Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 52 | Number 6 | February 2021
Next DOS member meeting: February 17th!
Carolina chickadee by Mike Moore.

Letter from the President

 

A profile photo of Michael Moore.

I lived in Arizona for almost 30 years before moving to Delaware 11 years ago. In Arizona, we have four seasons: early summer, mid-summer, late summer, and next summer. There was little impression of seasonal change. To me, one of the great things about Delaware is the march of the seasons. Here we are now in the icebox of February but that just means spring is right around the corner. Soon Woodcocks will be displaying in overgrown wet meadows, Eastern Phoebes will be singing from under bridges and Tree Swallows will be claiming nest boxes.
 
Even though we are in the dead of winter, I hope you are getting out and birding as much as possible. Everyone is getting worn down by the pandemic, but birding is a tremendous way to cope with the stress of being confined to the house too much. John Muir, the famous early environmentalist, recognized this more than a century ago: “Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.”  We don’t have mountain passes in Delaware, but we can experience the rejuvenating effects of being outdoors.
 
I don’t know how long or how dark the pandemic tunnel will ultimately prove to be, but like the promise of spring in the middle of February, the arrival of vaccines shows there is light at its end. Sometime this year, I hope we will once again be able to enjoy the camaraderie of birding together in the great outdoors. I hope to see all of you then.
 
-Mike Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

February 17th Meeting:

"The Emilie Snethlage Expedition: Tales from the Juruá River in Brazil”

 
A portrait of a snowman with a spotting scope.Marky Mutchler has been a birder since the age of four and interested in nature and art for as long as she can remember. She is currently finishing her senior year at Louisiana State University, pursuing a degree in Biological Sciences. While attending LSU, she has had many opportunities to work in both lab and field settings in the pursuit of making her interest in ornithology a career. Continuing her dedication at LSU, she was able to be a member of an all-woman expedition to the Brazilian Amazon. Upon graduating, she plans to start her Ph.D. involving work in the field of evolutionary biology. Marky has also spent the last several years guiding at multiple birding festivals around the US. She has even had the opportunity to work with and share the conservation success story of the once-endangered Kirtland’s Warbler. Marky hopes that the coming decade will bring even more opportunities to share her passion for birds and illustration with others and inspire more people, especially women in STEM.

Presentation Description:
A group of women, partnered through LSU, inspired by the life of the courageous and adventurous ornithologist Emilie Snethlage, spent several years planning out a long and harrowing journey to investigate the Juruá River, a tributary of the Amazon. This river had never been surveyed in modern times by ornithologists. Despite outside comments questioning the abilities of an all-women expedition, they prevailed and soon enough found themselves in the small river town of Carauari where the expedition began- and three weeks later, ended. Working with local people and traversing various habitats, the women proved all doubts wrong and returned with valuable memories, data, and friendships (and 400+ bird species added to their lists!). Join Marky to hear the tale of this expedition from the eyes of a newly fledged undergraduate researcher and get a taste of what birding the Amazon Basin is like! 

Missing your December Flyer and Ornithologist?


Don't worry - they were caught in the holiday mail backlog. Some members have received them, so if you are still missing yours it will be there soon!

In the meantime, click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.

Get to know DOS member
Katie Bird!

 
Ms. Krenitsky monitoring an American kestrel nest box at Auburn Valley State Park. 
Pre-covid Katie making sure her friends know that this is a tulip poplar, and it must be appreciated.

Last year, Katie Bird (yes, that is her real name!) joined DOS Council as our new editor for The Flyer. Ms. Bird is a (wait for it…) birder, a sporadic long-distance runner, and a wildlife ecology Master’s student at the University of Delaware. Katie is the recipient of DOS’s 2020 Conservation Science Grant for her research on purple martins. As a child, she wanted to be either a librarian or a veterinarian. When she got to school and discovered she could study wildlife, she switched majors immediately. “I’ve always had pets,” says Katie.  “At one point as a kid I had five birds, a frog, a salamander, an anole, a rabbit, and a couple hermit crabs.” Currently, Katie cares for her dog (Veery), a corn snake (Abbey), and a leopard gecko (Oliver). She has lived in six different states, four of which were in the last four years for various field jobs. 

How long have you been a DOS member?  I think I became a dues paying member in 2017? I’m not sure exactly, but I wish I’d joined sooner!

What is the best thing about being a part of DOS?  For me, it’s mostly about the community. I’ve met a lot of lovely people through DOS, and it’s great to know I always have people nearby to go birding with (post-covid)! I didn’t have birding friends as a kid, so I’m grateful to have them now!

