Bimonthly Membership Meeting
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
7:30 PM -- 10:00 PM
Phipps Garden Center, Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

Ninety-two individuals attended 3RBC's June 2019 meeting, which featured a presentation by Julie Zickefoose, artist, writer, and naturalist who shared her fascinating works and life with us. The group welcomed nine individuals as first time attendees.

President Sheree Daugherty called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm. She asked attendees to turn off cell phones; reminded everyone to sign up for door prizes; called attention to the free, not-to-be-returned magazines and periodicals; and thanked and recognized all those who brought snacks for the food table. She then made announcements and called for reports from the floor:

•   A scheduling error by the good folks at Phipps will require that the club move its December meeting. The new date for the meeting will be December 11, 2019 at the Phipps Garden Center at the usual time. (Everyone should recall that the scheduled Garden Center's renovation/construction project has been delayed, so the temporary move to Botany Hall will not take place until early 2020.)

•   Croatian artist Maxo Vanka painted a series of striking murals on the walls of St. Nicholas Church in Millvale in 1937 and 1941. Some of Vanka's amazing murals feature birds, and Vanka himself had an interest in birds, so church docent and accomplished cellist David Bennet has developed a tour of the murals highlighting the bird theme. As a special treat, the tour will conclude with cello music performed in the sanctuary by David. Those on the tour will be asked to make a small donation for the upkeep of the murals. As an added bonus, Jack Solomon has organized a dinner to take place at a nearby restaurant before the tour. The tour will take place on Thursday, July 25, 2019 at 7:00pm. The pre-tour dinner will be held at the nearby Grant Bar at 6:00pm. Visit to make a reservation. If you're interested in the dinner, leave a note when you make your registration.

•   Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) President and 3RBC Vice President Mike Fialkovich announced that the next PSO Annual Meeting will be held in Williamsport, Lycoming County at the Holiday Inn Express on September 13-15, 2019. Registration is now open. Expert speakers and their topics include: 'The State of Boreal Birds in Pennsylvania,' presented by Doug Gross, retired from the Pennsylvania Game Commission; "Local and Long Distance Movements of Lesser Black-backed Gulls Wintering in Bucks County," presented by Dan Brauning, Pennsylvania Game Commission; and, Banquet Speaker Dr. David Toews, Penn State University, who will speak about the discovery of Burket's Warbler in Blair County. Visit for details on how to attend this gathering!

•   The Peregrine's editor Paul Hess previewed highlights from the upcoming July/August issue:

    -   Overall, this issue will feature photographs by members and others who have never published photos before.
         Many excellent photos are from Magee Marsh, while others are from various trips and excursions.
    -   The "President's Message" in this issue will carry part one of Sheree Daugherty's two-part article on her recent
         ASWP-sponsored trip to Ecuador, with photos by Michele Kienholz.
    -   Kate St. John writes about her trip to Hawaii, with the article illustrated by Donna Foyle's excellent photos.
    -   Sherron and Pat Lynch present an article about their recent trip to rainy England.
    -   Tom's "Observations" column provides a thoughtful and fact-filled discussion on Chipping Sparrows.
    -   Sue Solomon reports on this year's Magee Marsh experience, which features many photos.

•   Treasurer Tom Moeller gave the financial report. He disclosed that the club now has 308 memberships, with six more probable renewals upcoming, which translates into well more than 400 individual members! Tom noted that — like Steeler Nation — 3RBC is everywhere, with members from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, New York (including NYC), Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Colorado, California, and Tennessee.

•   Webmaster Tom Moeller reported that Pat and Sherron Lynch have posted two trip reports to the site since the beginning of the year — one about their trip to Jamaica, and another about their recent (rainy!) trip to England. He also reported that the club's Facebook page is being used more and more as a way to ask questions and get quick answers from 3RBC's crack response team: Frank Izaguirre, Jack Solomon, and, of course, Webmaster Moeller.

•   Steve Thomas, the club's Outings Coordinator, reported that a few upcoming outings remain before the next meeting:

    -   Saturday, June 8 — Piney Tract, Clarion County
    -   June 15 — Hunter's Lane in Donegal, Westmoreland County
    -   Sunday, June 23 — Annual Picnic at Harrison Hills Park

