Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 53 | Number 8 | April 2022
Next meeting: April 20th!
Ring-billed Gull by Mike Moore.

Letter from the President

What makes birds so fascinating to birders?  We spend large sums of money to travel great distances to live in primitive conditions to see a new bird. Why this fascination? I have no idea. 

There is so much to binge on Netflix and Amazon Prime that I don’t think I am going to have much time for actual birding anymore. Staying home glued to the screen is the life for me.

Did you know that all the episodes of “Friends” and “Seinfeld” are available for viewing 24/7? I just got to the last season of Game of Thrones, and I can’t wait to see how it ends. I am sure it will be epic.

I can just park myself on the couch in easy reach of the fridge. No need to endure biting insects, spiders and snakes or to stare into the icy wind of a Nor’easter trying to keep my optics clean just to see a bird. Will I miss birding? Maybe. But it is much easier and cheaper to just Google any bird I want to see. Almost every species on Earth exists on the internet, so no need to go outside. My world Google list already exceeds 9,000 species and I just need to come up with the right search terms to get those last few hundred birds. I can just copy the photos into Facebook, claim them as mine and get lots of Likes. What is better than lots of Likes on Facebook?

-Mike Moore, DOS President

Loons Protest in Streets of Wilmington

Common Loons flooded the streets of downtown Wilmington last month. Many were carrying picket signs demanding that the ABA rename the water-loving bird.

“We’ve been called common for far too long,” shouted one individual. “It’s time we be called Magnificent Loons!” (A magnificent frigatebird was not available to provide comments.)

“The calls of our species have been used in movies time and time again,” exclaimed one loon. “Even when it’s nighttime in the middle of a forest, with no body of water nearby, the movie industry has exploited our song. Since we’re so crucial to the ambient sounds used in filmmaking, we demand we be given a worthy name.”

The protests caused such a ruckus that DNREC was called in to disperse the crowds. Officer Wentworth commented, “The loons were just everywhere. We’ve never seen so many! We tried to shoo them off, but none of them took to the air. We then realized loons can only take off from water, not asphalt!”  

Every DNREC employee in the state was called to the intersection of Justison Street and Beech Street. After a grueling 6 hours of picking up loons and releasing them into the Christina River, traffic was finally allowed through the area.
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Female Common Yellowthroat
Misses Nesting Season

A female common yellowthroat became enamored by Antonio Banderas’ depiction of Zorro in the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro and watched it on repeat throughout Spring 2021. When asked if she regretted her life choices, she replied with an emphatic, “No.”

DOS Flyer Archive

Click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.

Tri-State Rehabs Pterodactyl that Flew into Window


It was all hands-on deck when Tri-State received a call from a concerned citizen about an injured pterodactyl that had struck University of Delaware's STAR Tower.

“I’m not sure if I was more impressed that it was a pterodactyl or that someone found a box big enough to transport it,” says Anita Moos. Upon intake, the Tri-State vets assessed its injuries. “It took approximately 50 x-rays before we located the break,” says Tri-State veterinarian. The fractured ulna was pinned using a six-inch bolt.

“With rest and supportive care, the bird -- I mean dinosaur made a full recovery,” said Lisa Smith proudly. The pterodactyl was released over Middle Run following six weeks of intensive care.

Upcoming Field Trips

Birding at the dump! Here a dedicated birder watches gulls from the inside of a green dumpster.

Birding at the Wilmington Landfill
8:00am - 12:00pm
Birders will be positioned inside dumpsters throughout the landfill to get crippling views of Iceland, glaucous, and lesser black-backed gulls. Dress appropriately.

Meditation Field Trip
4:00pm - 6:00pm
Need to de-stress? Let nature be your therapist! Join us this June on a field trip to Bombay Hook where participants will practice mindfulness meditation with great blue herons. Learn how these wetland birds achieve an emotionally stable and mentally clear state. Bug spray, sunscreen, and stretchy pants are highly recommended.

Learn to Count Birds for Beginners
 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Location to be determined. Join us this fall to marvel at the murmurations of blackbirds that can be seen passing through our area. Learn the best tricks to determine if the flocks contain 1 million versus 2 million birds. Please bring TI-82 scientific calculator, an abacus, and scrap paper for calculations. A degree in predictive modeling is highly desirable.

Meet DOS Member: Veery!
Veery wearing a pair of rainbow sunglasses, for comedic effect.

Veery is a five-year-old Australian Kelpie, adopted in 2019 from the Nevada Humane Society. Her mom Katie Bird, is the DOS Flyer Editor. Veery has been birding from the very start of her friendship with Katie, and has taken multiple trips around the country in pursuit of birds... rabbits, squirrels, and many other "chaseables." According to her mom's count, she's gone birding in at least 14 states. She currently attends all DOS meetings from underneath the computer desk by mom's feet. 

How long have you been a DOS member?
I'm a dog, so I don't think I'm technically allowed to be a member. I've been an undercover one since 2019.

What is the best part of being in DOS?
I love to walk around hawk watch hill at Ashland Nature Center. All the birders there love me and I get lots of pets.

