Next 3RBC Membership Meeting

Kathy Miller & Linda Arthur
Kathy Miller (r) with Linda Arthur (l)
in Papua New Guinea

We'll Enjoy Papua New Guinea's
Exotic Birds on June 6

Papua New Guinea soared to the top of Kathy Miller's birding bucket list when she learned that nearly 800 species of birds have been recorded there, including more than 30 species of Bird-of-Paradise. She spent August 2017 in Papua New Guinea together with her sister and frequent birding companion, Linda Arthur. Sixteen different Birds-of-Paradise were among the 247 species of avifauna they recorded during their visit. Kathy will share her experiences in PNG at our June 6 meeting.
Kathy has been an avid birder for 40 years. A native of Richmond, Virginia, she and her sister first began observing birds in the 1970's on their frequent trips to the Outer Banks. An internship and subsequent job in Galveston, Texas exposed Kathy to the rich diversity of birds along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and ignited the interest in birds that still burns in her today.
Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise Traveling with either her sister or her husband, Tom Brown, Kathy has birded on every continent but Antarctica, and in much of the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii. Recently retired, Kathy and Tom now often visit parks and refuges in their motorhome, Archie the RV, while also seeing as much of the rest of the world as they can. They always return home to the North Hills of Pittsburgh for the spring warbler migration and the sweet days of summer.
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.

[Raggianna Bird-of-Paradise]

Future Programs:

  • 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? (5/21/2018)

   The May/June 2018 issue of The Peregrine is now available. Also, see additional photos of Tom Moeller's 'Observations' column on Observing Backyard Birds (PDF).

   As we announced at our April 4 meeting, our members may choose NOT to receive a paper copy of our newsletter The Peregrine, in order to reduce clutter, save trees, or protect the environment. If you only want to view our newsletter online, please email Tom Moeller at thosjmoel@gmail.com and ask him to put you on the "online only" list to NO LONGER receive paper copies of The Peregrine.
Our membership rates remain the same with this change. It is your preference whether or not to receive the paper copy of the newsletter.

   Please read the Membership Meeting Minutes from April 4, 2018, when Tom Stephenson, co-author of The Warbler Guide, was the featured speaker.

   Bird Outings for May and June 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.

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
photo by Geoff Malosh
February 3, 2018

   Two Western Birds Made Their First Ever Visit to Pennsylvania

Two remarkable, beautiful, and super-rare visitors to western Pennsylvania in winter and spring 2018 thrilled birders who were lucky enough to see them: a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in February and a Varied Bunting in May. Both species were the first ever recorded in our state.

Shawn Collins learned of the rosy-finch at a friend's feeder in Meadville, Crawford County, on February 2, and arranged with the homeowners for birders to visit the house on a controlled schedule and watch the bird closely through a window. Photographers had a field day during its extended stay early in the month.

The bunting was present at a residential feeder only May 5-7 in Elizabeth, Allegheny County, and Dave Wilton coordinated arrangements for birders to visit the house. Its short stay allowed fewer birders to see it than the rosy-finch.

What brought these to Pennsylvania must remain a mystery. The rosy-finch breeds in the northwestern U.S. and Canada, and winters southward to New Mexico in the Rocky Mountain region. Why should it suddenly turn up here in mid-winter? Perhaps it was misoriented in its southbound migration in the fall and wandered around aimlessly during the early winter. Perhaps it was suddenly pushed eastward by a strong weather system. Or perhaps some other behavior was involved.

Varied Bunting
Varied Bunting
photo by Todd Hooe
May 7, 2018
The bunting's presence is unfathomable. This species breeds primarily in Mexico and reaches the U.S. in the breeding season only in the southernmost edges of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It is non-migratory, although it may withdraw slightly from those northern fringes of the range in the winter. The species is widely kept as a cage bird in Mexico, and the possibility that it flew here on its own is negligible. Did it somehow arrive in our region assisted accidentally or on purpose by humans? Again, we will never know.
For handy information about both of these species, follow the links to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website "All About Birds."
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Varied Bunting

Brooks Bird Club Foray

   The Brooks Bird Club 2018 Foray is Coming in June

The Brooks Bird Club Foray will take place in the high mountain areas of Pocahontas County in West Virginia, June 3-10. There will be trips to fantastic and beautiful areas for the best in upland warblers, thrushes, rare plants and much more. The location is roughly four hours from Pittsburgh, and over the years 180+ species have been seen there during 14 Forays.
For 6+ days of field trips, programs and camaraderie, the full time price is only $200. Daily rates are $35. Contact Ryan Tomazin for more information at wvwarblers@hotmail.com, or go to 2018 Foray for online registration forms.

