News & Features

Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology 2017 Annual Meeting in Cumberland County

PSO Meeting at Carlisle in 2017 Logo

Birders from all over the state are invited September 15 through 17 to Carlisle, Cumberland County for a time of great birding, making and renewing friendships, and an opportunity to increase their knowledge about the birds they find so fascinating! There is something for everyone!

Although the meetings usually occur in spring, great birding meetings can also be held in the fall months. There is a rich variety of field trips to introduce everyone to the great birding spots in the Cumberland County region. Saturday and Sunday field trips will include birding the migrant-rich Blue and Kittatinny ridges of the Michaux and Tuscarora state forests, exploring the grounds of the former State Hospital and Wildwood Lake Park in Harrisburg, venturing to Miller’s Gap and Lamb’s Gap, Little Buffalo State Park, and state game lands 169 and 230, along with a mix of history and birds on the battlefields of Gettysburg and the ever-popular Audubon Hawk Watch at Wagoner’s Gap at the height of Broad-winged Hawk migration. The meeting location will be the Comfort Suites, 10 South Hanover St., Carlisle, PA 17013.

The meeting also will feature excellent speakers and some awards. The speakers include Ian Gardner, Andy Wilson, Art McMorris, and Ted Floyd. Scott Weidensaul will be recognized for his significant contributions to Pennsylvania ornithology as the winner of the 2017 Earl Poole Award. The Conservation Award will be given to the Audubon Hawkwatch at Waggoner’s Gap in Cumberland County.

For an overview of the meeting and registration information, please see the society website: http://www.pabirds.org/AnnualMeeting/AnnualMeeting.htm

Mailed registrations must be postmarked by August 20. Forms can be printed online and are also available by contacting Margaret Higbee (724) 354-3493.

Online Registration for the gathering runs June 10 through August 25 at

https://pso.ticketspice.com/pennsylvania-society-forornithology-annual-meeting.

If you wish to stay at Comfort Suites, call no later than August 16 for the special rate of $99 per night, plus $4 for parking in the parking garage over the weekend. This includes Saturday and Sunday breakfast from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. Make a reservation at (717) 960-1000. You may also choose to stay at one of the other nearby hotels; information is available on-line at the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology website.

Young people are very welcome to attend the meeting and there are some financial incentives to prove it. There is a 25% discount on registration, banquet fees, and t-shirts for persons 18 years of age or younger, or college students of any age who are enrolled fulltime in an accredited college or university. Proof of age or college enrollment may be required at meeting check-in. All persons under 18 years of age, who are registered for the annual meeting, must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who is also registered and who must go with the youth on all field trips and activities.

Ian Gardner will make a presentation on Friday evening about fall warbler identification. On Saturday afternoon Andy Wilson will speak about “the Use of Drones in Bird Research” and Art McMorris will make a presentation about Peregrine Falcons in Pennsylvania. Saturday Evening the banquet speaker will be Ted Floyd, the Editor of “Birding” the American Birding Association’s flagship publication. Ted’s topic will be “Birding in the 21st Century.” As many of you know, Ted is a native Pennsylvanian from the Pittsburgh area who earned his Ph.D. at Penn State. Awards also will be presented at the banquet Saturday night.

For a detailed and complete schedule of the meeting, see the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology website: http://www.pabirds.org/AnnualMeeting/AnnualMeeting.htm.

Art McMorris and Annie Skrabak,17, Central Dauphin High School with a Peregrine Falcon chick at the Rachel Carson Building banding, by Joe Kosack, PGC.

Since this is eBird, we will emphasize the field trips!

Field Trip Schedule and Summaries

Please note that field trips will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so register early to get your first choices. And, in place of the silent auction the PSO is selling t-shirts featuring the meeting logo to help cover meeting expenses. They come in two colors and many sizes. The opportunity to purchase can be found on the registration forms (paper or online). Register for field trips when you register for the meeting.

Some rules-of-thumb about field trips:

  1. Field trips are limited to 12 participants plus the leader and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  2. You must be a paid registrant or a PSO guest to sign up for a field trip.
  3. All field trips run both Saturday and Sunday except two: The Big Spring trip is only on Saturday. The Gettysburg trip is only on Sunday.
  4. Trips on the ridges (The Blue Ridge/Michaux State Forest to the South AND The Kittatinny Ridge/ Tuscarora State Forest to the north) provide woodland trips that, on good days, are rich in migrants.
  5. Trips to the valley have a wider variety of habitat and, potentially, a wider diversity of species.
  6. Waterproof footwear is advisable on all of the trips.
  7. Carpooling in vehicles of 3 to 4 people is required. There will be no more than 4 vehicles on any trip.
  8. Please do not choose the same trip both days.

