Next 3RBC Membership Meeting

Tom Stephenson
Tom Stephenson
in Bhutan

Hard to ID Warblers?
Try Listening to Them
An Expert Will Tell Us How

Just in time for spring migration - warbler time! - we have an opportunity to learn more about identifying our migrating and breeding warblers. It is by recognizing their voices.
Our speaker at the Three Rivers Birding Club meeting on Wednesday, April 4, will be Tom Stephenson, a top-rank international birder and warbler expert. His program is "The Warbler Guide: A New System for Identifying and Learning Vocalizations," and every one of us will find something to learn.
Tom says, "Identifying the warblers and other species singing in the field is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying aspects of birding. However, learning and remembering the important ID points of difficult and similar vocalizations can be challenging."
His lecture will cover many new techniques that make it easier to identify singing warblers and other species. It will first cover how to understand and use sonograms to learn what makes a vocalization unique and how to differentiate similar-sounding species.
Based on a new system outlined in his acclaimed book The Warbler Guide, Tom will explain and demonstrate how understanding a song's structure, and the characteristics of the elements and phrases that make up a song, can speed up the identification process and make it easier to remember all kinds of vocalizations. He will also discuss how to use a song finder to quickly identify a singing warbler using the objective, easy-to-hear qualities of a song.
Warbler Guide Cover The Warbler Guide (Princeton University Press 2013) was an instant best-seller to birders. His upcoming BirdGenie app will help to identify over 150 vocalizations in eastern and western U.S. by smart phone.
Tom also has an on-line article about identifying birds by song on the national Audubon website: "How to Memorize Bird Songs by Using Mental Images". Check it out!
Tom will be happy to sign any copies of The Warbler Guide our members bring in, but we will not have copies available for sale. The Audubon Nature Store at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve will be carrying extra copies of the Guide for purchase between now and the meeting date, April 4.
The meeting will be held at the Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Avenue in Shadyside. Doors open at 6:30 PM for socializing, a business meeting begins at 7:30; the program starts at 8:00.

Future Programs:

  • June 6, 2018 — Kathy Miller will show photos of the birds and the people of Papua New Guinea.
  • August 1, 2018 —: Phil Chaon of Tropical Birding will present "Mealworms and Megas: Photography and the Changing Face of Birding in South East Asia"
  • October 3, 2018 — Bill Beatty will present "Rainbows, Bluebirds and Buffleheads"
  • December 5, 2018 — Annual "Slide Slam" of members' best photos - always a treat to see!

What's New? (3/16/2018)

   The March/April 2018 issue of The Peregrine is now available. Also, see additional photos of Tom Moeller's 'Observations' column on Cavity Nesting Birds (PDF).

   Please read the Membership Meeting Minutes from February 21, 2018, when David Yeany was the featured speaker.

Bird Outings for March, April, and May 2018 have been posted on our Outings page.

   2017 was a very busy year for the Three Rivers Birding Club! Mike Fialkovich has compiled a summary of the club's 2017 activities and has also compiled the 2017 Birds Reported in Allegheny County summary.

   Our Donations Make A Difference!
Three Rivers Birding Club donated $250 each to two organizations early this year – Wildbird Recovery in Valencia, PA and the Purple Martin Preservation Alliance in Natrona Heights, PA. Both organizations have expressed their written gratitude to the club and told us how they would use their new funds.
Wildbird Recovery will use their gift to continue their bird rehabilitation work as conveyed in this quote from a newspaper article about them, "Hundreds of birds are back in the sky, filling Allegheny and the surrounding counties with song, thanks to Nature’s guardian angles."
The Purple Martin Preservation Alliance will use their gift to replace an old gourd rack in need of repair at the Harrison Hills Park Environmental Learning Center with a new Purple Martin house, guaranteed to be fully occupied in the coming Purple Martin season.
We are very pleased that our donations are benefiting the birdlife in the area!

Raptors Row Riders

   2018 RAPTORS ROW RIDE is coming on April 28 This year the Steel Valley Trail Council's (SVTC) annual ride on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is scheduled to be a ride to celebrate the 2017 success and to visit the five raptor nests that were found on a short 9 mile stretch of the trail last year. The nests included the Hays bald eagle nest, a great horned owl nest on the Homestead Grays Bridge (which is not active this year), a red tail hawk nest by the pump house, an osprey nest just past Kennywood and a kestrel nest in McKeesport. The SVTC is responsible for the portion of the trail from the Glenwood Bridge to the McKeesport/Duquesne Bridge.
The Raptors Row Ride is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018, and starts at Town Square in the Waterfront in Homestead (for directions Google "Starbucks Homestead Waterfront"). Roy Bires, a 3RBC member and also a member of the SVTC, talked about the planned ride at the December 3RBC meeting asking for 3RBC volunteers with scopes to be stationed at the various nests along the trail.
We think there will be greater interest in this ride as the last stop of the ride is the Hays bald eagle nest which currently has three eggs. You can refer to the SVTC's website at or the Steel Valley Trail Council's Facebook page for the current status of the ride. Roy Bires will address this issue at the April 3RBC meeting. You can also refer to the 3RBC website and Facebook page for updates on the status of the ride.
A number of 3RBC members have volunteered to be positioned at the various nest sites with their scopes and binoculars to point of the nest sites and any raptors that might be in the area.

