Bimonthly Membership Meeting
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
7:30 PM — 10:00 PM
Phipps Garden Center, Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

Eighty-six individuals attended 3RBC's December annual "slide-slam" meeting, which featured photo presentations by several club members. Four individuals identified themselves as first time attendees.

President Bob VanNewkirk called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm and made the following two statements:

• "In 2001 Julia Pahountis-Opacic first constructed and developed the club's website with assistance from two other club members. Then-President Jack Solomon labeled Julia's monumental efforts as 'a first class birding club information treasure.' Over this past year, Treasurer Tom Moeller reached out to Julia and asked if he could assist her by updating the website with more and current information about a wide range of topics, from club news to birding in general. With Julia's consent, Tom devoted a lot of time and energy to adding to the club's information treasury. So I'm proud to announce tonight Tom Moeller, with Julia's blessing, is our new Three Rivers Birding Club webmaster."

• "Congratulations to bird club member Kate St. John who has been chosen by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania to receive its W. E. Clyde Todd Award. The award is given in recognition of her outstanding efforts to further the cause of conservation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Kate is very well known for her blog, Outside My Window. She also monitors the Peregrine Falcons at the University of Pittsburgh, and is a Bird Files contributor to The Allegheny Front. In her free time, she leads bird outings in Schenley Park. She will be presented the award on December 7 at Beechwood Farms."

President VanNewkirk then turned the meeting over to Vice President Sheree Daugherty, who conducted the business portion of the meeting. She called for announcements and reports.

• Matt Webb, who runs the BirdSafe Pittsburgh program and works for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, announced that he had available free window treatments designed to minimize bird collisions with windows. He demonstrated three types, ranging from dangling parachute cord to films and decals applied to the windows. For more information, visit BirdSafe Pittsburgh. He also offered free copies of West Virginia Birds by George A. Hall and the Carnegie Museum's still very useful publication, The Birds of Western Pennsylvania and Adjacent Regions, written by Robert C. Leberman, who in 1961, established the landbird banding program at Powdermill Nature Preserve.

• Roy Bires, club member and member of the Steel Valley Trail Council, announced that once again the trail organization will be sponsoring its Raptor Road Ride along a segment of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail running from Kennywood to Duquesne to McKeesport. The group holds an annual fund raiser - a pay-to-participate bicycle ride. True to its name, the event will focus on the birds of prey present on this section of the trail. Participants on last year's ride saw Bald Eagles at the Hays nest, two Red-tailed Hawk nests - one with chicks, an active Osprey nest, and a very accommodating nesting American Kestrel in McKeesport. The group is looking for volunteer expert birders to be located at nest locations along the trail. Each expert birder, with a spotting scope, will point out the nests to the bike riders and provide other salient birding information. Last year club members Tom and Janet Kuehl, Bob Mulvihill and Roger and Margaret Higbee volunteered. Volunteers and participants for this event are still needed. The date is Saturday, April 28, 2018. Those interested in volunteering should contact Mr. Bires at Roy Bires.

• Jack Solomon reported that on November 11 well over 60 people attended the inaugural gathering of supporters of a Pittsburgh-area young birders club The event was held at the Frick Environmental Center in Frick Park. Twenty-seven of those attending were under the age of eighteen, and many of those expressed further interest. He thanked the club and the members who attended and supported the efforts of the nascent organization. He asked those interested to watch the club's social media outlets for more information.

The Peregrine editor Paul Hess congratulated Tom Moeller on becoming webmaster and noted that the next issue highlights the website's improvements and new features. He then previewed the upcoming issue of The Peregrine: President VanNewkirk's article features winter bird book reading and contains reviews of several new and interesting books; Jack Solomon presents a report on his efforts at establishing a young birders club; Tom Moeller's "Observations" article explores and explains dimorphism in plumage; Dave Brooke tells of Hawaiian Honeycreepers he saw on a recent trip; Victoria Wefers draws from her experiences at Bob Mulvihill's owl banding sessions to present a moving article; Kathleen Siebert relates the many highlights of her trip to Ecuador; Geoff Malosh's eclipse report contains his observations of bird responses to the eclipse; and Tom Keuhl reports on Golden Eagle movement at the Allegheny Front.

