Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 53 | Number 3 | November 2021
Next meeting: November 17th!
Ring-necked Pheasant by Mike Moore.

Letter from the President


A profile photo of Michael Moore.

The weather is actually starting to feel like Fall. Leaves are turning and I had to find my jackets and gloves again. The onset of colder weather means a change in our birds too. Warbler migration is largely over for us, and they have been replaced by sparrows which are starting to arrive in numbers. Both fall warblers and sparrows have bad reputations as being difficult to identify, but I really enjoy the challenge. If you find sparrows frustrating, just take it on as a new challenge for the Fall. I think once you start working on them, they will start to get easier, and you will start to enjoy the challenge too.
A great fall birding activity is to visit one of the two hawk watches managed by DOS, either the one at Ashland Nature Center or Cape Henlopen State Park. Crisp fall weather is hawk watching weather. Birders of all skill levels are welcome. I was lucky this last week to be at Ashland when a Golden Eagle glided right over us at low altitude. It was a dance party for the ten minutes after the sighting with everyone jumping around in excitement. It has been a great year at both hawk watches. Seabirds have stolen the show at Cape Henlopen with two Sooty Terns earlier this year and lately with numerous sightings of both Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers, but they have had their usual stream of Ospreys and falcons and enjoyed their first Golden Eagle this week too. Ashland has had a fantastic fall flight of Accipiters with many big days of Sharp-shinned Hawks. The first two weeks of November are the best time to see Golden Eagle at Ashland, but only 8-12 are seen every year so you must be both lucky and persistent to see one.
Other birds to watch for over the next couple of months are western hummingbirds. For Nov and Dec, Rufous Hummingbird is the most likely hummingbird to see here. Allen’s, Black-chinned, Anna’s, Calliope and Broad-tailed are all possible and there are also many Ruby-throats that linger into early winter. Keep your hummingbird feeders up and clean them regularly to see if you can attract one of these vagrants. If you do attract a late hummingbird, let us know and we can arrange for a bander to come and put a band on the bird and verify its identity since many immature hummingbirds can only be identified in the hand.

Note that leaving feeders up does not keep hummingbirds from migrating. They need to put on fat for the long journey. Feeders are important to help them do that especially when all the flowers are gone.

-Mike Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!
Have photos of yourself birding? The Flyer would love to feature you! Send your birder selfies to [email protected]. Photo above by Shannon Modla.

DOS Flyer Archive

Click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.

November 17th Meeting:
“Use of a Delaware Bayshore marsh hummock by songbirds during migration” by Kitt Heckscher

A portrait photo of Kitt Hecksher

Dr. Christopher (Kitt) Heckscher is Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Ecology at Delaware State University and the Institutional Project Director of the NOAA EPP Environmental Cooperative Science Center at DSU.

His lab’s research includes the effect of sea level rise and climate change on coastal stopover sites for migratory birds, as well as long-term studies of the behavioral ecology and migratory connectivity of Veerys. Dr. Heckscher is also an expert on the inventory and conservation of rare terrestrial and wetland-associated invertebrates especially Lampyridae (fireflies), Odonata (damselflies and dragonflies), and Lepidoptera (butterflies, skippers, moths [esp. Catocalaand Papaipema]). He has extensive experience in zoological assessments of Mid-Atlantic natural areas and in conducting field research specifically aimed at providing data for informed land management decisions.

Previously, he served as Delaware’s State Zoologist for 12 years for The Nature Conservancy and Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, where he initiated, developed, and maintained the Delaware state zoological database and conducted field inventories of rare species. Kitt also has 9 years of experience as a zoologist for The Nature Conservancy.

The meeting is held online from 7-9pm via Zoom software.

Members will receive an email with Zoom login info prior to the meeting.  If you are not a member and would like to attend, please click here to request login info which is available a few days before the meeting.

We look forward to ‘seeing’ you soon!

Upcoming Field Trips

A bald eagle perched on a branch. The background is a blue sky. Photo by Mike Moore.
Bald eagle by Mike Moore.

Red Knot Youth Birders Trip:
Conowingo Park and Octoraro Creek Trail
November 13th @ 8:30am to 10:30am

Join the Red Knot Youth Birders for a trip to Conowingo Park on the opposite side of the Susquehanna from Conowingo Dam.  We will explore the forested trail along Octoraro Creek and enjoy some Bald Eagle watching at the base of the dam. Loaner binoculars will be available but please feel free to bring your own if you have them! Please RSVP to Jessica Shahan at so we know to expect you.

Meet at 19 Ratledge Ln, Conowingo MD 21918

Christmas Bird Counts

Birders silhouetted against a beach sky. Photo by unknown DOS member.

