Whip-Poor-Will Newsletter of the State College Bird Club, Inc.



Volume 12 Winter 1998


April 22, 1998 (Wednesday)

Regular Meeting
7:30 p.m. - Schlow Library

Program: "The Pennsylvania Herpetological Atlas Project: Rationale and Results to Date," by Dr. Art Hulse, Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • April 25, 1998 (Saturday)

    Field Trip -Bald Eagle State Park Big Day (waterfowl, spring migrants, etc.) Midnight ‘til midnight, but mostly in the morning.
    Meet at Skyline Drive Picnic Area at noon for checklist and lunch.

    Contact Harry Henderson for information

    May 9, 1998 (Saturday)

    Combined State College Big Day/North American Migration Count
    Midnight ‘til midnight

    See details inside or contact Eugene Zielinski for information

    May 27, 1998 (Wednesday)

    Regular Meeting

    7:30 p.m. - Schlow Library

    Program: "Exploring the Grand Circle: Five National Parks in Utah and Colorado," by Alice and Ted Fuller

    June 14, 1998 (Sunday)

    Field Trip - Breeding Birds of Forests and Bogs of Allegheny Front and Black Moshannon

    7:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. with picnic lunch at Black Moshannon.

    Meet at SE corner of K-Mart parking lot.

    Leader: Harry Henderson


  • Winter . . . into Spring


    by Tim O’Connell

    March 13, 1998


    What a fascinating winter we’ve enjoyed here in the Happy Valley! Despite the often spring-like weather, we’ve experienced an invasion of "winter finches" unlike any in recent memory. Both Red and White-winged crossbills have been reliable all winter, and often in fairly large flocks (100+ birds). Pine Siskins have been twittering in my urban backyard for weeks, and Evening Grosbeaks are scattered around as well. This past week, thousands of redpolls were spotted streaming over Tussey Mountain.

     Not to be outdone by the winter residents, our early spring migrants have returned in force. Greg Grove reported a phoebe on March 13, and I’ve heard woodcocks and Song Sparrows this week. Last week, everyone (not just birders) were talking about the big flocks of "geese" overhead: Canadas, Tundra Swans AND Snow Geese were seen in good numbers.

     And how ‘bout that Dave Brandes? It was just two weeks ago that he made a presentation to the Bird Club on the SPRING golden eagle migration in central Pennsylvania. When last I checked. Dave was on par to set a new record for spring Golden Eagle numbers at any site east of the Rockies for the second year in a row.

     As if the winter residents and temperate migrants aren’t enough, it will only be another three-four weeks before our long-distance migrants will return from their adventures in Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. The ebb and flow of seasonal bird movements never ceases to amaze me.

     As we hurtle toward the new millennium, and consider that about 50 people used the Internet when Bill Clinton took office in 1992, it’s easy to get caught up in the technological whirlwind. We may embrace the new technologies and spend more time "virtual" birding than actual birding. (I’m guilty.) We may reject their frenzied pace of technology and development, and spend more time lamenting declines in bird numbers than getting out to enjoy the birds that are actually here. (Also guilty.)

     Meanwhile the birds are doing what they’ve always done. A new milleniUM doesn’t seem like such a big deal when we consider that for milleniA crossbills and redpolls have wandered through our area in search of cone-bearing trees. The honks and bugles of geese and swans echoed through the Happy Valley long before there were any people here to hear them. For all we know the real spring Golden Eagle record on Tussey Mountain was set some time in the year 1998 BC by a young warrior in search of feathers for some ancient ceremony. That first Scarlet Tanager you see this spring has just completed a journal begun by one of his ancestors when mammoths may still have wandered the Arctic tundra.

     Don’t be distracted by the ever-quickening pace of human life in the 20th Century: Nature’s rhythm isn’t likely to change any time soon. Let’s get out there and join in the dance.

