Next 3RBC Membership Meeting

Rufous-bellied Niltava
Rufous-bellied Niltava

Let's Take a Trip to Southeast Asia
for Photography and Amazing Birds

How about this combination? "Mealworms and Megas: Photography and the Changing Face of Birding in Southeast Asia." Phil Chaon, a worldwide birding tour guide, will cover this wide-ranging topic at our 3RBC meeting on Wednesday, August 1. Phil says his presentation will explore the growing popularity of photography among birders not only in Asia but everywhere.
A lifelong naturalist, Phil found an interest in birds while coping with the crushing reality that there were not, and never would be, alligators in Cleveland. At age 18 he left behind the power plants and gull flocks of his childhood and spent a year in the Andes of northwestern Ecuador. Life among Lyre-tailed Nightjars and Ocellated Tapaculos taught him that, for him, the U.S. was really only a place to visit between forays to the tropics. Phil Chaon Tour
After studying botany and wildlife biology in the redwoods of northern California, Phil spent a few years of fieldwork around the globe. Banding bids in Peru, monitoring fairy-wrens in Papua New Guinea, and surveying bird communities on coffee farms in Kenya were great introductions to those areas.
Realizing how much data collection interfered with quality birding, he turned to other channels. Now, when not guiding, he can be found searching out areas with new birds. When the birding is slow, he occupies himself with long night hikes, diving, horticulture, fishing, and divining the secrets of perfect barbecue.
The meeting will be held at the Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Avenue in Shadyside. Doors will open at 6:30 PM for socializing, a business meeting will begin at 7:30, and Phil's program will start at 8:00.

Phil Chaon (2nd from right)
leading birding group

Future Programs:

  • October 3, 2018 — Bill Beatty will present "Rainbows, Bluebirds and Buffleheads"
  • December 5, 2018 — Annual "Slide Slam" of members' best photos - always a treat to see!
  • February 6, 2019 — Aidan Place will discuss his participation in the Champions of the Flyway Bird Race

What's New? (7/19/2018)


The July/August 2018 Edition of The Peregrine is now Available!

Kirtland's Warbler

   The July/August 2018 issue of The Peregrine is now available. Also, see additional photos of Tom Moeller's 'Observations' column on Elaborate Bird Nests (PDF). There are two extra links this cycle: A beautiful gallery of photographs taken by members at Magee Marsh and other birding hot spots in May 2018 Magee Marsh Birds, and a wonderful report by David Yeany II about his adventure pursuing a Kirtland's Warbler in Michigan with friends on a "slow" day at Magee Marsh:

Kirtland's Warbler.

New Minutes from Our June Meeting are Available!

   Please read the Membership Meeting Minutes from June 6, 2018, when Kathy Miller gave her talk on her trip to Papua New Guinea.

Listings of the Fall 2018 Outings are Available!

   Bird Outings for September and October 2018 have been posted on our Outings page.

   As we announced at our April 4 meeting, our members may choose NOT to receive a paper copy of our newsletter The Peregrine, in order to reduce clutter, save trees, or protect the environment. If you only want to view our newsletter online, please email Tom Moeller at and ask him to put you on the "online only" list to NO LONGER receive paper copies of The Peregrine.
Our membership rates remain the same with this change. It is your preference whether or not to receive the paper copy of the newsletter.

   Birding Books Available
The late Randi and Sarah Gerrish, original members of Three Rivers Birding Club, had an extensive library of birding books. The executors of their estate would like to make these books available to the 3RBC membership. There are about 100 books in the collection, many of high quality and in good condition. It is suggested that an appropriate donation for each book be made, with the proceeds being donated to the National Aviary, one of Sarah and Randi's favorite places.
Contact Jack Solomon ( to make arrangements if you may be interested in reviewing and taking any of these excellent books.
Any left over books will be available at the August and October club meetings.

