Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 52 | Number 8 | April 2021
Next DOS member meeting: April 21st!
American Robin by Mike Moore.

Letter from the President


A profile photo of Michael Moore.

One of the great successes of the Delaware Ornithological Society has been the land purchased for conservation using the money raised by the Delaware Bird-a-thon. It is remarkable that over the last 15 years that this fund-raising event has raised over $600,000 and protected over 2100 acres of Delaware wetlands. For an organization of this size, that is quite an achievement.
The Bird-a-thon was founded 15 years ago by Bill Stewart. His dream was to use the funds to protect Mispillion Harbor, a critical migration stopover for the endangered rufa subspecies of the Red Knot. We were incredibly happy to recently announce that Bill’s vision has been fulfilled and now all of Mispillion Harbor is protected public land. The final purchase was made using the proceeds of the last Bird-a-thon Bill participated in before his passing. See elsewhere in this issue for more details.
We ran a limited Bird-a-thon is the fall, but we recently announced that the Bird-a-thon is back! It will be held this spring from 1-9 May 2021. Now that Mispillion Harbor is protected, we have shifted our focus north to the Augustine Creek drainage south of Port Penn. We are partnering again with Delaware Wildlands, which already owns much of the Augustine Creek drainage, to try to completely protect this wetland as well. The headliner here is that this drainage appears to be home to Delaware’s recently established flock of resident Sandhill Cranes. This year’s Bird-a-thon will help raise funds for the purchase of a property on the NE corner of the drainage.
You can participate in the Bird-a-thon by signing up sponsors and going birding or by donating to this great cause. You can make specific donations to specific teams or you can make a general donation to the Bird-a-thon fund to support land purchases. See this page on our webpage for more details:
Finally, to spice things up, I am issuing a President’s Challenge to the Bird-a-thon teams. I will donate $100 to each team that adds Blue-winged or Golden-winged Warbler to their Bird-a-thon list, up to a total of $1000.

-Mike Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

April 21 Meeting:

"An Introduction to Nocturnal Migration:" by Jerald Reb

Jerald RebJerald Reb grew up in Delaware, where he started birding at the age of six. He started monitoring nocturnal flight calls in 2014 and has continued to do so ever since. After graduating from high school, Jerald worked as a migration counter in Cape May, NJ, and a point count technician in New York. He now lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he attends college.

On spring and fall nights with good migration conditions, thousands of birds can be heard calling as they move overhead. Come learn about identifying these nocturnal flight calls (NFCs), techniques used in monitoring nocturnal migration, and more, as Jerald takes us on a journey through the night sky!

DOS Flyer Archive

Click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.

DOS Council Nominations


Mike Moore - President Nominee
Mike Moore Mike Mooreis a retired Biology professor who has been a life member of DOS since he moved to Delaware from Arizona in 2009. He started his life list when he was 11 years old and has been an avid lister ever since.  He serves as an eBird reviewer for Delaware. As DOS president for the last year, he has tried to help advance DOS’s multifaceted mission, strengthen its relationship with partners. and increase its visibility in the birding community. 

Jeff Buler - Council Nominee
My favorite thing about DOSJeff Buler is the friendly community of members sharing in their passion for birds and fostering a love of nature in our youth. My own passion for birds was solidified during my first trip to Bombay Hook NWR upon seeing the spectacle of a thousand Snow Geese honking and flying overhead at age 16. Now, I am an associate professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware and make the annual trek to Bombay Hook NWR for the Christmas Bird Count to see and share the birds with my students.

Shannon Modlam - Secretary Nominee Shannon Modla
Shannon Modla began birding in 2009 in Delaware and enjoys using photography to capture the beauty of birds and other flora and fauna. She is grateful for the conservation efforts put forth by DOS and their ability to secure important habitats that will support populations of birds and other creatures. Shannon has recently become enthusiastic about the implementation of native plants in residential landscapes and their ability to provide ecological benefits.

Angie Barbato - Treasurer Nominee
Raptors! Raptors! Raptors! Angie BarbatoThey are what took me beyond backyard birds. I started as a volunteer at the Ashland Hawk Watch in 2012, then joined DOS shortly thereafter and have seen so many amazing things and met so many fantastic people thanks to this membership. Hawk Watch, Falcon Watch, and Bird Banding have been my favorite activities, and now I look forward to taking on a larger role in this one of a kind organization.  

Mike Hudson - Vice President NomineeMike Hudson holding a Kookabura.
Mike Hudson has been a member of DOS for twelve years; he became involved in the organization when he was a teenager through his involvement in the Delaware Bird-A-Thon and youth birding programs. Mike has been a longtime member of the Bird-A-Thon subcommittee and has chaired it since 2019. He has worked as an environmental educator and field biologist, and is a former Editor of North American Birds. 

