Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 53 | Number 4 | December 2021
Next meeting: December 15th!
Male Northern Cardinal by Shannon Modla.

Letter from the President

November in Delaware hasA profile photo of Michael Moore. really lived up to its nickname among birders: “Rarity Month”. An extraordinary number of rare birds have been discovered this month including Allen’s Hummingbird (3rd state record), Calliope Hummingbird (3rd state record), Rufous Hummingbird (first since 2014), Harlequin Duck, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Long-tailed Jaeger, King Eider, Cackling Goose and Franklin’s Gull.
If you read the weekly DOS Birdline by Andy Ednie, which we email to you every week as part of your membership benefits, you have been keeping up to date with these rarities on a weekly basis. If you want to hear about them faster, I suggest registering with eBird (if you have not already) and subscribing to the different email alerts which can be found on the “Explore” tab. These can be set to daily, weekly or hourly (if you are really crazy) and will deliver to your email nearly real time information about rarities being seen. This will let you hear about rarities as soon as they are discovered and reported to eBird, which nearly all of them are. For Facebook users, there are two Facebook groups “Delaware Birding” and “Delaware Twitchers and Listers” which post rarity reports usually with photos. Finally, if you really want to receive almost instantaneous notice about rare birds there is a Delaware Rare Bird Alert on the messaging platform GroupMe. This allows people who find a rarity to send an instant message with their phone to the phones of all subscribers about the bird’s location so you can sneak out of your meeting and go chase a rare bird. This is a private group with almost 200 members. If you would like to join this group, you can email me at [email protected].
Looking ahead to December, we are now starting “Christmas Bird Count” month. Information about all the Christmas counts being conducted in Delaware with contact information can be found on the DOS webpage on the “Citizen Science” tab. Help is always welcome, and birders of all experience levels can participate. You can even participate by counting birds at home at your bird feeder, if you live in one of the count circles. Of course, with all this intensive coverage of the state’s best birding areas, a few more rarities are always turned up to the delight of rarity chasers like me!
If you are paid up on your membership dues, you should be receiving our annual journal, the Delaware Ornithologist, this month in the mail. This extra-large issue has a completely new format that we are excited about. It also has a photo of what I consider to be Delaware’s rare bird find of the year on the cover. We hope you enjoy it.
Finally, I want to welcome Andy Ednie as the newest member of the DOS Council. Andy joins us as the new chair of the Citizen Science Committee. We all look forward to working with Andy as part of the team. Please let me know if you would like to serve on this committee with Andy or on any of our other committees.

-Mike Moore, DOS President

Renew your membership now!
Hank Davis birding on top of some ice at Lums Pond.
Have photos of yourself birding? The Flyer would love to feature you! Send your birder selfies to [email protected]. Photo above by Hank Davis.

DOS Flyer Archive

Click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.

December 15th Meeting: 
Annual “For DOS, by DOS” short presentations by DOS members

A male Bufflehead duck swimming in blue water.

The traditional DOS December meeting in which DOS members make short presentations. We are lining up speakers now. Contact us if you are interested in giving a talk.

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 group of birders silhouetted against a sky and ocean.

Sea Watching 2021-2022
Indian River Inlet (South side parking lot)
8:00am - 12:00pm
Join Anthony Gonzon and Chris Bennett for brisk birding adventures at the Indian River Inlet this winter!

Sea Watch II – January 23 (Sunday) 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM
Sea Watch III – March 13 (Sunday)  8:00 AM until 12:00 PM

To be enjoyed at the Southside Day Use Area (lot on the south side of Indian River Inlet along ocean). Come prepared for cold conditions and the seashore wind and bring your scope if you have one – as a COVID precaution there will be no scope sharing, but we will try to round up some extras.

Participants should monitor the DOS website and social media for last minute changes due to weather or other conditions.

Get to know DOS member
David Brown!


David Brown is aA photo of Maureen Markrow holding her binoculars. Behind her is the trunk and foliage of a tree. native of Montoursville, Pennsylvania and has been birding since 2013. Fall 2021 was his fifth season as the counter at the Ashland Hawk Watch in Hockessin, Delaware. He has also worked as a hawk counter at the Montclair Hawk Lookout in New Jersey and Braddock Bay in New York. He serves on the board of directors of the Lycoming Audubon Society. David and his brother Bobby run the informational birding website LycoBirds. Outside of birding, David enjoys teaching English as a second language, learning foreign languages, playing tennis, and playing guitar.

How long have you been a DOS member?
I have been a DOS member since 2017 when I first came to Delaware as the counter at the Ashland Hawk Watch.

What is the best thing about being a part of DOS?
DOS has a lot of great people who are not only excellent birders, but who work together to accomplish projects beyond what one would normally expect from an organization of this size.

Do you have a ‘spark’ bird?
In my last semester of college I took a creative writing class and started observing nature to write poems. After graduating I bought a camera and started photographing the birds outside my house. A few weeks later I attended a bird walk at a local nature center that was part of the Great Backyard Bird Count and that got me signed up for eBird. There wasn’t a specific species that got me hooked, but just the enjoyment of discovering all of the common species in my local area and then expanding from there.

What is your favorite bird and why?
I don’t really have a favorite but I get asked this question so often that I finally chose one, the Red-shouldered Hawk. The Ashland Hawk Watch can’t compete with the big hawk watches for most species, but we are usually the number one or two fall hawk watch for Red-shouldered Hawks, proving that even small projects can collect data that is important on a national level.

Do you have a favorite birding patch?
Of course I have to choose the Ashland Nature Center because it is where I live and work when I am in Delaware. Birding the same location all day every day allows me to really appreciate the subtle changes of the environment and the bird migration as the season progresses.

