Bimonthly Membership Meeting
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
7:30 PM -- 10:00 PM
Phipps Garden Center, Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

Eighty-three individuals attended 3RBC's October 2019 meeting, which featured an entertaining and well-received program by speaker Brian Wargo, who presented "Hawkwatching: An Ocean in the Sky."

Five first-time attendees were in the audience. Among the first-timers was Lauren Chronister, president of the University of Pittsburgh's birding club. In a gratifying show of student involvement from another of the area's major universities, she was joined by Felicity Moffett of Chatham University's birding club, who is a club member and has previously attended meetings.

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:

•   3RBC lost two long time members since the last meeting. Tim Manka, affectionately known as Ranger Tim, and Ellie Hohman both passed away. Tim was well known as a member of nearly every nature club in the area, an Eagle Scout, a Shaler teacher, and, of course, a volunteer National Park Ranger. Ellie, a more subtle presence, was a strong, active-minded woman who was passionate about the outdoors and enjoyed hiking, biking and cross-country skiing; every May she made a pilgrimage to Magee Marsh with her large circle of friends. Both Ellie and Tim will be missed.

•   Bob Mulvihill announced that his Project Owlnet banding project will resume on October 11 at Sewickley Heights Park. Details are available on the National Aviary's website,

•   3RBC member and Allegheny Land Trust board member Ted Weller told the attendees about a once-in-a-generation opportunity 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 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. It is now home to many species of native flora and fauna including many birds. 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.

At the conclusion of his comments, President Daugherty presented him with a donation toward the project from the club. If others are interested in helping with this effort, please contact the Allegheny Land Trust at

•   Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) past-President and 3RBC Vice President Mike Fialkovich announced that a number of 3RBC members attended the PSO Annual Meeting which was held in Williamsport, Lycoming County on September 13-15, 2019. He announced that he is no longer PSO president, his term having ended. The new President is Evan Mann. He thanked the 3RBC membership for its continued interest and support.

•   The Peregrine's editor Paul Hess previewed highlights from the upcoming November/December issue. Before he began his rundown of articles, he mentioned that Karyn Delaney had led an outing to the northwest corner of Moraine State Park that counted eighteen species of warblers in a few hours. This location is often overlooked and is worthy of more attention, as evidenced by the amazing number of warbles seen there by Karyn and her group.

    -   The "President's Message" in this issue features Sheree's article on how to dress properly for birding in cold or wet     weather. She has noticed that many birders show up at outings unprepared for the cold and wet, apparently having     never heard the maxim: "there's no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing." Her article explores the concept     of layering and is a must-read for those who bird in wet and cold weather.

    -   Tom's "Observations" column is unusual for the variety of information that he presents on the Northern Mockingbird.     The gallery of photos that always accompany Tom's article is particularly outstanding. Readers will want to take the     time to peruse the many excellent photographs Tom presents.

    -   The next Peregrine will also include a summary of information regarding this year's various Christmas Bird Counts     (CBC's), including locations and contact information. All are invited to participate in this exemplar of citizen science     in action.

    -   Tributes to Tim Manka and the late Anthony Bledsoe, University of Pittsburgh Biology professor, will also appear.

    -   and, this issue will carry Jim Valimont's trip report on his recent visit to Arizona, illustrated by photographs taken by     Michelle Kienholz.

•   Treasurer Tom Moeller gave the financial report. He noted that September is the month in which 3RBC was founded; consequently, it is also the month in which the most loyal and most generous members renew their memberships and prove their commitment to the club. This year they have once again come through. Tom thanked them for their loyalty and generosity. He remarked that there are still members who have not renewed, but that, in his experience, many come back to the fold. Some return after a few months, but some wait several years before renewing. A few have gone as long as thirteen and fourteen years! But, Tom says, "they all come back." He reminded everyone that full-time students and those under nineteen years of age can become members for free. He encouraged everyone to do their best to recruit new youth members, 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 relayed that after our last meeting in August, there was an unseen change to the site. Our web hosting provider phased out an old server and seamlessly migrated our site and its concomitant information to a new, more secure server. He also noted that the 3RBC site has on its main page a listing providing information about the Brooks Bird Club's fall retreat at Blackwater Falls, West Virginia. One of the event's featured speakers will be our own Frank Izaguirre. Tom also announced that the ABA's Code of Birding Ethics has been moved to its own page on the website; he encouraged everyone to make themselves familiar with this important document, especially its warnings against the use of recorded calls to attract birds. Finally, Tom noted that Facebook continues to be a good indicator of the general public's interest in birding and the club; the club's Facebook page receives many questions from non-birders about outings, birds, and the club itself; he noted a recent communication from a member in California who attended tonight's meeting.

