News Archive

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Todd Bird Club Members Take a Leadership Role in the Third Pennsylvania Bird Atlas (PAB3)
Thursday, January 4, 2024

Todd Bird Club Members take a Leadership Role in the Third Pennsylvania Bird Atlas (PAB3)

Pennsylvania is starting its 3rd Bird Atlas in 2024. The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) is the primary funder for the Pennsylvania Bird Atlas and institutional support is provided by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. The previous two projects were breeding bird atlases, but this Third is a bird atlas as winter effort will be included in this project starting in the winter of 2024-25. An Advisory Group has guided the planning for this Third Atlas. Among the leaders of the Group are Sean Murphy (Ornithologist at the PGC), Andy Wilson (Ornithologist at Gettysburg College), Laurie Goodrich (Ornithologist at Hawk Mountain) and Dan Brauning (Retired Ornithologist at the PGC and current President of the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology). Locally the Advisory Group includes Bob Mulvihill (Ornithologist at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh and the Atlas Coordinator for the 2nd Atlas) and Annie Lindsay (Banding Manager at the Powdermill Nature Reserve). The Atlas Coordinator is Amber Wiewel. Our Regional Coordinator is Tom Kuehl, a Todd Bird Club member.

Coverage for the Third Atlas will be managed at the county level. Club members are among the group of birders taking leadership roles as County Coordinators - Tom and Janet Kuehl (Westmoreland), Alex Busato (Fayette), Jim Kellam (Armstrong) and Margaret and Roger Higbee (Indiana). Tom and Janet are also serving as the Southwest Region Coordinators, a 12-county region that is among the eight regions in the state.

This PAB3 follows the First Atlas conducted in the 1980s and the Second Atlas in the early 2000s. This Atlas will be a five-year long community service project to document the birds breeding and, for the first time, the birds wintering in Pennsylvania. The PGC has initiated this PBA3 to update the information they need to prioritize conservation and to protect the birds of Pennsylvania. A monumental contribution from volunteers is required to complete the targeted effort to do 20-plus hours in all the 4,937 roughly 9 square mile blocks in the state.

Anybody can participate and anyone can bird anywhere! There is no sign-up needed - just enter bird observations in eBird, which can be accessed at the website (ebird.org/atlaspa) or by using the eBird smart phone app and selecting the Pennsylvania Bird Atlas portal. For those already submitting checklists on eBird, the good news is that you are already using the process for reporting birds for the Atlas, and the PA Bird Atlas Portal submissions will be included in your personal eBird data.

While it is now 2024, the Atlas website is not yet fully operational. Here is the December 30, 2023, update email from Amber Wiewel to the Regional and County Coordinators:

ďHi all,-

I wanted to give an update before the Atlas launches.

We still have some work to do to make information and resources available to birders, but the good news is that a lot of this stuff is ready to go - and so many of you have already stepped forward to field questions on social media or to reach out to local birders and birding groups! I'm sure many of you have noticed that the website (ebird.org/atlaspa) still lacks content. While weíre waiting for that to be sorted out, a few files are available in the "PA Bird Atlas Discussion Group" (go to the group and click on the Files tab under the banner). Feel free to pass these along to any birders who don't use Facebook. Iíve also attached the handbook and breeding guidelines chart in this email in case any of you havenít accessed them yet. Hopefully this all, and much more, will be up on the website very soon!

I donít have specific updates on the Block Tool (where we'll go for downloadable block maps and to sign up as principal atlaser for blocks), but good progress is being made on it, and Iím excited about some nice features it will have. The maps and block species lists portion of this tool should be available very soon; however, the sign-up portion is taking a little longer to finish so it will likely be a few weeks yet before that goes live. The important thing is to remind people that we can all be patient while waiting to sign up for blocks and channel our excitement into looking for Great Horned Owls, Rock Pigeons, and Bald Eagles.

Once the block sign-up does go live, County Coordinators (or Regional Coordinators in open counties) will begin receiving the sign-up requests via email. I havenít seen exactly what this process will look like but once I get a preview Iíll send out instructions so you all know what to expect. It is supposed to be straightforward - click a link in the email and then click a button to accept or decline a block request. I expect many of you will see a flurry of sign-ups in the first few days and then it will be much more sporadic.