     - Tim



    North American Migration Count


    Saturday, May 9 (the day before Mother’s Day) will be the day for this year’s North American Migration Count. I’m sure most of you know what the migration count is, but just in case you don’t, it is sort of like a Christmas Count in May. Groups of birders, or single observers, cover an assigned area and note the bird species and numbers of individuals they find there. The migration count does differ from a Christmas Count in a number of ways, though. The area covered is not a circle of 15 miles in diameter, but a whole county (in this case, Centre County), and the count takes place on the same day nationwide. One of the really good things (or really bad things, depending on your point of view) is that you can find many more species on the migration count. Also, you don’t have to worry too much about frostbite or taking your mittens off to use your binoculars.

     There are several ways to "do" the count. Most participants cover a rather large area by foot or car; this is known as regular birding. Others may keep track of birds in their backyard (a feeder watch) or some other interesting location, such as a hawk watch (this is known as stationary birding.) Several participants look for birds after dark; this is called night birding, and yields not only owls, but also Whip-poor-wills, American Woodcock and even cuckoos.

     I’ll be the Centre County compiler this year, and the state coordinator will be none other than former Bird Club president Ted Floyd. If you are interested in the count, feel free to talk to me at one of the meetings or use the address and phone number listed below to contact me. Thanks!

    Eugene Zielinski



    Avian Anecdotes


    Brown Creepers! I love them!

    Brown Creepers! I love them! I can't help myself from attributing words such as "cute" to them, even though I know it is not the birders thing to do. I once read a description of a creeper that referred to them as "drab" and "uninteresting" and I felt it was a totally unjustified description. We'd seen all of our regular birds on this snowy day except the brown creeper. As we watched the nuthatches really banging away at the frozen suet, we debated over whether the brown creeper could eat it. "They have such delicate beaks," Joe recalled. We'd been seeing them around regularly in the couple of weeks since we'd put out the suet feeders, but hadn't really seen them spending any time on the suet itself. As we chatted and watched, as if by the power of wishing it to happen, a creeper showed up! His feeding behavior had a new formula from the one I was familiar with -- an interesting adaptation to its normal feeding routine. Creepers like to be on the move, creeping up, up, up the tree, then swooping down to the bottom of a neighboring tree, and up, up, up again picking for food along the way. So how to feed at a stationary source? Feed on the suet a bit - pick, pick, pick (moving all about,) then proceed up the trunk picking along the way. Fly down to the bottom of the SAME tree, and pick, pick, pick, up to the suet! Repeat several times before moving on. The creeper made several more of these visits during the next 45 minutes, each one about 6 minutes apart, and each time making several "passes" at the suet before flying off. We haven't seen a creeper do this again since that day, although they still visit from time to time.

    - Loanne Snavely



    Bird Notes

    August 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998


    Abbreviations: BESP = Bald Eagle State Park, CL = Colyer Lake, SB = Scotia Barrens

     One RED-THROATED LOON at BESP on 11/15 (GY,SY). One RED-NECKED GREBE was at BESP on 2/1 (JF). A fairly late DOUBLE-CR. CORMORANT was at BESP on 11/16 (BS). An imm. BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was near Boalsburg on 11/9 (DB,AN,PR).

     On 11/9, a large gathering of waterfowl (at least 26 species) at Colyer Lake included 9 BRANT, 13 BLACK SCOTERS, 3 SURF SCOTERS, and 4 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS (AF,TFu,PR,AR,DB,AN,NB). Other waterfowl species there that day included 150+ TUNDRA SWANS, 119 CANADA GEESE, 8 WOOD DUCKS, 4 GREEN-WINGED TEALS, 10 BLACK DUCKS, 16 MALLARDS, 15 GADWALLS, 20 AM. WIGEONS, 40 CANVASBACKS, 3 REDHEADS, 158 RING-NECKED DUCK, 110+ scaup spp., 125 BUFFLEHEADS, 21 RED-BR. MERGANSERS, 25 HOODED MERGANSERS, 50 RUDDY DUCKS, and 18 AM. COOTS. Two BLACK SCOTERS were at CL on 11/23 (AR,PR).