I know, we haven’t even gotten to Halloween, but it is never too early to start thinking about the best holidays of all: the Christmas Bird Counts. The Delaware Ornithological Society sponsors six counts: Wilmington, Middletown, Bombay Hook, Rehoboth, Cape Henlopen/Prime Hook and Milford. All the counts are looking for birders to participate. Contact the appropriate count compiler if you are interested in joining any or all of this year’s Christmas counts. New birders are always welcome. The counts are free to all participants.
~Jim White, DOS Christmas Count Coordinator
[email protected]

Get to know DOS member Maureen Markrow!

A photo of Maureen Markrow holding her binoculars. Behind her is the trunk and foliage of a tree.
Maureen is a Delaware native, mom of four grown kids, and has been married 36 years to her husband, Andrew. She has two adorable little grandsons. Maureen got the bug for birding a little later in life as her kids moved into adulthood. She loves being outdoors, chasing and photographing birds, hiking and kayaking, and she recently started biking local trails (with binoculars and camera in tow, of course).

How long have you been a DOS member? Since spring 2014. I attended a DOS meeting as a non-member to see Tom Stephenson, co-author of “The Warbler Guide” give a presentation on his book. I was just beginning to learn about these small colorful birds and was enchanted by them, but didn’t know how to find birds outside of my backyard. I kept seeing amazing photos of them that people posted on various sites I’d started following; the envy!!! I left that meeting with my signed copy of the book, a determination to find those little birds, and a DOS membership!

What is the best thing about being a part of DOS? There are so many great things about DOS. The trips, guest speakers, camaraderie among people with a shared passion. But more than anything the best thing about DOS is how informative it is. DOS provides a tremendous amount of information on so many different topics. It’s definitely a continuing learning experience.

Do you have a ‘spark’ bird? Not really; my interest in birds kind of evolved. My mother really loved birds and I have a brother who’s been birding his whole life so it’s in my blood, I just gave in.

What is your favorite bird and why? Warblers stole my heart a long time ago. I think the Black and White might be my favorite though; I just love any black and white bird and Black and White warblers are just extra charming. Time after time they’ve come so close to me I couldn’t focus my camera on them. And, the way they clamor under and over branches make them really fun to watch.

What is your favorite bird song? Wood Thrush for its beautiful song, and any warbler call because it means a warbler is nearby!
Do you have a favorite birding patch? Ashland Nature Center is probably top of my list. It’s the perfect size and has several different habitat types so you have opportunity to see a nice variety of species. Also, there’s no place like home! I have a lot of mature trees in my yard bringing a trove of great birds through. It’s extra special when they come to you!

When is your favorite time of year to bird? Spring and Fall are equally my favorites. Seeing that first early spring migrant and knowing more aren’t far behind is the best feeling! Fall is amazing as well. That’s usually when I get the most migrating birds in my yard.

Do you have a favorite ‘type’ of birding? (e.g. hawk watching, backyard birding, shore-birding,
etc.) I love walking trails through the woods, especially near a creek or body of water. I usually carry a lightweight stool so I can plant myself somewhere and see what comes by.
What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to bird or see a particular bird? I traveled to Lewes DE to see a Crested Caracara and to Bombay Hook to see a Western Tanager. I also spent a few days in Clearwater, FL just to bird in general. Got some great looks and pics of some Wood Storks and a Loggerhead Shrike catching a lizard.

A Loggerhead Shrike. Photo by Maureen Markrow.

Where (that you haven’t been yet) do you daydream about birding most? Arizona and Texas

Who’s been your most influential birding mentor? Several stand out: The first bird walk I ever went on was at Brandywine Creek State Park. It was cold; late winter, I think. I had a crap pair of binoculars and no clue what to expect. We trekked across the fields into the woods and down a trail towards the creek. Our guide stopped abruptly, turned to me and with a grin said “Don’t laugh.” He then brought his hands to his face in a calling gesture and launched into a very loud owl call. I knew at that moment I’d found “my people”! I spent the remainder of the walk wearing a big dumb grin on my face. I was home! Anyway, as you’ve probably guessed, that guide was Andy Ednie. I’ve been on many bird walks with him since that cold winter day. He’s an excellent guide and fills the walks with lots of birds and bird facts, laughter, and an abundance of Delaware trivia. I met Kim Steininger when I signed up to volunteer for the Wilmington Peregrine Falcon Fledgewatch, which she organized at the time. I’d never seen a Peregrine before but had heard about the falcons that nested on the Brandywine Building and was always curious about them. Kim’s super smart with an adventurous spirit and she graciously took me under her wing and got me out of my comfort zone (aka New Castle County) nudging me to see some great birding spots I probably would not have ventured to on my own. Bill Stewart. I don’t have enough words to express how grateful I am that I got the chance to get to know Bill and witness the pure joy and passion he had for birds and teaching others about them, and his dedication to protecting them and their habitats.
Share a favorite bird fact. Peregrines are the fastest animal on the planet! And we have a pair right here in downtown Wilmington.