Young Black-crowned Night-Heron, PA Endangered, is a possible sighting at PSO Meeting. by Joe Kosack

Saturday September 16

BIG SPRING -Trip Leader: Bill Franz (Valley/Saturday Only). A nice and easy walk along three miles of the picturesque Big Spring Creek in the middle of the valley on a paved road. You will see lots of birds and the looks you will have will tend to be in brush and small trees rather than tall trees. Having good looks at Tennessee Warblers is almost guaranteed. Red-headed Woodpecker is a pretty sure bet, too. No bathrooms along the way of the walk.

BIG FLAT / RIDGE ROAD / MILESBURN ROAD -Trip Leader: Ramsay Koury (Blue Ridge). If you don’t like to walk much, and like the idea of seeing a lot of migrants, this trip along the ridge in the Michaux State Forest might be for you. Drive, hear birds, get out of car, look, and repeat. This trip is a good candidate for the largest number of warblers and other migrants to be found. Not anything in the way of toilet facilities on site.

COLONEL DENNING / ELK HILL / LAUREL RUN -Trip Leader: Annette Mathes (Kittatinny Ridge). At Elk Hill take a leisurely 2-mile walk down hill on a gravel road. The tree canopy to one side of the road isn’t much above eye level, which is helpful in dealing with warbler neck. Laurel Run Road (Perry County) will be driving with stops. A fairly good amount of migrants are to be found in this section of the Tuscarora State Forest including numerous Worm-eating Warblers, which breed here and perhaps a leftover Kentucky Warbler or two, which also breed here. There are basic bathroom facilities at Colonel Denning State Park.

PINE GROVE FURNACE / CAMP MICHAUX -Trip Leader: Vern Gauthier (Blue Ridge). A fairly easy to moderate 2-mile loop to hike at Camp Michaux (Michaux State Forest), some of it on the Appalachian Trail. Walking at Pine Grove Furnace is on flat terrain. This is a good spot for Hooded, Canada, and Wilson’s warblers. Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied flycatchers have also been found here over the years. You might also get a Common Nighthawk or two that are late turning in for the day. Bathrooms located at Pine Grove Furnace.

STATE GAME LANDS 169 -Trip Leader: Andy Markel (Valley). A trip with a large variety of habitat including marshes, creeks, and ponds. This is one of the better locations for Connecticut, Mourning, and Wilson’s warblers and maybe even an Orange-crowned. Rails and Black-crowned Night-Heron are possible. The trip will mostly consist of short walks at various locations on the game lands. If there are field birds or shorebirds of interest in area fields these stops will be added as well. No bathrooms at the game lands.

STATE GAME LANDS 230 -Trip Leader: Peter Lusardi (Valley). A fairly flat walk of the game lands. A good supply of migrants with Mourning and Connecticut warblers found some years. A short drive to Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch, you might want to pack a lunch and go to the Hawk Watch afterwards. Rifle and hand gun ranges will mean some noise. No bathroom facilities on site.

HARRISBURG – FORMER STATE HOSPITAL GROUNDS / WILDWOOD PARK -Trip Leader: Ted Nichols (Valley). On the stately grounds of the former State Hospital you will see a wide variety of warblers and other migrants. At Wildwood these same woodland migrants are possible along with the addition of waterfowl, shorebirds, and herons. Ian Gardner will lead this trip on Sunday. Bathrooms are available at Wildwood Park.

HEISEY ORCHARD / STILL HOUSE HOLLOW / MILESBURN ROAD -Trip Leader: Bill Oyler (Blue Ridge). Begin the trip in an old orchard that attracts a good amount of migrants. Philadelphia Vireos seem to have a thing for the orchard. Then it is driving along the gravel roads of the Michaux State Forest, hear birds, get out of car, look, and repeat. This trip is similar to the Big Flat / Ridge Road / Milesburn Road trip. There are no bathrooms along the route.

LITTLE BUFFALO / WAGGONER’S GAP HAWK WATCH -Trip Leader -Chad Kauffman (Kittatinny Ridge). Spend some time at this picturesque park where you are able to encounter a fair amount of migrants. Walks will be level to slight incline. The real draw on this trip is heading up to Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch mid-morning for what are the peak dates of Broad-winged Hawk migration. It is quite possible to get a few hundred Broad-wings and double digit Bald Eagles among other species, such as Osprey and Sharp-shinns. Nice bathrooms at Little Buffalo and portable restrooms at the Hawk Watch.

MILLER’S GAP / LAMB’S GAP / STATE GAME LANDS 170 -Trip Leader -Ian Gardner (Kittatinny Ridge). Up on the ridge at Miller’s and Lamb’s gaps there is usually a pretty good flow of migrants. Just about anything could show up and often does. Down in the valley this trip covers productive parts of SGL 170. This is a trip that combines some walking with driving. Ted Nichols will lead this trip on Sunday. No bathrooms at the locations.

