Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 52 | Number 9 | May 2021
Next DOS member meeting: May 19!
Northern Parula by Mike Moore.

Letter from the President


A profile photo of Michael Moore.

Warbler neck: the malady every birder wants in May. Of course, this comes from staring at the top of very tall trees trying to make out the small, beautiful quick moving birds flitting around in their crowns. Every birder loves spring warblers, but most wish they would forage lower! The past two migrations (Spring and Fall 2020) produced remarkably high numbers of migrating warblers in Delaware with certain species, such as Cape May Warbler, seen in nearly unprecedented numbers. The next couple of weeks will tell us how spring 2021 compares. It takes a good reproductive season, high overwinter survival, and the right winds to bring large numbers of warblers to Delaware. I hope to see all of you walking around places like White Clay Creek and Middle Run with aching necks!
The 2021 Bird-a-thon sponsored by DOS is going on as I write this, back to its normal schedule at the height of spring migration. Donations have already rolled in from hundreds of people. Donation will be open for several weeks. You can either support a specific team or just make a general donation to the BAT funds. All donated funds are used to support our program of purchasing and protecting endangered wetland habitats. Information about donating can be found here:

-Mike Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

May 19 Meeting:

"Crash Course in Wildlife Photography" by Josh Ward

Josh's portrait of a Purple SandpiperJosh is currently a rising senior in Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. He has been obsessed with the natural world since he could first walk and talk -- everything from birds to bugs and frogs to bats. He has become an avid birder, herper, and all-around naturalist in the past several years Five years ago he began his path into the world of photography and hasn't looked back since. He plans on pursuing a career in either writing about his experiences in nature or becoming a wildlife photographer full time.

Program Description:
Have you ever looked at the work of the famous National Geographic photographers and wondered just how on Earth they manage to do what they do? Well, I don’t claim to be NatGeo caliber, but in this program we will take a look at all the general themes, tips, and tricks of being a wildlife photographer. We will jump into a rapid crash course about wildlife photography, covering the ways to find and observe wildlife, techniques for photography, and how to use camera settings properly. Photography is a wonderful way to record what you might come across when you’re outdoors, and it’s far easier to get into it than you might think!

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

Happening now!
May 1-9, 2021

Bird-a-thon Updates

The Bird-a-thon has been going strong! Check out some updates from participants!

DOS President Mike Moore issued a President’s Challenge to all of our Bird-A-Thon participants! All competitors that find a Blue-winged or Golden-winged warbler during their Bird-A-Thon will get an additional $100 donation toward their fundraising efforts.
Golden-winged Warbler

The University of Delaware Aeroecology Lab Team "The Hangover of Red-eyed Vireos" had a windy and cold Saturday morning, but still managed to see 110 species, including Blue-winged Warbler!
Team Hangover of Red-eyed Vireos!
Team Jay Division participated in a carbon-free Bird-a-thon and saw this Lincoln's Sparrow from their yard!
Lincoln's Sparrow

The Great Cypress Swamp Bird-a-thon walk produced Rusty Blackbird, Summer Tanager, and Red-headed Woodpecker!
Rusty Blackbird at the Great Cypress Swamp
The New County Corvids received an international donation from New Zealand. Our efforts to raise money for shorebird habitat has gotten support from all over the world. Thanks to the Christchurch O'Byrnes!!
Team She Loves Me Knot wrapped their Big Day with this sweet red phase screech owl and hit their personal goal of 50 species!
A red morph eastern screech owl in a nest box.
Have Bird-a-thon stories you'd like to share? Send them to [email protected] to be featured in our June issue!

Get to know DOS member
Shannon Modla!

Shannon Modla with a horsehoe crab

Shannon Modla started birding in Delaware in 2009 with her partner, Megan Kasprzak. She works at the University of Delaware as a transmission electron microscopist. When she is not in a dark room, hunched over her microscope looking at tiny stuff all day, she can often be found out in nature, lugging around her giant camera to photograph birds, flowers, and other wildlife. Shannon has been nominated to serve as Secretary on the upcoming DOS Council ballot and we are looking forward to the enthusiasm she will bring to this role!

How long have you been a DOS member? I actually have no idea! It has probably been 6-8 years.

What is the best thing about being a part of DOS? One of the best things about DOS has been their conservation efforts and fundraising through the Delaware Bird-A-Thon to secure land that will protect important bird habitat. This effort has not only helped the birds, but it also gives nature lovers like me more areas to explore. For example, I often visit Ashton Tract in the Augustine Wildlife Area, which was one of the areas the Bird-A-Thon established as a conservation area.

What is your favorite bird and why? My favorite bird is the Black Skimmer. For graduate school, I attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington, which is a short drive to Wrightsville Beach. I spent many hours on Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier while I was getting my master’s degree, catching bluefish, pinfish, lizardfish, flounder, and anything else that would bite. Although I was an absolute nature-lover while in graduate school, I wasn’t the enthusiastic birder that I am today, and I didn’t truly appreciate the birds in and near Wrightsville Beach until visiting the area years later with my partner. On one of these visits, we discovered a nesting colony of Black Skimmers on the south side of the island. Walking from the parking area to the shoreline, we could hear the raucous calls of the skimmers as they constantly chattered. The skimmers zipped effortlessly through the dunes and engaged in acrobatic, aerial battles with each other. The skimmers would often fly right past us as they headed out to the shoreline to skim for prey and then would return to the nesting area to deliver fish to their nestlings’ hungry mouths. I could sit there and watch them for hours. It is such a magical place, and the Black Skimmers left an indelible impression on me.

