Bird Club Zoom Meeting
February 24, 2021
Presiding: Doug Wentzel
Recording: Peggy Wagoner Saporito
Treasurer’s report (Jean Miller): Spent $50 on last month’s
presenter and $760 to support Tussey Mountain Hawkwatch.
Deposited $690. (To send your annual dues by mail, see our website)
New Business / Announcements:
Shaver’s Creek Birding Cup will take place this year on May
1, 2021 in a socially distanced manner similar to 2020. Like last
year, it is open to everyone no matter what part of the world you
inhabit. Most awards will not be offered, but this year two awards
will be given; The Birding Boot (where team members remain outside
not using any motorized transport) and the Micro Cup (two
individuals from the same household or pod birding within a one
mile radius). All donations generated by the Birding Cup will
support the Lost Bird Project.
The Tussey Mountain hawkwatcher, Sean McLaughlin, has just
begun the season and has already, after only two days of
observation, seen 7 Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern
We will have SCBC elections for 5 positions in April;
President, Vice President, Secretary and two Board members. Doug
called for three volunteers to be on the nominating committee; if
interested contact Doug
This year’s topic for the Avian Education Seminar at The
Arboretum at Penn State will be: “The California Condor: Twenty
Years of Species Recovery – What to do with what we have learned”
presented by Chris Parish, director of The Peregrine Fund. This
will be a Zoom presentation on April 8 and requires
preregistration; see: https://arboretum.psu.edu/event/avian-education-seminar-chris-parish/.
Interesting Bird Sightings: Greg Grove’s Summary
(Jan 27- Feb 24, 2021; Centre and its contiguous counties)
Early signs of spring are just beginning to appear with a few
sightings of Tundra Swans and even 60 Snow Geese (which tend to
migrate more to the east of our region). Rough-legged Hawks have
been reported from around a dozen locations in our area.
Peregrines and Merlins seem to be more regularly seen over the
winter now as compared to 10 years ago, when they were a rarity.
Short-eared Owls made an appearance this past month in several
locations including the airport, Bald Eagle State Park and Sinking
Valley. Winter finches have had a modest eruption this year with
localized groups of Evening Grosbeaks, a few Red Crossbills and
more widespread Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins. The Hoary
Redpoll in Park Forest has continued to the present, providing
locals and travelers alike an opportunity to view it. Some
sightings of Snow Bunting and a couple of Lapland Longspurs have
There have been a number of interesting sightings of either very
early migrants or “half-hearty” birds (species that typically go
south for the winter, but a few individuals may stay around).
These include a few Eastern Phoebes, Ruby-crowned Kinglets (mainly
south of State College), Catbirds, Brown Thrashers and the
Northern Shrike at BESP. Also, Towhee, Chipping, Savannah and
recently Fox Sparrows have been reported. A few unusual winter
sightings of warblers have been reported, primarily south of State
College; including Black-and-White and Palm. On the other hand,
Yellow-rumped Warblers, that usually include a few individuals who
remain in our area during winter, have been rarely reported this
Speaker: Holly Merker: “Ornitherapy: For Your Body, Mind and
This zoom presentation can be viewed here.
As an environmental educator and birding guide, Holly has been
involved with many organizations devoted to birds and conservation
as well as therapy based on the benefits of birds and nature.
Along with Richard and Sophie Crossley, Holly has co-authored the
book Ornitherapy: For Your Body, Mind and Soul, available
early spring 2021. She described physical, emotional and spiritual
benefits of “Ornitherapy”, the mindful observation of birds. “Bird
watching is not only fun, but good for you”.
Birds are everywhere, accessible to everyone. Watching them for
even a few minutes can redirect our mind, distracting us from the
stress of daily life, having a tranquilizing effect. Supportive
communities and human connections can be built around our shared
love of birds and nature.
These benefits have been known for millennia by many cultures.
Today, the therapeutic value of immersing oneself in the natural
world is practiced in many places around the world. For example in
the UK, doctors prescribe Nature as a drug-free wellness plan and
Forest Bathing, done in Japan is expanding elsewhere. Especially
now with the pandemic, people are rediscovering the benefits of
nature and the outdoors.
Research shows that exposure to nature actively reduces stress,
depression, and anxiety, while helping build a stronger heart and
immune system. The benefits of exposure to nature through bird
watching or other outdoor activities include lower heart rate,
reduced stress hormone levels such as cortisol and adrenaline,
increased production of blood cells, reduced negative thinking
patterns, improved cognition, creativity and mental concentration.
Hearing bird song has been shown to release dopamine, the pleasure
hormone. Mindfully observing birds helps us slow down to be aware
of the moment, intentionally focusing and noticing the little
things, all to benefit the soul.
Through observation, we can learn not only about birds, but gain
insight into our own lives while exploring our connection to the
world around us. Watching birds is the perfect gateway to a
greater appreciation of nature, its stewardship and conservation.
Holly provided examples of individuals who shared their own
stories about how immersion in nature and ornitherapy benefited
their lives and helped them through difficult times, including
Holly’s own experience with defeating breast cancer, restoring her
health, mentally and physically.