Bird Club Zoom Meeting
December 9, 2020
Presiding: Doug Wentzel
Recording: Peggy Wagoner Saporito
Treasurer’s report (Jean Miller): $50 spent on last month’s
presenter; $80 received in dues. (To send your annual dues by
mail, see our website)
Susan Smith, VP of Field Trips, is working on plans for a spring
schedule with Covid-conscious activities.
Thanks to Julia Plummer and Joe Gyekis for volunteering to lead
some of Millbrook Marsh Nature Center’s socially distanced weekly
bird walks next spring along with Doug Wentzel and Jon Kauffman.
Jen Lee has updated the Bird Checklist which is almost ready for
printing. It will be available in paper as well as electronic
Christmas Bird Counts are coming up this month; the first one is
on December 19, Penns Creek. For a complete listing see our website and more information
is on Audubon’s website.
Access to the Duck Pond (near intersection of Rt 26 and Porter
Road) is currently under construction and will probably be
unavailable for up to a year.
Best wishes to Debra Grim, our former Bird Club secretary who is
moving to Arkansas. Many thanks for her contributions to the bird
club, participation in birding cup and involvement in the Native
Plant Society; she is a true advocate for the natural world.
Interesting Bird Sightings: Greg Grove’s Summary
(Nov 19-Dec 9, 2020)
Some uncommon sightings in the area among waterfowl included Black
Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and a Red-throated Loon. As is typical
in the fall, migrating Common Loons were seen from the hawk
watches on favorable days, flying high, heading south. A Rufous
Hummingbird continues to be reported in Clearfield County. The
hawk watches have ended for the season. Stone and Jacks Mountains
reported 138 and 155 Golden Eagles respectively, average numbers
for these locations. Record numbers of Bald Eagles were seen at
both hawk watches this year with more than 220 at each.
Rough-legged Hawks, Merlins and Peregrines have all been seen in
the area and a few sightings of Short-eared Owls were reported in
Clearfiled County. Birds more commonly seen in winter are making
an appearance such as Horned Larks as well as a few Lapland
Longspurs on PA Furnace Road. A good number of American Pipits
have been moving through. Tree Sparrows are being seen in higher
numbers this year than have been seen in the recent past. And as
has been reported earlier, the winter finches are making a good
showing this year, including Evening Grosbeaks, Purple Finches and
Pine Siskins. On the ridge tops, Redpolls are being seen and Red
Crossbillls in Rothrock State Park.
Speaker: Lauren Pharr: “Bird Banding: an Effective Way to Monitor
This zoom presentation can be viewed here.
Lauren, a masters student at North Carolina State University,
College of Natural Resources, discussed in detail the value of and
techniques used in bird banding as a means of studying many
aspects of avian biology. Specially designed mist nets, of mesh
with pockets, are used to safely capture birds. Each bird is
quickly and carefully extracted from the net and placed into a
cloth bag where, in the darkness, birds settle down and become
less stressed. In the field, close to the mist nets, a banding
station is set up where each bird is fitted with the appropriately
sized, uniquely numbered, lightweight steel band. While the bird
is being handled additional information, such as morphology (body
mass, wing chord, tarsus length etc), physiology and genetics
(from tissue, feathers and/or blood samples), can be obtained
before the bird is released.
All information gathered from each captured bird is carefully
recorded during banding and sampling. The MAPS (Monitoring Avian
Productivity and Survivorship) program coordinates data from all
North American banding stations to improve our understanding of
bird movements, longevity, migration, population health and can
contribute to conservation efforts.
To become a certified and permitted bird bander requires intensive
training. Permits, issued by the USGS Bird Banding Lab, require a
multi-step process before an individual can become a “master
bander” with the ability and knowledge to run a banding station.
Lauren has qualified to be a subpermitee working under the
guidance of a master bander. She trained at Powdermill Nature
Reserve east of Pittsburgh where there is a large and long
established banding station with highly trained banders.
Certificates for various levels of expertise are issued by the
North American Banding Council (NABC) only after passing a
Lauren has used her bird banding expertise to encourage curiosity
about the natural world among youth and especially
underrepresented minority communities. By allowing people to see a
wild bird up close, or to even hold a bird in their hands as it is
released, is a transformative experience. Bird banding is the
perfect tool to unite science with public outreach to help
increase interest in conservation.
Until the Corona virus pandemic hit, Lauren had planned to use her
skills as a bander in her masters research analyzing urbanization
effects, specifically urban noise and light pollution, on avian
physiology. Her goal was to net, sample and release Northern
Cardinals, a year-round resident, found in a gradient from urban
to rural backyard habitats. Unfortunately, the need to
socially distance did not allow Lauren to interact with her
research assistants or with the residents whose back yards she had
planned on accessing for her study. Instead, Lauren is now
studying the effects of light and noise pollution on survivorship
among 7 common species (cardinal, robin, catbird, Carolina and
house wrens, Carolina chickadee and song sparrow). For this
research, she is using an existing 20-year data set from
Smithsonian’s Neighborhood Nestwatch, which studies reproductive
success and annual survival over an urban to rural gradient in the
Washington DC/Maryland area.
Lauren provided many resources for those interested in bird
banding. For more information contact
or check her website.