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June Meeting

Live meeting is cancelled, but here is an alternative.

THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR – Dr. Robyn Puffenbarger

The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is an iconic, large scavenger of western North America. The genus had five different species across the continent, using the carcasses of the megafauna that roamed the continent prior to 40,000 years ago for food. The California Condor is the only remaining member of the group, using elk and other large herbivore remains to survive. Human impacts on habitat and the use of lead shot, which is toxic to birds that consume the lead left in items they scavenge, sent the population into steady decline in the 20th century.

In 1987, the remaining 23 adult California Condors were taken from the wild for a captive breeding program. The recovery efforts are directed by a number of groups including the San Diego Zoo and US Fish and Wildlife Service. Since condors do not breed until they are 5-6 years old, lay one egg and raise one offspring every other year, in the wild the population would have little chance to recover. Captive breeding programs milestones start in 1991 and 1992, when the first condors raised in captivity were released near the Grand Canyon in Arizona plus in several sites in California. The first wild condor fledged in 2003, and in 2015 more condors were born in the wild than died.

After graduation from Bridgewater College, Jessy Wilson (2019) worked with banding birds on a southward migration off the coast of Canada, then she headed out west for a position monitoring California Condors. She put together a PowerPoint and narrates the slide show (featured above) to give us more information about the condors.

March Meeting

DATE: Thursday, March 5, 2020
TIME: 7:00 p.m.

PLACE: Detwiler Auditorium, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, 1501 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802

PROGRAM: Breeding Birds of Rockingham County: As documented by the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas project – presented by John Spahr
Rockingham County is one of the largest counties in Virginia with an impressive array of habitats. Consequently, it is home to a large variety of breeding birds. Over the last four years, a dedicated cadre of local birders has worked diligently in documenting the breeding status of more than 100 species as part of the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2) project. John’s program will highlight some of the common and not-so-common breeding birds. There are several species for which breeding had never been documented before the VABBA2. Also, several former breeding birds have declined to where they no longer reproduce here and may soon be extirpated. John will also explore the geography and habitats where species are breeding.
John is a regional coordinator for the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas project. His area of responsibility includes Rockingham County. Over the past four years he has worked with many of the local birders who participated in this project.

February Meeting

DATE: Thursday, February 6, 2020
TIME: 7:00 p.m.

PLACE: Detwiler Auditorium, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, 1501 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802

PROGRAM: Jewels of Ecuador: Birds, Butterflies and Ecotourism by Dr. Dave Wendelken
Dave takes us from the Amazon lowlands through cloud forests to the peaks of the Andes in these amazingly biodiverse regions. He concentrates on the national and private parks, refuges and eco-lodges conserving endangered habitat. He will share his images of a few of the 600 species of birds he has seen on five trips there.
Dave retired in 2015 after 40 years at James Madison University where he taught publication writing, editing, design and photography. He has a bachelor’s in history from Marietta College (Ohio), and a master’s and Ph.D. in communication from Ohio University. As a member of the Rockingham Bird Club and Headwaters Chapter of Master Naturalists, he contributes to citizen science projects including eBird and iNaturalist. His photography has appeared widely online and in guides to birds in Ecuador and Brazil, butterflies in Central America and moths in the southeastern U.S. Check out Dave’s pictures.

January Meeting

DATE: Thursday, January 9, 2020
TIME: 7:00 p.m.

PLACE: Strite Auditorium, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, 1501 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802 **NOTE THE CHANGE OF LOCATION**

PROGRAM: Our Wonderful Wood Warblers by Bob Schamerhorn
Warblers are amongst our smallest, yet most brilliantly colored avian visitors. Most of these birds are only present in the Commonwealth for brief periods, during their spring and fall migrations, while a few reside and breed in the state. Many of our native Virginia species are represented in this presentation by professional photographer Bob Schamerhorn. Many warblers have entirely different plumages at different times of the year making them difficult to differentiate. Learn about identification of this diverse group of birds by sight, sound, season, and habitat. Or just sit and enjoy their sound and beauty. Bob, a Virginia native, has had a passion for both the outdoors and art since childhood. After high school, he studied Art and Design at Virginia Tech and has worked in art related fields ever since. Photography is an extension of the skills he uses in his vocation as a graphic artist. Check out Bob’s website.

December Meeting

DATE: Thursday, December 5, 2019
TIME: 7:00 p.m.

PLACE: Strite Auditorium, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, 1501 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802 **NOTE THE CHANGE OF LOCATION**

PROGRAM: Migration monitoring of Northern Saw-whet Owls – the history and growth of Project Owlnet, with David Brinker
Although seldom seen, Northern Saw-whet Owls are a relatively common breeding bird across the northern U.S and in the boreal forests of Canada. Since they are so difficult to observe and detect, until recently little was known about this captivating little owl. Project Owlnet was started in 1994 to expand the banding effort focused on netting migrant owls, principally saw-whet owls. Each year Project Owlnet affiliates band thousands of Northern Saw-whet owls, now the most often banded owl in North America, including Clair Mellinger’s station here in northwest Rockingham, at Highland Retreat.
A regional ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Program since 1990, Dave works on biodiversity conservation. He began banding raptors at the Little Suamico Ornithological Station in 1975 and has been banding Northern Saw-whet Owls in Maryland since 1986, and at Assateague Island since 1991.
Project SNOWSTORM – Snowy Owl research
Secrets of the Snowy Owl – the story of Baltimore