Biggest Week in American Birding 2018   Biggest Week in American Birding 2018 is coming!!
Magee Marsh in May has been the destination for scores of Pittsburgh area birders, off and on for over 20 years. A 20-warbler-species-day is common enough there that many of us have enjoyed one, with plenty of individual birds, and many close enough to render binoculars superfluous. On almost every trip there are swarms of shorebirds, other Neotropical migrants, and the scarce, but regular, appearance of a few rarities like Connecticut and Kirtland's Warblers and phalaropes. An hour or two side trip to Oak Openings Metropark, where Lark Sparrows and Red-headed Woodpeckers are easy finds, is always in the cards.
Using the Three Rivers Facebook page, Susie and Jack Solomon hope to revive the old traditions of having a few group dinners in the area. Watch that site for news of 3RBC dinners and other gatherings.
Jack says of the Biggest Week festival, "It is so chock full of outstanding speakers, terrific guided tours, and the assistance of plentiful experts located along the famous boardwalk, whose help is free and available whether or not you register for the festival, that Susie and I have signed up for every Biggest Week ever since its inception. It was where we met Noah Stryker and recruited him as a speaker for 3RBC."
Find out more at Biggest Week in American Birding 2018. We hope you plan to go to the Biggest Week whether for a day, a weekend, or for the entire time. You'll find it is well worth the trip.

Festival of the Birds

    2018 Festival of the Birds in Erie, PA runs from May 18-20!
Birding festivals in May do not end after the Biggest Week in American Birding! The 2018 Festival of the Birds begins in Erie on Friday, May 18, 2018, and runs that weekend through Sunday. Dr Drew Lanham
Small group (12-15 persons) field trips to Presque Isle's hottest birding spots are planned for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Workshops to be given on Saturday include "Birding for Beginners," "Waterfowl on Presque Isle," "Shorebird ID," and more.
The keynote Speaker will be Drew Lanham, a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist. His address is titled: "Ornitherapy - Confessions of a Lapsed Lister and a Life Saved by Birds."
The festival is hosted by Presque Isle Audubon Society and PA DCNR. For more information visit the Festival’s website at

    New Discoveries Made in Research Based on Bird Behavior
Two recent news stories dealt with scientific research into bird behavior. One was concerned with the effects of pecking into wood on the brains of woodpeckers as relating to research into human concussions. Pileated WoodpeckerThe second story explained how observers determined that Florida flamingos were not extinct as widely believed, but that the flamingos they kept seeing in Florida were, indeed, living and breeding in remote areas of the state.
The article about woodpeckers was titled "Surprising findings in what really happens to a woodpecker's brains that mimics the impact of human concussions," written by John Hayes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This article was based on a research paper: "Why Do Woodpeckers Resist Head Impact Injury: A Biomechanical Investigation." authored by six researchers.
Florida Flamingos The discovery of Florida's flamingos was an NPR news story on March 6, 2018: "Florida's Long-Lost Wild Flamingos Were Hiding In Plain Sight." It too is based on a research paper in the American Ornithological Society's publication The Condor: "Status and trends of American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) in Florida, USA," authored by seven researchers.
Click on each title above to read the complete story or research paper.

Kate St. John with Todd Award

   Kate St. John is This Year's Winner of the W.E. Clyde Todd Award
Congratulations to Kate St. John, this year's recipient of the W.E. Clyde Todd Award, presented by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania on December 7, 2017. The award was established in 1971 and is given to an individual in recognition of outstanding effort to further the cause of conservation in Pennsylvania.
Kate writes a daily blog "Outside My Window" about happenings in Nature and well as contributing to the "Bird Files" of The Allegheny Front, a public radio program and website covering environmental issues. She leads monthly nature walks in Pittsburgh parks, and helps monitor the Peregrine Falcons at the Cathedral of Learning.
Kate also worked with the Save Hays Woods Coalition in 2006 to stop strip mining proposed in the area, making the area safe for the Hays eagles to find a home there in 2013. Plus, there are a host of other projects to which she has contributed.
In accepting the award, Kate credited both Chuck Tague and Esther Allen, who gave her inspiration and encouragement, for setting glowing examples to aim for in educating people to be aware of Nature, understand it, enjoy it, and preserve it.
(photo by Ramona Sahni)

Installing the EagleCam

   A New, Improved EagleCam Has Been Set Up at the Hays Nest
PixController, the company which provides the camera for the Hays EagleCam, has installed a new camera over the replacement nest built last February when the tree with the second nest fell in a storm. See John Hayes article on this new, improved camera along with a short video featuring Brian Shema of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania: Close Watch.

