Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 53 | Number 1 | September 2021
Fall migration is upon us!
Palm warbler by David Lewis.
Palm Warbler by David Lewis.

Letter from the President


A profile photo of Michael Moore.

Most of us consider Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to be the premiere birding destination in Delaware. This summer it added to that reputation in a big way. The rarity list there drew large crowds to the refuge. To be able to see Roseate Spoonbill, Little Egret, Curlew Sandpiper and Sedge Wren on the same day is remarkable. The spoonbills (4 of them) were the stars of the show and there are currently almost 700 eBird reports of them. For me, the breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was the star. I have only seen this species once before in the early 1970’s and it was high on my most wanted list. Birds that normally would be stars that were seen in and around the refuge like Buff-breasted, Baird’s and Upland Sandpipers, Gull-billed Tern, and White-faced Ibis took a back seat to the mega rarities.  
As I have written before, fall is rarity season and can be the most exciting time of the year for those who like to find and chase rarities. I hope you get out and bird as much as possible. DOS is running field trips again and both DOS-managed hawk watches are in operation.  Go out and see what you can find.
Of course, the resurgence of the pandemic creates challenges for organizations like DOS. We were hoping to have the picnic and get back to gathering for in-person meetings, but it looks like that is not a wise idea right now. So, the picnic has been cancelled and we will continue with Zoom meetings until things change.  
We are a completely volunteer organization and, despite being a relatively small organization, we have an ambitious agenda. We have been running several of our committees as skeleton committees with few members. We will be sending out a more detailed description of the opportunities soon, but we really need members to serve on the Field Trips, Youth Birding, and Membership/Outreach Committees. Even a couple of hours a week would be a big help. 

Volunteering can be a lot of fun and a way to meet new people who share your passion for birds. Please let us know if you are interested.  

-Mike Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

September Picnic Notice:

Due to the rising case rates across the country and added risk of the Delta COVID variant, DOS will be postponing our picnic event.

DOS Flyer Archive

Click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.

Bird-A-Thon Results

The 2021 Delaware Ornithological Society Bird-A-Thon was a rousing success; thanks to the dedicated work of 24 registered teams, we were able to exceed our fundraising goal by almost $15,000, raising a total of $64,001! We also need to thank the members of the the Delaware Bird-A-Thon Committee and the Conservation Committee; their support and commitment are invaluable.

The winning team for money raised was The Road Runners, who raised an amazing $18,356.00. This team, in the County Division, found 121 species in Sussex County in one day.

The Road Runners in their matching team shirts!

We are also thrilled to announce that, thanks to all of this generous and astounding support, DOS used funds raised by the Bird-A-Thon to help Delaware Wild Lands acquire and protect 225 acres of critical wetland habitat at the Fortner Farm; this property provides habitat to Delaware’s only known flock of Sandhill Cranes, which were successful in producing several young this year.

While ongoing concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent us from holding our usual picnic to celebrate these successes, we will be able to offer a field trip to the Fortner Farm so that our members can experience birding at this recently protected site. The date and time of this trip will be announced on the website soon.

Upcoming Field Trips
Ashland Migrant Walk
September 8 @ 7:30 am – 11:30 am
Join Jim White for a half-day ramble along the Red Clay Creek at Ashland Nature Center in search of warblers and other neotropical migrants! Bring your binoculars and spotting skills, along with a mask if you’re not vaccinated yet please.

Meet in parking lot of Ashland Nature Center, Hockessin DE.

Trip leader is Jim White, [email protected]. More information on DOS is available at the society’s website.

Scenery by Shannon Modla
 Scenery by Shannon Modla.

Milford Neck Fall Migrants
September 18 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Milford Neck is one of the best, least-birded areas of the state! More than 10,000 acres of the forest, fields and wetlands are permanently protected by the State of Delaware, The Nature Conservancy, and Delaware Wild Lands. The mosaic of habitats, easily accessed by an excellent road network, provide excellent birding opportunities. We will look for migrating songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors.

Meet at the Thompsonville Fire Hall. Exit Rt 1 at the Thompsonville Road Ext #79, follow Thompsonville Road east approximately 3.4 miles to Scotts Corner and Bennetts Pier Roads. The Firehall is on the right – meet at the far end of the lot.

***Please note, DE Conservation Access Pass is required***

Trip leader is Chris Bennett, contact at [email protected] – if you have questions about the trip. More information on DOS is available at the society’s website.