     Spring 1998 Waterfowl

    Flights of TUNDRA SWANS began in late Feb. with flocks totaling 2500 noted on 2/28 over Howard (BS). 150 T. Swans were along Old Gatesburg and Nixon Rds. on 3/1 (RH), and 56 were at Scotia Pond on 3/2 (MD). A flock of approx. 40 SNOW GEESE was heard over State College on 2/28 (MM). 2 WOOD DUCKS were along Gatesburg Rd. on 3/3 (JP,BP), and a pair of N. PINTAILS was at Scotia Pond on 3/2 (MD). Two CANVASBACKS were seen at CL on 3/10 (BT). At CL on 3/13, 20 T. SWANS, 26 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 20 scaup sp. and 2 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were observed (BT). At Scotia Pond on 3/16 there were 95 T. SWANS and 30 RING-NECKED DUCKS (DC). At CL on 3/22: 2 HORNED GREBES, 30 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 20 scaup sp., 1 OLDSQUAW, 4 C. GOLDENEYES, and 15 RED-BR. MERGANSERS (GK,BR). Among the many waterfowl species reported at BE on 3/26 were 3 BLUE-WINGED TEAL (TF).

     Waterfowl at Lake Perez on 3/29 included a pair of HORNED GREBES, an OLDSQUAW, and a group of RING-NECKED DUCKS, LESSER SCAUP, and BUFFLEHEADS (GC).

     The 122 GOLDEN EAGLES observed during the fall at the Bald Eagle Mt. Hawkwatch established a new season record, with 20+ GOLDEN EAGLES being observed on 11/16, 11/24, 11/27, and 12/1 (DBr). Also notable were the 402 RED-TAILED HAWKS observed on 10/28 at BEMt. (DBr). 20 GOLDEN EAGLES and 2 BALD EAGLES were seen on 3/6 at Tussey Mt. Hawkwatch (DBr). Spring totals for Tussey Mt. Hawkwatch through the end of March include 9 BALD EAGLES and an impressive 94 GOLDEN EAGLES (DBr).

     A single WILLET was at BESP on 8/18 for the 7th area record (PS,GS). An imm. WILSON'S PHALAROPE was at Gatesburg Pond on 8/18 (PR,TO,AF). 8 GREATER YELLOWLEGS were at BESP on 11/8 (DD). 4 LEAST SANDPIPERS were along Tadpole Rd. on 8/21 (PR). 3 DUNLIN were at a small pond near State College PA on 10/28 (PR). 7 WOODCOCKS were heard and seen displaying in Scotia Barrens near State College, PA on the early date of 2/28 (JP,BP). 4 C. SNIPE were at Fairbrook Marsh on 2/1 (JP).

     6 CASPIAN TERNS were at BESP on 8/18 (PS,GS). Single N. SAW-WHET OWLS were heard in Spring Mills on 3/2 (JG,EG,LS) and in the SB on 3/8 (TO).

     One YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was in SB on 9/12 (PR). An E. PHOEBE was near McAlevys Fort on 3/13 (GG). Three TREE SWALLOWS were at BESP on 3/26 (TF). 16 AMERICAN PIPITS were at BESP on 11/15 (GY,SY), and one was there on 3/26 (TF).

     A PINE WARBLER seen on Penn State University campus on 12/21 was a new species for the State College CBC (DP,JB), and only the second December record for Centre County. The OVENBIRD present only for one day at a feeder in Spring Mills on 12/30 was an exceptional record (JG,EG,LS).

     Some of the more uncommon warbler species reported in the autumn included a KENTUCKY WARBLER in Lemont on 8/27 (PR), 2 MOURNING WARBLERS on 8/29; singles on 9/3 and 9/18 in State College (PR); 1 CONNECTICUT WARBLER near SB on 9/3, 1 on Marengo Road on 9/13, and 1 on 9/19 on Brush Valley Road (PR).

     The single CHIPPING SPARROW near McAlevys Fort on 3/30 was the first reported this spring (GG). Reports of LINCOLN'S SPARROWS included 5 on 9/18 near State College (PR), and 6 on 9/19 on Brush Valley Rd.(PR). Five SNOW BUNTINGS were seen along Bald Eagle Mt. on 11/27 (DBr).

