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

Sixty-three individuals attended 3RBC's August 2019 meeting, which featured a presentation by Dr. Twan Leenders, President and Executive Director of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Chautauqua County, New York. His topic was "Continuing Roger Tory Peterson's Legacy - Promoting the Study of Natural History to Better Protect Birds."

For the first time in many meetings, no first-time attendees were in the audience.

3RBC 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 Wednesday, 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 mid-2020.)

•   A once-in-a-generation opportunity exists to preserve a great tract of land in the heart of Pittsburgh's east suburbs. Allegheny Land Trust (a local non-profit conservation organization) is working in cooperation with local community members to acquire and permanently conserve one of the largest remaining green spaces in Pittsburgh's eastern suburbs. The tract is the former Churchill Valley Country Club in the municipalities of Churchill and Penn Hills, near the Parkway East. The 148 acre parcel was abandoned as a country club approximately ten years ago and has been allowed to naturalize and is now home to many species of native flora and fauna including many birds. The tract is a rare oasis in a densely populated area (95,000 people live within a three-mile radius). It is adjacent to many residential streets and within walking distance of several thousand neighbors. Area residents are already informally using the area for passive recreation due to its surprising beauty, easy and safe accessibility (former golf cart paths), and proximity to their homes. Allegheny Land Trust has an exclusive agreement to purchase the property contingent upon the successful completion of various due diligence activities and its ability to raise necessary funding by the targeted March 2020 closing date.
    If anyone is interested in helping with this effort, please contact the Allegheny Land Trust at (

•   Ryan Tomazin announced that the Brooks Bird Club will host its 2019 Fall Retreat on October 18-20. The event will be held at beautiful Blackwater Falls Lodge and will feature the lodge's excellent accommodations, the mountain views and beautiful fall colors, along with field trips and evening programs. Blackwater Falls State Park is located in Davis, West Virginia.

    Of special interest, 3RBC's own Frank Izaguirre will speak about his work on Friday evening. Frank is the Books and Media Reviews Editor at Birding magazine and is working on his doctorate in English at West Virginia University, where he is studying field guides and how they have shaped environmental values in America. He also serves as a Technical Reviewer for Birder's Guide, has written for a number of other bird and nature-related magazines and journals, and has previously judged the writing module for the ABA's Young Birder of the Year Contest. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Adrienne.

    Saturday's events will feature morning bird walks and outings, and, in the evening, dinner, followed by a presentation by Nathan Pieplow, who will outline his method of categorizing birds sounds and songs.

    The weekend will conclude on Sunday with more bird walks and a morning business meeting.

    All of this will be available for a very modest cost - including meals! Contact for more information on how to take advantage of this opportunity.

•   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 September /October issue:

    -   The "President's Message" in this issue will carry the second installment of Sheree Daugherty's two-part article on her recent ASWP-sponsored trip to Ecuador. Her article will be illustrated by several of her original paintings of birds she saw in the Andes. Sheree is a professional wildlife artist and was 2019's Featured Artist at the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Middle Creek Wildlife Art Show. Make sure to check out the full color illustrations on the web version of the newsletter, since the black-and-white photos in printed Peregrine do not capture the brilliance of the birds' colors, especially the Cock of the Rock!

    -   Tom's "Observations" column will talk about two of the rarest birds of the west coast that he found in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in southern California. One is Ridgway's Rail (Rallus obsoletus), an endangered species of bird whose population may be as low as 1,200 individuals. A member of the rail family Rallidae, it is a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies.

        The other bird he found was the Belding's Savannah Sparrow. Unlike the Savannah Sparrows that we are accustomed to, the west coast bird is so dark colored that we would be hard-pressed to believe that it is a subspecies of the more familiar examples we see here.

    -   This issue will also carry a Michelle Kienholz photo of a Warbling Vireo singing while on the nest, something we may think unusual, but, as Bob Mulvihill explained, definitely not unheard of! In this issue Bob also explains a Tom Moeller photo of a very unusually marked Scarlet Tanager.

    -   The newsletter will carry a fascinating essay by Ted Floyd on the increased sightings in Canada of spruce-budworm-eating warblers during migration, most likely related to an increase of those insects. Birds noted in the fallout were the Tennessee, Bay-breasted and Cape May Warblers.

•   Treasurer Tom Moeller gave the financial report. He disclosed that the club now has 312 memberships, totaling well more than 400 individuals. He noted that this includes only two student/youth members, along with some children of adult members. He encouraged everyone to do their best to recruit new youth members, especially since student/youth memberships are free, and that youngsters can learn a lot from the club's many, experienced birders. Because our membership is robust, the club is financially solvent.

•   Webmaster Tom Moeller explained how information about outings - including past outings - can be found on the website: the 'Outings' heading shows current, upcoming outings. Information about this year's past outings can be found under the 'Outings Revisited' heading. Even older outings reports can be found by searching past Peregrine issues. Information about the upcoming remodeling of the Phipps Garden Center is also there, as is information about the Churchill Country Club Greenway project, both mentioned earlier by Sheree.