Delaware Bird-a-Thon 2021

Save the Dates
May 1-9, 2021

Get to know DOS member
Curt Davis!

Curt Davis photographing a bird.

Originally from Rhode Island, Curt Davis has lived in Delaware intermittently for over fifteen years. He came to Newark to earn a Ph.D. in energy and environmental policy from the University of Delaware and is currently working remotely as an adjunct professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Curt is a member of the DOS Conservation Committee and is a board member of several NGOs including the Delaware Audubon Society.

How long have you been a DOS member?  I joined in September 2017.

What is the best thing about being a part of DOS?  The community of birders. Not only have I learned so much from so many people, but I have also developed strong friendships with some DOS members.

Do you have a ‘spark’ bird?  Yes, but I could not identify it (which is how I became a birder). About twenty years ago, I was living in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay and one day a multi-colored passerine briefly landed on the road in front of me. From memory, the only way I could describe it is similar to a male Painted Bunting, which does not occur in South America. I could not believe that such a combination of colors existed in birds, so I started to pay closer attention to all the birds around me. About a year later, I journeyed deeper into the Gran Chaco to the tri-borders of Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina to visit friends. They suggested we go for a walk to the Pilcomayo River, which was loaded with avian life, including the Jabiru (a type of stork). After seeing the mighty Jabiru lift up and fly over me, I became an active birder and bought my first field guide and binoculars.

What is your favorite bird and why?  I can’t say that I have a favorite bird, but I really love anything in the order Piciformes, especially woodpeckers. While traveling through Patagonia, I observed a pair of Magellanic Woodpeckers (in the Campephillus genus like the Ivory-billed Woodpecker). They landed in a tree at the top of a hill and I watched the female for a while. She was so big and powerful and I could not stop laughing at the size of the chunks of wood and bark that were falling to the ground with a thud. The black feathers on her head were congealed into one floppy point that looked as though it was made of rubber as she slammed her bill into the tree like an axe. When I moved back to the U.S. as a birder, I anxiously searched for the Pileated Woodpecker, but it took me eight years to see my first one!

Do you have a favorite birding patch?  My favorite birding patch is my back yard, which happens to be the Newark Reservoir. I have lived there for close to ten years, but didn’t really start “birding” it until I was introduced to eBird in 2017. At the time, Alan Kneidel—who also lived within walking distance, but I have never met—was the top eBirder for the location and I could not believe that one person was able to observe 136 species there (at the time, I don’t think that I had seen 136 species in all of Delaware). This inspired me to set a goal of seeing 100 species at the location and it forced me to really start looking and listening better. Given the diversity of waterfowl, including both dabbling and diving ducks, as well as everything that you would expect to see at a forest edge (plus the occasional shorebird), the Reservoir has been my training ground for getting more familiar with Delaware birds.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to bird or see a particular bird?  When I was living in Hokkaido, Japan, I traveled to Okinawa to look for the Okinawan Woodpecker. I took two flights to get to Naha (the capital), then a bus up to the start of the Yambaru peninsula, and then I rented a car to go look for the bird, which is endemic to Okinawa (and the nearby islands—there are only an estimated 800 left in existence). I got one quick look at it within the first two hours of driving through the forest. Then, I took an overnight ferry to an island to the north (Amami Oshima) to look for any of the four endemic birds on that island (I saw three).

Who’s been your most influential birding mentor?  The first birder I ever met was Juan Klavins, an Argentinian ornithologist who was working with the Paraguayan NGO, Guyra (which means “bird” in the native Paraguayan language, Guaraní). Juan taught me everything I needed to know to get me started as a birder. When I moved to Sussex County from Paraguay, the first birders I met were Sally and Bill Fintel, who were leading tours at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. They gave me an excellent crash course on the birds of Delaware. For years, they were the only birders that I knew in the U.S. Then, after I moved to Newark, I learned about Delaware Nature Society’s guided tours at Middle Run, which is where I met Tim Freiday, who made me a much better birder in every way (especially learning bird calls and songs). On one of the walks at Middle Run, one of the other participants told me about a tour at Granogue led by the late great Bill Stewart, who also had a major impact on me (I joined DOS right after meeting him). Every time that I birded with Tim and Bill, it was an inclusive experience and they were genuinely excited about every bird that people called out. Bill would always say something like “when you are observing birds, think about what they are doing and why. Try to understand what the bird is thinking and for what purpose its actions serve.” Now, when I lead bird tours, I try to channel all of these mentors, especially Bill, to make the tours more inclusive and keep people inspired to understand and appreciate the birds around them. Andy Ednie has also been an invaluable resource in sharing not only the weekly sightings of birds, but also the history of Delaware birds and birding.