    Small numbers of COMMON GRACKLES and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS arrived in the State College, PA area on 2/21. The great crossbill irruption reached Centre County in late November when 10-15 RED CROSSBILLS were observed at Bear Meadows on 11/23 (AR,PR), followed by 20 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS there on 12/14 (KM,DO,JB,DP). Both crossbill species were recorded on the State College CBC on 12/21 for the first time (58th count), with 17 WHITE-WINGED, 8 RED CROSSBILLS in Pine Grove Mills (AF,TFu,AN), 28 RED CROSSBILLS at Bear Meadows (EZ), and another 28 RED CROSSBILLS in the Pleasant Gap area (MH,MM). 35 RED and 35 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were seen in Spring Mills on 12/30 (JG,LS). WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were along Pine Swamp Rd. from 12/17 and then later both crossbill species were observed there by many birders through at least mid March. 35-40 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were reported appearing on hemlocks on PSU Campus 3/18 (NB,GG), and 3/24 (NEK). Reports of both crossbill species continued through the end of the period from many sites, although White-winged Crossbills outnumber Red Crossbills in recent reports.


    COMMON REDPOLLS were first reported along Little Shingletown Road in Rothrock State Forest on 12/14 (KM,DO,JB,DP) with 2 flocks totaling about 30 birds. About 75 REDPOLLS were seen there on 12/17 (DBr). Redpoll flocks also began appearing at Bear Meadows in mid December and remained through the end of the report period. A huge redpoll flock of 3000 to 5000 was observed on Tussey Mt. ridgetop on 3/7 (DBr) and 800 redpolls were seen there on 3/9 (NB).

    - John Peplinski


    Contributors: Joe Bishop, Nick Bolgiano, Dorothy Bordner, David Brandes (DBr), Debra Cochrane, Gary Cramer, Daniel Dunmore, Margaret Dunson, John Fedak, Ted Floyd, Alice Fuller, Ted Fuller (TFu), Greg Grove, Elody Gyekis, Joe Gyekis, Mark &Ruth Henry, Greg Keller, Nancy Ellen Kiernan, Katie Massey, Mike McCarthy, Alison Norris, Tim O'Connell, Dan Ombalski, John & Becky Peplinski, Diann Prosser, Amanda & Paul Rodewald, Brad Ross, Paul & Glenna Schwalbe, Loanne Snavely, Bob Snyder, Bill Toombs, George & Susan Young, Eugene Zielinski



    Florida Birding Chases Away

    PA Winter Blues!!


    by Bob Snyder

     Barb and I recently returned from a 10-day visit to South Florida and the Keys from February 2 through 11, We arrived in Orlando just in time to be greeted by the high winds and soaking rains from the latest storm created by the El Nino. The next morning greeted us with a mixture of sun and clouds and a Great Egret perched within sight of our motel door. We decided to skip Disney World, and made our way to the Ta Ki Ki motel in Ft. Myers via I-4. Along the way we saw Cattle Egrets (in field of cattle), and many Osprey nesting on special platforms attached to power line poles.

     Sanibel Island and the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge

     On the morning of February 5 around 7:30, Barb and I paid the modest $5 entrance fee, then drove and walked the five-mile "Wildlife Drive" in the well-known "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. The drive is a dirt road that passes through areas of mangrove thickets and an area of open water. The shallow water and area of mudflats along the drive offer great opportunity for observing and photographing birds. Though there were several other carloads of early birders, photographers and the curious, the birds were not too easily distracted by all of the human activity and provided us with a grand show! Looking up from taking some photos of a Louisiana Heron, I noticed that Barb was aiming her Pentax point-and-shoot at something off the raised roadbed and just out of sight. Her subject turned out to be a Great Egret standing just 10 feet away, and preening its feathers in the sunlight. That bird was quite a showoff and permitted several of we "more serious" photographers to get in close with our tripods and long lenses.

     Other birds we encountered along the Wildlife Drive include Greater Yellowlegs, White Ibis, American Coot, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbill and a flock of 20 Pied-billed Grebe (the most I've ever seen together) that took refuge among the mangrove roots. There also was a very tame Red-shouldered Hawk that had flown in from a nearby tree to perch on a sign post just three feet from where we had parked our car. Not bothered by all of the human activity, the hawk just sat there and let several photographers get some nice close-up photos. There were also quite a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and several sandpipers and peeps that I'll have to identify from my slides, since most of my attention was diverted to getting photos and not making use of my field guide and binoculars.

