Programs & Meetings...

Our meetings are held at the Plymouth Friends Meeting House on Germantown Avenue at Butler Pike in Plymouth Meeting.

TIME: 7:30 PM


Schedule of Upcoming Meetings ~ 2014 / 2015

September 19, 2014

“A Birding Odyssey on Lake Erie” with Cliff Hence

Cliff Hence has been an active birder for the past 30 years in the Delaware Valley Area. He presently is a volunteer walk leader at the John Heinz NWR at Tinicum where he leads bird and butterfly programs. Cliff has taught birding courses for the Wagner Free Institute of Science and other continuing education programs. Since retiring as a professional photo-journalist, he has been traveling, with his wife Nancy, through much of the United States and Hawaii. Other travels have included birding trips to South and Central America and parts of Europe, including England, France Spain and Greece. Cliff has also served at president of the Wyncote Audubon Society. Some of his photography can be viewed at his flickr site.

Lake Erie is a significant barrier to birds migrating North in the spring. But it also provides birders with some of the best stop over sites for see these migrants, often up close and personal.

This program will visit a number of these stop over sites including Presque Isle in Pennsylvania, Magee Marsh in Ohio, Point Pelee in Canada and others.

Each spot provides a unique perspective on the yearly migration. South of the lake, the birds arrive and are intimidated by the vast stretch of water facing them. They need to bulk up before their long trek. On the north side of the lake, the birds arrive exhausted and require the habitat to provide much needed resources for them to continue their journey to their breeding grounds. These conditions give birders the opportunity to get closer than usual to the birds.

Some of the 'hard to see species' like warblers, flycatchers, nightjars, and others are often close and at eye level, providing great views, not to mention photographic opportunities. Seeing 30 species of warblers in a day is not an impossibility, but often the norm. Around the lake there is also the chance to see the rarest warbler in NA, the Kirkland's Warbler. This species is often easier to see on migration then when it is on its breeding territory in Michigan.

October 17, 2014

“When Good Birds Go Bad” with Rob Fergus

Human-Bird Conflict in Residential Landscapes
We all like birds, but whether it is Canada Geese making a mess of a soccer field, or woodpeckers making holes in your house, sometimes they can cause us problems. In this presentation, Dr. Fergus shares many of the humorous and useful things that he has learned dealing with problem birds across the country. The problems that we have with birds reveal as much about ourselves, as they do about the birds that we love—or love to hate.

Dr. Fergus currently teaches urban ecology and biodiversity courses at Rosemont College in Philadelphia, and provides bird pest control consulting for BirdBGone, Inc. Rob recently moved from Bucks County, PA to a geothermal home in the wilds of Hunterdon County, NJ where he enjoys birding and exploring nature with his family.

November 21, 2014

“Alexander Wilson: The Father of American Ornithology”
with Bert Filemyr

Born in Paisley Scotland in 1766, Alexander Wilson pursued a varied life both before and after his immigration to the Philadelphia area in 1794. He was at times a weaver, a poet, a union organizer, a surveyor, a peddler, a school teacher, a political orator, and a book editor. In 1804 he discovered the passion that would drive the rest of his life. He announced he would "make a collection of all the birds in this part of North America". This was in spite of the fact that he had little drawing experience and by his own admission knew very few of the birds. Undaunted, between 1807 and his untimely death in 1813, he spent 19 months traveling to fifteen of the eighteen existing states plus four territories, wrote 305 species accounts, and published Volumes 1-8 of the monumental American Ornithology. Using the Linnaean system of nomenclature his work represents the beginning of the systematic study and documentation of American ornithology. He is generally credited with describing for science twenty-six previously undescribed species. He is deservedly recognized universally as the "Father of American Ornithology".

Join us to learn about Alexander Wilson the person, his work, his legacy and his very strong ties to the Philadelphia area.