How have birds changed your life?  Birding completely controls my geographic thinking and planning. My work is in global development and education, so whenever I learn that I will be traveling someplace new, the first thing I do is check out which eBird hotspots are nearby and begin shopping for field guides. For example, I will be spending the summer in Tokyo and I have no idea how I will find an apartment, but I already know exactly where I will be birding!

Spotted Lanternfly Control: 
A Sticky Situation

Spotted lanternfly. Photo by atomiclizard.
You’ve heard the bad news about the invasive Spotted Lanternfly -- and you’ve no doubt been unlucky enough to have seen one of these creatures in nymph and adult form last summer. Public information campaigns have communicated the danger these insects pose to certain crops and plants, but some control efforts are causing collateral damage. Sticky tape traps placed on trees to ensnare the insects also attract birds that view them as a food source. The outcome is often devastating.
“Last summer, Tri-State received more than 50 birds that had been stuck to tape intended to trap Spotted Lanternflies,” says Lisa Smith, Executive Director of Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Newark, DE. Although some can be rehabilitated and released, many suffer injuries so severe that the only option is humane euthanasia. 

Wild bird feathers stuck to a spotted lanternfly trap.
“We understand that people want to help control the spread of this insect, but it should not be at the expense of the suffering and death of our native wildlife,” Ms. Smith explains. “Safer, effective alternatives are available.” One such alternative is the circle trap, which uses netting to funnel the insects into a plastic jug:

Ms. Smith offers an additional tip:  “If you do find a bird stuck to tape, DO NOT try to remove it yourself. You will break bones and dislocate shoulders and hips. Instead, remove the tape from the tree and cover the sticky tape with tissues to prevent more of the bird from becoming stuck. Take the bird, attached to the tape, to your nearest permitted wildlife rehabilitator.”

-Meghann Matwichuk, Membership Committee Chair
[email protected]

Conservation News:

Mispillion Harbor Protected!

Aerial view of Mispillion Harbor

DOS is excited to announce to our members and donors the long-worked for completion of the goal of our 2019 Delaware Bird-A-Thon: the acquisition and protection of private inholdings at Mispillion Harbor, one of the most important migratory shorebird sites on the Delaware Bay. The acquisition, in the works for many years, was completed in partnership with The Conservation Fund, Delaware Wild Lands, Inc., and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).Red Knot by Jean Woods.
Permanently protecting Mispillion Harbor, one of the most important global locations for the survival of Red Knots and other migratory shorebirds, was a long-time vision of late Bird-A-Thon founder Bill Stewart.
The tenacity, patience, and commitment it took to complete this project on behalf of all parties involved – from first communications with the landowner to negotiations about site usage to completing all the necessary legal requirements for transference - cannot be overstated. The role of DOS in generating funds and support for this project was critical. 2019 DOS Bird-A-Thon contributed, including matching donations, over $177,000 to this project. When added to our prior $75,000 Bird-A-Thon contribution toward the acquisition, the total DOS share of the project was over $252,000. All Bird-A-Thon participants and donors can take great pride in having helped raise over a quarter of a million dollars to protect this critical site!
The newly acquired land will not yet be open to the public, as DNREC assesses opportunities for shoreline restoration to benefit the federally threatened Red Knot. Stay tuned for more updates from DOS as the project progresses.
-Matthew Sarver, Conservation Committee Chair

Red Knot Youth Birding Upcoming Events

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 participate in community-based science and help with bird conservation. Binoculars will available to borrow. Youth Birding leaders will be there to help young birders spot and identify species. NOTE: the overall event starts at 4pm, but youth birding leaders will be there starting at 6pm. More details here.

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? Click here for the answer.
Photo by Mike Moore.

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

The 2021 backyard challenge is still led by Aaron Reb!

Top 10 rankings have shifted this month: Sharon Lynn overtook Jeff Kietzmann for 3rd place. Bob Edelen made big gains from 9th last month all the way to tie with Brian McCaffrey for 5th place. Our leaders' average species count increased by about 10, although Aaron continued to dominate the pace by increasing his by 21 species!

Spring migration should make the competition fierce! Don't miss out!

Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. Learn more here.
*Rankings as of Apr 1, 2021.

Member Photo Gallery

Field Sparrow and Cattle Egret 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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