Little Creek Wildlife Area
October 16 @ 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Join Chris Bennett on a search for Fall migrants in and around the Little Creek Wildlife Area. We will be driving and walking the Wildlife Area roads, and, depending on time and group size, driving to Port Mahon or Pickering Beach for a little bonus birding!

Meet at the Fish and Wildlife Boat Ramp at the south end of the town of Little Creek, DE

***Please note, DE Conservation Access Pass is required to enter the Wildlife Area, boat ramp is open access***

Trip leader is Chris Bennett, contact at [email protected]. More information on DOS is available at the society’s website.

Get to know DOS member
Megan Kasprzak!

Megan releasing a black-and-white warbler at an Ashland Nature Center bird banding event

Megan Kasprzak is a native Delawarean who began birding in 2009. She lives in Wilmington and works at the University of Delaware as a biology lab coordinator. When not working or hanging out with her seven (indoor) cats, Megan can probably be found looking for warblers in New Castle County. She is also a contributing author to the Delaware Ornithologist – you can read her fascinating account of Blue-grey gnatcatchers feeding Grey catbird nestlings in the 2019/20 issue!
How long have you been a DOS member?
I’m not sure exactly, but probably around 7 or 8 years.
What is the best thing about being a part of DOS?
 I love that DOS focuses on habitat conservation and that we can all be a part of that by participating in the Delaware Bird-A-Thon. With all of the land development happening each year, it’s great to know that vital areas for breeding birds and migrants are being preserved.
Do you have a favorite birding patch?
My favorite birding patch is Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin. It has a nice variety of habitat in a small area and lots of trails so you can track down birds. In 2020, I took advantage of a flexible work-from-home schedule and did a lot of birding at Ashland, tallying 149 species there, including mourning, golden-winged, and Connecticut warblers, yellow-bellied flycatcher, Philadelphia vireo, and summer tanager. It was really fun to focus on a single patch to see what I could find there!
Do you have a favorite book about birds?
I have two favorite books about birds - the Sibley Field Guide to Birds and the Warbler Guide. The Sibley guide will always be special to me because it was my reference book as I learned to bird. The Warbler Guide is full of so much information, including tons of photos, comparisons to similar species, examples of plumages in spring vs fall, and spectrograms of songs. If you’ve ever looked at warblers, you know how difficult it can be to get a full, unobstructed view of them. This book gives multiple perspectives of the birds and points out all of the important field marks, so with practice it gives you a good chance of identifying the bird from a quick glimpse. I have found the spectrograms to be very useful as well to distinguish songs that I’m not quite sure of. Warblers are my favorite type of bird, so having all of this incredible information is awesome!
When is your favorite time of year to bird?
Fall is my favorite. While I do miss all of the bird songs of spring migration, I like that fall songbird migration seems to last longer. Fall also seems to bring a better chance of some of the rarer migrants like mourning warbler, Connecticut warbler, Philadelphia vireo, and yellow-bellied flycatcher. I also enjoy the challenge of distinguishing the confusing plumages of fall warblers.
What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to bird or see a particular bird?
I don’t get to travel much for birding, so I mainly stay in Delaware. I would say that the farthest I’ve traveled within Delaware is to the Indian River Inlet for rarities like snowy owl, razorbill, and red-necked grebe. I did also chase the ash-throated flycatcher that was down that way a couple of years ago.
Where (that you haven’t been yet) do you daydream about birding most?
I spent a semester studying abroad in Australia (Townsville), so technically I have been there before. But, I was not a birder then - and I wish I had been! I would love to go back there now that I am.
Who’s been your most influential birding mentor?
Right after college, I was an education intern at Ashland Nature Center. I worked alongside several excellent birders - Judy Montgomery, Joe Sebastiani, and Derek Stoner. They all were so willing and happy to share their love of birds that it was impossible not to catch the birding bug!
What is one of your most memorable birding experiences?
You may remember that the winter of 2017-2018 was extremely cold - so cold that the Delaware Bay froze over and even the Cape May-Lewes ferry had to stop running. In January 2018, there were reports of snowy owl at Port Mahon Road. We went down there to check it out but didn’t see any along the road. I decided to scope the ice out in the bay out of curiosity. I was thrilled to spot a snowy owl sitting on an ice floe, which was moving slowly down the bay with the current. What made this even more memorable was that when I was looking at that owl, a second snowy owl floated by on another piece of ice, moving a little faster!
Yellow-rumped Warbler by Mike Moore.
Yellow-rumped Warbler by Mike Moore.