• Treasurer Tom Moeller gave the treasurer's report. He announced that the club will make two charitable donations this year - each for $250. The first is for support of the Songbird Rehabilitation Center's injured bird treatment efforts. The second recognizes the Purple Martin Preservation Alliance's work in placing Purple Martin houses in Harrison Hills Park and other places. He also noted the club's $350 payment for rent of the facility at the Phipps Garden Center will be paid soon. And even after paying the cost of mailing the newsletter, the club still has more than $6,000 on hand. The treasurer also reported on memberships, which increased from his last report - from 280 to 284.

• Webmaster Tom Moeller reported that he has added two interesting articles from the newspapers to the club website. The first details the extraordinary evolution - not adaptation, evolution - of Snail Kites in the Florida Everglades. The birds have evolved a larger beak as a response to the large, invasive snails that have appeared. The second article reveals the enhancements and features of the new camera at the Hayes eagle nest. Also the club's main page contains a section of up-to-date information on the young birders club initiative, including how young birders can participate in a winter bird count on December 16. The 'Outings' page also contains info on all the area's Christmas Bird Counts, including the early ones. He also reported that he has developed a section to include articles too lengthy to be included in print versions. Currently this section contains The Peregrine articles by Kathleen Siebert (her trip to Ecuador) and Geoff Malosh's trip to Tennessee to observe the total eclipse of the sun in August - with birding stops along the way. Finally, the club also offers a Facebook page, which is useful to report last minute changes to outings or sightings reports and the like. He asked all to contact him with suggestions or ideas for the website.

• Steve Thomas, the club's outings coordinator, reported that the club has several winter outings coming up: Saturday, January 27 - The Dead of Winter Walk in Frick Park; Saturday, February 17 - Great Backyard Bird Count at Sewickley Heights Borough Park; and Saturday, March 24 - Pymatuning State Park. As always, he advised all to check the websites for details.

• Mike Fialkovich presented the recent bird sightings report for Allegheny County. Since his last report, new bird sightings highlights include: Pectoral Sandpiper and Wilson's Snipe in Imperial; Blue-headed Vireo in Indiana Township; Gray-cheeked Thrush at Dead Man's Hollow; Hermit Thrush at Frick Park and Indiana Township; Palm Warblers at North Park; Chipping Sparrows at Beechwood Farms and Pine Township; White-crowned Sparrows at Boyce-Mayview Park and Pine Township; Eastern Meadowlarks at Imperial; Tundra Swans over Plum, Boyce-Mayview Park, Moon Township, Natrona Heights, Pine Township, Greenfield, Hampton Township, Harmar Township; Ross's Goose at Allegheny Cemetery; Ruddy Ducks at Findlay Township; Merlin in Schenley Park; Virginia Rails at Wingfield Pines; Dunlin at Imperial; Bonaparte Gulls at Dashields Dam and Duck Hollow; Marsh Wrens at Wingfield Pines; Northern Waterthrush in downtown Pittsburgh; Orange-crowned Warblers at Barking Slopes and Schenley Park; and Pine Siskin over Troy Hill and Harmar Township.

Vice President Daugherty announced February 7, 2018, as the club's next meeting date. She reported that Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's David Yeany will give a presentation entitled "Conserving Pennsylvania's Forests: Interior Birds and Their Habitats."

Concluding the business portion of the meeting, she then announced the evening's slide-slam participants, who presented and narrated a series of excellent photographs. The participants, in order of presentation, were: Mosur Ravishankar, who presented photos from Iceland; Dave Brooke, who showed photos from Hawaii and a few nearer his home; Gary Polliard, who presented photos of birds near his home; Amanda Haney, who presented photos from Florida; Steve Gosser, who showed photos from western Pennsylvania and Ohio; Mike Fialkovich, who presented a potpourri of uncommon birds seen in Pennsylvania; and Tom Moeller, whose presentation was entitled "Birding at Home" and featured backyard birds.

Following the presentation, President VanNewkirk adjourned the meeting.

— prepared by Frank Moone on 12-12-2017

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