Do you have a favorite birding patch?  My favorite patch is whatever scrappy woodlot or otherwise unloved habitat is nearby. In undergrad it was Phillips Park where I have 79 species. When I lived in eastern Oregon it was the agriculture research center where I was stationed. It was basically a small working farm where they also housed researchers. I had sandhill cranes, long-billed curlews, yellow-headed blackbirds, sora, avocets, stilts, and all sorts of sparrows -- breeding right in my backyard. When I lived in Nevada it was Swan Lake. I got 86 species there, including nearly daily barn owls and short-eared owls. I was so spoiled. Now my patch is my neighborhood woodlot on the Christina River. This patch borders an abandoned road, and all the powerlines are falling, so most people avoid the area. They’re missing out though because I have 111 species there so far! I also see lots of beavers, deer, foxes, and other wildlife.

 
Katie thinks Lake Tahoe is a pretty nice birding spot too though! ;)

Do you have a favorite book about birds, bird website or bird app?
I don’t think I can put into words how much I love eBird.

Do you have a favorite ‘type’ of birding?  My ‘go-to’ type of birding is patch birding because I can roll out of bed and immediately start my checklist. I love picking places that no one else goes. It makes every sighting and eBird submission more special. I’m also a bit of a lister, so I love competing with myself to see how much I can find and photograph. When I have the energy for them though, I love a solid Big Day with friends. The Christmas Bird Count big days are some of my favorite memories. A fun fact about me is that I don’t really like hawk watching. Sorry hawk watcher friends!

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to bird or see a particular bird? I’ve driven across the country a couple of times for non-birding reasons, but I went birding anyway. I think the life bird that was ‘technically’ the farthest from home was a white-tailed kite in Arcata, California. That’s 2,516 miles as the crow flies, or 2,963 by car. I highly recommend Arcata Marsh if anyone finds themselves by the Redwoods. Oh! On that same trip (but a different park) I got my lifer varied thrush… in a PARKING LOT! I was so mad!! Drove all the way to the redwoods and it’s picking worms off the pavement! I guess I dreamed that lifer would be a bit more… magical.

 
Katie standing next to a coastal redwood. She remembers Swainson's thrush singing nearby.

Where (that you haven’t been yet) do you daydream about birding most?  Arizona. I love the desert and I’d love to spend a few weeks out there chasing rarities.
A drawing of a Royal Flycatcher in a bander's hand, drawing done by Katie Bird.
Do you create bird-related art?  Sometimes! I like to draw, paint, and write poetry. Here’s an example from my 2019 Inktober drawings. This is ink, watercolor, and a little colored pencil.
 
What advice would you give to someone newly interested in birds? Traveling to see birds is fun, but not a necessity. The best birding is often right outside your door, a short walk away. All you have to do is show up. The more you show up, the faster you’ll learn and the more you’ll see. Get a field guide, a warm coat with big pockets, and a good thermos. The birds are waiting!

Delaware Bird-a-Thon 2021

Save the Dates
May 1-9, 2021

Membership News


At the January Membership Meeting, DOS President Michael Moore proposed a change to Article VI of the organization’s bylaws concerning the schedule for membership dues, which currently reads: Section 1. The membership year runs from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. Dues are expected to be paid at the start of the membership year. Honorary and Life Members are exempt from payment of annual dues.

The proposed change is as follows, which will allow members’ renewals to take effect for one year from the date of payment: Section 1. Membership becomes active when dues are received and remains active for 12 months thereafter. Membership renewal is due before membership expires in which case active membership is extended for 12 months from the expiration date of the current membership period. For late renewals, membership is extended for 12 months from when payment is received. Honorary and Life Members are exempt from payment of annual dues.

This amendment has the support of the DOS Council and members will be asked to vote on these changes at the February Membership Meeting. If you have any questions or comments in advance of this vote, please email them to [email protected].
 
Lastly, if you’re interested in serving on the DOS Membership and Outreach Committee, please get in touch with me at: [email protected]. 

-Meghann Matwichuk, Membership Chair

Conservation Science Grants: Apply now!


The Delaware Ornithological Society (DOS) Conservation Science Grants support innovative investigations into bird conservation challenges. DOS encourages projects with a strong emphasis on species and habitat conservation and management. Learn more on our website!

ELIGIBILITY — Open to non-profit organizations; university-affiliated researchers, including graduate students; and to qualified unaffiliated researchers.

SIZE OF GRANTS — Not to exceed $3,000

TIMELINE — Applications must be received by March 15, 2021.

HOW TO APPLY — Application materials can be found at here.

 

Conservation News:

Bird-A-Thon Helps Acquire New Tract at Augustine Wildlife Area
 
An updated map of Augustine WMA.