•   Steve Thomas, the club's Outings Coordinator, reported on the outings that remain for October and November and through the end of the year:

    -   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

•   3RBC Vice President Mike Fialkovich presented the recent bird sightings report for Allegheny County. A flock of 90 Blue-winged Teal near the former Western Penitentiary on the Ohio River; 10 American Avocets also at this location on the Ohio; large flocks of Common Nighthawks flew over Heidelberg on four different days (36, 51, 161 and 90 birds, respectively); Semipalmated Plover at Dashields Dam, Duck Hollow and Chapel Harbor; Solitary and Least Sandpipers have been reported; American Woodcock at Boyce-Mayview Park; a kettle of 60 Broad-winged Hawks was spotted flying over Verona (a rare event for Allegheny County); Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Frick Park; Red-breasted Nuthatch in Pleasant Hills; Northern Shoveler at Peters Creek; Northern Pintail at Janoski's Farm in Findlay Township; Great Egret at Boyce-Mayview; Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Duquesne; Mississippi Kite over Upper St. Clair; Merlin at Upper St. Clair, Pine Township and Schenley Park; and several Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers in multiple locations.

•   Program Coordinator Dave Brooke was absent, so President Daugherty reminded everyone (as she has done for the past few meetings) that a scheduling error by the good folks at Phipps required 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 at least fall 2020.) The December 2019 meeting will feature the club's annual Slide Slam. A few rules are in order to make sure that all participants will have an equal opportunity to dazzle us!

    -   Photographers must pre-register by emailing Dave Brooke at Because of time limitations,     only the first 10 photographers to respond will be able to present their shows.
    -   Each photographer will be allowed up to 6 minutes of time. If fewer than 10 photographers pre-register, the time for     each presenter will be adjusted upward.
    -   Photos MUST be in a Microsoft PowerPoint format on a thumb drive. No images may be stored or downloaded from     the Cloud.

President Daugherty then introduced the evening's featured speaker, Dr. Brian Wargo, who presented "Hawkwatching: An Ocean in the Sky." Brian is the author of Bird! An Exploration of Hawkwatching, which explores the lure and culture of hawk watching; 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 east coast hawk sites and compiles a state of the raptors report for both the spring and fall migration. In his 'day job,' Brian is an award winning physics teacher and has taught at both the college and high-school level. Possessing seemingly limitless energy, Brian is also president of the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society.

Brian Wargo truly burst to the front of the room after Sheree introduced him. Ignoring the microphone at the podium, he roamed the front of the room, energetically pointing out details in the projected images on the screen. During the course of his talk, he posed many provocative questions, presenting them in a way that entertained but also gave pause for thought. As he walked, Brian frequently flapped his arms, scrunched his shoulders, and otherwise punctuated his words with often humorous expressions and gestures. From the very beginning he had everyone's attention. It was easy to see why he wins top teaching honors.
Dr. Brian Wargo
He began his talk by enumerating the characteristics of hawks, and pointed out that hawks - and all birds - are avian dinosaurs. Not all of the dinosaurs are gone, Brian explained. Birds persist.

Hawks, like many birds, migrate. Since hawks are not interested in wasting energy by flapping their wings, they make use of thermals to get a free ride. As it turns out, there is a superhighway of thermals that runs right through - and is caused by - Pennsylvania's central mountain ranges, and the Allegheny Front is on this superhighway. This is where Dr. Wargo focusses most of his considerable energies.

Brian then went on to go through specifics of identification of many hawks and other birds that frequent the Allegheny Front. He provided many tips designed to help with identification. His talk was peppered with humorous digressions which always managed to somehow lead back to the topic at hand. During the course of his talk he honestly discussed his reaction to many sensitive topics, one of which was falconry. Brian described his mixed feelings, weighing pros and cons, but, characteristically, he left it to each person to decide for themselves.

Brian brought up another controversial-to-birders topic - wind turbines. He told us that, as President of the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society, he is officially against wind turbines. The damage and destruction that they do to birds is real and cannot be ignored in any discussion. But always the devil's advocate, he reminded us that he, like all of us, enjoys the benefits of electricity; in fact, would be very hard-pressed to do without them. And the same applies to oil. We may believe that using petrochemicals creates a large carbon footprint, which is not good, but two-car families are the norm. We all drive everywhere, and we fly enormously polluting jet aircraft to our birding expeditions as a matter of course.

Balancing serious discussion with fun, Brian ended his talk by having everyone stand. He then showed unidentified photos of hawks, and audience members were to sit if they didn't know the bird. He had to present very many photos before he had everyone seated - no doubt due to the fact that he was in a room containing many expert birders. During the entire process Brian provided a humorous but instructive running commentary, keeping everyone's attention to the very end.

When he closed his talk, Dr. Wargo received a rousing ovation, after which he took several questions from the audience.

Following the presentation, President Daugherty adjourned the meeting.

— prepared by Frank Moone on 10-13-2019

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