Bird Club Meeting
December 11, 2019
Presiding: Doug Wentzel
Recording: Peggy Wagoner Saporito
Checklist, Nov 21-Dec 11, 2019: Species Total: 84
(Birds seen by members of the audience within a 25-mile radius
since the last meeting).
Treasurer report (Jean Miller): Deposited: $135; Paid out:
$50. Membership dues are always welcome.
Regarding the New Art Museum to be constructed at the Arboretum at
Penn State, Nick Kerlin indicated that our emails and phone calls
have made the architects very aware of the community interest for
bird friendly design. All future correspondence regarding bird
friendly design comments/information should be directed to
Shari Edelson. She will collate all information we
provide and present this to the architects.
Several Christmas Bird Counts in the State College area will be
conducted during the weekend of Dec 14-15. If you miss these,
consider joining the Bedford Co. CBC (Mike and Laura Jackson) or
Lake Raystown CBC ( Jon
) later in December.
Bald Eagle Mountain: We have learned a lot about migration along
this ridge from this single season, which officially ended on Dec
11, 2019. Bald Eagle Mountain now holds the record high count for
Golden Eagles (343) among all Eastern Flyway count sites for all
years. High numbers of other species were also tallied; 1641
Turkey Vultures (180% higher than 2019 Stone Mnt count) and 271
Bald Eagles (50% higher than 2019 Stone Mnt count). Nick Bolgiano
is currently writing a summary from this hawk watch for
publication in Hawk Migration Studies.
Stone Mountain is winding down its 25th fall migration season.
Record high numbers of Broad-winged Hawks (3806) and Bald Eagles
(178) were tallied along with the 3rd highest number of Golden
Eagles (161) over the 25 years of observation at this site. On the
other hand, 2019 was among the lowest 3-4 years for counts of
common migrants such as Kestrels, Coopers Hawks and Northern
Harriers. Thanks to Zoe Greenburg for stepping in to assist with
counting in the latter half of the season.
Also, a big thanks to Jon Kauffman, Nick Bolgiano and Greg Grove
for organizing, coordinating and counting at these hawk watches.
Anyone wishing to donate bird/nature books to Shaver’s Creek can
give them to Doug Wentzel at any SCBC meeting. Proceeds from the
sale of these books go to support the Hawk Watches.
Thanks to Bob Fowles for doing a good job of keeping the State
College Bird Club website up-to-date.
After her meeting with the Arboretum’s Avian Education Advisory
Committee, Diane Bierly gave us an update on the prospects for the
SCBC to make a donation to the new Bird and Pollinator Garden at
the Arboretum at Penn State. For a permanent plaque with our
name displayed on something like a bench or tree, a minimum
donation of $5000 to the PSU endowment fund would be required.
Since this amount seems a bit beyond the reach of the Bird Club,
other options are being considered. A contribution toward a Little
Free Library located within the Garden Bird Blind structure,
stocked and coordinated in perpetuity by PSU Arboretum staff is
one possibility. Discussions are still underway to determine
the cost and other logistics of the library.
During this coming spring, a Chimney Swift Tower, using the design
described by speaker Brian Shema at the April 2019 SCBC meeting,
will be constructed at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center by an
eagle scout candidate, Tynan Butler.
Speaker: Carolyn Mahan, “Use of Electric Transmission Line
Rights-of-Way by breeding birds in central Pennsylvania: species
richness and nest productivity”
Dr. Mahan, a professor of Biology at Penn State Altoona, discussed
her research on the influence of various land management practices
used under and around electric transmission towers and power lines
on bird populations. The study area, initially established in the
1950’s is in a forested area of State Game Lands 33 near
Phillipsburg and is part of a larger 60 year-long study of plants
and wildlife within power line rights-of-way (ROW). More
information about all of this research can be found at:
The ROW is maintained in an early successional vegetative stage
with two zones:
• Wire Zone (75-105ft wide), directly under the
towers and wires, has very short vegetation (forbs, low shrubs and
• Border Zone (30-50ft wide) on either side of
the wire zone has low to medium-sized shrubby vegetation and is
adjacent to natural forest.
Vegetation management treatments included:
• mechanical (no herbicide - mowing, hand
• herbicide (high and low volume used once every
Birds found in early successional habitats such as Field Sparrows,
Towhee, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Catbirds and
Indigo Buntings were the most abundant species within the ROW. The
Border Zone with its taller shrubby vegetation (especially where
the zone is 50ft wide) is very important to supporting larger
numbers of birds, greater species diversity and higher nesting
success as compared to the Wire Zone regardless of management
treatment (mechanical or herbicide).
The fact that chemical vegetation control (herbicides) did not
appear to effect birds negatively in this study may seem to be a
surprising result. However, small quantities were used and
spraying was done only every 4-5 years. No other pesticides such
as insecticides, which are known to disrupt many levels within
ecosystems, were used.
Integrated vegetation management (IVM) used to maintain early
successional vegetation has been shown to be compatible and even
beneficial to plants and animals, including birds within the ROW.
This vegetation management technique involves the use of
herbicides and/or mechanical treatments to initially control
unwanted tall-statured trees such as white oak and red maple,
allowing establishment of desirable native species, such as
goldenrod, mountain laurel and blueberries. Once established,
these lower growing, early successional species are able to
prevent invasion of unwanted trees providing a cost, as well as
ecological, benefit over the long term.