See the new camera in action 24 hours a day at this link: Hays EagleCam.
See also the 24-hour Harmar Bald Eagle nest at this link: Harmar EagleCam.

Bird Species Lists of Recent Outings

   View the 74 species seen on the BUFFALO CREEK (PABK) 15th CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT on December 17 as compiled by Larry Helgerman, area leader: Buffalo Creek CBC Species List (PDF).

   View the 63 species seen on the PITTSBURGH CITY CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT on December 30 as compiled by Mike Fialkovich, area leader: Pittsburgh City CBC Species Checklist (PDF).
See also Mike Fialkovich's compilation of the species and count totals of the Pittsburgh City CBC's from 2000 to 2017 at this link: Pittsburgh City CBC Totals 2000-2017 (PDF).

Items to Note!

Hear Noah Strycker's October 4 Presentation
Noah Strycker

Noah Strycker's program at our October 4, 2017 membership meeting was one of the best and most well-attended presentations in our history. Not every speaker does, but Noah allowed us to record his program and make it available to our members who were not able to be there for it. His enthusiasm, humor, and engaging manner come through very well on this taped presentation. There are none of his spectacular photos, unfortunately, but the audio recording is still entertaining.
Use the audio controls below to hear Noah Strycker's complete 70-minute presentation given at the 3RBC meeting on October 4, 2017.

Longer Articles are Still Available
Read Kathleen Siebert's article on her journey to Ecuador Take the "Sun Route" to Enjoy Ecuador's Avian Wealth, and Geoff Malosh's tale of chasing the sun's eclipse A Different Kind of Chase: Not for Birds This Time.

Powdermill featured in Birding magazine
Paul Hess, our editor of The Peregrine, also writes a column - "News and Notes" - for the American Birding Association's Birding magazine. See his June 2017 column which includes a look at the work done at Powdermill Nature Reserve in Westmoreland County. The column also covers eggs of the Common Murre and the Black Rail. The piece on Powdermill is the third part of Paul’s column.

Snail Kite

Things Looked Bleak Until Snail Kites Rapidly Evolved Bigger Beaks Over a 13 Year Span!
See more details of this heartening news as the numbers of Snail Kites rebound in the Florida Everglades.
Snail Kites

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Be sure to visit our club's Facebook page for up-to-date news on happenings with the club, member photos, or links to other birding sites.

Thanks to Jack Solomon for compiling a list of all the 3RBC Speakers from 2001 to December 2017.

A Birding Interview with the Bobs: Robert C. Leberman and Robert S. Mulvihill

Subscribe to Bird Watcher's Digest — Not a subscriber to Bird Watcher's Digest? Why not subscribe and the club will receive 50% of the subscription fee.

PSO Pileated

Pennsylvania Birds — See what you've been missing! The Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) publishes previews of the current issue of Pennsylvania Birds online, which consist of the cover, table of contents, and a featured article. Anyone who does not subscribe or perhaps does not even know about PSO can now actually see a little bit of what they've been missing, and hopefully be encouraged to join PSO!

Let's Have a Young Birders Club in Pittsburgh!

On Jan. 8, 2017, at 1:30 pm, a meeting was held at the Frick Environmental Center to see who was interested.  FEC and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy graciously provided Jack Solomon a room to hold this meeting. The most important purpose in setting up this meeting was to find out if there was anyone around who would step up and make this club happen.
See more on the progress in forming this club in the February 1, 2017 meeting minutes, on page 12 of the March/April 2017 issue as well as on page 5 of the September/October 2017 issue of The Peregrine.

Young Birders Get-together A successful Young Birders Get-Together (PDF) was held November 11, 2017 at Frick Environmental Center. Details of the event can be found on the club's Facebook page and on page 11 of the January/February 2018 issue of The Peregrine..

The Young Birders Club is gaining momentum! An outing is being planned for March at Pymatuning State Park in Linesville, Crawford County. Here are the details:
Pymatuning State Park represents one of the best places in Pennsylvania to observe migrating waterfowl and raptors like Bald Eagles. Participants and their parents will meet at the former Wildlife Learning Center on the Linesville side of the park, just up from the spillway. Ages should be from 8 to 18. Parents must be present and arrange transportation for their children. Bald Eagle
Where: Pymatuning State Park Linesville / Old Wildlife Learning Center location - Click for interactive map.
Date: March 24, 2018 from 8am to 12 pm
This event is free.
Contact Chris Kubiak at or 412-963-6100 for more information on registration and other questions.

The Ohio Young Birders Club is held up by National Audubon as a leading example of a club for young birders.
Here's some valuable information about how to go about forming a young birders club Young Birders Club Toolkit (PDF).

Image Gallery

Mission of 3RBC

To gather in friendship, to enjoy the wonders of nature and to share our passion for birds!

© Photo Credits:
Sherron Lynch, Brian Shema, Chuck Tague