Minutes – January 12, 2023

The annual meeting was in-person only and took place at the Discovery Center. 

Call to Order: President Gregg Gorton

Call to Order: 7:36 PM

Attendees: 36 

Gregg welcomed all attendees and thanked the Discovery Center for hosting the DVOC’s annual meeting. He said that we get free use of the Discovery Center in exchange for leading walks there but we need volunteers to lead a walk once a month. Victoria Sindlinger said that anybody who would like to volunteer should see her after the meeting. Gregg thanked Damien Ruffner who runs the Discovery Center and thanked him and the rest of the staff for being incredibly gracious. Gregg also said that the Discovery Center exists because East Park Reservoir was saved from destruction and that one of the people involved in saving it was Jan Gordon who was present at the meeting. 

Election of Officers and Council – Art McMorris

The nominating committee, composed of Anita Guris, Patrick McGill, George Armistead, Linda Timlin, and Art McMorris has come up with a slate of nominees for the current year. The nominees are:

For one-year terms:

President – Gregg Gorton
Vice-president – Barb Bassett
Secretary – Navin Sasikumar

Marty Dellwo will continue as Treasurer.

The nominees for Councillors-at-large for 3-year terms are Linda Rowan and Nilesh Shah.

Nominees were announced at each December meeting. There were no nominees from the floor. All nominees were elected unanimously by acclamation.

The retiring Councillors are Katrina Rakowski and Dan Efroymson, and Art thanked them for their service. 

Continuing Councillors are Linda Timlin, Michael Walter, Victoria Sindlinger, and Patrick McGill

Election of Fellows and Honorary Members – Gregg Gorton

Council has selected 4 members as Fellows. Fellows are chosen based on involvement with the club or birding in general. The nominees are:

  • Stephanie Egger
  • Patrick McGill
  • Nilesh Shah
  • Victoria Sindlinger

All nominees were voted on unanimously by acclamation.

Honorary Members are chosen based on attaining special prominence in their ornithological work and contributions to the Club. The nominee has been overlooked for too long. He joined the club 57 years ago as a young man – and was president of the club from 1988 to 1990 and he was on Council 3 different times. He was the Field Trips committee chair, captained the DVOC World Series of Birding team 7 times, chaired the checklist committee for 15 years, won the Witmer Stone and Julian Potter awards, and has given 12 presentations to the DVOC. He also published an ornithological history of the Delaware Valley Region in 1990. The nominee is Rick Mellon!

Rick Mellon was voted as an honorary member by unanimous acclamation. 

Gregg also mentioned that there are 4 members who have been members for 50 years as of today – Tom Reeves, Keith Russell, Christopher Caricino, and Bill Tucker. 

There are also six women who have been members for the 40 years since women were first admitted: Erica Brendel, Liz Cutler, Doris McGovern, Naomi Murphy, Jewel Rufe, and Cynthia Uptegraft.

Treasurer’s Report –  Marty Dellwo

Marty gave a detailed report of the club’s income and expenditures but the gist of it is that the Club’s finances are positive and we have money to spend.

He also mentioned that Hart and Jewel Rufe again donated $10k to the Interns Fund.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee – Rebecca Reicherter

Rebecca gave an overview of the membership of the club. She said that 2022 was our most productive year since 2007 – we added 47 new members of which 94% are in Pennsylvania. She also said that the gender breakdown of new members skews female. 

The membership committee also conducted a new member survey. 18 new members responded to the survey and many said that the club is meeting or exceeding expectations.

One of the things people praised about the club is that people are friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate. One suggestion was to record meetings.

Of our entire member body, 92% are from PA/NJ/DE. Outside the above three states, we have members who live in Nevada, Florida, Illinois, and Colorado among others. We also have members from around the world with Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and the UK being some of the representative countries. 

The membership committee also had some recommendations for the club: 

  • Is it still necessary to review new applicants for a week before notifying them?
  • Make new members feel more welcome by having special events, new member corners at regular meetings, etc
  • Record presentations
  • Explore partnerships with other clubs such as Philly Queer Birders, Birdability, etc

Conservation – Anne Bekker

In 2022, Bird Safe Philly was launched. It is one of the most prominent conservation efforts and it includes the Lights Out initiative. The Bird Safe Philly program includes formal monitoring and rescue efforts. Anne gave a shout-out to Philly Metro Wildlife for stepping up to receive injured birds. She mentioned that there are several ways members can get involved either as formal monitors or drivers to take injured birds to rehab, but also informal volunteers to report collisions on iNaturalist so that new formal monitoring routes can be set up. 

Other ongoing local issues have to do with the destruction of habitat. In Philly, this includes the redesign of FDR Park Meadows and the renovation of the  Cobbs Creek golf course. At Cobbs Creek golf course, 100 acres of mature trees were clear-cut. Wetlands were proposed as mitigation but they will not compensate for the removal of trees and increase flooding issues downstream. There has been no transparency in the Cobbs Creek project. 

In the suburbs, the Lower Merion school district acquired 13 acres to cut trees to make space for athletic fields at the Oakwell property next to Stoneleigh Garden.

On a positive note, the SCEE Boy Scout tract has a conservation easement thanks to the efforts of civic groups and neighbors and will not be sold to developers. 

Field Trips – Gregg Gorton for Linda Widdop

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

Upcoming field trips:

  • January 13 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm – Bartram’s Garden with Ben Filreis
  • January 14 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm –  Winter Gulls at Glen Foerd with Holger Pflicke
  • January 16 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm – Bartram’s Garden with Ben Filreis

Billings – Art McMorris

Send checklists to Art for the 2022 Billings Year by January 31st. The DVOC member with the most birds in the Delaware Valley region will win. For efficiency, you can just let Art know your number of species and you only need to submit the full checklist if the number is greater than the current largest number which is 273 species as of the meeting.


Gregg Gorton mentioned that Stephanie Egger has set up a Bird Safe Philly Instagram page. 

Barb Bassett announced that Patrick McGill found a whopping 251 birds in Philly last year. He beat Frank Windfelder’s record of 248 species which included Philly’s first records of Lazuli Bunting and LeConte’s Sparrow. Patrick wins the Philly Big Year Challenge and a prize of $200 donated by Frank Windfelder before he passed last year.

Programs: Barb Bassett

The next meeting is in a week because this meeting was postponed by a week. Because of the officers’ travel schedules, the next meeting is a Zoom-only meeting. The speaker is Tykee James and he will talk about ‘Birding to Build Trust, Power and Coalition’. 

The year’s annual meeting presentation was by Katrina Rakowski. She talked about the oral histories of some of the first women to join the DVOC in 1983 after they were previously excluded from club membership. Some of the women she talked to for the presentation and whose anecdotes she recounted included Liz Cutler, Doris McGovern, Jan Gordon, and Erica Brendel. This provided wonderful insight into how some of the early women members of the DVOC experienced the club and the presentation was well received by all present. 


After the presentation, the meeting was adjourned at 9:50 pm.