Bimonthly Membership Meeting
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
7:30 PM — 10:00 PM
Phipps Garden Center, Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA


Seventy-one individuals attended 3RBC's February meeting, which was held on February 21, instead of February 7 (see below). The meeting featured a presentation by David Yeany, a conservation planning specialist and ornithologist for Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, who presented a talk entitled "Conserving Pennsylvania's Forest Interior Birds and their Habitats."

Five individuals were welcomed as first time attendees, one of whom thought he was coming to a Garden Club bonsai demonstration!

President Bob VanNewkirk called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm and addressed the attendees.

• He recounted to the members that, due to very foul weather, the club's regularly scheduled meeting on February 7 had been cancelled - a first time occurrence in the club's 13 year history. He went through a step-by-step description of the many calls and individuals who played a part in resetting the meeting, from securing the space at the Garden Center, to rescheduling the speaker, and getting the word out about the new date. He especially called out the efforts of club members Tom Moeller, Debbie Kalbfleisch, Sheree Daugherty, and also Pat and Sherron Lynch who helped Tom Moeller call the last few members without email addresses. The resultant good turnout showed how successful everyone was in overcoming this never-before dealt-with issue! What's more, the club now has a protocol that can be referred to if the situation ever arises again.

• President VanNewkirk told the attendees that he had received an email from the American Birding Association (ABA) describing their first-time North American sponsorship for a team of young birders, one of whom has a connection to 3RBC! The competition, Champions of the Flyway, held annually in southern Israel, has quickly become one the world's premiere bird races, with teams from around the world racing for 24 hours to come up with the biggest list along the migration highway that is the eastern Mediterranean. The event doubles as a fundraiser for Birdlife International's programs that seek to put a stop to illegal hunting and trapping of migratory birds in the region, especially Turkey and Israel. This year the ABA is excited to be sponsoring a team for the first time, one made up of birders who all have connections with the ABA's Young Birder programs. And one of the team's young members has a special connection to Pittsburgh! Former 3RBC member, Aidan Place, along with two others, is tackling this prestigious race and raising money for this worthy cause. Members will recall that Aidan had previously led outings for 3RBC, and was the club's youngest member. If you wish to donate to Aidan's team - the ABA-Leica Subadult Wheatears - go to the group's donation page.

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.

• Ryan Tomazin announced that the Brooks Bird Club's Annual West Virginia Foray has been scheduled to be held on June 3-10 at Thornwood's Camp, Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The Foray is held each June in a different region of West Virginia suitable for bird and natural history studies. The purpose is to offer members and students the chance to be in the field and take part in an ecological study of a selected area. The program is planned so that everyone can pursue his/her own interests. There are classes and field work in birds, ferns, mosses, flowers, grasses, trees, geology, fungi, butterflies, herptiles and small mammals. The 2018 Foray's programs will emphasize birds, and participants will have opportunities to join in the Breeding Surveys, Bird Population Studies, and early morning bird walks. There will also be field work in flowering plants, mammals, herptiles, insects and amphibians. A program of lectures and field trips for campers who wish to participate will be part of the daily activities. Foray directors Janice Emrick and Ryan Tomazin will be assisted by others on the Foray Committee. Many of the participants at Foray are experienced field biologists, some professional, others amateurs, but all specialists in their fields. For more information, visit brooksbirdclub.org. He also reminded the club of the upcoming 3RBC/Brooks joint outing and picnic, to take place on Saturday, April 21 at Raccoon Creek State Park.

Peregrine editor Paul Hess previewed the upcoming issue of The Peregrine: the newsletter will carry an article about Aidan Place and his efforts with the ABA team, mentioned above; President VanNewkirk's article tells the heartwarming story of his first interest in the Pymatuning area and how it has played an important role in his life as a birder; in addition to the usual roundup go the Christmas Bird Count results, Brian Shema's compilation will include news of an extraordinary rarity - a Bullock's Oriole, a western species that typically winters in western Mexico. The bird was reported in Hampton Township after December 8. This sighting is not only a Christmas Bird Count first, but also an Allegheny County first.- a record!; Tom Moeller's educational Observations column will address cavity nesting birds, with the website version accompanied by a gallery of 40 photos; finally, as always, the upcoming issue features several excellent photos from club members.

• Treasurer Tom Moeller gave the financial report, announcing that the club has 281 members, with 53 eligible for renewal on March 31; and that after mailing out the March/April newsletter, the club will still have more than $6,500 on hand.

• Webmaster Tom Moeller reported that he and Steve Thomas had collaborated on updating the outings page through May, with a few more to be added for June. He also reported that he had received a letter from Mia Eldridge, a Girl Scout troop leader, who related that her troop was very interested in birding and was using the club's website - especially the links page - as a resource. The troop leader suggested a website for inclusion - "The Young Birders' Backyard Guide" - which is now included in "Sites of Interest" on the club's Links page. This site is not just for young birders but is useful for anyone who is new to birding. The club also received a recommendation in 2016 to a similar site - "Guide to Bird-watching From Your Window" - then from a 5th grade class. These types of interactions demonstrate that young people are interested in birding and, most important, consider 3RBC's site an authoritative reference. Finally, Webmaster Moeller announced that Steve Gosser's photo of the rare Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch that has been spotted in Meadville has been posted on the club's Facebook page.

