Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 52 | Number 7 | March 2021
Next DOS member meeting: March 17th!
Mourning Dove by Mike Moore.

Letter from the President


A profile photo of Michael Moore.

I was recently working on a talk about my other passion, dragonflies, for a garden club. One of the questions they wanted me to address was: Are dragonflies beneficial insects? I guess this is a perfectly normal question, but it struck me as odd. The obvious follow up is beneficial to whom? Well, humans of course. I guess I just do not think that way. One focus of my talk was to illustrate how our backyard landscaping choices can benefit insect populations. It really had not occurred to me to think in the opposite direction. 

It is an interesting question to apply to birds. Are there birds that are beneficial to humans? Scavengers like vultures and gulls are an obvious example. In a study in a province of India, it was found that human disease increased 15% after vultures became extinct. This was due to an increase in house fly and rat populations resulting from the lack of competition from vultures for carrion. I used this information one day when my neighborhood flock of Black Vultures (which live here because one of my neighbors feeds them in course of feeding stray cats, but do not get me started on that!) descended on my neighbor’s pool and tore up all their pool toys and seat cushions (vultures have this weird thing for rubber). He was upset and asked me what good vultures were. I asked him whether he would prefer rotting meat and rats. That did make the point. 

However, I do not like justifying the worth of other organisms in human terms. We are all linked in a vast ecological web and depend on each other. All organisms are beneficial to us and we depend on a healthy ecosystem for survival, even if the benefits are not directly obvious like scavengers. That is why I have always supported conservation organizations that focus on habitat preservation. DOS has been one of those organizations, driven by the Bird-a-thon fundraiser, and in the next few weeks DOS will have some exciting announcements concerning land acquisitions. I hope you will be pleased with the benefit your support of DOS is having on preserving our environment to the benefit of us all. 
-Mike Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

March 17 Meeting:

"Understanding Bird Loss" by CareyJo Titus

A portrait of a snowman with a spotting scope.CareyJo Titus is an Avian Field Technician with Iowa State University’s Ecology of Bird Loss Project in Guam. Her interest in birds began while studying Zoology and Wildlife Biology at Malone University. This interest led her to pursue a Master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University, where I worked with Loggerhead Shrike vocal behavior. In addition to her work, which she loves, she enjoys hiking, snorkeling, wildlife photography, and learning about new cuisines whenever she travels! 

CareyJo will talk to us about the Ecology of Bird Loss Project, which looks to understand how the loss of birds affects ecosystem processes such as seed dispersal, pollination, and invertebrate abundance. Her team works to understand the relationship between Såli (Micronesian Starlings), the only remaining seed-dispersing bird on Guam, and Brown Treesnakes, invasive predators that have led to the extinction of all other native forest birds. By monitoring Såli fledgling survival before and after snake suppression efforts we can determine the most effective methods to control this prolific invasive species, with the ultimate goal of reintroducing Guam’s lost avifauna and restoring ecosystem function.

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Get to know DOS member
John Skibicki!

John Skibicki
Meet John Skibicki! John has been a Council-Member-at-Large with DOS since 2019. He also provides oversight for the multi-year Chemours Vibrant Communities grant, which benefits a number of DOS initiatives including the Red Knot Youth Birders, Falcon Watch, and the Delaware Bird-A-Thon. John is a mechanical engineer who’s worked in manufacturing throughout his career. He lives north of Middletown with his wife of 24 years, Donna, and has two children.
How long have you been a DOS member? 5 years. My wife got me membership as a Father’s Day gift.

What is the best thing about being a part of DOS? Learning. Both the meetings and field trips provide so much knowledge, so quickly, and in an enjoyable format.

Do you have a ‘spark’ bird? Not a ‘spark’ bird, but a spark story. I had almost no interest in birds for most of my life. My wife wanted to attract more birds, especially small birds, to the yard. She asked for bird ‘stuff’ for Christmas. Dutifully, I researched bird feeders, bird feed, and nest boxes. We had a really good first year, with Brown Creepers and White-crowned Sparrows in the yard. She asked me to take photos, so she could put up photographs on the wall. I was really enjoying the picture taking, and trying to identify the birds at the feeders. After about a year, I wanted to see more, especially a Bald Eagle. I had no idea where to go, so I went to Wedgewood Road on White Clay Creek. After just a few minutes, there was an eagle perched over the Creek Road!

Do you have a favorite birding patch? Ashton Tract. It is close to my house and has a lot of variety in habitat for a small patch.

Do you have a favorite book about birds, bird website or bird app? The Warbler Guide, by Stephenson and Whittle. It was one of my first bird books. I had no idea there were so many warblers. I love and hate the variety of plumages between species, sexes and seasons. I find the book very good at helping me identify the various warblers.