•   Mike Fialkovich presented the recent bird sightings report for Allegheny County. Northern Shovelers at Duck Hollow and Findlay Township; Long-tailed Duck at Findlay Township; Surf Scoters at Dashields Dam on the Ohio River; Ruddy Ducks at Imperial; Common Loon at Duck Hollow; Black-crowned Night Heron at Harmar Township; Eastern Whip-poor-will in Plum and Boyce-Mayview Park; Willets at Brunot's Island, Duck Hollow, and Dashields Dam; Semipalmated Plovers at Findlay Township, Dashields Dam, and Chapel Harbor; Lesser Yellowlegs at Wingfield Pines; Solitary Sandpipers at Wingfield Pines; Semipalmated Sandpipers at Duck Hollow; Least Sandpipers at Imperial; Pectoral Sandpipers at Wingfield Pines; Short-billed Dowitchers at Imperial; Wilson's Snipe at Imperial; Caspian Tern at Dashields Dam; Forster's Tern at Dashields Dam, Brunot's Island, and Duck Hollow; Virginia Rail at Frick Park and Harrison Hills Park; Sora at Wingfield Pines; Common Gallinule at Chapel Harbor; American Bittern in Squirrel Hill; Red-headed Woodpecker at Frick Park; Olive-sided Flycatchers at North Park and Frick Park; Alder Flycatcher at Barking Slopes and Imperial; Purple Finch at Sewickley Heights Park and Frick Park; Lincoln Sparrows in Crafton and Duck Hollow; Worm-eating Warbler at Harrison Hills, Frick Park, and Barking Slopes; Golden-winged Warbler in Bethel Park and Frick Park; Mourning Warbler at South Park; Yellow race of Palm Warblers at South Park; Prairie Warbler at Frick Park; Blue Grosbeak in Gibsonia, Frick Park, and Natrona Heights; Pine Siskin in Wexford; and finally, Northern Waterthrush at Brunot's Island and Schenley Park.

•   Program Coordinator Dave Brooke announced that Dr. Twan Leenders, President and Executive Director of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Chautauqua County, New York, will be the next meeting's featured speaker. Roger Tory Peterson, as most birders know, opened the gates to birding's golden age in 1934 with his pioneering A Field Guide to the Birds. The book not only offered a new method for identifying species but also inspired new interest in bird conservation. We will learn about that achievement on August 7 in an inspiring program by Dr. Leenders. His topic is "Continuing Roger Tory Peterson's legacy — Promoting the Study of Natural History to Better Protect Birds." He will tell us about the Institute's work with the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds in Connecticut, and about his research trips to the tropics several times a year where he and his students bands birds. Twan is also a world-class photographer, so his presentation will be accompanied by excellent photography. Doors open at 6:30 PM for socializing, a business meeting begins at 7:30, and the program starts at 8:00.

Jack Solomon next introduced the evening's featured speaker, Julie Zickefoose, who has been associated with 3RBC since its inception almost two decades ago. Julie Feeding Bird Julie writes and paints from Indigo Hill, an 80-acre wildlife sanctuary in Appalachian, Ohio. She is also well known as a contributing editor to Bird Watcher's Digest. Jack's remarks were uncharacteristically upstaged, as Julie provided her own visual introduction.

During Jack's introductory remarks, and as her presentation began, Julie fed — with an eye dropper — an orchard oriole chick which had fallen out of its nest back home in Ohio. Julie had found it and had been carrying with her everywhere, hand-feeding the bird every 30 minutes for the past five days. As her talk began, she explained that the chick was about to fledge, and that when she got back home, she would return to the area where she found it and release it to the wild. Her actions in front of the attendees demonstrated why she is a 3RBC favorite.
Julie Zickefoose
The artist, writer, naturalist, and author of Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest, shared her fascinating book and life. In 2002, Julie asked herself a question: Why and how do baby songbirds develop so quickly, some launching into flight only 11 days after hatching? In search of the answer, she began to draw and paint wild nestlings day by day, bearing witness to their swift growth. Over the next 13 years, Julie documented the daily changes in 17 bird species from hatching to fledging. Baby Birds, her most recent book, describes the enchanting result, with more than 500 life studies that hop, crawl, and flutter through its pages.

In her illustrated talk, she shared her influences as well as her artistic process, a must-see for the aspiring natural history artist. Art and science blend in every Zickefoose pursuit, as the scientist's relentless curiosity joins the artist's quest for beauty.

Julie considers her overarching goal to be saving small, economically worthless wildlife that would otherwise be left to die, as she told the crowd that her job was 'looking out the window.' She went on to explain the genesis of her book, Baby Birds, and began with introducing us to the works that influenced her as she developed into an artist, ranging from a fifty-cent illustrated Golden Guide, to reproductions of Audubon's prints, to many other illustrators. She developed an appreciation for an animal-centered world view, rejecting the notion that humans are the center of the universe: she concluded that animals had points of view as well and should be studied and honored. Her work progressed from field-guide illustrations to works that tell a story and contain complete scenes.

Her wide ranging presentation contained many photos of her studio and various work-in-progress photos, showing both the progression of individual paintings and the progression of her book.

Finally, the attendees were treated to her original song,"Little Soldiers," sung by Julie to the recorded accompaniment of her band The Rain Crows featuring her late husband Bill Thompson III on guitar and Jessie Munson on fiddle (See below.). After her talk she answered many questions from the crowd and signed books.

