Bird Club Meeting
February 26, 2020
Presiding: Doug Wentzel
Recording: Peggy Wagoner Saporito
Checklist, Jan 23 -Feb 26, 2020: Species Total: 90
(Birds seen by members of the audience within a 25-mile radius
since the last meeting).
Treasurer report (Jean Miller): Deposited: $40; Paid out:
$200 (Hawk Watch). Membership dues are still welcome; we are
running a bit behind last year’s deposits.
Upcoming Field Trips:
• Sunday, March 22, 2020 (8am – 11am): Exploring
Bald Eagle State Park, Spring Migrants.
• Saturday, April 11, 2020 (7am-10am) :
Birdwatching at Prince Gallitzin State Park
• Saturday, April 18, 2020 (7:30am-10:00am):
Walk at Rhoneymeade, Centre Hall, Pa
• Saturday, April 25, 2020 (8am-10am): James
Cleveland Memorial Trail
• Sunday, May 17 (7:30am-9:30am): State Game
Lands 33 Powerline right-of-way (ROW) Walk
More details can be found on our website, on facebook and in
Jon Kauffman’s Feb 24 email on the listserv. A big thanks to the
individuals who have offered to lead these trips.
A survey with a few questions about the Bird Club
meetings and activities was sent on Feb 26 by Joe Gyekis to the
email listserv and is posted on our website. We encourage
everyone, (members, nonmembers, anyone who reads our emails) to
take a few minutes to respond.
Save the date; May 27 is our last Bird Club meeting of the
season and will be held at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.
Doug Wentzel is coordinating the potluck.
Donate field guides/nature books to Shaver’s Creek gently
used Book Sale. Proceeds support the Hawk Watches. Last year, $250
This is the 20th year of the Tussey Mountain spring hawk watch.
Everyone is welcome to join Zoey Greenberg, our official counter
and veteran of last fall’s Stone Mt watch. Dress warmly, as
it’s always colder on the mountain than in the valley.
Greg Grove gave an update on the status of the gas
station/convenience store proposed for an area just uphill from Old
Crow Wetland, an important bird habitat. At the moment the
proposal is with PennDot. For more information, contact Greg.
Sunday March 1: Millbrook Marsh Nature Center hosts
Birds and Bagels 9:00-10:30AM.
Migration Morning Bird Walks at Shaver’s Creek
Environmental Center begin Wednesday April 1, 7:00-8:30am and
occur each Wed in April and early May.
Native Plant Sale: Saturday April 25 begins 10AM at
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. The sale will continue
throughout the week during Shaver’s Creek’s regular hours (10AM–
5PM) for as long as plants last.
Elections for several Bird Club positions will take place
during the April 22 Bird Club meeting. We need a volunteer
for VP of Field Trips. The responsibilities are to
schedule/coordinate field trips and to publicize trips on the
website. The VP is not the person who actually leads the trips,
though he/she may do so for some trips. If you wish to volunteer
or get more information please contact Greg
Speaker: Julian Avery, “It’s a noisy world! Experimental
effects of industrial noise on cavity-nesting birds”
Julian, a conservation biologist at Penn State University in the
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, described a
research project he conducted in collaboration with Margaret
Brittingham to begin to understand how noise associated with
natural gas extraction impacts nesting success of cavity nesting
Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. As is widely known,
development of Marcellus shale gas extraction impacts landscapes,
particularly in the northeastern and southwestern regions of PA.
Habitat fragmentation and noise pollution are among many issues
that can have immediate negative impacts on wildlife.
Compressor stations, where natural gas from surrounding wells is
pressurized for transport, are a major source of chronic (24/7)
noise, much of it at low frequencies which can travel up to 6-7 km
from the source. Noise, especially low frequency, from diverse
sources such as road traffic, wind turbines and ocean shipping
have been shown to influence animal behavior in a number of ways
including avoidance, reduced feeding and hyper vigilance.
To assess the impact of compressor noise on Bluebird and Tree
Swallow nesting activity and success, nest boxes were placed in
suitable habitat at Ag Progress Days. Twenty “noisy” nest boxes
were adjacent to speakers which continuously played, March-August,
noise that had been recorded 100 meters from an operating natural
gas compressor station. Twenty “quite” nest boxes were paired with
the noisy boxes and placed a sufficient distance from the “noisy”
boxes so as not to be exposed to the recorded compressor sounds.
A number of nesting activities were monitored throughout the
breeding season to determine differences between noisy and quiet
nest boxes. During the first year of this study, no preference was
seen in nest box selection regardless of age of parent birds;
noisy and quiet boxes were selected equally. This may be due to
the fact that cavity nesters often have limited choices with
cavities being typically scarce in the landscape. When they find a
suitable cavity they take it.
Number of eggs laid, begging frequency and body condition of
nestlings did not appear to be impacted by noisy vs. quiet nest
boxes. However, differences in other nesting activities were seen.
In noisy boxes, bluebirds incubated less and tree swallow parents
flushed from the nest more quickly when the nest box was
approached by researchers. Also swallows in noisy boxes who may
have been more vigilant/agitated/active fed their nestlings more
frequently than in quiet boxes.
In noisy boxes, hatching success was reduced in both species and
brood size trended smaller though not statistically different
between noisy and quiet boxes. Although there was no significant
statistical difference in fledging rate (number of young leaving
the nest) between quiet and noisy nest boxes, 15% fewer tree
swallow young were fledged from noisy boxes.
In the second year of the study, new nesters, inexperienced with
the noise, chose noisy and quiet boxes equally, just as all the
birds had, during the first year of the study. However,
experienced birds had a marked preference for quiet nests. Many of
the birds that had nested in noisy nest boxes during the first
year, chose quiet boxes in the second year. More quiet nest boxes
were occupied than noisy nest boxes, indicating that once birds
have experience in the noisy nest environment, they avoid the
noise. This could have implications for nesting in landscapes
impacted by compressor station noise.
Julian would like to follow up with more studies of impacts of gas
compressor noise in natural forested areas and on other species.
For instance, initial observations indicate that there is 100%
mortality among wood frog tadpoles exposed to compressor station
sounds perhaps due to low frequency vibrations impacting their