What advice would you give to someone newly interested in birds? Join DOS! Go on bird walks with experienced people. Get a good field guide and pair of binoculars and start learning the birds in your area. I started in my yard and worked my way out, into larger areas and different habitats.
How have birds changed your life? Birding has opened up a whole new world for me. I have a newfound zest for life that I didn’t expect. It’s so nice to have that flutter of excitement as you head out towards your favorite bird spot wondering what you’ll see. My interest in birds has also given me something more significant; a greater appreciation for nature and our environment, and how we affect it.
White-breasted Nuthatch by David Lewis.

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!
American Robin by Shannon Modla.

Hawk Watching in Delaware

A soaring Golden Eagle. Photo by David Brown.
Golden Eagle by David Brown.
The Ashland Hawk Watch continues daily at the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin. The peak Broad-winged Hawk day was September 25th with 713. On September 29th, a Swainson’s Hawk migrated over at the end of the day. The first Golden Eagle of the season flew over low on October 20th.

A number of records have been set this season. A new single-day record for Sharp-shinned hawks was set on September 30th with 244. New single-day records of 139 American Kestrels and 12 Merlins were set on October 8th. A new single-day Turkey Vulture record of 504 was set on October 21st.

Overall, it has been a good season for Accipiters and falcons. In November, we reach the peak migration for several species including Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, and Golden Eagles.

Non-raptor highlights have included a Dickcissel on October 7th and a Wilson’s Snipe on October 9th. Join us through the end of November from approximately 8am to 3pm standard time.

-David Brown, Ashland Hawk Watch Coordinator


Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch

Bald Eagles are an iconic bird, and visitors to our hawk watches often ask about them and want to see one. Regular hawk watchers know that the Bald Eagle is relatively common in Delaware, but until recent years it wasn’t. We have conservation science and raptor monitoring to thank for the strides in increasing raptor numbers.
In the early 20th Century, shooting raptors was done for sport, and it was Rosalie Edge’s efforts to secure the Kittatinny Ridge and ban hunting that was the beginning of raptor conservation. She created Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and hired Maurice Braun and his wife Irma as the first Wardens of the mountain. Maurice also began the annual raptor migration count around 1934, developing protocols that are now in use around the globe. That long term count data revealed declines in the 1960’s and 1970’s, particularly in young eagles. This eventually led to the discovery of DDT thinning the eggs of Eagles, Peregrines, and Ospreys so that the eggs broke when adults incubated. The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary long term migration data ultimately led to conservation efforts and the banning of DDT, which brought back the populations of affected raptors. The high numbers in Delaware and the high numbers of Bald Eagles at both Delaware hawk watches are a direct result of this conservation success story.
This year has been a banner year for Bald Eagles at Cape Henlopen. As of Oct 21, 474 have been counted for the season. There have already been 2 days of eagle counts that have been the highest ever; 10/17 had 64 eagles and 10/18 had 73. Both days had moderate WNW winds and most flew by over the Great Dune. The previous high count for a single day was 55, on Oct 8, 2010. The highest seasonal count for eagles was in 2018 when we 634 were counted and we are currently at 75% of that season high count. Since Bald Eagles will continue to migrate through Cape Henlopen through November, there is a good chance the record will be broken.
There are good reasons to smile when one more Bald Eagle passes over Cape Henlopen, and thankfully we can share sightings of our national bird with birders and non-birders alike.

Jen Ottinger
Sally O’Byrne
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)
The Wild Birds Unlimited Logo.
- Your backyard bird feeding specialist -

"Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin takes recycling seriously.
We've partnered with Eco Plastic Products of Delaware to recycle our seed bags into boards. Charles went a step further and is making Bark Butter Feeders from the boards. " 

A car full of wild birds unlimited bird food bags awaiting recycling!
A flicker eating at a recycled food bag feeder!

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

Lancaster Pike & Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE

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

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

Aaron Reb's unbroken reign continues, now leading by 41 species, an 8 species gain in lead over last month!

The next rank remains unchanged, with Andrew Dunn in 2nd. Sharon Lynn remains in 3rd but is now tied with Mike Moore, who rose up three ranks. Jeff Kietzmann now holds 5th. Bob Edelen dropped a rank to 6th place. Gary Griffith and Philip Thompson remain on the board, followed closely by Amy White and Theodora Burke.

Will the elusive top 10 rankings continue to shift as the year comes swiftly to a close?! Now is the time to bird your yard!

Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. Learn more here.
*Rankings as of October  26, 2021.

Member Photo Gallery

American Wigeon by Shannon Modla. Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler 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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