Iím sure we'll have some kinks to work out in these first few days and weeks, but we fortunately have plenty of time for that before the real breeding season is underway. Thank you all for your understanding as you've waited for more details on so many aspects of this project. I know the more work we put into the block sign-up and all the resources being developed, the smoother the Atlas will go! Please reach out if you need anything.

Happy New Year and Happy Atlasing!

Amber

You Can Start Entering Atlas Data

As stated by Amber in her email, you can start entering Atlas Data. Effort is to be recorded in the designated Atlas Blocks. If you are concerned about staying in a block, then use the phone app as it will alert you when you are leaving a block. Short duration and distance checklists are best, so skip using the Hot Spot locations and make your own and consider limiting checklists to specific habitat types.

Consider Signing Up to be the Principal Atlaser for a Block

If you are willing to do 20 hours of birding and 2 hours of owling effort (over 5 years if needed!) in a block then consider signing up to be the principal atlaser for a block. Club members are encouraged to sign up for their home-location block. The Atlas is primarily a project of reporting the most common birds, however If you need assistance to identify the less common species or more effort time to complete the block, then reach out to other birders you know or contact the County Coordinator for assistance. As noted in Amberís email, County Coordinators will be responsible for approving the request for block ownership. If you are interested in doing so in Westmoreland County, then please feel free to contact Janet - let us know where you live, and we will get back to you when the Block Tool is functioning. You can also contact us for other counties, and we will direct you to the applicable County Coordinator.

Atlas Documents

As noted in Amber's email Atlas documents are available on Facebook, but not on the Atlas Website. Here for easy access are the Handbook, and the Breeding Guidelines Chart. The instructions for setting a smart phone to the PA Bird Atlas portal will be made available later.

PBA3 Handbook, Version 2
PA Bird Atlas Breeding Guidelines Chart, Version 1

For additional information or questions please feel free to contact either us or Tom and Janet Kuehl.

Roger & Margaret Higbee - rvhigbee@windstream.net; pba3.indiana@gmail.com; 412-309-3538; bcoriole@windstream.net (724-354-3493)
Tom Kuehl - Tjk.kuehl@gmail.com; 412-398-1977

Yellow Creek Outing Canceled on October 14
Thursday, October 12, 2023
The Yellow Creek outing on Saturday, October 14, is canceled because of the heavy rain predicted.

Yellow Creek events related to bird habitats
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
So you want to save the world? Start locally at Yellow Creek Preregistration required. Sat, Sept 9, 2023. 1:00-3:00PM. Meet at the Environmental Learning Center.

Lots of people want to save the world, but not many step forward to help. Come show your love to Yellow Creek State Park by helping us remove invasive plants like Autumn Olive around Dragonfly Pond.

Give us two hours to show your love for this amazing state park! Please wear hiking shoes, long pants, bug spray, and bring water. We will provide the tools and the gloves to remove invasives from the most beloved Pond in Indiana County! We will be digging, lopping, and chopping the brush out of the ground with Plant Patrol. This program is for adults, teens, and kids, age 9 & up. Meet at the Environmental Learning Center. Preregistration preferred. http://eventsreg.dcnr.pa.gov/register/create/44109074011850

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Conservation Careers: Meet the PA Game Commission Warden Preregistration required: Wed, Sept 13, 2023. 5:30-6:30PM. Meet at the Environmental Learning Center.

Are you or someone you know curious about Conservation Careers? Would you like to learn what a PA State Game Warden does? Meet Indiana's County's Conservation Officer, Mason Frumkin to learn all about what a State Game Warden does. He will discuss why he wanted to become a game warden, what schooling is required, his experiences in the academy as well as his first few years on the job. Visitors will the opportunity to ask questions related to Game Warden Careers and his experiences.

This program is geared for adults, teens, and kids, age 9 & up. Preregistration is required. http://eventsreg.dcnr.pa.gov/register/create/44154663672372

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Tired of wasting time & money on the lawn? Let's switch to a Meadow/Forest Class Preregistration preferred. Thur, Sept 21, 2023. 3:00-5:00PM. Meet at Environmental Learning Center.

Do you spend all your free time mowing your grass? Do you get frustrated at your money wasted on maintaining a green lawn?