Do you have a 'spark' bird?
I don't know what that means, but I love to chase the House Sparrows off the bird feeders for mom. She gives me treats every time! She also named me after the Veery, one of her favorite birds from White Clay Creek.

What is your favorite bird and why?
Right now, it's the Purple Martin. Sometimes mom takes me to work with her in the field, and I get to hang out with her ALL day and watch the martins swoop and chirp!

Veery helping her mom monitor Purple Martins in the field.

Do you have a favorite birding patch?
I went birding with mom once at the Avalon Seawatch in New Jersey. I had never been to the beach before, and I wanted to chase all the gulls and shorebirds... but mom wouldn't let me. I did like watching them though! And digging in the sand.
Veery hanging out on the beach in New Jersey.

Locally, I really like Lums Pond. They have a special area where I can run around off leash with my dog friends. And Mom and I can watch birds together too!
Veery at the Lums Pond Dog Area in Delaware.
Have you ever traveled for a bird?
Yup! Mom loves to take long road trips, and so do I. One time we drove 10 hours through the night to go to Joshua Tree National Park the next day. That day I got my lifer Phainopepla, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and Greater Roadrunner! I really liked climbing on all the big rocks too. Lizards liked to hide in them and I love lizards.

Veery on a jumbo rock at Joshua Tree National Park.

I also went to Acadia National Park in Maine with mom last winter. We saw black-capped chickadees and lots of little squirrels. I loved rolling in the snow.

What advice would you give to someone newly interested in birds?
Take your dogs! You may not see as many birds, but is there anything better than time together?? Nope! Let's go enjoy the great outdoors!

Veery and Mom birding near Donner Lake in California.
Your local birds are begging you to clean your bird feeders. 

Cell Signal Disruption in Hockessin

Cell signals in Hockessin went down in early February when residents first observed a pair of bald eagles piling sticks on top of a tree-like cell phone tower.  “I knew we shouldn’t have made them so realistic,” says cell phone technician. Wildlife biologist, Herman Beakman, anticipates the nest to be in use possibly until early July when the last of the young typically fledge.  Hockessinites are being told to enjoy the extended time away from their phones. During a town hall, a representative from the cell phone company said affected residents will be given temporary landlines, and a free rotary dial telephone can be picked up from the Hockessin Fire House.

Sandwich Tern Trying to
Create the Perfect Sandwich

A sandwich tern at Cape Henlopen’s Point has been determined to find the precise combination of ingredients to make the world’s best sandwich. “I’ve tried freshly caught herring with a basil aioli spread on sourdough, but it was just missing something,” explained the tern. “That led me to try boardwalk fries with a mole crab remoulade, but that was a disaster. No umami at all.” After months of trial and error, the sandwich tern finally found the perfect ingredient: horseshoe crab eggs.  “I had to fight quite a crowd of other birds to even make my way close enough to the shoreline. Everyone was pushing and shoving, so I thought to myself that these things must be darn good.”  Just as the sandwich tern had constructed the perfect sandwich, a herring gull swooped in and stole it.  “Now I have to wait until next May to give it another try!”
Red-eyed Vireo by Shannon Modla.

Optometrist at Simon Eye
Delivers Bombshell Finding

Dr. Gabrielle Castanza at the Pike Creek Simon Eye has been conducting a study over the last 6 years. She has traveled the United States examining the eyes of hawk watchers to determine if there is a biological explanation as to how they are able to identify hawks that appear as specks to the average individual.

“I became interested in doing this study after a visit to the Ashland Hawk Watch one October. Hawk after hawk was being tallied by the counter, but I couldn’t see a darn thing. I figured if there was a subpopulation of humans with extraordinary vision, we could learn about their special abilities and use that knowledge to improve the eyesight of everyone.”

Approximately 200 hawk watchers participated in the study, including local legend, David Brown. After analyzing the data, it became clear that 75% of the hawks counted by hawk watchers are actually eye floaters. “I was shocked,” exclaimed Dr. Castanza “It was like a kettle of hawk-shaped debris floating in the vitreous humor of their eyes.” Much to the dismay of science, this new study reveals hawk watchers do indeed have extraordinary eyes, but not in the way that could benefit humankind.

Bird ID Pop Quiz!
What's this bird? Your guess is as good as ours.
Photo by Shannon Modla.

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

DOS is going to up the ante with this year’s Backyard Bird Challenge by introducing the Domicile Challenge! This year, birds must be observed perching on your residence to count toward the 2022 rankings.

Whether it be a single-family home, a town house, apartment building, condo, tent, or a party boat, birds must be physically touching your place of residence to be included in the tally.

Any participants who attempt to lure birds to their domicile by baiting their rooftops (or whatever covers their heads while sleeping) with suet, millet, sunflower seed, deer carcasses, bark butter, grape jelly, or any other food source will be immediately disqualified!

Member Photo Gallery

Wilson's Warbler by Shannon Modla. Pileated Woodpecker by Megan Kasprzak. Eastern Phoebe 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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