     Corkscrew Swamp: Audubon Sanctuary

     We arrived at the visitor’s center to Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp in mid-morning on a Friday, under a sky that was slowly darkening with rain clouds. Even though it was cloudy and light rain fell occasionally, there was still a good showing of birds. The main route through the sanctuary is a self-guided two-mile circuit over a raised wooden walk complete with guard rails. A shorter walk can be followed via a cutoff trail. The boardwalk takes the observer along a meandering path over a grassy marsh with spots of open water and then winds through the darker confines of the cypress woods.

     Our first bird was a Great Egret hunting in the tall marsh grass, and as we watched, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew above our heads to perch in a tree standing beside the boardwalk. As our walk brought us closer to the cypress swamp, an immature (white plumage) Little Blue Heron stalked its prey in the shallow water, quite indifferent to our presence. Then, just as we entered the forest, several Yellow-rumped Warblers were observed among the flowering bromeliads which were growing on the trunks of the cypress trees. A second Little Blue Heron, this time an adult in bluish plumage, provided us a grand show and the opportunity for photos as it hunted lizards among the cypress trunks. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker searched around the tree trunks for insects just inches from the boardwalk, as the ringing song of a Carolina Wren echoed through the understory shrubs to one side of the walkway.

     Stationed along the boardwalk were Audubon volunteers, who would point out where an interesting bird was perching. We stopped at three such places and were treated to excellent, close-up views of a solitary Whip-Poor-Will roosting on a branch just two feet above the floor of the swamp, and about 20 feet from the walkway, several adult and immature Yellow-crowned Night-Herons roosting in shrubs near the walkway, and a handsome Barred Owl who peered at us from the dark recess of the cypress branch on which it was perched. As we watched, the owl began a "call and answer" routine with another Barred Owl deeper into the cypress woods. Also, a rare moment of serendipity offered us a unexpected look into the personal drama of an Anhinga that just moments before had speared a small black catfish in the tea-colored water beneath the boardwalk. The bird appeared to be somewhat small for its race, and also appeared to have speared its prey through some cartilage and was having trouble removing the fish from its beak. The concept of "stepping on" the prey was undoubtedly an unknown concept to the hapless Anhinga. The bird tried to remove the speared fish for a long time, perhaps 15 minutes, while a gathering crowd of sympathetic humans watched, helpless to act. Finally, after working stubbornly with the catch, the bird got the fish off its beak and swallowed the meal head first. The reverberating call of a Pileated Woodpecker echoed through the light drizzle, and lingered in my thoughts as the "proverbial last word" on a such a fruitful outing, as we made our way down the last stretch of boardwalk toward to the visitor’s center.

     Though Corkscrew Swamp is known for Wood Storks, a refuge volunteer told us that the recent high water from El Nino had scattered the storks to the shallow waters outside the preserve. I did see several Wood Storks fly over the refuge during our walk, but they did not land. However, we were able to see and get some photos of Wood Storks after leaving the Sanctuary, as they were wading in a roadside drainage ditch.

     Everglades National Park

    Everglades National Park was third on our list for birding. The Park is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. I was especially anxious to see the park, since my last visit to the Everglades had been in 1988. Thanks to Hurricane Andrew, the Park Service has a brand new Visitors Center, complete with some pretty good displays and a great 3D diorama! Since our stay to the park was going to be limited to an afternoon, we decided to follow the park ranger’s lead and headed to the Anhinga Trail. This nature trail is a two-thirds mile "circular" walk on a raised wooden platform that takes you out over the freshwater ‘glades environment and passes by an allilgator slough. The boardwalk, though not a bone fide hiking path, permits photographers, families, and even serious birders (some in wheelchairs) to get great close-up views of many Everglades birds. We saw White Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga (several trees in the slough serve as a communal roost), Great White Heron, Great Blue Heron, Wood Stork, Brown Pelican, Snowy Egret, Common Moorhen (2), Purple Gallinule (2), Gray Catbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, an obliging Empidonax flycatcher that let me take several photos at close range, and of course, an Osprey or two. We also had some great views (and photo ops) of the local ‘gators as well.

