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Women in Birding-a Force beyond Feathers


Debbie Beer - President of the Birding Club of Delaware County (BCDC)

Women have connected to birds long before there were binoculars, smart phones or social media. As culture and communications evolve, the stories of women's roles in ornithology and birding are emerging with due prominence. In pre-industrial America, it took special grit for a woman to stand out in any scientific endeavor, amid scores of men. It still takes effort, but the scales are tipping as women birders make a difference as ornithologists, teachers, researchers, writers, artists, promoters, tour operators, and inspiration for all who love wild birds. From Rosalie Edge - the hellcat of raptor conservation, and Harriet Hemenway - the plume-scorning fashionista, to Graceanna Lewis - a maverick in bird taxonomy, and Rachel Carson, whose book saved countless endangered species, women have been influential members of the birding community for millenia. Join me to learn about a few women whose names may be unfamiliar, but whose impact is indelible as a force beyond feathers.


Debbie Beer has been an avid birder for more than 20 years. She's travelled to multiple countries and continents for birding, including Africa, India, Brazil and beyond. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia is Debbie's favorite local patch, where she directs the annual "Big Sit" event and leads monthly bird walks. Debbie is fortunate to blend professional and personal interests while working for Natural Lands as Director of Volunteers. In that capacity she manages robust volunteer bird survey, nestbox monitoring, and land stewardship programs on Natural Lands properties. Debbie participates in the annual Christmas Bird Count, Philadelphia Mid-Winter Bird Census and other conservation initiatives. She is an avid eBirder, fellow of the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC) and president of the Birding Club of Delaware County (BCDC). Debbie is passionate about sharing nature with others, supporting conservation, and advocating access to green space in a diverse, urban community.


Note: This is a virtual meeting. Zoom signon will start at 7:15 to enable the meeting to begin at 7:30.

Debbie Beer

What’s New With Birds on the Move? Recent discoveries about migratory bird ecology using radar and telemetry


Dr. Jeffrey Buler - Associate Professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware

Dr. Buler will share highlights of recent and ongoing research by his lab and colleagues in the field of aeroecology; the study of the ecology of flying animals aloft. He will talk about how he uses radar and telemetry technologies to make new discoveries into 1) why and where birds stopover when migrating through the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes regions, 2) how waterfowl in the Delmarva peninsula may play a role for avian influenza transmission risk to poultry, and 3) the movement and roosting ecology of Purple Martins in our region.


Jeff Buler's broad research interests include avian ecology, landscape ecology, remote-sensing, and conservation biology. Dr. Buler established the Aeroecology Program at the University of Delaware in 2011. He is an international leader in the development of novel methods and software for using weather surveillance radars to study the broad-scale distribution, movement, and habitat use patterns of birds, insects, and bats.


Sparrows Simplified: Making Sense of the Little Brown Jobs


Michael Moore - President of the Delaware Ornithological Society

Many birders struggle with identifying sparrows, referring to them as LBJ's (little brown jobs) or sparrow sp. This talk will help you tackle this difficult group. It will discuss and then attempt to blend the two main approaches to identification, the Peterson System and the Cape May School, to lead you to sparrow identification confidence. Each of the 16 species of regularly occurring sparrows in this area will be compared and contrasted with some discussion of finding and identifying rarities.

Mike is a recently retired Biology professor. He was at Arizona State University for 27 years and then at University of Delaware for 11 years before retiring a couple of years ago. He has published nearly 100 papers in scientific journals on behavior and hormones of birds and reptiles. He worked as an intern at Manomet Bird Observatory in Massachusetts in college and then completed a PhD in Zoology at the University of Washington on White-crowned Sparrows. He started birding in Massachusetts at 11 years old and has pursued it passionately since with a special interest in identification challenges and chasing rarities, splitting his field time between birds and his other passion, odonates. He is currently President of the Delaware Ornithological Society, a Vice President of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas and an eBIrd reviewer for Delaware.


North American Bird Names – The Apostrophes


Bert Filemyr

Of the over 950 birds on ABA's North American Bird List, almost 100 have apostrophes in their common names. These birds are named in honor of some of our most famous North American ornithologists (Audubon's Shearwater, Wilson's Plover, Cassin's Finch, etc.). But some are named for little known people (Lucy's Warbler, Lincoln's Sparrow, Bicknell's Thrush, etc.) and some are even named in honor of people who never set foot in North America (Swainson's Thrush, Henslow's Sparrow, Bewick's Wren, etc.). Learn the fascinating stories behind the birds with apostrophes in their common names and the very human people who have been so honored.
Bert Filemyr is an active field birder both in the Delaware Valley and throughout North America. He has birded extensively in all 50 states. He has having seen at least 100 species in each of the lower 48 states plus several Canadian Provinces. Retired from a public school teaching career, he pursues his passion for birding while researching topics related to early American ornithology. He was a member of the championship Nikon/DVOC World Series of Birding Team, the Lagerhead Shrikes for many years. He co-authored, along with Jeff Holt the book "The Composite Prints of Audubon's Birds of America" and a major article on Alexander Wilson in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

Hurricane Effects on Caribbean Birds


Dr. Joseph M. Wunderle, Jr. - Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Caribbean Ornithology

To help understand how hurricanes affect birds and their habitats and resources, Dr. Wunderle's talk will summarize some of the direct and indirect effects of hurricanes on bird populations in the Caribbean. Dr. Wunderle and his colleagues have been "fortunate" in having baseline samples of populations and resources before the arrival of hurricanes on different islands and they have been able to re-sample in the storms' aftermath to enable before and after comparisons. His talk will identify some of the types of birds, habitats, and resources especially vulnerable to hurricanes as well as demonstrating some post-hurricane behavioral responses of birds. Although some Caribbean bird species such as the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot have been found to be highly vulnerable to hurricane-induced population declines, populations of other bird species have been found to be remarkably resilient to hurricane impacts. In fact, not all is doom and gloom.