Do you have a favorite book about birds, bird website or bird app?
The Raptor ID app from HawkWatch International is excellent for learning to identify raptors. The videos are especially useful for learning the flight styles of the different species. I watched the videos over and over as I prepared for my first season and I still reference them to keep my skills sharp.

When is your favorite time of year to bird?
I like birding in the late-fall when a cold northwest wind gets me out of bed before dawn with the hope of migrating Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, Common Loons, and thousands of geese in big skeins. It makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

Do you have a favorite ‘type’ of birding?
Hawk watching is my favorite type of birding because it matches my personality well. I like knowing that I will be at one spot the whole day without having the anxiety of wondering if I should walk at a different pace or if I should go somewhere else instead because there might be more birds there. With hawk watching you get to hang out in a beautiful place all day with great people and accept whatever birds fate decides to send your way.

What advice would you give to someone newly interested in birds?
Buy good optics and spend as much time as possible watching birds through them. Take advantage of every opportunity to spend time in the field with more experienced birders. Don’t be embarrassed about common birds being lifers. We all wish we could go back and experience seeing certain species for the first time again. Don’t think that you need to travel to the best hotspots to go birding. Find a patch near your home or work and bird it regularly.

How have birds changed your life?
Birding has changed everything about my life from who my friends are to where I live and work. Working seasonal birding jobs has helped me become more independent and discover that there are a lot of wonderful people and places outside of my hometown.

Christmas Bird Counts

A snowman looking through a spotting scope.
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]
Golden-crowned Kinglet by Shannon Modla.

Access Pass Reminder

Don't forget: Conservation Access 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!
"Slate-colored" Dark-eyed Junco by Michael Moore.

Hawk Watching in Delaware

A soaring Golden Eagle. Photo by David Brown.
Broad-winged Hawk by David Brown.
The 2021 season of the Ashland Hawk Watch concluded at the end of November. The month started off strong with good numbers of late-season migrants such as Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, vultures, and eagles. In mid-November the flight slowed down significantly for a few weeks as we had unseasonably warm weather and a lack of strong cold fronts. The end of the month brought more favorable winds and a late-push of migrants.

In November we had 13 Golden Eagles, including five on November 4th. This brought the season total to 15 which is the third highest ever. Otherwise species totals were mostly average for the month. A Broad-winged Hawk on November 16th was the latest date one has ever been recorded at Ashland and is only the third November record.

The non-raptor highlight was a group of five Sandhill Cranes on November 28th. The only Snow Geese were a flock of 55 on November 29th. No Tundra Swans were seen this season, which is unusual. The number of migrating Canada Geese was low except for a few days at the end of the month.

Looking at the season as a whole, the following species totals were above-average: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, and Merlin. New season records were set for Cooper’s Hawk and Merlin. The following species were below-average: Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon. The season total of 14,071 was higher than all but one season since 2014.

Thanks to all the volunteers and visitors who made this season so great!

-David Brown, Ashland Hawk Watch Coordinator


Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch

The 2021 Season is now over; no more days of being blasted on the hawk watch platform by the winds of November! Jen will soon be back home in Colorado, and her Delaware volunteer crew will be thinking about the upcoming Christmas counts.
We had a few highlights at Cape Henlopen. It was the highest count over all since 2016 with the total migrants counted being 7,866. The Osprey count was the highest since 2016 (2,701), and the Bald Eagle count was the highest ever at 649. All of the falcon numbers increased since last year; The best Kestrel count since 2018 (744), the best Merlin count since 2014 (445), and the best Peregrine count since 2017 (250). It was also the best N. Harrier count since 2014 with 250 migrants.
On a less positive note, the accipiters were down; Sharp-shinned Hawks the lowest since full time monitoring began 15 years ago (658) and Cooper’s Hawks were the lowest since 2011 with 188. Birds that are late season migrants were not around - no Goshawk and no Rough-legged Hawk. Could it be that global warming has taken away the incentive for those birds to head south by the end of November?
As usual at Cape Henlopen, we were treated to some incredible non-raptor sightings. This year a juvenile Sooty Tern (Sept 10) was seen by Bruce Peterjohn and Andrew Albright, and a female King Eider was seen by Bruce and Art Zdancewic (11/15). Jen found an Eared Grebe on 11/11, and Ravens were seen by Bruce on 11/3 and two seen by Jen on 11/25.
Thanks go out to all the incredible volunteer helpers this year - Sue Gruver, Bruce Peterjohn and Ann Dinkel put in long hours on Jen’s days off. The full team helped with the success of this season with good eyes, patient observation, and good company. Thanks again to all who visited or helped out. And thanks to Jen Ottinger, counter extraordinaire, who will be back again in 2022.

-Jen Ottinger and 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 next year, 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)
Snow geese will be back before we know it! Photo by Shannon Modla.
The Wild Birds Unlimited Logo.
- Your backyard bird feeding specialist -

"Have A Very Birdy Holiday
from your friends at 
Wild Birds Unlimited Hockessin."

A car full of wild birds unlimited bird food bags awaiting recycling!

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 David Lewis.

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

Aaron Reb's unbroken reign continues, now leading by 44 species, a 3 species gain in lead over last month! At this point he indeed seems unbeatable.

The next three places remain unchanged, with Andrew Dunn in 2nd, and Sharon Lynn and Mike Moore tied in 3rd. Places 5-10 remain stable as well, although a few new species have been added here and there, feats in their own right!

Who will find new rarities in their yards next? Have our competitors hit their limits? Now is the time to go birding!

Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. Learn more here.
*Rankings as of November 30, 2021.

Member Photo Gallery

Palm Warbler by David Lewis. Brown Creeper 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

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