State College Bird Club

February 28, 2018

State College Bird Club Meeting, February 28, 2018

Presiding: Doug Wentzel

Recording: Debra Grim

Checklist:  112 species reported, incl Snow Goose, Cackling Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, White-winged Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Sandhill Crane, Snowy Owl, Short-eared Owl, Northern Shrike, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting.

Treasurer report (Jean Miller): $219.37 spent in January, and $105 received.

Field trips (Jon Kauffman): A list will be coming out soon.

New business/announcements:

Nick Kerlin noted that the Arboretum has received major funding to install a bird garden.
Nick also announced that the spring banding season will soon begin. Nick is planning to retire from the banding in two years and is looking to someone to replace him as bander in charge.

Robyn Graboski of Centre Wildlife Care noted that their main fundraising event, Wild About Animals, will take place on March 31. They help 1,300 to 1,500 animals each year, half of those being orphans during the months of May and June. They are seeking donations for their silent auction. Also, Robyn would love the Bird Club to have a table at the event about Lights Out initiatives.

Robyn reported that the Snowy Owl from the Huntingdon prison is still in her care. A Long-eared Owl required amputation of its wingtip and has gone to a rehabilitation center in the Poconos.

Mike and Laura Jackson of Juniata Valley Audubon Society are selling shade-grown organic coffee to fund conservation projects in Honduras.

Tussey Mountain Hawk Watch is being monitored by Henry Hvizdos. Thirty-one Golden Eagles have been counted so far, five today.
Greg Grove said the board has been discussing the possibility of the Bird Club encouraging youth birders by offering to pay their way to the PSO annual meeting. It was suggested that $500 be set aside for the purpose while the details are being worked out.
Next meeting: March 28, 2018: Kristin Joivell, "Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge".

Speaker: Erynn Maynard, "Birds and invasive shrubs in eastern forests".

Erynn is an ecology PhD student here at PSU who is studying how shady invaders are changing the forests around us. In this talk she'll describe how these profound plant community changes impact our birds.

Doug Tallamy, in his book Bringing Nature Home, described how essential a healthy insect population is for birds, especially for songbirds during the breeding season. His research found that native woody plants support the largest number and variety of insects. Non-native woodies, however, have mostly left behind the insects that utilize them and are of little use to our native insects. Insect diversity is generally low in stands of non-native shrubs, although generalists like mosquitoes and deer flies are happy to live in them.

Even after 300 years on this continent, there are few signs of insects adapting to the invasive plant species.

Some birds are adapting. Chickadees will exploit non-native moth larvae. Birds that eat fruit, especially in winter, will eat almost any fruit, native or otherwise, and in some areas, the fruits of invasive species are the most plentiful. Generally, the invasive fruits tend to be sweeter, which lures the birds but may not provide the nutrients they require.

Studies have shown various results of how the non-native shrub fruits affect migrating birds in their stopovers. Some seem unaffected, others show poorer immune systems. Tomas Carlo of Penn State created a controversy when he said invasive shrubs should not be removed as that would negatively impact birds like robins, goldfinches, and catbirds. Some invasive fruits have changed the colors of pigments in birds, causing blue jays to be pink, or turning cardinals a healthy shade of red that belies their actual fitness.

Studies showed thrushes preferentially nesting in invasive shrubs but suffering higher nest mortality. The attraction is the earlier leaf-out, known as novel leaf phenology. Invasive shrubs often leaf out earlier, which gives them more growing time under forest, but also shades out native herbaceous plants. The additional shade affects insect emergence, germination of seedlings, and activities of amphibians. We’re seeing up to 28 days difference in leaf-out.

Shady Invaders has information for identifying invasive woody shrubs and asks citizen scientists to record observations about extended leaf phenology.

Climate change does not affect leaf-out of native plants as much—bud burst is not as dependent on temperature, but European and Asian shrubs are very responsive to warmer temperatures, so warmer springs show a greater difference in leaf-out between native and non-native shrubs.

Minutes by Debra Grim