When is your favorite time of year to bird? Fall. Cooler weather coupled with the possibility of a vagrant bird make fall birding exciting.
Do you have a favorite ‘type’ of birding? Someone once described my style as ‘likes to hang out with the birds’. I enjoy the more secluded spots. I’ll sit or stand and just watch and listen to the birds, losing myself in the moment. I enjoy watching the behaviors, how they search for food, how they interact with other birds, how they move. It is all very interesting.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to bird or see a particular bird? Canada, for Golden-winged Warblers. It was actually a family fishing trip, but I couldn’t help but check eBird. Pleasantly surprised someone was reporting Golden-winged Warblers just a mile from our cabin. I had planned on spending all day trying to locate them, but they flew in front of me within minutes of parking.

Where (that you haven’t been yet) do you daydream about birding most? Colombia. They have some many different bird species! I think a lifetime there wouldn’t be enough.

What advice would you give to someone newly interested in birds? There is no ‘right way’ to go birding. As long as you’re ethical, don’t harass birds, and respect property rights, bird however you want. Whether a hobby or a life-style, bird they way that you enjoy and brings you satisfaction. 

How have birds changed your life? Well, for one, I’m much healthier. I lost 30 pounds and no longer need blood pressure medicine. I’m also happier. Twenty minutes birding and I’m as relaxed as I used to be at the end of a week’s vacation.

Delaware Bird-a-Thon 2021

Save the Dates
May 1-9, 2021

Membership News

Exciting news!  DOS now has a Vimeo channel, where current members can explore many of our recorded Zoom-era meetings to catch up with speakers and presentations you may have missed or would like to revisit:

The recordings are captioned.  Check the meeting descriptions to skip ahead to a speaker or special presentation.

Due to speaker agreements, only current members have access to this channel. Please check your email for a February 14 message with the subject: “Introducing DOS's Vimeo Channel!” This message includes the link and the password you will need to explore available meetings. If you believe your membership is current and you did not receive this email, please reach out via the email address below and we will get you the information you need!

* The Delaware Ornithologist, which was mailed in early December, began making its way to our members’ mailboxes in late January. If you haven’t yet received your copy, please drop us an email.

* We are still looking for a volunteer or two who would be willing to help with Membership and Outreach activities. Please be in touch if you are interested in sharing your time and talent with DOS!

Meghann Matwichuk, Membership Chair

[email protected]

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:

DOS Supports Invasive Plant Bill

Earlier this year, the DOS Conservation Committee testified in support of Senator Stephanie Hansen's Senate Bill 22. This Bill prohibits the import, export, sale, transport, distribution, or propagation of a number of invasive plant species. The list of invasives will be maintained by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, with the advice of the Delaware Native Species Commission. The Bill passed both chambers unanimously and is now awaiting signing by Governor Carney. DOS's representative to the Delaware Native Species Commission, Sheila Smith, gave the following comments during the House Natural Resources Committee hearing:

"Invasive plant species are a major threat to native bird populations. Invasive plants alter habitat structure, which can affect birds’ nesting success. Invasives displace the native plant species upon which caterpillars and other insects depend, thereby greatly reducing the food available for Delaware’s resident birds as well as for birds that visit our state during migration and winter. Aquatic invasive plants choke millponds, reservoirs, and impoundments, resulting in degradation of habitat for waterfowl, rails, and marsh birds. Invasive plant control in natural areas and agricultural settings consumes precious and limited conservation resources that could otherwise be used to make additional habitat improvements.Japanese Barberry by kat_the_nat on iNaturalist.

While this bill will not immediately fix the problem of invasive plants in Delaware, it is a critical step toward keeping the problem from becoming worse. It will boost public awareness and commercial availability of native plant alternatives. It will allow us to better protect and steward our natural areas by reducing the level of invasive plant introduction and spread. It will give our birds a fighting chance in the struggle to survive."

For more information, contact [email protected]
Above: Japanese barberry, a
common invasive landscape plant.

Red Knot Youth Birding Upcoming Events

March Waterfowl Madness at John Heinz NWR
March 13th, 9am-12pm

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! Click here to view our live cams!

DOS Merchandise

A snapshot of the DOS Zazzle shop merchandise.
Check out our DOS car magnets! More durable than a sticker, and easily moveable!

Suggest a merch idea by contacting [email protected].

DOS favorites such as binocular straps and hats from our website shop.

Bird ID Pop Quiz!
What's this bird? (Spring migration prep edition!) Click here for the answer.
Photo by David Lewis.

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

The 2021 challenge is still led by Aaron Reb! The competition for Top 10 battles on, with a two-way tie for 7th, and a three-way tie for 9th! Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. Learn more here.
*Rankings as of Mar 2, 2021.

Member Photo Gallery

Top: Eastern Screech Owl by Mike Moore.
Left: Cooper's Hawk by David Lewis. Right: Hairy Woodpecker by David Lewis.
Bottom: White-throated Sparrow by Mike Moore.
Want to see your photos in the Flyer? Submit them to [email protected]!
Copyright © 2020 Delaware Ornithological Society, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
DOS, P.O. Box 4247, Wilmington, DE 19807

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