PSO Logo

   PSO Meeting coming this September in Crawford County
Watch out for the upcoming registration for the annual Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) meeting September 14, 15 and 16!
This year we travel to Crawford County and target sites for field trips will be the Conneaut Marsh area, Linesville Fish Hatchery and Miller Ponds/Game Commission Management Area among other sites.
The Saturday evening banquet speaker is Dr. Ronald Mumme, professor of biology at Allegheny College for 25 years. He began his study on the hooded warbler in 2010 and one aspect of his studies has been the startling of insects as an important foraging technique. The bird flashes its brightly colored tail feathers to startle the insects and catches them when they attempt to fly away.
Saturday afternoon events will include other talks and several vendors.
Click on the link for more information as it comes available: PSO Events.

Bonaparte's Gull Swimming


As we hope you know, the screech-owl video has moved to our brand new VIDEO PAGE! Click on "Videos" in the Side Menu to find the owl and several new videos by members, including robin behavior, a woodpecker at work, cute baby Killdeer, and more!
We hope you enjoy this new page, and we hope that you can contribute to it too.

Melanistic Mourning Dove

   Addendum to Tom Moeller's Melanistic Birds Observations Article
In the May-June 2017 edition of The Peregrine, Tom Moeller wrote about 'Birds from the Dark Side,' melanistic birds. On May 29, 2018, a melanistic Mourning Dove visited his yard with unusual brown/black pigment concentrations in its plumage. Overall the bird was dark, but two spots, one in the wing and one on its head, stood out. The one on the head made the bird appear to be wearing a toupee!!

 Melanistic Dove stretching wing – note dark coloring

Here the dove stretched its wing to reveal darker than normal primaries and
redder than normal legs.

Melanistic Dove showing head detail Detail of the head shows what appears to be a toupee of dark feathers on top of the dove's head.

In honor of the black newsboy cap Jack Solomon often wears, we'll call this bird a "Jack's Mourning Dove."

Map of LBBG Nesting Sites

   Lesser Black-backed Gulls tracked by the PA Game Commission
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is tracking Lesser Black-backed Gulls leaving PA and traveling to their nesting grounds up north in Canada and Greenland. This is an effort to better understand this gull species which is becoming more and more a resident of the state during the winter months. They are seen at Presque Isle and even in downtown Pittsburgh at the Point in the winter as well as eastern Pennsylvania.
A lively discussion about this project and its merit can be found on the Game Commission's Facebook page: PA Game Commission.

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
photo by Geoff Malosh
February 3, 2018

   Two Western Birds Made Their First Ever Visit to Pennsylvania

Two remarkable, beautiful, and super-rare visitors to western Pennsylvania in winter and spring 2018 thrilled birders who were lucky enough to see them: a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in February and a Varied Bunting in May. Both species were the first ever recorded in our state.

Shawn Collins learned of the rosy-finch at a friend's feeder in Meadville, Crawford County, on February 2, and arranged with the homeowners for birders to visit the house on a controlled schedule and watch the bird closely through a window. Photographers had a field day during its extended stay early in the month.

The bunting was present at a residential feeder only May 5-7 in Elizabeth, Allegheny County, and Dave Wilton coordinated arrangements for birders to visit the house. Its short stay allowed fewer birders to see it than the rosy-finch.

What brought these to Pennsylvania must remain a mystery. The rosy-finch breeds in the northwestern U.S. and Canada, and winters southward to New Mexico in the Rocky Mountain region. Why should it suddenly turn up here in mid-winter? Perhaps it was misoriented in its southbound migration in the fall and wandered around aimlessly during the early winter. Perhaps it was suddenly pushed eastward by a strong weather system. Or perhaps some other behavior was involved.

