Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 52 | Number 2 | October 2020
Next DOS member meeting: October 21st!
Blue grosbeak by Amy Johnson

Letter from the President


A profile photo of Michael Moore.

I mentioned in my last letter that fall is rarity season and fall migration in Delaware has so far been excellent. Already we have seen records of black-throated gray warbler, anhinga, lark sparrow, red phalarope, buff-breasted and upland sandpipers and multiple golden-winged and Connecticut warblers. By now warbler migration is winding down, but October and November are excellent for sparrows and western vagrants. Do not drive by any kingbirds perched on wires or pass off rusty-tailed flycatchers automatically as great crested flycatchers!

DOS is always looking for volunteers to help with our many activities and initiatives, but we are currently facing a need for several volunteers with specific skill sets. 

Our treasurer of 21 years (!!), Jim Lewis, will be stepping down at the end of his current term on 30 June 2021. Jim has been a rock for the organization and has always kept everything running smoothly. We greatly appreciate Jim’s dedication and service to DOS for so many years. However, now we face the task of replacing him. Treasurer is critical position for any organization that handles money. The treasurer pays the bills, keeps the books, reports regularly to the Council and membership, and files the tax returns. If you think you have the skills for this and would be able to help us out, we would really like to hear from you. 

The DOS Bylaws mandate regular external audits of the organization’s books. We felt that the transition to a new treasurer would be a good time for an external audit. The audit is conducted by two DOS members who are not on the DOS council. We therefore need two members of DOS to volunteer to check over the books during June of 2021. Again, contact me if you could help with this task.

Finally, we are seeking a chair for the Development and Finance Committee. This committee was established with the new bylaws adopted in 2018 but has not yet by staffed. It is responsible for developing and recommending a financial and investment strategy, donor relations and grant management. 

DOS is much more than a bird club. We have multiple grants and partnerships in conservation, citizen science and education. We need volunteers to help us with the finances involved with all of these. If you would like to help us or you know someone you would like to nominate, please email me at [email protected] for more information. 
-Mike Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

October 21st Meeting:
Northern Clapper Rail Ecology

The Northern Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans crepitans) is a migratory subspecies of Clapper Rail residing in coastal marshes. Efforts by the Saltmarsh Habitat Avian Research Program and the University of Delaware hope to uncover more information regarding this secretive species. This talk will include recent data from Delaware on Clapper Rail nesting ecology and movement patterns.

Lisa Elizondo is Ph.D. student working at the University of Delaware on Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans) demography and genomics. She is an alumna of Oklahoma State University as well as Louisiana State University, where she did her Master’s degree on American Woodcock.

Meeting will take place over Zoom from 7pm-9pm. Members receive a Zoom link via email a few days prior to meetings. 

Get to know DOS member Barbara Conway! 

Barbara ConwayIf you’ve been on a DOS field trip in the past few years or attended a membership meeting at Ashland Nature Center prior to COVID-19, chances are you will recognize Barbara’s smiling face. Her welcoming demeanor and her willingness to share her knowledge about birds and the native plants they rely upon is appreciated by all who cross her path.

How long have you been a DOS member?  
Since October of 2017.

What do you like most about being a part of DOS?
The great people and their friendliness, helpfulness and knowledge about birds and wildlife! Also the wonderful trips and the speakers at the monthly meetings! I have made new friends, learned so much and had lots of fun!

Do you have a ‘spark’ bird?
The lowly Brown-headed Cowbird and the House Finch. I had recently moved to Delaware and had never seen these birds where I grew up in New Jersey. I immediately got some bird feeders and a Peterson Field Guide and was on my way!

Do you have a favorite birding patch?
I’d have to say Bombay Hook NWR and my backyard in Ardentown, DE. I have spent the most time in those two places and have had many great bird encounters.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to bird or see a particular bird? 
I researched birding before a trip to Spain and arranged to stay in the Ebro Delta, which is two hours south of Barcelona, for several days. It is on the migratory flyway between Africa and Northern Europe, and is where the Bomba Rice, used in paella, is grown. It was the most charming place! It was full of birds, including a large flock of resident Flamingos.

Where (that you haven’t been yet) do you daydream about birding most?
My dream trip since I was a kid is a trip to Egypt to see the pyramids and other ancient treasures. I am eager to bird there, too!

Do you create bird-related art?
I take bird photos for fun and to help me with identification. I have framed and hung a few. I enjoy sharing them on Facebook, too. Taking photos has made me slow down and observe each bird longer. It has enhanced my enjoyment of birding immensely!