Last year, with the help of DOS's Delaware Bird-A-Thon, the State acquired the 54-acre Shilling Tract, the first piece of Augustine Wildlife Area on the north side of Thousand Acre Marsh.

Thousand Acre Marsh is a unique freshwater wetland impoundment that hosts numerous breeding marsh birds of conservation concern, including King Rail, Sora, Least Bittern, and many others. Migratory waterfowl and shorebirds concentrate here during passage and the site is an important waterfowl wintering area for species of concern like Northern Pintail. The second-growth woods and thickets surrounding the marsh are excellent for songbirds during migration.

A photo of the wetland habitat at the newly acquired Shilling Tract.Situated across the marsh and northwest of the Ashton Tract, the Shilling Tract offers birders a different perspective and experience on this huge wetland complex, and is now officially open to the public. Access is via a signed lane off of Dutch Neck Road. The parcel includes some excellent freshwater emergent wetlands, as shown in the photo, as well as shrubby and wooded edges.

DOS encourages our members to explore both the Shilling Tract and the underbirded Warren/Faella Tracts at Augustine Wildlife Area. Who knows what will turn up?!  You can find maps and regulations here.

Please remember that all of these sites require the purchase of a Conservation Access Pass (CAP) available online from DNREC. Your CAP dollars help fund habitat restoration and management on these lands.

We hope you'll join in helping us conserve more bird habitat during the 15th Annual Delaware Bird-A-Thon May 1-9, 2021. Stay tuned for more details!

 
-Matt Sarver, Conservation Committee Chair

Red Knot Youth Birding Upcoming Events

 

Indian River Inlet Sea Watch
Saturday, February 6th 8:00am to 12:00pm

This is a regularly-scheduled DOS activity. The Red Knot Youth Birders invite any young birders and their families to join us at the Sea Watch. Youth birding leaders will be on hand to help youth birders spot ducks, shorebirds, and other coastal species moving in the inlet and on the ocean. More details here. Open House format.

March Waterfowl Madness
March Date, Time, and Location TBD

March is a great time to explore waterfowl as large flocks gather before taking off on spring migration.  On this trip, we will try to see as many different species of ducks, geese, and swans as we can, and observe common waterfowl behaviors. RSVP will be needed once date is set.

Pea Patch Island Heron Survey at Delaware City
Wednesday, April 28th 6:00 to 8:30pm

Pea Patch Island is home to a heron rookery, where herons, egrets, and ibis nest each year.  This survey takes place once a month while the rookery is active each year, and is a great way to see a variety of wading birds all from the same location.  Osprey and Bald Eagles are also commonly spotted.  Youth Birding leaders will be there to help young birders spot and identify species.
More details here. Open House format.

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at Middle Run Natural Area
Saturday, May 8th, Time TBD

In May, birds of all kinds are migrating from their wintering grounds to their summer breeding grounds.  Middle Run has a diverse array of habitats that will help us see a wide variety of spring migrants, including warblers, flycatchers, sparrows, thrushes, and more! Driving directions here. RSVP will be needed once time is set

The DOS Youth Birding Committee recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a major concern in Delaware and surrounding states. However, we feel that youth birders and their families can benefit from being outdoors and exploring new places during this time of uncertainty. Masks will be required at all Youth Birding activities and social distancing protocols will be followed. There will be no field trip carpooling at this time. If you have questions or concerns on this topic, please do not hesitate to reach out at [email protected].

Falcon Watch!

Falcon Watch is on! We checked on the cameras to prepare for the upcoming breeding season, and found two Peregrines nest calling and building scrapes! Find links to the other Falcon Cams and their YouTube channel on our website.

DOS Merchandise

 
A snapshot of the DOS Zazzle shop merchandise.
 
Check out our updated Zazzle store, where you can order DOS related merch online! Options include mugs, shirts, stickers, and more! Want something you don't see here? Suggest a merch idea! Contact [email protected].
 
Don't worry, you can still purchase DOS favorites such as binocular straps and hats from our website shop.

Bird ID Pop Quiz!
What's this bird? (Bird banding edition!) Click here for the answer.
Photo by Katie Bird, under the supervision of Dr. Ian Stewart.

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

The 2021 challenge is currently led by Aaron Reb! Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. Learn more here.
*Rankings as of Feb 2, 2021.

Member Photo Gallery

Yellow-bellied sapsucker by Mike Moore
Ruddy turnstones by Katie Bird
Red-bellied woodpecker by David Lewis
Top: Yellow-bellied sapsucker by Mike Moore. Middle: Ruddy turnstones and harlequin ducks by Katie Bird. Bottom: Banded red-bellied woodpecker by David Lewis.
Want to see your photos in the Flyer? Submit them to [email protected]!
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