What is your favorite bird song? My favorite bird song is the Black-throated Green Warbler. The explanation will be a bit embarrassing…. Megan and I like to invent our own mnemonics to help us remember bird songs. The more absurd and funnier they sound, the easier it is for us to recall the bird when we hear it in the field. For the Black-throated Green Warbler, our mnemonic is “Jazzy likes to eat some poo!” Jazzy was Megan’s family dog who passed away suddenly in 2017 from liver cancer. Jazzy would occasionally eat their other dog’s poop, which always grossed us out. Now whenever we hear the Black-throated green warbler calling in the springtime, we always think of Jazzy, that sweet and adorable, yet gross, pup. If you are curious to know some of our other homemade mnemonics, here are a few:

- Canada Warbler: “How long does it take to do that?” (Must be said with a valley-girl way of speaking for full effect)
- Mourning Warbler: “Frankie, fungal, feline, fur.” (Reminds us of when our kitten Frankie had ringworm)
- Hooded Warbler: “I don’t want to go to school!”
- White-crowned sparrow: “Stinky kitty butt.”

Do you have a favorite birding patch? Ashland Nature Center is one of my top birding patches. It is close to my house so I can get there within 15-20 minutes, there are a variety of habitats including meadow, marsh, creek, deciduous and coniferous woods, and the trees aren’t as towering as in White Clay so there are more opportunities to photograph and see birds at eye level. You can also see a lot of other interesting wildlife including frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, raccoons lounging in trees, the occasional beaver and muskrat, and much more.

Do you create bird-related art? Some examples of Shannon's bird artworkYes! I have used white and black charcoal, pencil, ink, and, most recently, colored pencils as media to create bird art. I also enjoy woodworking and have created wood intarsia of various species including Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Duck, Carolina Chickadee, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I have many hobbies!

Share a favorite bird fact. I recently learned that some birds use their blood as a central heating system in winter. A study done at Lund University in Sweden compared the red blood cells in species of tits that were collected in early fall to those collected in late winter. Unlike mammals, red blood cells of birds contain mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of the cell that produce energy for cellular metabolism. The researchers discovered that winter birds had more mitochondria in their red blood cells than those from early fall birds, and the mitochondria in the late winter birds were working on overdrive to produce heat. Pretty neat!

How have birds changed your life? Birds have had an impact on multiple aspects of my life. Both of my parents have terminal health conditions: my mom with multiple sclerosis and dementia, and my dad with Parkinson’s disease. It is a great source of stress, anxiety, and depression in my life seeing their health decline over time. Several years ago, my anxiety got so terrible that I had a difficult time functioning normally. It was at this darkest point that Megan and I decided to do a big year in Delaware. It got me out of my comfort zones by visiting new birding sites throughout the state, and having a regular connection with nature helped to improve my mental health. Although I still deal with anxiety, birding is a definite restorative outlet, and for whatever reason being outside watching those flitty, feather-clad creatures make me happy.

Another way birds have impacted my life is they have served as a gateway drug to my native plant obsession. Since I love birds so much, I want them everywhere, including my yard. I have transformed my yard into a native plant oasis, and as a result, we have seen an increase in the diversity of bird species visiting it. I am nowhere near as knowledgeable about plant identification as bird identification, but I am working on it!

Survey Request: "You and the owls"

DOS received a request from researchers Alexandre Roulin and Christine Mohr to share a survey regarding worldwide perspectives about owls.

"The protection of our environment requires a better understanding of psychological phenomena. These are likely to contribute to whether a person is prepared to work for its protection. To better understand psychological aspects of conservation, we study owls, because these animals do not leave us indifferent: we love or hate them! In the following questions we would like to know what you spontaneously think about owls. We ask you several questions about owls, what you know, think and feel about them.

Our goal is to investigate why people view owls as good or bad. This has a number of implications regarding nature conservation, since we need to convince members of the society to invest time and money. Our study is performed worldwide and to this end we translated a questionnaire in 35 languages.

Results will be analyzed in January of 2022. Click
to visit the project website, and select your language to take the survey

DuPont Nature Center Reopens!

DuPont Nature CenterThe DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion has reopened! Click here for more details.

Click here to learn more about visiting the shorebirds and horseshoe crabs there. Remember to be courteous and avoid disturbing shorebirds during their stressful migration!

Red Knot Youth Birding Upcoming Events

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at Middle Run Natural Area
Saturday, May 8th, 8-11am

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. Join the Red Knots for an outing celebrating World Migratory Bird Day and the end of the Delaware Bird-A-Thon. This is a great trip to explore the diversity of spring migration in Delaware as we look for warblers, thrushes, flycatchers and other gorgeous migrants. We will meet in the parking area and explore the Birding Trail Loop. Driving directions here. RSVP required.

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

DOS Hats
Check out DOS hats and other merchandise in our online store!

Suggest a merch idea by contacting [email protected].

Bird ID Pop Quiz!
What's this bird? Click here for the answer.
Photo by Mike Moore.

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

Aaron Reb's reign continues this month, increasing his 2021 yard total by 36 species!

The top four rankings remain unchanged, with Andrew Dunn adding 43 species, Sharon Lynn adding 15, and Jeff Kietzmann adding 17. Fifth place has been claimed by Gary Griffith. Mike Moore, Nancy Goggin, and Theodora Burke hold a three-way tie for 10th place!

Spring migration is in full force! Don't miss out!

Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. Learn more here.
*Rankings as of May 2, 2021.

Member Photo Gallery

Black-and-white Warbler by Michael Moore. Red-winged Blackbird by David Lewis.
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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