     Florida Keys

    While staying on Key Largo, we took a glass-bottom boat ride out to the reef, but it was too murky (thanks to El Nino) to view the coral. However, as we were leaving the reef, I caught a glimpse of an immature Frigatebird with my 200mm lens, as it was working the reef shallows about 100 yards from the tour boat. I also had a great time photographing both Laughing Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls as they "raced" our boat against a very stiff head wind.

    Just about six miles west of the town of Key Largo, on the bay-side of the island in an unassuming hide-away off Highway 1, is the Florida Keys Bird Rehabilitation Center. The Center takes in all types of injured birds and maintains a series of cages, set on either side of a meandering boardwalk that allows visitors a close-up view of the patients and long-term residents. Injured birds range from Collared Doves and White-crowned Pigeons with torn crops from encounters with utility pole guy wires, hawks, owls and vultures with wing injuries, to several herons, egrets, Anhingas and pelicans injured by entanglement in fishing line or from internal injuries resulting from the swallowing of fishing lures and hooks. The organization subsists primarily on donations from local organizations and individuals. Interns, including some pre-med students, get acquainted with all phases of caring for injured birds at the facility, including surgery. Birds that recover are released, but can often be seen returning to the facility for a hand-out. It is not uncommon to walk along the boardwalk and see egrets perched in the mangroves, while a Great White Heron or Tricolored Heron stalks prey among the mangrove roots. A blind is provided near a small pond on the bay-side of the facility, where waterfowl sometime hunt for food. During our visit, a large flock of Brown Pelicans invaded the center’s confines and took to convenient perches on the boardwalk railing and even followed center volunteers around on the boardwalk, looking for a spare fish. You have to watch out for pelicans though, they can be somewhat temperamental creatures with terrible "bathroom manners."

     Deer Key and No-Name Key are home to the Key Deer, a tiny version of the white-tail. We drove to the Key Deer National Refuge on No-Name Key about an hour after sunrise and saw several Key Deer along one of the two-lane roads that crisscross the island. Several of the younger deer had numbered radio collars. The biggest problem for the deer is the motorist. Deaths from auto encounters are fast putting the little deer on the threatened list. Five had been killed during Janurary and early February alone. The death rate wasvery nearly one per week in 1997. Signs to alert motorists have been posted on all the roads on Deer Key and the speed limit in their immediate habitat is now 25 mph. The deer are very tame from years for tourist handouts and will permit you to approach very closely. They also probably consider the small town on Deer Key their home as well as the wooded land.

     We also got a fleeting glimpse of the White-crowned Pigeon on No-Name Key. Later that day we also had great close-up views of several Palm Warblers that were feeding on larvae among great piles of seaweed on the beach at Bahia Honda Key. The warblers were not afraid of us and permitted telephoto photography as close as ten feet while they foraged. As we continued our traveling down the Overseas Highway toward Key West, we saw many Brown Pelicans, Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants roosting on pilings, bridge railings or the utility wires. Ringed Turtle Doves were present in Key Largo and also seen walking about the streets in the historic wharf area of Key West. While "beach combing" for washed up "sea treasures" on the southern side of Key West, an immature Great Black-backed Gull and several Ruddy Turnstones took a turn down the surf line with us. Though our "get-away trip"to southern Florida and the Keys was often plagued by rainy, windy and chilly weather, we also had our fair share of sunny days and lots of opportunities to see and photograph many interesting birds, and also do some shopping! If you can get away, I’d recommend it highly, though don’t forget to take your rain gear!


    Programs in Review


     March 27, 1997. This evening’s program, entitled "The Way of the West," was a slide show of travel destination spots offered by Rocky Mountain Wilderness Adventures. Representatives Carol Falke and Leann Smith had pictures of the scenery and birds for a number of locations, including Bear Mountain Ranch in New Mexico, several sites in Alaska, areas along the Missouri River, and several ranches in Wyoming. If you are interested in these vacations, Rocky Mountain Wilderness Adventures can be reached through Omega Travel in State College.