Following Julie's presentation, President Daugherty adjourned the meeting.

— prepared by Frank Moone on 6-16-2019

Extra Treat: Julie kindly allowed us to record her song "Little Soldiers" about the dangers of crossing the road for slow but steady box turtles.
Box Turtle

Use the audio controls below to hear Julie's concluding song.


Julie Zickefoose and Friend

Thank you all for your warm reception at Three Rivers Birding Club, to Claire for her great hospitality, to Jack and Sue for shepherding me through a fabulous breakfast and soothing tour of Phipps Conservatory, and to Dallas DiLeo for helping me with my book sales. I really appreciate the extra mile you all walked to make my visit wonderful. It's a rare thing in my experience.

I wanted to give you an update on the baby orchard oriole, since he stole so many hearts (including mine) in six days in care.

Cal tried to fly in the car on the drive home. I knew he was really fledging, on Day 16. On my way home, since I had the bird and its food with me, I decided to stop at the yard where he was found. No sooner did I get out of the car than I saw a pair of orchard orioles and heard two fledglings calling softly, one from shrubbery and one from a tree across the road from the nest tree. I managed to photograph one of the fledglings--it looked a bit bigger than mine, but in the right age ballpark. The adults were very spooky. I fed the baby one last time, and put it in a cherry hedge that was overgrown with grapevine. I could hear a sibling calling maybe 10' from where I put him. I went home and unpacked the car. Of course I couldn't stay away, so I came back a couple hours later to find Cal had clambered much higher in the tree. While he'd been silent when I first placed him, he was now giving exactly the same call as his sibling, over and over. When he saw me he called vigorously and fluttered his wings, which broke my heart, since I couldn't reach him to feed him, and he was too young to know to fly down. This rehab stuff isn't for the faint of heart. A female oriole came briefly and eyed me, but I never saw him get fed in the hour and a half I watched. On the chance that I was keeping her away, I left, even though I was perched in grass on a little rise just across the road. I went home, feeling disconsolate. I knew I'd done everything I could for the bird, and I knew he was doing exactly what he was supposed to do: call constantly and beg for food.

The next morning I was out there by 6:30 AM. I heard nothing, and the baby wasn't where I'd seen him the afternoon before. I went for a good run and on my way back around 8 AM I heard two babies calling insistently from the cherry hedge, maybe 30' from where I'd left him the night before. They seemed to be about 5' apart. I couldn't see them in the thick cover, but there were two, and one would call every time I spoke to it. I feel confident that was Cal. I also am pretty sure that if he hadn't been fed for 18 hours (the time elapsed since I released him and this observation the next morning) he wouldn't be strong enough to call like that.

Of course, I wanted badly to see him being fed, and I wanted to get a photo of an adult feeding Cal, but you can't always get what you want. That pair is durn spooky. While I was trying to see the two fledglings, an adult female came near, eyed me, and flew off again. That was my signal to get out and stay out. I was so glad he was near a sibling when I relocated him.

I feel incredibly lucky to have found the family. Lucky that there was a low hedge where I could place him, lucky that I stopped when I did, and especially lucky to have been able to share him with you all. He was a very special little bird, and he stole my heart. It was very difficult for me to release him back to the care of his parents, but I know it was the best thing for all concerned. Most of the baby birds that come in to me are from rehab centers or situations where they can't be returned to the parents. This was a rare chance to do the right thing, and I took it.

The End.

Thanks so much, again.


But wait, there's more! (June 9, 2019)

Baby Orchard Oriole

Dear Orioles Fans,

I was out before sunrise this morning, hitting the road at 5:45 with Curtis. We trotted to the oriole site. As we approached, I counted seven adult orchard orioles singing/flying back and forth. I've read that they nest in loose colonies at times, and this appears to be the case, as the immediate area is just thick with them, including a subadult male who sings persistently. All was quiet where I'd last seen the babies, but they're late risers. I finished my route and ran back. I could hear fledglings calling from a brushy field just across the road from where I'd left our baby, so I sat down on a hilltop for an hour to watch. The female was very busy, going back and forth with food. I could hear three fledglings being fed. Two came out of the hedge and chased her, flying very well with tails perhaps an inch long. Another remained in a hedge until it sputtered out. Its tail was shorter, perhaps 3/4", and it had a deep yellow upper breast with a tinge of ochre. It made a sharp right hook to a clumsy landing in a shrub and I got a good look at it. It looked very familiar. I smiled so big!

Because I was running with Curtis, I didn't have my big camera. All the best stuff happens when I leave it home. It was great to actually lay eyes on the three fledglings, especially that last one. The birds are now 19 days old, gaining strength each day. What a thrill to relocate them. The little family took the orchard oriole count for this area to 11. This one temporary orphan has taught me so much.


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, Tom Moeller, Brian Shema, and Chuck Tague