Next 3RBC Membership Meeting

Tessa Rhinehart
TESSA RHINEHART
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, New York
Photo by Alex Neal

COMPUTER-BASED "EARS" AT PITT
CAN COUNT BIRDS THAT WE CAN'T

We have an extraordinary new digital method in our midst for counting bird species' numbers and their preferred habitats. It succeeds on a scale impossible for birders to achieve by our traditional methods of walking along paths or driving along breeding bird survey routes.

Tessa Rhinehart, a key member of the University of Pittsburgh team that developed this new technology, will tell us about the research and its importance at the Three Rivers Birding Club meeting on Wednesday, April 1.

Tessa's program is titled "Eavesdropping on Birds." As one example of how the process works to survey woodland birds, team members strapped 200 tiny acoustic devices to trees in the Sproul State Forest in central Pennsylvania. After a few months, recorders were retrieved from the field, and the sounds heard on each recorder were downloaded onto a computer. The computer program then identified which species were present and the exact location of the individual birds as they vocalized.

Put together, this extraordinary amount of digital information allows scientists to estimate not only how many of each species are present but also indicates the habitats they prefer – important knowledge for conservation.

As a research programmer in Pitt's Biological Sciences Department, Tessa is an important participant in developing this advanced computational method of recognizing bird songs and collecting population data. She is pursuing a master's degree in Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, majoring in energy and environment.

A Pennsylvania native, Tessa discovered a love for nature while growing up in the hills around Bradford. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2017 with degrees in biology and mathematics. At Swarthmore she received the Heinrich W. Brinkmann Mathematics Prize and the Leo M. Leva Memorial Prize for her achievements in biology.

She doesn't spend all of her hours in a lab. In her free time, Tessa is an avid Allegheny County birder and enjoys volunteering with the Kiwanis Club of Sheraden.

The meeting will be held at the Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Avenue in Shadyside. Doors open at 6:30 PM for socializing, a business meeting begins at 7:30, and the program starts at 8:00.

Future Programs:

  • August 5, 2020 — Dr. Bruce Beehler will present North on the Wing his book on songbird migration
  • October 7, 2020 — Frank Izaguirre will present "Field Guides and Environmental Thought"
  • December 9, 2020 — Annual Slide-slam Program    NOTE: This is the second Wednesday of December.

What's New? (2/18/2020)


Peregrine

   THE JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 EDITION OF THE PEREGRINE IS NOW AVAILABLE!

The January/February 2020 issue of The Peregrine is online. Also, see additional photos for Tom Moeller's 'Observations' column on Retention Ponds (PDF).

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   MINUTES FROM OUR FEBRUARY 2020 MEETING ARE AVAILABLE!

Please read the Membership Meeting Minutes from February 5, 2020, with speaker Brian Shema.

   THE EARLY SPRING 2020 CLUB BIRD OUTINGS ARE AVAILABLE!

3RBC Bird outings for March and April 2020 have been posted on our Outings page.

   2019 WAS A BUSY YEAR FOR THE THREE RIVERS BIRDING CLUB!

Steve Thomas has compiled a summary of the club's 2019 activities. Check it out!

Plus, Mike Fialkovich has compiled the 2019 Birds Reported in Allegheny County summary.

   THE FIRST BALD EAGLE FOUND IN JAPAN

Hokkaido Bald Eagle

A Japanese friend of 3RBC member Trini Regaspi sent her an article on a Bald Eagle appearing in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, on January 27, 2020, the FIRST reported Bald Eagle in Japan! Hokkaido has a large population of Steller’s Sea Eagles, but now there is a new species there. We westerners yearn to see Asian birds that may fly east to Alaska or the West Coast and record them as ABA sightings, but this is a North American bird that flew west to Japan, giving Japanese birders a treat.

Close viewing of the photo from Japan shows a near full adult eagle, purportedly a female, with dark feathers on its head and small black tips on its tail. This advanced stage of molt would put the bird’s age as a late four-year or early five-year eagle.

The story is reported in Japanese by The Hokkaido Shimbun Press


   BIRDING THE ANDES OF ECUADOR

Cock of the Rock

If you read Sheree Daugherty's two-part President's Message on her trip to the Andes in Ecuador in recent issues of The Peregrine and want more, she has offered up a more detailed account of the tour on the "Trip Reports & Articles" page of our website. This narrative is the day-by-day journey the birding group made high in the Andes and features many of the birds they were able to see. There were three original paintings of Ecuadorian birds by Sheree accompanying the articles in the newsletter. This expanded version also includes a fourth painting by Sheree of a Violet-tailed Sylph, one of the 40 species of hummingbird the group enjoyed viewing.