Bert Filemyr is an active field birder both in the Delaware Valley and throughout North America. He has birded extensively in all 50 states, as well as many of the Canadian provinces. Retired from a public school teaching career, he pursues his passion for birding while researching topics related to early American ornithology. He currently serves as treasurer and webmaster of the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC) and was a member of the championship Nikon/DVOC World Series of Birding Team, the Lagerhead Shrikes. He co-authored, along with Jeff Holt, the "The Composite Prints of Audubon's Birds of America" and an article on Alexander Wilson and the Milestown School in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

December 7, 2014 ....ANNUAL BANQUET

"Restoring Endangered Seabirds: Lessons From Puffins and Terns"
with Dr. Stephen Kress, Dinner Speaker

Dr. Stephen Kress, Director of National Audubon Society's Seabird Restoration Program, will review how techniques developed on Maine islands have led to the restoration of puffins and terns to historic nesting islands in the Gulf of Maine. Dr. Kress will also discuss how techniques developed in Maine are helping seabirds worldwide.

His talk includes reviews of several case studies in seabird restoration including restoration of Common Murres in California to relocation of Short-tailed Albatross off of an active volcano in Japan and efforts to save the endangered Bermuda Petrel from rising oceans and increased frequency of hurricanes.

January 16, 2015 –

“Restoring Peregrine Falcons to Pennsylvania” with Art McMorris

After being completely extirpated from eastern North America, Peregrine Falcons are making a remarkable comeback. Art McMorris, coordinator of the Peregrine Falcon Recovery and Management Program of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, will talk about the work he is doing to re- establish a self-sustaining and secure population of Peregrine Falcons in Pennsylvania. He will talk about the natural history of Peregrine Falcons, the population history in North America, the reasons for the population crash in the mid 20th century, and the re-introduction and management efforts that have led to one of the most remarkable recoveries of any endangered species anywhere. Come and hear about these magnificent birds, the fastest animals on earth.

Art fell in love with the natural world practically from the moment he was able to stand up and walk. After a childhood of hiking, fishing, collecting insects and tadpoles and studying the stars and planets, he moved on to a B.A. and Ph.D. in biology and then spent his first career, ironically, studying molecules indoors. Now retired from molecular neuroscience, he has moved back outdoors where he coordinates the Peregrine Falcon Recovery and Management Program for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and participates other bird studies and conservation projects.

February 20, 2015

“Sparrow Tales: Discovering America’s Brown Birds”
with Rick Wright

Small, brown, and boring—right? Anything but! While we may think of sparrow watching as a sort of contemplation practiced on bright, chilly mornings, the explorers and ornithologists responsible for discovering and describing these familiar birds might have a very different opinion. The annals of American ornithology are full of untold tales of daring and danger in the pursuit of these little brown birds, and our appreciation of the discoverers’ exploits will make sure that we never dismiss any of them as “just a sparrow” again. Join Rick Wright to learn more about the surprising circumstances of science’s first encounters with some of our familiar birds.

Rick Wright lives in Bloomfield, NJ, with his wife, Alison Beringer, and their chocolate lab, Gellert. A native of southeast Nebraska, Rick studied French, German, Philosophy, and Life Sciences at the University of Nebraska before making a detour to Harvard Law School. He took the Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University in 1990, then spent a dozen years as an academic, holding successive appointments as Assistant Professor of German at the University of Illinois, Reader in Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, and Associate Professor of Medieval Studies at Fordham University.

The author of the new ABA Field Guide to Birds of New Jersey, Rick served as a department editor at Birding magazine from 2004 to 2008 and as the editor of Winging It from 2005 to 2008; he is currently the book review editor for Birding and The ABA Blog. His own forthcoming publications the sparrows volume in the Peterson Reference Guide series.

The Managing Director of WINGS from 2008 to 2010, Rick is a widely published writer, a popular lecturer at birding events, and an enthusiastic tour leader in Europe and North America. His time afield is documented in his blog, Birding New Jersey.