    He also reiterated that the club's Facebook page is being used more and more as a way to ask questions and get quick answers. For instance, Jack Solomon recently gave advice to a person who asked what to do with a bird's nest that had been build inside the engine compartment of his truck!

•   Steve Thomas, the club's Outings Coordinator, reported that several upcoming outings remain before the next meeting and through the end of the year:

    -   Friday, August 23 — Sewickley Heights Borough Park
    -   Sunday, September 8 — Glade Run Lake Park
    -   Sunday, September 8 — Toms Run Nature Reserve
    -   Thursday, September 12 — Sewickley Heights Borough Park
    -   Saturday, September 14 — North Park
    -   Saturday, September 21 — Harrison Hills Park
    -   Sunday, September 22 — All-day Outing in the Pymatuning area
    -   Sunday, September 22 — Frick Park
    -   Tuesday, September 24 — North Shore Moraine State Park
    -   Sunday, October 6 — M.K. Goddard State Park and State Game Lands 270
    -   Saturday, October 19 — Moraine State Park
    -   Saturday, November 2 — Yellow Creek State Park
    -   Saturday, November 9 — Moraine State Park

•   Mike Fialkovich presented the recent bird sightings report for Allegheny County. A Yellow-crowed Night-Heron may have been sighted in Allegheny County, but location is unsure as is the sighting [Note: the bird has subsequently been confirmed and photographed on eBird in Duquesne, PA]; Short-billed Dowitcher at Imperial; Brown Thrasher in Homewood Cemetery; Purple Finches in Natrona Heights; American Avocets in North Park; Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in North Park; Common Gallinule at Chapel Harbor; Bank Swallows at Chapel Harbor; Virginia Rail at Harrison Hills Park; Ruddy Turnstone at the Point; Caspian Tern at Dashields Dam and Duck Hollow; and, Red-headed Woodpecker in Pleasant Hills and Pine Township.

•   Program Coordinator Dave Brooke announced that the next meeting will take place on October 2, 2019. The featured speaker will be Brian Wargo, who will present "Hawkwatching: An Ocean in the Sky." He is the author of Bird! An Exploration of Hawkwatching, which explores the lure, and culture of hawkwatching. He serves on the board of the Hawk Migration Association of North America, where he chairs the Education and Conservation Committee as well as the Data Committee. He is also the Eastern Flyway editor for Hawk Migration Studies, which entails analyzing data from 88 hawk sites and compiles a state of the raptors report for both the spring and fall migration.
    Doors open at 6:30 PM for socializing, a business meeting begins at 7:30, and the program starts at 8:00.

Dave next introduced the evening's featured speaker, Dr. Twan Leenders, President and Executive Director of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Chautauqua County, New York. Lenders is a biologist, author, photographer, and illustrator. His topic was "Continuing Roger Tory Peterson's Legacy - Promoting the Study of Natural History to Better Protect Birds."
Dr. Twan Leenders
Twan Leenders began his talk by explaining the work of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. His goal was to give a quick overview of what the organization does and why. He pointed out that the organization not only honors the man and the work that he did, but also seeks to continue with that work and expand on it.

Twan told us that Peterson was born and raised in Jamestown, New York, a three hour drive due north of Pittsburgh. He was a consummate artist (his original works can be viewed at the Institute), but more important to his legacy, he made his bird art available in a field guide, a literary form that he can lay some claim to having created. In his ground breaking 1934 book, A Field Guide to the Birds, he mixed gifted art with other useful and valuable printed information - text, charts, and maps - producing an entirely original literary form. He explained that Peterson believed that a field guide is not merely a book, but a tool, which helps us understand the things that live around. Before this tool/guide existed, there was no single book that fulfilled this function. Pre-Peterson the only people who held detailed information about birds, mammals, rocks, etc. were scientists, professors, museum curators, and specialists. Peterson's guides opened the doors to citizen science, allowing almost anyone to become educated about the natural world and to contribute in meaningful ways to the advance of learning about nature.

Twan pointed out that, though Peterson was known for his bird guide, he produced many others, and some were outstanding. He noted especially the wildflower guide, which he considered among Peterson's best work.

Since this first book, and for generations, Peterson's various guides provided the tools for individuals to identify and learn about the birds, plants, insects, mammals, rocks, even the stars around them. The first Peterson guide was published in 1934 in a print run of 2,000 copies. At the present time more than 20 million copies have been printed of the bird guide alone.

Leenders went on to explain that Peterson's plan was to further conservation by using art and education, and that the Institute continues to be guided by this methodology.

Direct participation in real field work is central to the Institute's education efforts, which builds knowledge through first-hand observation. Education outreach is especially important in urban areas: there is greater need there, and more young people can be reached.

Also important to the Institute's philosophy is the notion that nature begins in our own backyards, and that we can test the quality of the environment by looking at wildlife where we live.

Twan's nearly one-hundred slide presentation was accompanied by dozens of his stunning photographs. During the course of his talk he told 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 bands birds along with students.

After his informative and entertaining talk, Twan took a number of questions from the audience.

Following his presentation, President Daugherty adjourned the meeting.

— prepared by Frank Moone on 8-18-2019

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