Share an interesting birding experience.
In the 1980s, I volunteered at Tri-State Bird Rescue when it was at the small school house on Duncan Road. The Great Horned Owl was the most intimidating bird, by far. Nobody wanted to go in that cage!

What advice would you give a new birder?
I think it’s imperative to follow the American Birding Association’s Code of Birding Ethics. Other than that, have fun and enjoy birding in a way that makes you happy. You can bird almost anywhere where you can see or be outside, and you never know when an amazing bird will appear!

Membership News

The DOS Membership and Outreach Committee wants YOU!! We’re looking for a few individuals who are willing to share their creative energy and enthusiasm for the organization, and for the birds of Delaware. DOS has over 400 members – no small feat for a tiny state! Sustaining and growing that membership helps the organization stay healthy, allowing us to continue to support important conservation initiatives, develop opportunities for youth interested in birds, and share the many wonders of birding the First State with our communities. We’re looking for volunteers with the following skills and interests:
  • Social Media Mavens: Create content and help spread the word about what DOS has to offer
  • Graphic Designers: Develop eye-catching images and infographics
  • Photography Fans: Gather and organize photos that can be used to help with DOS outreach efforts
  • DOS Ambassadors: Identify opportunities to let the public know who we are and what we do
If you’re interested in serving on the DOS Membership and Outreach Committee and/or contributing towards the efforts described above, please get in touch with me at: [email protected] 

-Meghann Matwichuk, Membership Chair

Ashland Hawk Watch Update

The Ashland Hawk Watch began its fourteen season on September 1st. At the time of writing, the peak day for Broad-winged Hawks was 19 September with 896 and a total of 1,059 migrant raptors. Broad-winged Hawk numbers will be low this year, but are higher than last year when we had a record low. We have had good American Kestrel numbers with a high-count of 58 on 18 September, the second highest single-day count ever. Olive-sided Flycatchers were seen on multiple days in September. Common Ravens continue to be seen almost every day with a new state high-count of 6 on 4 September. Visitors are welcome but must practice social distancing or wear a mask. - David Brown
American Kestrel in flight by David Brown.
American Kestrel by David Brown

Cape Henlopen
Hawk Watch Update

With all the pandemic restrictions, DOS was pleased to be able to continue to host the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch this autumn. Thus far, everyone has been respectful of social distancing and this year more visitors have remained on the lower platform, presumably out of respect for COVID protocol. There are about 20 visitors each day at Cape Henlopen, but since it is a state park, holidays like Labor Day bring in crowds - there were 81 visitors over that weekend.

As in past years, Jen Ottinger has been counting daily since September 1, with the loyal and dedicated help of Sue Gruver and other regular volunteers. The first two weeks of September were hot and humid with South to East winds followed by Northeast winds, all unfavorable for raptor flight past Cape Henlopen. Total migrating raptors as of 9/22 was (1481). September 23rd brought Northwest winds and along with that came a great flight - (467) birds, so one day later the season total was 1948.

Osprey by Hank Davis
Osprey by Hank Davis

As usual, the majority of the migrants by September 23rd were osprey (905), which was about half of the total count. The high count was (112) on both 9/14 and 9/23. By the 23rd, (147) bald eagles were recorded as well as (166) turkey vultures, which are always a challenging bird to count. The most common Accipiter was the sharp-shinned hawk (204). Cape Henlopen usually has a good falcon flight, and by Sept 23rd the American kestrel count was (222), merlins (115), and peregrines (19).  

Lots of other good birds are seen from the platform, with a rare lark sparrow turning up September 12th and sticking around the platform and parking lot for five days. Other good sightings included brown pelican, American oystercatcher, black-bellied plover, black tern, pileated woodpecker, bank swallow, an early red-breasted nuthatch, and a Baltimore oriole.

All helpful eyes are welcome to help us scan the sky. Bring your binoculars and wear your mask! Hopefully many DOS members will make a visit to The Cape Henlopen Hawk watch this fall - it’s a great way to be outside, see birds, and feel safe!

- Jen Ottinger & Sally O’Byrne

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

The DOS backyard birding challenge is still going strong. Check the current leaderboard below. You can still join in on the fun! Learn more here.
*Rankings as of Sep 22, 2020.
Bird ID Pop Quiz!
Nocturnal photo of a Clapper Rail
What's this bird? Click here for the answer. Photo by Katie Bird.
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DOS, P.O. Box 4247, Wilmington, DE 19807

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