Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 54 | Number 6 | February 2023
Next meeting: February 15!
Field Sparrow by Mike Moore.

Letter from the President

A profile of DOS President Mike Moore.This year marks the 57th year I have called myself a birder. I started my life list when I was 11 years old after being introduced to the idea by a middle school teacher (who thereby changed my life). My first life bird was European Starling, and my most recent one (#720 for the ABA area) was the Tundra Bean Goose that showed up in Pennsylvania in 2020. It has been quite a journey with many great memories.
Over those years I have seen incredible changes in birding. The quality of optics and the widespread availability of digital cameras are obvious ones. However, I think the most profound change has been eBird. When I started birding in the 1960s, birding information was hard to come by. We relied on our birding friends and recorded phone rare bird hotlines to find birds. By the latter, I mean you would call a phone number to hear a recording of the rare birds that had been reported recently, usually updated once or twice a week. To report a rare bird, you would call a different number and leave a voicemail for the person running the hotline.
Despite the widespread popularity and use of eBird, I still think it is underutilized. While many people submit their checklists regularly, few really tap into the data that are available online with eBird. eBird has sighting maps, seasonal bar charts, illustrated checklists, photo galleries, state-of-the art range maps and much more. Most of these are found under the Explore and Science tabs on the top menu. I think you will find your birding greatly enhanced if you tap into these resources that can help you find and identify your target birds.
The next big thing in birding is probably going to be AI enhanced identification tools. The most popular example of this is the Merlin phone app that does a remarkable job of identifying photos and recordings. If you have not tried it, it is a lot of fun. You can open the app and click on “Sound ID” and it will start listening with your phone’s microphone and telling you what birds it hears. For a first-generation tool, the accuracy is impressive. HOWEVER, be careful not to assume that it is 100% accurate. For example, it identified Cope’s Gray Tree Frogs in my backyard as Semipalmated Sandpipers. Still, used properly, it will help you hear things that you might otherwise have missed, and I enjoy walking around with it, especially in spring, and seeing what it hears. Eventually this technology will be built into binoculars and bird identification will become a lost art for humans!
Lastly, a couple of notices about Bombay Hook: First, the new visitor center is scheduled to open in April. Second, the logs that are piled up near Bear Swamp were not harvested on Bombay Hook land. They were purchased to be used for a structure to control the increasing erosion on the bay side of Shearness Pool. Thanks to Andy Ednie for these updates.

 -Michael Moore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

February 15 Meeting:

“Species limits and conservation of the Sharp-shinned Hawk complex" by Therese A. Catanach
February 15 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm EST

The Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) complex is widely distributed across the New World, breeding from western Alaska to Argentina.  Although currently treated as a single species, based on size and plumage variation some authorities have suggested there may be multiple species of “Sharpie”. Using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences from over 50 samples, from across the geographic distribution of the group, we reconstructed an evolutionary tree (phylogeny) to test species limits in the A. striatus complex. In particular, we densely sampled across the Caribbean and the Neotropics, where 8 of the 10 recognized subspecies are breeding residents. Our findings confirm that Sharp-shinned Hawk is a complex of multiple species, including several unique and geographically restricted lineages with small populations, which are of special conservation concern.

Dr. Therese Catanach Therese Catanach (they/them) holding a captured an ornithologist and entomologist who studies the evolutionary biology of hawks and eagles (Accipitridae) and their associated feather lice. They hold two doctoral degrees, one in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (University of Illinois), and the other in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (Texas A&M University). They have been a Research Associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) since January 2016, and have conducted fieldwork around the world including in the United States, Philippines, Tanzania, Kenya, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, South Africa, Swaziland, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Argentina, and the islands of Dominica (West Indies) and Ascension (South Atlantic).

The meeting is held online 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 request login info which is available a few days before the meeting.

Upcoming Field Trips

Raptors in Winter with Jim White (DOS Members Only)
February 12 @ 8:00 am – 4:00 pm EST
Northern Harrier against a blue background.

A full day quest for raptors that may be found in our area during the winter months. We will visit several areas in Delaware and while we will include owls in our search, no tape recordings will be used to call them in.  Bring snacks, lunch etc. There is typically a stop around lunchtime at Wawa/Royal Farms/etc. to refuel.  Be sure to dress appropriately for extended periods of time in the mid-winter elements!

DOS members only – MUST contact Jim if you’d like to attend, registration is required (302) 593-9622

Meet in the parking lot at Ashland Nature Center, Hockessin, DE.


Waterfowl on the Susquehanna Flats with Andy Ednie
February 26 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm EST

Redheads by Mike Moore

Join Andy Ednie for an opportunity to observe hundreds of Tundra Swans & ducks while studying a diversity of species. We’ll look for Canvasbacks & Redheads, Greater & Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded & Common Mergansers, Buffleheads & Ruddy Ducks -- just to name a few! If you have a spotting scope, bring it along.

Our leader is Andy Ednie, contact at [email protected] if you have questions about this trip. Meet at the Rodger’s Tavern Museum parking lot, 259 Broad Street, Perryville, MD.

*All participants must be vaccinated to attend per request of the trip leader.

Sea Watch III with Chris Bennett & Anthony Gonzon
March 12 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm EDT
Long-tailed Duck drake

Last chance to join Anthony Gonzon and Chris Bennett for a brisk birding adventure at the Indian River Inlet this winter!

Meet at the Southside Day Use Area (parking lot on the south side of Indian River Inlet along the ocean). Come prepared for cold conditions and the seashore wind and bring your scope if you have one.