• Steve Thomas, the club's outings coordinator, reported that the club has many spring outings scheduled. Outings coming in March and April include: Sunday, March 18, Moraine State Park; March 21, 28 and April 11, Woodcock Walks: Saturday, March 24, Pymatuning State Park; Saturday, April 7, Yellow Creek State Park; Sunday, April 8, Glade Run Lake Park; Saturday, April 21, Raccoon Creek State Park (This is a combination bird, wildflower walk and picnic with the Brooks Bird Club. For more information, please visit brooksbirdclub.org. Many more outings are scheduled for May and June in Frick Park, Schenley Park, Harrison Hills Park, Presque Isle, Deer Lakes Park, Sewickley Heights Park and others. As always, he advised all to check the 3RBC Outings page for details.

• Mike Fialkovich presented the recent bird sightings report for Allegheny County. Since his last report, new bird sightings highlights include: American Widgeon in Findlay Township; Green-winged Teal at Imperial and South Park; Ring-necked Duck at Emsworth Dam; Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye at Emsworth Dam (concentrated there by the ice); Hooded, Common, and Red-breasted Merganser; Horned Grebe at Sharpsburg and Harmar Township and Emsworth Dam; Wilson's Snipe at Imperial; Turkey Vultures in several places; Red-breasted Nuthatch at Forest Hills, Shaler Township and Fox Chapel; Brown Creeper at Pine Township and Harrison Hills Park; Winter Wren at Harrison Hills Park, North Park and Indiana Township; Hermit Thrush at North Park on New Year's Day and Sewickley Heights Park later; Gray Catbird; Eastern Towhee at several locations; Chipping Sparrow at Jim Valimont's feeder; Field Sparrow at Jefferson Borough; Fox Sparrow and Lincoln Sparrow in Pine Township; Swamp Sparrow in Harrison Hills Park and Findlay Township; White-crowned Sparrows in Findlay Township; Red-winged Blackbirds in Findlay Township, Pine Township, South Park, Jefferson Borough; Common Grackle in Walker Park and Frick Park; Brown-headed Cowbirds in Findlay Township and Beechwood Farms; Baltimore Oriole in Fox Chapel and O'Hara Township; Snow Goose in Findlay Township, Blawnox, and Wingfield Pines; Ross's Goose at Wingfield Pines; Tundra Swans over Hampton Township, Pittsburgh at the Point, Killbuck Township, Northern Allegheny County, and Verona; Pintail and American Black Ducks at Highland Park; Canvasback at Emsworth and down the Ohio; Redhead at Emsworth; Ruddy Duck at Blawnox; Surf Scoters on the Ohio at McKees Rocks; White-winged Scoters at Dam #4 on the Ohio and Blawnox; Long-tailed Duck at McKees Rocks; Iceland Gull at Emsworth; Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Point and Emsworth; Great Black-backed Gull at the Point; Herring Gull/Glaucous Gull hybrid at the Point; Sandhill Crane flocks over Moon Township and O'Hara Township; Barred Owl in Indiana Township; Short-eared Owls in Imperial; Snowy Owl in various locations; Rough-legged Hawk near Imperial; Merlin at Schenley Park, Shaler Township, Imperial; possible hybrid Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Gibsonia; Snow Bunting at Janowski's Farm; Oregon Dark-eyed Junco in Oakmont; Rusty Blackbird in Schenley Park, Pine Township; and finally, Pine Siskin in Gibsonia, Sewickley, Hampton and O'Hara.

Vice President Daugherty announced April 4, 2018, as the club's next meeting date. She reported that the co-author of the popular and often-used The Warbler Guide, top-ranked international birder and warbler expert, Tom Stephenson, will present to the club a talk entitled, "The Warbler Guide: A New System for Identifying and Learning Vocalizations." His presentation is sure to be well attended, so she reminded everyone to come early!

Concluding the business portion of the meeting, Mike Fialkovich then introduced the evening's speaker, David Yeany, a conservation planning specialist and ornithologist for Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. He has an M.S. in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology from Frostburg State University and a B.S. in Biology from Messiah College. David has worked for National Audubon Society, Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center, and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry doing various wildlife and habitat inventories and research. He is a native of Forest County and currently lives with his wife, Colleen, northeast of Pittsburgh.

As the audience learned, nearly 40% of all birds classified as 'Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Pennsylvania' depend on high-quality forest habitats for their best chance of nesting successfully. David talked about threats to that success and what Western Pennsylvania Conservancy ecologists and others in Pennsylvania are doing to help these forest species. He joined the Natural Heritage Program in 2011, since then working on variety of ecology, conservation planning, and ornithology projects, including spatial analysis, mapping important habitats for rare taxa, population monitoring, and research wildlife habitat relationships.

Following the presentations, President VanNewkirk adjourned the meeting .

— prepared by Frank Moone on 3-11-2018

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