Varied Bunting
Varied Bunting
photo by Todd Hooe
May 7, 2018
The bunting's presence is unfathomable. This species breeds primarily in Mexico and reaches the U.S. in the breeding season only in the southernmost edges of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It is non-migratory, although it may withdraw slightly from those northern fringes of the range in the winter. The species is widely kept as a cage bird in Mexico, and the possibility that it flew here on its own is negligible. Did it somehow arrive in our region assisted accidentally or on purpose by humans? Again, we will never know.
For handy information about both of these species, follow the links to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website "All About Birds."
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Varied Bunting

   Our Donations Make A Difference!
Three Rivers Birding Club donated $250 each to two organizations early this year – Wildbird Recovery in Valencia, PA and the Purple Martin Preservation Alliance in Natrona Heights, PA. Both organizations have expressed their written gratitude to the club and told us how they would use their new funds.
Wildbird Recovery will use their gift to continue their bird rehabilitation work as conveyed in this quote from a newspaper article about them, "Hundreds of birds are back in the sky, filling Allegheny and the surrounding counties with song, thanks to Nature’s guardian angles."
The Purple Martin Preservation Alliance will use their gift to replace an old gourd rack in need of repair at the Harrison Hills Park Environmental Learning Center with a new Purple Martin house, guaranteed to be fully occupied in the coming Purple Martin season.
We are very pleased that our donations are benefiting the birdlife in the area!

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

(The Peregrine editor Paul Hess received this message from “The Birding Community E-Bulletin” on a topic of interest to 3RBC members who visit the Rio Grande Valley. This monthly newsletter has much of interest to birders. Check it out and register free at

Birders, refuge friends, and conservationists of all stripes have been watching developments at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge for almost a year, concerned that plans for construction of a huge border wall would be accelerated, possibly isolating or destroying valuable habitat in the Refuge System in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. We summarized much of the dire concern in the February issue:
Last month, when the 2,232-page omnibus spending bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, it contained a particular short sentence in reference to The Wall: "None of the funds provided in this or any other Act shall be obligated for construction of a border barrier in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge."
Thus, the long, contentious, and unexpected struggle over The Wall at bird-rich Santa Ana seems to have come to a close. The spending bill includes $1.6 billion for border barriers and technology, with restrictions on the kind of construction that can be done to only existing fencing, but Santa Ana NWR is essentially exempt. "The bill is very explicit in keeping any new border walls from going up in Santa Ana," said Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club Borderlands. "I think we were successful in making walling off Santa Ana politically toxic."
Originally, the Santa Ana border wall was looking like a pilot project for other sections of the wall, if only because the land was federally owned and a place where a wall might be easily built. In addition, the Administration had issued bidding guidelines that drew on elements of eight prototypes that were each about 30 feet (9.1 meters) high, much higher than existing barriers.
But the reprieve may be temporary. "This bill stated that there wasn't going to be any funding allotted for this year, but that doesn't mean that, that may not happen next year," said RGV No Border Wall organizer Melinda Melo.
Moreover, the threat still looms for other Lower Rio Grande Valley locations like the National Butterfly Center, Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, La Lomita chapel, and home-and-farm properties owned by individuals along the Rio Grande.
The border wall battles over habitat in the Lower Rio Grande Valley will surely continue.
(Photo: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flying at Santa Ana NWR)

    New Discoveries Made in Research Based on Bird Behavior
Two recent news stories dealt with scientific research into bird behavior. One was concerned with the effects of pecking into wood on the brains of woodpeckers as relating to research into human concussions. Pileated WoodpeckerThe second story explained how observers determined that Florida flamingos were not extinct as widely believed, but that the flamingos they kept seeing in Florida were, indeed, living and breeding in remote areas of the state.
The article about woodpeckers was titled "Surprising findings in what really happens to a woodpecker's brains that mimics the impact of human concussions," written by John Hayes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This article was based on a research paper: "Why Do Woodpeckers Resist Head Impact Injury: A Biomechanical Investigation." authored by six researchers.
Florida Flamingos The discovery of Florida's flamingos was an NPR news story on March 6, 2018: "Florida's Long-Lost Wild Flamingos Were Hiding In Plain Sight." It too is based on a research paper in the American Ornithological Society's publication The Condor: "Status and trends of American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) in Florida, USA," authored by seven researchers.
Click on each title above to read the complete story or research paper.

