeberries.. 

Victoria Sindlinger: Two Pileated Woodpeckers gave nice views at Morris Arboretum on February 1st, and she finally got the Yellow-breasted Chat perched up nicely eating berries at the usual Tinicum boat launch location on Jan 25th. Also, not exactly local, but she got the Steller’s Sea Eagle and a Dovekie at Pemaquid Harbor, Maine on Jan 22nd.

Nilesh Shah: Red-breasted Nuthatch at his feeder in Maple Glen, Montgomery County on January 23rd.

Kaitlyn Evans: At Wissahickon Park, she had Pileated Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Barb Elliot: She has had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet coming to her suet feeder in Chester County every day since at least January 9th. 

Theresa O’Malley: Pileated Woodpecker in backyard in Folcroft, Delaware County, PA

Programs: Barb Bassett

The next regular meeting will be on February 17th where Paul Napier will present “The Cape May Raptor Banding Project” which will cover a brief history, some impressive project statistics, an overview of the intern program, how the project contributes to science projects, and portraits and facts about the raptors banded.

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

Evening Program

Christina “Kashi” Davis presented a terrific and beautiful program detailing the beach nesting birds of New Jersey. The presentation was filled with facts but also included tons of pictures of cute baby birds. Some key points from the presentation are as below:

  • Beach-nesting Oystercatcher numbers seem to be increasing but it could be because they have stopped nesting in marshes due to increased marsh flooding. Despite increasing numbers, the fledge rate for Oystercatchers is low, only 0.24 chicks per pair. 
  • Conversely, the Black Skimmer fledge rate was high in 2021 – 1.3 chicks per pair. This could be because Skimmers nest later in the season and escaped the Nor’easter on Memorial Day. 
  • Least Terns also had a low fledge rate of only 0.52 chicks per pair. The Nature Conservancy has helped put up netting to protect the Least Tern colony from mammalian predators at Cape May Meadows.
  • Piping Plovers had high overall numbers but the fledge rate was low – only 0.85, while the goal is 1.5. 46% of Piping Plover nests failed due to depredation. 

You can reach Kashi at Christina.Davis@dep.nj.gov

Kashi’s speaker’s fee is going to the DVOC Interns Fund and Young Birders. 

Relevant links from the meeting:
American Oystercatchers Working Group: https://amoywg.org/
Report Bird Bands: reportband.gov
Seven Mile Innovative Living Laboratory: https://wetlandsinstitute.org/smiil/


After the presentation and questions, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15pm. A handful of us stayed on after the official meeting ended to chat.