State College Bird Club Zoom Meeting
January 27, 2021

Presiding: Doug Wentzel

Recording: Peggy Wagoner Saporito

Attendance: 46

Treasurer’s report (Jean Miller): $50 spent on last month’s presenter; $0 received in dues. (To send your annual dues by mail, see website;

SCBC Field Trips (socially distanced and masks required):

Saturday April 17, 2021 8AM-10AM
Bald Eagle SF - Greens Valley Rd: Join Julia Plummer for an easy 1.5 mile forest walk on the James Cleveland Trail

Wednesday May 5, 2021 9AM-10:30AM
Penn State Campus: Join Joe Gyekis for campus birding. 

All field trips are open to members and non-members.

Additional Activities:
Millbrook Marsh Nature Center socially distanced, weekly bird walks; Tuesdays 8:00-9:30AM, beginning March 23 through April 26.

Great Backyard Bird Count: A major annual citizen science effort, the GBBC, is scheduled for Feb. 12-15. Information can be found online at and a nice article about the GBBC in the CDT written by Mark Nale can be found at


Christmas Bird Counts were conducted in late December. Bob Fowles gave a brief summary of the 2020 State College CBC for which Jen Lee and he were the compilers. Jen posted the detailed results on our listserv. Despite the challenging conditions with 6-18 inches of snow on the ground, 67 species with a total of 7746 individual birds were counted Having started in 1940, this was the 81st year for the State College CBC. It is among the nine longest continuously running sites in PA. For complete listing see our website, and more information is on Audubon’s website:

Congratulations to Greg Grove for the recent publication of his article using Winter Raptor survey data in The Ibis, international journal of avian science.

Interesting Bird Sightings: Greg Grove’s Summary
(Dec 9, 2020-Jan 27, 2021)
The most unusual sighting during this period was a Black-legged Kittiwake seen at Bald Eagle State Park, a first for central PA. Short-eared Owls are being reported in a few scattered locations where extensive unmowed fields exist. During the last few years, Peregrine Falcons appear to be increasing in frequency during the winter; this year being regularly reported in State College as well as Huntingdon and Lock Haven. This appears to be an above average year for Northern Shrikes sightings, being reported in their typical BESP location as well as several other locations. Among the winter finches, the most unusual is the Hoary Redpoll in Park Forest that has been enjoyed by many birders for the past several weeks. Purple Finch, Common Redpoll, Evening Grosbeaks, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Pine Siskins and Lapland Longspur have all been reported. Unusual sightings of birds typically thought of as summer birds in this region, included Baltimore Oriole, Black and White Warbler, Ovenbird and an extreme rarity in winter, a Wood Thrush on Dec 31.

Speaker: Robyn Graboski: “Get the Lead Out”

Robyn Graboski, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, is founder and executive director of Centre Wildlife Care (CWC). Along with a staff of over 50 volunteers supported primarily by donations, Robyn oversees the care of over 2000 compromised wild animals (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) per year with the goal of releasing them back to the wild. Wildlife rehab permits from the PA Game Commission, PA Fish and Boat Commission, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA also allow Robyn to provide extensive educational outreach, including a segment on WTAJ-TV called “Wildlife Wednesdays”, using animals unable to be released back into the wild.

Robyn discussed the effects of lead poisoning she has seen on a wide variety of wildlife brought to CWC (including vultures, eagles, hawks, crows, ravens, waterfowl, gulls, herons, turkey and possum). The use of both lead ammunition and fishing tackle can result in lead poisoning in wildlife. When shot, lead ammunition fragments upon impact with the target and scatters through the tissue. Even lead ammunition with a copper jacket shatters and releases lead fragments into the body.

Lead poisoning is especially prevalent in scavengers such as vultures and eagles that feed on the carcasses or remains of animals killed through hunting or fishing activities. Waterfowl are also susceptible to lead poisoning because they often consume shotgun pellets, bullet fragments, and fishing sinkers made of lead. Lead is broken down in the gizzard or stomach then absorbed into blood and other tissues. Birds are more susceptible to lead poisoning because of the longer period of time that ingested lead remains in a bird’s digestive system as compared to that of mammals.

There is no acceptable level of lead in any animals or humans; there is no such thing as “background level”. This is the reason that lead paint and leaded gasoline have been eliminated. Even small amounts of lead in a bird’s digestive system can be harmful. A Tundra swan brought to CWC for rehab had one lead pellet in its gizzard which was enough to kill this bird. Bans in the 1990’s on the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl in North America have helped reduce lead exposure in waterfowl species.

Signs of lead poisoning in wildlife include weakness, uncoordinated movement, seizures, loss of appetite, appearing to be blind, anemia and secondary infections due to suppressed immune system. These are the same symptoms seen in West Nile Virus (WNV) and many birds that have lead poisoning also have WNV due to immune system suppression.

In 2013 Robyn was able to purchase a blood lead machine which gives results in 5 minutes to determine blood lead level in compromised animals brought to CWC. Every adult eagle that has been brought into CWC exhibits some level of lead poisoning. Bald eagles are especially in peril of lead poisoning because they scavenge as well as eat fish that may be exposed to lead tackle. Robyn sees a higher prevalence of lead poisoning in the winter when scavengers such as bald eagles are feeding on hunter kills. On the other hand, young and recently fledged eagles brought to CWC typically do not exhibit lead poisoning because they have been fed fresh, not scavenged prey, but instead have WNV. Likewise, owls are not often seen with lead toxicity because they eat fresh kills.

If you find a wild animal that is compromised and wish to help it, there are important steps to follow. First carefully contain the animal. Call a professional ASAP such as CWC [(814) 692-0004]. Do not handle or feed the animal and do not keep checking on it or bothering it. Keep the animal warm if possible. For more information, see the CWC website,

The solution to lead poisoning due to the use of lead in hunting and fishing is to ban lead and switch to steel or copper ammunition. However, this is a political mine field because the NRA has framed it as an antihunting issue. Steel and copper ammunition is more expensive than lead and is not readily available at gun shops in PA. The PA Game Commission has done extensive lead poisoning research and is fairly progressive in their stance on the issue. See Pa Game commission webinar, and information sheet

To donate to the important work that Centre Wildlife Care is doing for wildlife rescue go to:
(This zoom presentation will be available on CWC’s youtube account.)