Read Sheree's expanded trip report here:Birding the Andes of Ecuador.

   KIRTLAND'S WARBLER SUCCESS STORY: IT'S NO LONGER LISTED AS ENDANGERED

Kirtland's Warbler
Kirtland's Warbler

Thanks to extensive recovery efforts, Kirtland's Warbler populations have surged over the last 40 years, leading to the species' removal from the U.S. endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the official delisting rule on October 8 at a ceremony on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

"The delisting of the Kirtland's Warbler is cause for celebration and proof that the Endangered Species Act works, " said Shawn Graff, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy's Great Lakes program. "But this warbler is still among the rarest, most range-restricted migratory songbirds in North America. It is conservation-reliant, meaning that continued management efforts are imperative for the population to hold its ground and continue to expand. "

The Kirtland's Warbler was among the first species listed when the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1967. At that time, the warbler was found only in a few isolated areas of Michigan's Lower Peninsula during the breeding season. During parts of the 1970s and 1980s, the Kirtland's Warbler population totaled fewer than 200 singing males before beginning its recovery.

The Kirtland's Warbler continues to do well in its historic stronghold while expanding its breeding range into areas of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Canada. The species rebounded to include more than 2,300 breeding pairs by 2015. This progress doubled the original recovery goal set by USFWS.

American Bird Conservancy is playing a lead role to ensure needed conservation efforts for the Kirtland's Warbler continue after delisting. ABC has worked closely with a wide range of partners through the Kirtland's Warbler Conservation Team to develop a comprehensive business plan that addresses the warbler's needs across its life cycle, setting a course for post-ESA success.

ABC also has launched a long-term fund, raising private resources to maintain conservation support and meet emerging needs for the species in the future. The fund is being managed to generate sustainable revenue for important research, habitat development, and community outreach efforts throughout the species' range.

This revenue will complement continuing efforts of state and federal agencies to maintain the highly specific habitat the Kirtland's Warbler needs for breeding, and to limit impacts from Brown-headed Cowbirds, which contributed to its decline through brood parasitism. This private-public partnership represents a new model for addressing the ongoing needs of a delisted, conservation-reliant bird species.

These efforts were made possible thanks to major philanthropic support from the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation of Midland, Michigan.

Another asset to ongoing Kirtland's Warbler conservation is Dr. David Ewert, ABC's Kirtland's Warbler Program Director, who is one of the leading researchers and conservationists focused on the species' recovery. Ewert has studied the species for nearly 20 years and currently leads ABC's efforts to support the Kirtland's Warbler on its non-breeding range in The Bahamas. He serves on the board of the Kirtland's Warbler Alliance and leads the Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation Team's Non-breeding Range Subcommittee.

In 2018, ABC helped establish a full-time Avian Science Officer position in The Bahamas with a heavy focus on conserving Kirtland's Warblers during the non-breeding season. Working through the Bahamas National Trust, with funding provided via ABC by a private donor in Michigan, Bradley Watson has been pursuing specific priorities identified in the conservation management plans for the species' winter range. Watson's work includes population monitoring, habitat enhancements, and community engagement to support conservation. He also supports efforts to protect the Bahama Oriole, Bahama Nuthatch, and other rare, declining, and endemic bird species found in The Bahamas.

In addition to the Towsley Foundation's support, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service are also pledging their commitment to continue habitat management and engage in partnerships that support the Kirtland's Warbler's population growth.

Concerned citizens and organizations can invest in the Kirtland's Warbler's ongoing recovery with a contribution to ABC's long-term fund by visiting Kirtland's Warbler Donation.

   WE'LL STAY IN PHIPPS GARDEN CENTER THROUGHOUT 2020!!

Good news! The Three Rivers Birding Club meeting schedule will not be disrupted this year with a move out of the Phipps Garden Center to another location. We were anticipating a move to Botany Hall this year as renovation begins. However, there has been a delay with finalizing the building designs.