Bird Species Lists of Recent Outings

   View the 56 species seen on the SEWICKLEY HEIGHTS PARK outing (May 4) as a PDF: Sewickley Heights List (PDF).

   View the 60 species including 14 warblers seen on the HARRISON HILLS outing (May 5) on eBird: Harrison Hills List.

   View the 60 species including 12 warblers seen on the PRESQUE ISLE STATE PARK outing (May 11) on eBird: Presque Isle List.

   View the 71 species including photos and recorded songs seen on the DEER LAKES REGIONAL PARK outing (May 12) on eBird: Deer Lakes List.

   View the 35 species including 10 warblers seen on the LAUREL MOUNTAIN outing (June 9) on eBird: Laurel Mountain List. Also, there is a second list of the 26 species seen at Spruce Flats Bog: Bogs List.

Items to Note!

Hear Noah Strycker's October 4 Presentation
Noah Strycker

Noah Strycker's program at our October 4, 2017 membership meeting was one of the best and most well-attended presentations in our history. Not every speaker does, but Noah allowed us to record his program and make it available to our members who were not able to be there for it. His enthusiasm, humor, and engaging manner come through very well on this taped presentation. There are none of his spectacular photos, unfortunately, but the audio recording is still entertaining.
Use the audio controls below to hear Noah Strycker's complete 70-minute presentation given at the 3RBC meeting on October 4, 2017.

Longer Articles are Still Available
Read Kathleen Siebert's article on her journey to Ecuador Take the "Sun Route" to Enjoy Ecuador's Avian Wealth, and Geoff Malosh's tale of chasing the sun's eclipse A Different Kind of Chase: Not for Birds This Time.

2017 was a very busy year for the Three Rivers Birding Club! Mike Fialkovich has compiled a summary of the club's 2017 activities and has also compiled the 2017 Birds Reported in Allegheny County summary.

Snail Kite

Things Looked Bleak Until Snail Kites Rapidly Evolved Bigger Beaks Over a 13 Year Span!
See more details of this heartening news as the numbers of Snail Kites rebound in the Florida Everglades.
Snail Kites

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Follow us on FACEBOOK!
Be sure to visit our club's Facebook page for up-to-date news on happenings with the club, member photos, or links to other birding sites.

Thanks to Jack Solomon for compiling a list of all the 3RBC Speakers from 2001 to December 2017.

A Birding Interview with the Bobs: Robert C. Leberman and Robert S. Mulvihill

PSO Pileated

Pennsylvania Birds — See what you've been missing! The Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) publishes previews of the current issue of Pennsylvania Birds online, which consist of the cover, table of contents, and a featured article. Anyone who does not subscribe or perhaps does not even know about PSO can now actually see a little bit of what they've been missing, and hopefully be encouraged to join PSO!

Let's Have a Young Birders Club in Pittsburgh!

On Jan. 8, 2017, at 1:30 pm, a meeting was held at the Frick Environmental Center to see who was interested.  FEC and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy graciously provided Jack Solomon a room to hold this meeting. The most important purpose in setting up this meeting was to find out if there was anyone around who would step up and make this club happen.
See more on the progress in forming this club in the February 1, 2017 meeting minutes, on page 12 of the March/April 2017 issue as well as on page 5 of the September/October 2017 issue of The Peregrine.

Young Birders Get-together A successful Young Birders Get-Together (PDF) was held November 11, 2017 at Frick Environmental Center. Details of the event can be found on the club's Facebook page and on page 11 of the January/February 2018 issue of The Peregrine..

The Ohio Young Birders Club is held up by National Audubon as a leading example of a club for young birders.
Here's some valuable information about how to go about forming a young birders club Young Birders Club Toolkit (PDF).

Image Gallery

Mission of 3RBC

To gather in friendship, to enjoy the wonders of nature and to share our passion for birds!

© Photo Credits:
Sherron Lynch, Brian Shema, Chuck Tague