March 20, 2015

“How to Identify Warblers” with Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson

Warblers are are a favorite for many birders, but they are often a challenge when it comes to identification. Their size, speed, and preferred habitats can make them difficult to see, much less name! In their new, critically acclaimed book The Warbler Guide, Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson tackle this problem and come up with some useful answers. Scott and Tom will talk about important but often overlooked ID points such as contrast, facial features, color impression, and behavior. They will also present their revolutionary new system for studying and memorizing vocalizations that can give the warbler enthusiast a whole new set of tools for identification by ear. They will show that with a trained eye and ear, even partial views of the bird can be valuable or diagnostic, and that with the right information every look at a bird can be a good look!

Tom Stephenson has been birding since he was a kid under the tutelage of Dr. Arthur Allen of Cornell University. His articles and photographs are in museums and many publications including Birding, Birdwatcher’s Digest, Handbook of the Birds and Handbook of the Mammals of the World and Guide to the Birds of SE Brazil. He has lectured and guided many groups across the US as well as in Asia, where he trained guides for the government of Bhutan.

He has donated many recordings of Eastern Himalayan rarities and other Asian species to Cornell’s Macaulay Library of Natural sounds. He was on Zeiss’s digiscoping team for the World Series of Birding and in 2011 his and Scott’s team won the World Series Cape Island Cup.

As a musician he played concerts and did studio work for many years, working with several Grammy and Academy Award winners. His clients included the Grateful Dead, Phil Collins and the FBI. He joined Roland Corporation in 1991, managed the recorder division, and retired recently as Director of Technology. His latest book, The Warbler Guide , is published by Princeton University Press.

Scott Whittle has 20 years of experience as a professional photographer and educator. His images have been published in a wide variety of books, magazines and newspapers. He has an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, and is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony. Scott is a one-time New York State Big Year record holder, and has birded throughout the United States. He lives in Cape May, NJ where he leads workshops and pursues his passion for birds and photography.

April 17, 2015

"The Physics of Flight- Part II " with Tom Reider

We are mesmerized by the sight of birds in flight and this has sparked Mankind’s quest to fly. How did birds gain such fluid movement? How do they become air-born, stay aloft, and land safely? What adaptations allow birds to specialize in speed, hovering and slow flight? How did the ingredients for flight evolve, allowing theropod dinosaurs to take wing? Is it true that dinosaurs are with us still?

Tom Reider is retired from the aircraft flight simulation industry. He flew as a commercial pilot and learned aerodynamics during his U.S. Navy flight training. Tom has always been intrigued with flight on a personal level. Growing up a few miles from Hawk Mountain, he spent many happy hours upon the rocks with his binoculars. Later, he sketched, painted and sculpted birds to be used as training aids and as a form of art. He now substitute teaches at local high schools. Join Tom as he explores bird flight using pictures, models, charts, sculptures, feathers and bones. His presentation will include slow motion scenes and special effects from the BBC video The Mastery of Flight with David Attenborough.

May 15, 2015

ANNUAL MEMBERS MEETING and Election of Officers
“Birds of Morocco” with Debbie Beer

Amidst rolling sand dunes and windswept mountains thrive hardy tribes of people and wildlife. Earth tones color the Moroccan landscape, blending a thousand shades of tan, green and violet in a lively, attractive palette. From larks, wheatears and wagtails, to sandgrouse, scrub-warblers and storks, a surprising array of bird species lives in this climate, reflecting remarkable resiliency and diversity. These species and many more are featured in a colorful program, which highlights birding, travel and North African culture in the exotic but highly-accessible country of Morocco.

An avid birder, Debbie Beer has traveled to Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Brazil, England, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and around the U.S. to experience new species, cultures and landscapes. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in urban southwest Philadelphia remains her favorite birding destination, where she volunteers to lead weekend bird walks, and serve on the Friends of Heinz Refuge Board of Directors. She is passionate about conservation, and committed to connecting kids to nature as the Program Director for the PA Young Birders club. Debbie has recently started working for Natural Lands Trust, the region's largest land conservation organization, where she is responsible for managing volunteer outreach, and developing events that inspire, engage and connect people to wildlife and natural resources.