In December 2019 Phipps released the final design, which was arrived at after a lengthy community input process. Now they have settled on a footprint and design parameters; the architects can get to work and produce drawings. Work on the renovation project will proceed, but do not expect a move to Phipps’s Botany Hall until 2021.

To see the plans and concept drawings of the possible renovation of the building, go to the site set up by Phipps:
Phipps Garden Center Renovation.


   THE ALLEGHENY LAND TRUST'S CHURCHILL VALLEY GREENWAY

Churchill Valley Greenway

Three Rivers member Ted Weller and Tom Dougherty, the Allegheny Land Trust’s vice-president of development, recently visited the former Churchill Country Club property, about 148 acres just off of the Parkway East. ALT has signed an agreement to acquire this property in early 2020 assuming it can come up with the funding requirements. While ALT already has some substantial grant money, all of this is dependent on getting the additional grassroots funding from individuals, businesses, and other sources.

Ted and Tom spent about an hour at the Churchill property, which has not been a country club for about 10 years, on a 90+ degree sunny afternoon, and Ted came away very impressed with the birding potential of this property, let alone its other natural benefits, especially given this suburban location. Even in the midday heat, he noted at least 15 species that he either heard or saw, and the pair even flushed what Ted believed was either a Woodcock or possibly a Wilson’s Snipe. Ted believes this location has high potential with mixed habitat and a stream running through it. And because it was once a golf course, there are decent existing paved trails that were formerly cart paths.

Read more about the Churchill Valley Greenway project at these links:


   NEW PAGE CREATED FOR LOWELL BURKET'S DISCOVERY OF THE THREE SPECIES, TWO GENERA WARBLER! Burket's Warbler

If you're wondering where photos of the "Burket's Warbler" have gone, you'll have to look on the new webpage created for all the information on that exciting new bird. There are photos, background information, links to articles and interviews, and more. Be sure to read about the new honor received by Dave Toews, the researcher who deciphered the three-species warbler's DNA.

Click on "'Burket's Warbler' News" on the side menu to see this new page.



Short-eared Owl

   THE SCREECH-OWL HAS BEEN JOINED BY NEW FRIENDS!!

As we hope you know, the screech-owl video has moved to our new VIDEO PAGE! Click on "Videos" in the Side Menu to find the owl and several new videos by members, including a Rufus Hummingbird, the "Burket's Warbler," and more!
We hope you enjoy this new page, and we hope that you can contribute to it too.




Bird Species Lists of Recent Outings

   View the 18 species seen on the FRICK PARK Dead of Winter Outing III (January 25) on eBird: Frick Park List.

   View the 25 species seen on the GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT at SEWICKLEY HEIGHTS BOROUGH PARK outing (February 15) as a PDF: Sewickley Heights GBBC List.

Items to Note!

ABA Logo

ABA CODE OF ETHICS

The American Birding Association's Principles of Birding Ethics now has its own page (ABA Code of Ethics) on this website. All birders are reminded to follow these guidelines while birding for the protection of the birds, respect for the environment, and enjoyment of other birders.

Follow us on FACEBOOK!

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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.


Volunteer

The National Aviary Wants You to Volunteer!

Volunteer with the National Aviary and engage with their visitors. Find opportunities to teach classes, guide tours, work in our gift shop, facilitate crafts, or operate our bird flight simulator. Build lasting relationships and gain excellent experience. Volunteer positions available for teens ages 16-17 and adults ages 18+.

Call 412-258-9455 to learn more or apply online at Volunteer Opportunities.

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.
Don't forget David Yeany II's wonderful report by about his adventure pursuing a Kirtland's Warbler in Michigan with friends on a "slow" day at Magee Marsh in May 2018: Kirtland's Warbler.
Plus, the stunning gallery of birds and scenery from Northwest Argentina, which is an adjunct to Claire Staples' article "A Very High Adventure: Birding to 15,000 Feet in Argentina's Andes" [The Peregrine Vol. 18, No. 2, March/April 2019], can still be enjoyed: Northwest Argentina.

The Peregrine "Online-only" Option Remains Available to Members

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 thosjmoel@gmail.com 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.

The List of Birding Checklists

We offer more checklists on our Outings page. There are now nine (9) lists you can download and use as you explore these birding hotspots. Check them out!

PSO Logo

PENNSYLVANIA BIRDS — See what you've been missing!

The Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) publishes sample article from the current issue of Pennsylvania Birds online. 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!

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