In Pennsylvania, there are over two million acres of lawn. Maintaining a lawn takes work. It requires mowing, water, fertilizer and in the meantime, pollinators disappear, and run off carries sediment and fertilizer into streams. One way to reduce your environmental footprint is to convert some or all your lawn to meadow or forest. By doing so, you help provide clean water and welcome birds and beneficial insects back to your property. Join Danielle Rihel, the DCNR Watershed Forestry Specialist to learn how to get rid of that lawn and switch to native meadow/forest! We will meet for the first part of class indoors and then go outside to explore meadows. http://eventsreg.dcnr.pa.gov/register/create/44074657478222

2022 Indiana County Christmas Bird Count Results
Saturday, December 31, 2022
The Todd Bird Club held its 40th Indiana Christmas Bird Count on December 26, 2022. Participants tallied 6991 individuals of 75 species on count day, plus 5 additional species during count week. View the detailed count results.

Bald Eagle at Yellow Creek with Fishing Line - Please Report
Saturday, November 26, 2022
Lisa Meadows, the Education Specialist at Yellow Creek State Park, saw an immature Bald Eagle that appeared to have fishing line in its talons. If you are at the park and can confirm that the eagle has fishing line in its talons, please immediately call the park office at (724) 357-7913 and ask for Lisa Meadow, or send her an email message at limeadows@pa.gov.

Virtual Snowy Owl Presentation, March 16
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Join Presque Isle State Park for a virtual program Snowy Owls on Wednesday, March 16 at 6:00PM.

If you are a fan of owls, then this is a virtual program you may enjoy! Snowy owls have been visiting our area more often in recent years. They are truly an impressive bird, rivaling our own Great Horned Owl in size. Join a naturalist on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 from 6pm to 7:30 pm to learn more about this animal. Many beautiful photos taken by volunteers will be shown, along with their biology and other great information.

Register by clicking on the link below and then clicking on the green "Register" button. Register by March 14. Zoom Links will be sent to all registrants the day before the program, thanks to our sponsor, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center Foundation. This program is appropriate for all ages. Program may be modified or cancelled at the discretion of park staff.

https://events.dcnr.pa.gov/event/virtual_snowy_owls#.Yh5oFW3MK70

September 2021 Meeting Cancelled
Thursday, September 2, 2021
The September 2021 meeting is cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The club will continue to go on outings, though, so please join us at Yellow Creek State Park.

Widespread Bird Mortality Event
Thursday, July 8, 2021
A large number of songbirds are dying from an unknown ailment in 10 states, including 60 out of 67 counties in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Game Commission recommends that we all bring in our bird feeders and wash them with a 10% bleach solution until the mortality event subsides. Birds gather in close proximity at feeders, so diseases can be easily transmitted there. Now birds have to practice social distancing, too?! You can read more about this in the game commission's news article from July 1 and in their updated alert on July 6.

https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/game-commission-details.aspx?newsid=479

https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Pages/AlertDetails.aspx

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Great Blue Heron, Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, NJ, March 10, 2012, creeksideumc

Upcoming Events

Tuesday Yellow Creek Outing

  • Tue, March 5, 7:00 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

March 2024 Meeting

  • Tue, March 5, 7:30 pm
  • Blue Spruce County Park Lodge

Blue Spruce County Park Outing

  • Sat, March 9, 8:00 am
  • Blue Spruce County Park, large parking lot by office

Yellow Creek State Park Outing

  • Sat, March 16, 8:00 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

Yellow Creek State Park Outing

  • Sat, March 23, 8:00 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

Tuesday Yellow Creek Outing

  • Tue, March 26, 7:15 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

Tuesday Yellow Creek Outing

  • Tue, April 2, 7:15 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

April 2024 Meeting

  • Tue, April 2, 7:30 pm
  • Blue Spruce County Park Lodge

Tuesday Yellow Creek Outing

  • Tue, April 9, 7:00 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

Tuesday Yellow Creek Outing

  • Tue, April 16, 7:00 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

Tuesday Yellow Creek Outing

  • Tue, April 23, 6:45 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo

Tuesday Yellow Creek Outing

  • Tue, April 30, 6:30 am
  • Yellow Creek Park North Shore Gazebo