State Park entrance fees will be in effect. Participants should monitor the DOS website and social media for last minute changes due to weather or other conditions.

Contact our leaders, Chris Bennett at [email protected] & Anthony Gonzon at [email protected], if you have any questions about this trip.

Red Knot Youth Birders

The Red Knot Youth Birders logo, which is a digital rendering of a red knot walking, surrounded by text.
Sunday, February 19th, 8:30 to 10:30 
Bombay Hook NWR Take Two! 

This trip is all about waterfowl!  Join us to explore numerous species of ducks and geese that move into the mid-Atlantic region for the winter each year.  We'll be bringing scopes to make sure we get great looks, so don't miss out! 

2591 Whitehall Neck Road, Smyrna DE 19977

 Sunday, March 19th, 8:30 to 10:30
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

On this field trip, we will explore all that this fascinating urban wildlife refuge has to offer, which is also the largest remaining tidal freshwater marsh in Pennsylvania!  Raptors, waterfowl, wading birds, and other water birds are all possibilities.  We will bring scopes and binoculars to borrow.  There are no entrance fees for this refuge.

Meet at the Visitor Center parking lot
8601 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia PA 19153

Sunday, April 23rd, 8:00 to 11:00
Bucktoe Creek Preserve

This trip kicks off our exploration of spring migration!  We will explore the trails searching for early migrant songbirds like phoebes, gnatcatchers, and hopefully some warblers.  Binoculars will be available to borrow.

Meet at the parking area: 432 Sharp Rd, Avondale PA 19311

Sunday, May 21st, 8:00 to 10:00
Ted Harvey Wildlife Management Area:
 Logan Lane Central Tract

Our trip to Ted Harvey will explore shorebird migration.  From the parking area, we will walk along the roadway through the marsh and out onto the beach to look for shorebirds like sandpipers, plovers, and the Red Knots that give our group its name.  Binoculars and scopes will be available to borrow.  Conservation Access Pass required.

East of Dover, DE. Map of parking area here.

Sunday, June 11th, 8:00 to 10:00
Bellevue State Park

This trip will focus on the breeding birds in northern Delaware, including warblers, vireos, finches, catbirds, and orioles.  We will also look for acrobatic aerial insectivores like chimney swifts and purple martins.  Loaner binoculars will be available.  State park fees will be in effect.

Meet at the parking lot by the park office
800 Carr Road, Wilmington DE 19809
Sign up at [email protected] to receive field trip schedules and other updates for the fall.

Time to renew your membership?

All members in good standing receive the Delaware Ornithologist journal in December. This year’s issue is big with lots of interesting articles. Don’t miss it and renew your membership now! Memberships must be renewed by November 15th to receive a copy!

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 annual pass is $32.50 for Delaware vehicles and $65.00 for out-of-state vehicles. Click here to get your pass!
Shop DOS Merchandise!
Birding at the Indian River Inlet on a DOS field trip this winter!

Bird Sighting Database comes to the DOS Website

Gene Hess created a database of bird sightings to use when he was writing the Birds of Delaware (Hess et al, Univ. of Pittsburg Press, 2000) and he has kept the database continuously updated. It contains almost 300,000 records of 468 species, 8 subspecies, and 4 species pairs dating back as far as 1794.

He is now making this database available for you to search. If you are doing research or are just curious about bird sightings in Delaware, submit your query below and Gene will respond with the results.

More information and the query form can be found under the Citizen Science tab on the website.

Birding in Delaware’s Historic Past: Hermitage Natural Area Bird Census

Birding in the United States has its roots in Delaware. Alexander Wilson - the father of American Ornithology, landed in New Castle from Scotland in 1794. A Red-headed Woodpecker was his first bird in the New World as he walked to Philadelphia. The Hermitage Natural Area is 230 acres located on the site of Sen. Nicholas van Dyke Jr.’s historic home built in 1801. Unfortunately, the house burnt down in 2007 but the property was turned over to the Trustee of New Castle Common, incorporated in 1764. The DOS was asked to conduct a birding census of the property while the area is being restored to its natural habitat with removal of invasive plant species. This is a unique opportunity to cover a lesser visited eBird hotspot and observe the effects of habitat improvement. The Hermitage ranks 59th in New Castle Co. birding hotspots with 121 species reported.

Bird surveys are held on the 2nd Saturday of the month. We’ll start from the parking area behind the New Castle Elementary School at 8:00 am. The walk is through some wet areas and rough habitat and will take about 3 hours. All birders are welcome to attend. The dates for the Bird Walks 2023 are:

o    Feb-11th
o    Mar-11th 
o    Apr-8th
o    May-13th 
o    Jun-10th 
o    Jul-8th 
o    Aug-12th 
o    Sep-9th 
o    Oct-14th 
o    Nov-11th 
o    Dec-run in-conjunction with the Wilmington CBC
The Wild Birds Unlimited Logo.
- Your backyard bird feeding specialist -

"Keep your birds full this winter!"

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

Lancaster Pike & Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

Andrew Dunn continues to lead the pack in the start of the yard birding challenge, gaining 7 species in the last month. The competition is fierce so far, with a three-way tie for 4th, and two ties for 7th and 10th places!

Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. 

Learn more here.
*Rankings as of Feb 9, 2023.

Member Photo Gallery

Canvasback by Shannon Modla. Brant by Mike Moore.
Want to see your photos in the Flyer? Submit them to [email protected]!

DOS Flyer Archive

Click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.
Current DOS Officers & Committee Chairs
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Our mailing address is:
DOS, P.O. Box 4247, Wilmington, DE 19807

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