PSO Logo

   PSO Meeting coming this September in Crawford County
Watch out for the upcoming registration for the annual Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) meeting September 14, 15 and 16!
This year we travel to Crawford County and target sites for field trips will be the Conneaut Marsh area, Linesville Fish Hatchery and Miller Ponds/Game Commission Management Area among other sites.
The Saturday evening banquet speaker is Dr. Ronald Mumme, professor of biology at Allegheny College for 25 years. He began his study on the hooded warbler in 2010 and one aspect of his studies has been the startling of insects as an important foraging technique. The bird flashes its brightly colored tail feathers to startle the insects and catches them when they attempt to fly away.
Saturday afternoon events will include other talks and several vendors.
Click on the link for more information as it comes available: PSO Events.

   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!

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

   SANTA ANA REPRIEVE?
(Peregrine editor Paul Hess received this message from “The Birding Community E-Bulletin” on a topic of interest to 3RBC members who visit the Rio Grande Valley. This monthly newsletter has much of interest to birders. Check it out and register free at tinyurl.com/E-bulletinSIGNUP.)

Birders, refuge friends, and conservationists of all stripes have been watching developments at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge for almost a year, concerned that plans for construction of a huge border wall would be accelerated, possibly isolating or destroying valuable habitat in the Refuge System in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. We summarized much of the dire concern in the February issue: tinyurl.com/Feb18Ebulletin.
Last month, when the 2,232-page omnibus spending bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, it contained a particular short sentence in reference to The Wall: "None of the funds provided in this or any other Act shall be obligated for construction of a border barrier in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge."
Thus, the long, contentious, and unexpected struggle over The Wall at bird-rich Santa Ana seems to have come to a close. The spending bill includes $1.6 billion for border barriers and technology, with restrictions on the kind of construction that can be done to only existing fencing, but Santa Ana NWR is essentially exempt. "The bill is very explicit in keeping any new border walls from going up in Santa Ana," said Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club Borderlands. "I think we were successful in making walling off Santa Ana politically toxic."
Originally, the Santa Ana border wall was looking like a pilot project for other sections of the wall, if only because the land was federally owned and a place where a wall might be easily built. In addition, the Administration had issued bidding guidelines that drew on elements of eight prototypes that were each about 30 feet (9.1 meters) high, much higher than existing barriers.
But the reprieve may be temporary. "This bill stated that there wasn't going to be any funding allotted for this year, but that doesn't mean that, that may not happen next year," said RGV No Border Wall organizer Melinda Melo.
Moreover, the threat still looms for other Lower Rio Grande Valley locations like the National Butterfly Center, Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, La Lomita chapel, and home-and-farm properties owned by individuals along the Rio Grande.
The border wall battles over habitat in the Lower Rio Grande Valley will surely continue.
(Photo: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flying at Santa Ana NWR)

Screech-Owl Hole

   YIKES! THE SCREECH-OWL HAS DISAPPEARED AGAIN!!

Actually, the screech-owl video has only moved to our brand new VIDEO PAGE! Click on "Videos" in the Side Menu to find the owl and two new videos by members: one on the whistle a robin makes to warn of danger, and the second on how a robin forages through dead leaves in the springtime.

We hope you enjoy this new page, and we hope that you can contribute to it too.

    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.




Bird Species Lists of Recent Outings
See 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).

   View the 54 species seen on the YELLOW CREEK STATE PARK outing (April 7) plus photos on eBird: Yellow Creek List.

   View the 32 species seen on the FRICK PARK outing (April 29) on eBird: Frick Park List.

   View the 16 species seen on the SCHENLEY PARK outing (April 29) on eBird: Schenley Park List.

   View the 56 species seen on the SEWICKLEY HEIGHTS PARK outing (May 4) as a PDF: Sewickley Heights List (PDF).

   View the 60 species including 14 warblers seen on the HARRISON HILLS outing (May 5) on eBird: Harrison Hills List.

   View the 60 species including 12 warblers seen on the PRESQUE ISLE STATE PARK outing (May 11) on eBird: Presque Isle List.

   View the 71 species including photos and recorded songs seen on the DEER LAKES REGIONAL PARK outing (May 12) on eBird: Deer Lakes List.

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.

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.

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

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 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