State College Bird Club

Millbrook Marsh Nature Center 
October 23, 2019

Presiding: Jon Kauffman

Recording: Peggy Wagoner Saporito


Attendance: 23

Checklist:  Species Total: 133

Birds seen by members of the audience within a 25-mile radius since the last meeting: Sept. 26 – Oct. 23, 2019.

Treasurer report (Jean Miller): Deposited: $2540.00; Paid out:  $1125.00 (primarily for the Hawk Watches).


New business/Announcements:

IMPORTANT: Upcoming Bird Club meetings, November, 2019-April, 2020 will take place at the Foxdale Village meeting room.


Upcoming Field Trips/Activities:

Bald Eagle State Park Field Trip; Sunday, November 3. Bob Snyder will lead this field trip to look for winter birds such as various sparrows, waterfowl, possible Snow Buntings and to look for Northern Shrike. Meet at the Milesburg McDonald’s gravel parking area at 8:00AM.

Interesting Bird Observations and Fall Hawk Watch News: 

Jon Kauffman discussed his recent discovery of Barn Owl nestlings and 2 eggs in the nest boxes at farms in the Milroy area. This is unusual for this time of year; only about 10% of Barn Owls have 2 broods/yr and these are typically in the southeast Piedmont area of PA. Milroy may be a uniquely favorable habitat for Barn Owl success thanks to the land management and farming practices of the Amish who live in the Milroy area.

Hawk watch locations are seeing the seasonal sift in species heading south, especially increased numbers of Sharp-shinned and Red-tailed Hawks passing through in October as compared to earlier in the season. Other species such as Northern Harriers, Red-shouldered Hawks and Golden Eagles are starting to be seen more frequently as the season progresses. Of particular note; more than 1000 Turkey Vultures have been seen migrating past the Bald Eagle Mountain Hawk Watch. This is three times more than have been seen to date from either the Jacks or Stone Mountain watch locations.


Old Business: 

A call has been made for volunteers to help with a variety of Bird Club activities. If you are willing to help or have ideas, please contact Doug Wentzel at:

·     The State College Bird Checklist needs to be updated to reflect current taxonomy and to replenish the dwindling supply of paper checklists. SCBC could partner with other organizations such as Millbrook Marsh to print and distribute new checklists. Help is needed with the checklist itself, partnering with other organizations and printing.

·     Interested in being an event coordinator for our May potluck? Ideas such as a photo contest at the potluck were mentioned previously. Any ideas or help are welcome.

·     Anyone interested in leading bird walks at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center?

·     Anyone interested in helping SCBC with FaceBook presence?

·     We need help with a SCBC membership survey regarding our meeting venue, field trips, other ideas.


Speaker: Tessa Rhinehart, "Eaves Dropping on Birds; remote recoding and artificial intelligence for biodiversity surveys".

Tessa described her work as a computer programmer in the University of Pittsburgh, Biological Sciences Dept. (Dr. Kitzes lab) to develop a computer program that can recognize bird songs.  A large number of “AudioMoth” acoustic recorders were placed in Sproul State Forest, to record bird songs of the dawn chorus, generating a vast amount of audio data. To analyze this audio data, algorithms are being developed to “teach” the computer, through machine learning, to recognize spectrogram images of bird songs of various species.  The goal is to develop a computer program that can quickly and accurately recognize bird songs and calls. Methods are also being developed to pinpoint the locations of individual birds within an area through the use of audio data.  The use of this “big data” can increase understanding of biodiversity, providing conservationists, ecologist and ornithologist with valuable information needed to benefit species conservation. Other research assisted by this type of audio recognition includes comparing bird species diversity under various land management practices in prairie habitats, species determination from nocturnal flight calls, frog populations in variously sized forest fragments and wolf pack distribution in Washington state.