     April 23, 1997. Greg Keller, a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State, presented a program on the birds of the National Parks of Pennsylvania. There are three such sites in the state: Gettysburg National Military Park, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, and Valley Forge National Historic Park. Greg has performed research at each site; the studies were focused on ways to assess wintering, breeding, and migrant bird populations. Habitats surrounding the sites and their effects on the parks’ birds were also discussed. A large part of the presentation was concerned with species that can be found at these National Parks: Red-headed Woodpeckers and Bobolinks at Gettysburg, Hooded Warblers and Barred Owls at Hopewell Furnace, and Yellow-throated Warblers and Eastern Kingbirds at Valley Forge. Greg talked about the best times of the year for birding at all three sites, and took questions from the audience at the end of the presentation.

     May 28, 1997. Dave Klute, a graduate student at Penn State, presented some of his research on habitat modeling for the American Woodcock. Dave’s discussion included the appearance, habits, and life history of the woodcock, as well as its distribution in the eastern and central U.S. He noted that these birds need a habitat with abundant earthworms, preferring second growth hardwood forests with open areas for courtship and breeding and bottomland hardwood forests for wintering. Both habitats are threatened by logging and development, which may explain why the woodcock population is in decline. Part of Dave’s research invovles looking at different landscape scales, and he discussed the effects of surveying large versus small areas in determining woodcock populations.

     September 24, 1997. Club President Tim O’Connell gave this evening’s presentation, a continuation of the bird trivia program started in 1996. This time around, Tim talked about three groups of birds: Gruiformes, which includes cranes and rails; Charadriiformes, which includes plovers, sandpipers, gulls, and alcids; and Columbiformes, which includes pigeons and doves. Besides have slides and information on such unusual (and unusually named) birds as the Double-striped Thick-knee, Fin-foot, and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, he also had obscure facts about more familiar birds, including the Dodo and Rock Dove. In fact, Tim had so much information that it is easy to imagine him giving a presentation at each meeting for the coming year--or more!

     October 22, 1997. The evening’s presentation, from Club member Mark Henry, concerned the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Mark started by getting some audience input on the importance of endangered species and biodiversity in general. He then talked about some of the species that have been helped by the act, including the American Alligator and Bald Eagle. This was followed by a videocassette presentation from the National Wildlife Federation which outlined the Federation’s plan to strengthen the ESA. Perhaps the most important aspect of this plan is increased community involvement in the implementation of the ESA on a local level. Many of the Federation’s proposals have been incorporated in House Bill 2351, which is supported by many conservation groups. Mark contrasted this bill with Senate Bill 1180 which, while better than legislation proposed in 1996, has a number of deficiences and apparently does not have the support of any conservation groups.

     November 12, 1997. Club member Bob Snyder presented a program on landscaping to attract birds. He noted that a diverse natural landscape attracts the the greatest variety of birds, and that the three most important factors for attracting birds are food, water, and cover. Bob discussed some principles of landscaping; namely, the placement of trees and shrubs to provide food and cover, and some ways to incorporate a source of water into the landscape. He then talked about the great number of trees and shrubs --evergreen and deciduous, fruiting and non-fruiting--for use in the backyard. He even included some plants for hummingbirds, and discussed some methods of predator control. Throughout the presentation, Bob showed slides of trees and shrubs, as well as the birds they could attract.


    January 28, 1998. Club member Amanda Dumin spoke on the birds of Belize. Amanda and her husband, SCBC Vice President Paul Rodewald, spent the winter months of 1995-96 in Belize studying the understory forest birds, along with the effects of gaps in the forest (created by logging) on bird behavior. In general, birds used the gaps more for foraging, but remained less often in them. Slides were shown of birds caught for banding, such as woodcreepers and wood wrens. Belize also has the second largest reef system in the world, and Amanda had pictures of the coast and some of the shorebirds found there.

    - Harry Henderson and Gene Zielinski






    John & Becky Peplinski

    Newsletter Editors