Access Pass Reminder

Don't forget: Conservation Access Passes expired at the end of June! These passes are required to visit state wildlife areas such as Augustine (including Ashton Tract), Assawoman, Cedar Swamp, and Woodland Beach.
The cost to renew your pass is $32.50 for Delaware vehicles and $65.00 for out-of-state vehicles. Click here to get your pass!
Carolina Chickadee by Shannon Modla.
Carolina Chickadee by Shannon Modla.

Hawk Watching in Delaware

Soaring peregrine falcon against a green background. Photo by David Lewis.
Peregrine Falcon by David Lewis.
Grab your binoculars and get ready for the Fall 2021 Hawk Watching season at Cape Henlopen and Ashland. Starting September 1 and continuing daily until December 1, the two hawk watches in Delaware will have professional counters and a need for willing and able volunteers. Volunteers take over on the days when the counter is off duty (usually Sunday and Monday) but they are valuable everyday to help scan the sky. Volunteers are especially needed on the days when a high number of raptors are flying by from several different directions. The sky is big, and it is hard to keep track of all flying things overhead. Delaware’s two hawk watches have a different complement of raptors, following different routes, so it is worthwhile spending time at both. Both hawkwatch locations are an easy walk from parking, and both are located in otherwise ‘birdy' locations.
Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch (CHHW), located in Cape Henlopen State Park where the Delaware Bay empties into the Atlantic, will have Jen Ottinger returning for her tenth year. Jen now has extensive raptor experience at Cape Henlopen, and we are incredibly lucky to have her eyes and skill. Cape Henlopen’s raptors come from different directions depending on the weather conditions, and several years of experience help in knowing where to focus. When the raptor flight is slow, you can also be entertained with seabirds and ducks migrating South along the coast. Covid protocols at the State Park require that everyone keep a safe distance, but there is room for several birders to help out. 
Ashland Hawk Watch (AHW) at Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin is the most northerly site of The Delaware Nature Society and is located in the Piedmont. David Brown will begin his fifth year at Ashland. He has impressive identification skills and amazing camera work - grabbing photos of many of the birds that fly over, and his enthusiasm for counting these raptors is infectious. There is lots of space to distance while outside so volunteers should have no trouble participating.
Funding for the hawk watches is provided by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, which is a partner in this project.
We have found that the more eyes on the sky, the more birds that are found. If any of you would like to help out, please come to either hawk watch. Do not let lack of experience deter you - you will learn!

If you are interested in becoming a trained volunteer who can work on a regular basis, please contact:

Ashland Hawk Watch: Joe Sebastiani @239-2334, X115 (work), [email protected].
Cape Henlopen Hawkwatch: 
Rob Blye, [email protected] or 302-945-8618 (home) or 610-213-2413 (mobile)
Duck Stamp Revisions

Federal Duck Stamp example photo. U.S. Department of the Interior.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published final regulations governing the annual Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Contest – also known as the Federal Duck Stamp Contest – beginning with the 2022 contest. These revisions provide artists more flexibility when designing their art and broaden the appeal of the Duck Stamp to a more diverse audience."
Read more here
Linked thumbnail of Liz Clayton Fuller painting a red knot on Twitch.
Artist Liz Clayton Fuller is collaborating with DOS to design a special Red Knot license plate for the state of Delaware! Check out her Twitch stream painting the Red Knot for this project!
- Your backyard bird feeding specialist -

"This summer was a difficult time for the birds and us, but we made it through. Luckily, you can now feed your birds again!" 

Wild Birds Unlimited-Hockessin 
Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm.

Lancaster Pike & Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE

A juvenile Blue Jay sitting on a bird feeder.

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

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

Aaron Reb's unbroken reign continues, now leading the rankings by a remarkable 25 species!

The next three ranks also remain unchanged, with Andrew Dunn in second, Sharon Lynn in third and Jeff Kietzmann in fourth. 

Mike Moore rose from 9th place to 8th, and Susan Gruver and Theodora Burke have tied for 9th place. Will the elusive top 10 rankings shake up as fall migrants sweep through Delaware? Will a backyard birding underdog rise to steal Reb's throne? Is he unstoppable?!

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

Member Photo Gallery

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Kingbird by Shannon Modla.
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

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You may unsubscribe to this list here: {{Unsubscribe URL}}.

For the best Flyer viewing experience, check to make sure your email inbox display settings allow images.