Flying Female Common Nighthawk by Alex Lamoreaux

Sunday, September 17

BIG FLAT / RIDGE ROAD / MILESBURN ROAD. Trip Leader -Ramsay Koury (Blue Ridge). If you don’t like to walk much, and like the idea of seeing a lots of migrants, this trip along the ridge in the Michaux State Forest might be for you. Drive, hear birds, get out of car, look, and repeat. This trip is a good candidate for the largest number of warblers and other migrants to be found. Not anything in the way of toilet facilities on site.

COLONEL DENNING / ELK HILL / LAUREL RUN. Trip Leader: Annette Mathes (Kittatinny Ridge) At Elk Hill take a leisurely 2-mile walk down hill on a gravel road. The tree canopy to one side of the road isn’t much above eye level, which is helpful in dealing with warbler neck. Laurel Run Road (Perry County) will be driving with stops. A fairly good amount of migrants are to be found in this section of the Tuscarora State Forest including numerous Worm-eating Warblers, which breed here and perhaps a left over Kentucky Warbler or two, which also breed here. There are basic bathroom facilities at Colonel Denning.

PINE GROVE FURNACE / CAMP MICHAUX -Trip Leader -Vern Gauthier (Blue Ridge). A fairly easy to moderate 2-mile loop to hike at Camp Michaux (Michaux State Forest), some of it on the Appalachian Trail. Walking at Pine Grove Furnace is on flat terrain. This is a good spot for Hooded, Canada, and Wilson’s warblers. Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied flycatchers have also been found here over the years. You might also get a Common Nighthawk or two that are late turning in for the day. Bathrooms located at Pine Grove.

STATE GAME LANDS 169. Trip Leader -Andy Markel (Valley). A trip with a large variety of habitat including marshes, creeks, and ponds. This is one of the better locations for Connecticut, Mourning, and Wilson’s warblers and maybe even an Orange-crowned. Rails and Black-crowned Night Heron are possible. The trip will mostly consist of short walks at various locations on the game lands. If there are field birds or shorebirds of interest in area fields, these stops will be added. No bathrooms at the game lands.

STATE GAME LANDS 230. Trip Leader -Peter Lusardi (Valley). A fairly flat walk of the game lands. A Good supply of migrants with Mourning and Connecticut warblers found some years. A short drive to Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch, you might want to pack a lunch and go to the Hawk Watch afterwards. Rifle and hand gun ranges will mean some noise. No bathroom facilities on site.

HARRISBURG -FORMER STATE HOSPITAL GROUNDS / WILDWOOD PARK. Trip Leader -Ian Gardner (Valley) Summary -On the stately grounds of the former State Hospital you will see a wide variety of warblers and other migrants. At Wildwood these same woodland migrants are possible along with the addition of waterfowl, shorebirds, and herons. Bathrooms are available at Wildwood Park.

HEISEY ORCHARD / STILL HOUSE HOLLOW / MILESBURN ROAD. Trip Leader -Bill Oyler (Blue Ridge). Begin the trip in an old orchard that attracts a good amount of migrants. Philadelphia Vireos seem to have a thing for the orchard. Then it is driving along the gravel roads of the Michaux State Forest, hear birds, get out of car, look, and repeat. This trip is similar to the Big Flat / Ridge Road / Milesburn Road Trip. There are no bathrooms along the route.

LITTLE BUFFALO / WAGGONER’S GAP HAWK WATCH. Trip Leader:-Chad Kauffman (Kittatinny Ridge). Spend some time at this picturesque park where you are able to encounter a fair amount of migrants. Walks will be level to slight incline. The real draw on this trip is heading up to Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch mid-morning for what are the peak dates of Broad-winged Hawk Migration. It is quite possible to get a few hundred Broad-wings and double digit Bald Eagles among other species, such as Osprey and Sharp-shinns. Nice bathrooms at Little Buffalo and portable restrooms at the Hawk Watch.

MILLER’S GAP / LAMB’S GAP / STATE GAME LANDS 170. Trip Leader: Ted Nichols (Kittatinny Ridge). Summary – Up on the ridge at Miller’s and Lamb’s Gaps there is usually a pretty good flow of migrants. Just about anything could show up and often does. Down in the valley this trip covers productive parts of SGL 170. This is a trip that combines some walking with driving. No bathrooms at the locations.

GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD. Trip Leader -Deb Siefken and Mike Bertram / (Valley/Sunday Only). The group will meet up with the leaders at Gettysburg National War Memorial. Precise directions and GPS address will be provided. Want a little Civil War history with your birding? Well, a lot of Civil War History with your birding is more like it. Along with some migrants you will get Red-headed Woodpeckers and field birds. Something a little different for those who want to take the opportunity to visit Gettysburg while in the area. Bathrooms are available.

All birders should feel welcome to the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology meetings and events. Join in the great fun!

PSO Field Trip at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in 2014, by Chad Kauffman