Wunderle has 40 years of experience teaching and conducting research throughout the Caribbean where he focuses on ecology and conservation of migrant and resident birds. His dissertation (Ph.D., 1980, Univ. of Minnesota) fieldwork was conducted on Grenada where he also taught field courses in the nearby Grenadines. Afterwards, he taught for a year at North Carolina State University and taught with the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica. In 1982, he joined the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) where he taught and conducted research with his students for eight years before joining the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as a Research Scientist working throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and Brazil. After 30 years with the USFS he retired, joined the board of BirdsCaribbean and returned to teaching ornithology for a semester at UPR, where he continues to advise graduate students. He has authored or co-authored numerous publications, including a field guide to the natural history of The Bahamas, based on his research and training of Bahamian students. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society and a recipient of its Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award and a founding member and former president of BirdsCaribbean and a former president of the Neotropical Ornithological Society.

Members’ photos


Coordinated by Luc Jacobs. If you have photos to contribute contact Luc at or 484-706-1999.
NOTE: This is a virtual meeting. Zoom signon will start at 7:15 to enable the meeting to begin at 7:30.

The PGC’s Kestrel Conservation Initiative: Teamwork makes the dream work!

Dan Mummert - PA Game Commission’s wildlife diversity biologist for southeastern Pennsylvania


Since 2016 the PGC has been ramping up their conservation efforts for the American Kestrel throughout southeastern PA. This talk will provide information about these small, declining falcons and highlight some of the accomplishments made and information learned from this study. The talk will also help highlight the importance of teamwork in conservation projects such as this and explain how the success of this kestrel program has only been possible with the continued help of a dedicated team of partners and volunteers including the West Chester Bird Club.


For the past 18 years, Dan Mummert's work has been focused on the conservation of the state’s rare and declining species of birds and mammals. Before being hired by the PGC, Dan worked as a wildlife biologist in California, Utah, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, and western Pennsylvania. Dan studied wildlife conservation in college and received his B.S. from the University of Delaware and M.S. from Northern Arizona University.


Note: This meeting will be held in person at the meeting house and via Zoom. Zoom signon will start at 7:15 to enable the meeting to begin at 7:30.

Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration Project

Sandy Lockerman

For the past 25 years, the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in Millersburg, Dauphin County has been conducting a fall migration project on PA’s smallest owl: the northern saw-whet owl. Sandy is a licensed bander with the project and she will discuss the project and some of the findings that they have discovered over the years.


Note: This meeting will be held in person at the meeting house and via Zoom. Zoom signon will start at 7:15 to enable the meeting to begin at 7:30.

Here a Sparrow, There a Sparrow: Identifying those Little Brown Birds in the Weeds

R. Craig Hensley - Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Among the challenges birders find in the field are the LBJ's, those nearly identical (to the untrained eye) Little Brown Jobs, or the many sparrows found across North America. However, with effort and an eye for detail, our native sparrows can be readily learned and through that discovery, their subtle beauty, enjoyed. Join birder, educator and biologist Craig Hensley of Texas -- yes, Texas, for a look at the sparrows not only of Pennsylvania, but also take a peek into their diversity in Texas. And yes, have your field guide handy, for you will be challenged at the end!


Craig Hensley is a life-long educator, naturalist and professional biologist. He has been a birder since plucking cherries from the backyard tree for his mother's cherry pies, competing with robins for their deliciousness in his home state of Iowa. He has worked as an Interpretive Naturalist and educator from Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, to Kansas, Missouri and most recently, Texas. He has a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and a M.S. in Zoology with an emphasis on birds. His experience with Pennsylvania, while limited, is memorable -- he remembers tall trees, lots of trees from one end of the state to another. One of his bucket list goals is to visit Hawk Mountain during migration. Craig is a father to two grown children (one a birder, one coming along ever so slowly) and five beautiful grandchildren.


Note: Due to circumstances this meeting will be held only on Zoom. Signon will start at 7:15 to enable the meeting to begin at 7:30.

Microbiota-mediated Behavior in Wild Birds

Jennifer Houtz - PhD Candidate at Cornell University

Emerging evidence has revealed that gut microbiota (the microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract) are essential for a wide array of host physiological functions in birds. But can gut microbiota influence the behavior of the host? This talk will discuss the potential for gut microbiota to influence the behavior of birds and how avian behavior can influence gut microbiota diversity. Our speaker, Jenn Houtz, will share results from her PhD work investigating this bidirectional relationship between behavior and gut microbiota in tree swallows.


Jenn Houtz is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Cornell Presidential Life Sciences Fellow. Jenn received her B.S. in Animal Behavior from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she studied the development of gut microbiota in starlings and worked as an assistant on a project studying the social behavior of wire-tailed manakins in Ecuador. Her research interests include microbial ecology, stress physiology, behavioral ecology, and ornithology. As a first-generation student, she is also passionate about mentoring undergraduate researchers, teaching, and science outreach.


Note: This meeting will be held in person at the meeting house and via Zoom. Zoom signon will start at 7:15 to enable the meeting to begin at 7:30.