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2017 Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology Field Trips and Events

By dgross February 2, 2017

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

The Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) is planning several events and field trips for 2017. It invites everyone interested in birds to participate. This is a great way to learn new birds, see new places, and make new friends.  The PSO is a leading birding organization of the state, publishing the PSO Pileated Newsletter and Pennsylvania Birds, a quarterly journal about the state’s birds.  It also is a partner with the Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas, PA eBird, and various monitoring projects of the Pennsylvania Game Commission including monitoring Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon eyries, Osprey nests, and the colonial waterbird surveys. Many members also belong to Audubon Society Chapters and contribute to those projects. Contributing data to eBird also supports the conservation programs of several organizations. These PSO field trips and other events directly lead to more eBird reports.  And, PSO members also just have a great time going out birding on trips together in the state and outside it.  Members lead field trips to birding hotspots, acting as guides and mentors to new birders or birders who are new to a special place.  The calendar of events follows:

Here is the current list of events and field trips for 2017:

Feb 17-20. Great Backyard Bird Count. Annual birding count.  Our state is very active in this, good time to get others started in listing, identifying and counting bird species. There is will be more news about the GBBC.

PSO Field Trip to City Island, Harrisburg, in 2016, by Chad Kauffman, PSO

March 4-5. Cambridge Maryland and Eastern Shore Birding. A return to some of the amazing places that we enjoyed last year getting thousands of waterfowl, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and others.   An out-of-state trip, but a great place to go for early migration.

PSO field trip to Shark River, by Chad Kauffman, PSO

March 11. Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and Lower Susquehanna River spots.  The target species are waterfowl, gulls, and Bald Eagles.  The trip itinerary is weather and Ice dependent for where the group spends most of its time.  Open water is a big factor for selecting good birding spots.  No matter what the conditions, we usually see a lot of birds!

Tundra Swans at Middle Creek by Joe Kosack, PGC

May 5-6. Shaver’s Creek Birding Cup.  PSO participates in the annual fundraising tournament for Shavers Creek Environmental Center of Penn State in Petersburg.  This is a contest between teams of birders to count the most bird species in a twenty-four hour period in the central Pennsylvania region (Huntingdon, Centre, and adjoining counties). A friendly contest among the state’s birders that raises money for a worthy birdy cause. For details see their website for more information.

Yellow-breated Chat singing on territory by Jake Dingel, PGC

May 13. Pennsylvania Annual Migration Count (PAMC). The annual spring migration count for Pennsylvania.  This event is similar to the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count except it is done on a county basis, rather than a 15-mile diameter circle. Participants go out and identify and count all of the birds they can find on that day (including owling at night if so inclined). What better time to get out and see the birds? PAMC is a popular event that attracts a wide variety of birders of different skill levels and experience, boosting county records.  It is particularly exciting to fill in some of the counties less covered by birders for eBird and other projects.

Blue-headed Vireo by Jake Dingel

May 19-21. Presque Isle, Pymatuning and Northwest PA Grasslands. One of the best places in the state to find breeding and migrant warblers as well as other migrants.

Upland Sandpiper, PA Endangered species, by Jake Dingel

Trips usually produce Upland Sandpipers and well as Henslow’s and Clay-colored Sparrows at the extensive grasslands.  By the way, the PGC would especially appreciate any reports of Upland Sandpiper and Short-eared Owls on their breeding grounds.

Common Moorhen by Jake Dingel

June 2-4. Bucktoe Creek Preserve, Chester County, Shorebird and Kitewatch.  Our 2nd visit to bird with Larry Lewis as guide in the hopes of some shorebirds and Kites.  One of the most relaxing counts you can join.  We will have some bonus birding in the mornings before the watch.

PSO Field Trip to Bucktoe Preserve in 2014, by Chad Kauffman, PSO

June 16-19. Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Blitz: Another opportunity to enter more data on PA Breeding Birds into eBird, have some fun birding and maybe even win a prize! Do the Blitz!

A male Orchard Oriole by Wayne Laubscher

Sept 15-17. PSO Annual Meeting and Festival, Carlisle, Cumberland County.   The field trips at the annual meeting will include trips in Cumberland, Perry, Dauphin, Adams, and Franklin Counties. Highlighted will be trips to both the ridges along the Michaux and Tuscarora State Forests which are hot spots for fall warbler migration. You will also have the opportunity to visit Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch which is one of the best places in Pennsylvania to catch fall raptor migration at what is normally the height of Broad-winged Hawk numbers.

Solitary Sandpiper – Jake Dingel

Oct 14-15. The Big Sit Weekend. This event is sponsored by the popular bird magazine, “Bird Watchers Digest.” You join or create your own circle and count what you see in 24 hours timeframes.  How long can you sit on a rock or in a hot tub with binoculars?]

PSO at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in 2014, by Chad Kauffman, PSO

Nov 4-5. Allegheny Front Hawkwatch – One of the state’s best hawk watch sites with the visit staged for to correspond with the peak of Golden Eagles and other larger raptors typical of late fall migration.

Look for more info at

By Chad Kauffman, PSO, and Doug Gross, Pennsylvania Game Commission

Golden Eagle at the Allegheny Front, a conservation priority species, by Mike Lanzone