Meetings

NVABC GENERAL MEETING—WEDNESDAY, February 15, 2017  at 8 p.m.

What do birds eat ?

Examining bird-insect food webs to improve avian conservation efforts
by
Ashley Kennedy

Although insects serve as a vital food source for most terrestrial bird species, particularly while breeding, we still don’t know much about which insects birds prefer as prey. To address this, Doug Tallamy’s lab at the University of Delaware has launched a citizen science project inviting birders across the country to contribute photos of birds with insects in their bills. A better understanding of avian food webs will help us better manage landscapes for avian conservation.  Join Ashley as she provides some insight into this important component of bird conservation.

Every good birder knows that birds eat fruits, nuts, and insects, but many people underestimate the importance of the latter. Even birds that are described as primarily frugivorous, granivorous, or nectarivorous rely on insects during the breeding season and will dramatically change their foraging patterns during that time to take advantage of the varied proteins, fats, and nutrients insects provide. Field guides and other references, however, rarely provide details as to which kinds of insects are the most important in birds’ diets.

Most studies to date only provide order-level identification of prey (e.g., “beetles”, “caterpillars”), but this broad categorization implies that all beetles or all caterpillars are equally important to birds. Would a chickadee rather eat a smooth, green inchworm, or a toxic monarch caterpillar— or a densely hairy “woolly bear”? Intuitively, we might guess the inchworm would be the preferred choice, but until we have the data to back it up, this is just speculation.

Ultimately, the lab hopes to be able to answer questions like “Do house wrens in Montana prefer the same types of insects as house wrens in Pennsylvania?” or “Do eastern bluebirds feed their second brood the same insects as the first?” Currently they have about 3,000 photos of a desired 10,000-plus.

Ashley Kennedy is a PhD student in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. She is also a Northern Virginia native whose interest in birds and insects began right here! Along with her advisor Doug Tallamy, she is investigating birds’ dietary choices and hopes that a better understanding of “what birds eat” will help guide future bird conservation efforts.

MEETING PLACE: St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 4000 Lorcom Lane,  Arlington, VA.  Directions can be found on Page 5 of the Siskin.

Our general meetings are open to members of NVABC and the general public and are held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 4000 Lorcom Lane, Arlington VA.
It is a
t the intersection of Lorcom Lane and Military Rd. From the intersection of Spout Run Pkwy and Lorcom Lane go about a half mile on Lorcom to the second traffic light. Turn left onto Military Rd and enter the first driveway on the right. There is parking at the back entrance of the Church and a bigger lot up the driveway. On-street parking is also available.  Enter by the back door facing Military Rd leading to the Undercroft where our meetings are held.  Our meetings start at 8:00 and there is a meet and greet social for early arrivals from 7:30. For a map of the location, please click <HERE>.


LAST MEETING: NVBC GENERAL MEETING—WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 8 p.m.

Taiwan: Birds, Culture and More…..

Join club members Diane Marton and Joanna Taylor on their journey this past April around Taiwan and its offshore island Lanyu. They were on a Tropical Birding tour led by guide and photographer Charley Hesse.

Swinhoe’s Pheasant by Charley Hesse

Swinhoe’s Pheasant by Charley Hesse

Taiwan, an island nation thrust out of the ocean floor along the Pacific “ring of fire’, sports stunningly beautiful mountain peaks and seascapes in its small area. Dubbed Formosa or “beautiful island” by the early Portuguese explorers, it claims a high number of endemic plant and animal species, with birds being no exception. The number is continually rising as endemic subspecies are promoted to full species status.

Early bird refreshments start at 7:30 and will include some Chinese finger foods. Any other contributions of food or beverage will be most gratefully received. There will be a drawing for door prizes. Northern Virginia Bird Club pins will be available for members wishing to buy them ($5 each).

DIRECTIONS : Are listed on Page 5 of the Siskin.
NVBC Meetings are usually held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 4000 Lorcom Ln,
Arlington 22207, at the intersection of Lorcom Ln and Military Rd. From the
intersection of Spout Run Pkwy and Lorcom Ln, go about a half mile on
Lorcom to the second traffic light. Turn left onto Military Rd and enter the first
driveway on the right. There is some parking near the Church’s back entrance
and a bigger lot up the driveway. There is on-street parking. Enter at the back door
facing Military Rd which leads to the Undercroft where the meeting is held. VA. begining at 8:00 pm, with a social period for early arrivals beginning at 7:30. For a map of the location, click
<HERE>.


PREVIOUS MEETING: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, AT 8:00 PM

Why and How DDT was banned, 1972; The Role of Patuxent and the Benefits that Followed by Dr. Charles Wurster

DDTWarsCoverEverybody knows that DDT was banned long ago, but few know the long-term results. In some ways the ban was just the beginning. DDT contamination had become worldwide, concentrating up food chains and causing birds to lay thin-shelled eggs that broke in the nests. Critically important experiments proved the direct connection between DDT and eggshell thinning. There are now 25 times as many Bald Eagles in the lower 48 as there were in 1970, and the data are similar for Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Brown Pelicans, Cooper’s Hawks and others. There is no greater victory for birds in the past half century, but it is not generally recognized because it came so gradually over the past 40 years. There were few headlines, and often the credit for the eagle recovery has been attributed in the media to Rachel Carson, “Congress”, legislation, and the Endangered Species Act. All false. The ban made it possible. It’s a great story that Dr. Wurster only came to appreciate as he researched his book DDT Wars: Rescuing our National Bird, Preventing Cancer and Creating the Environmental Defense Fund, written because it seemed to be getting lost to history. There are also many other benefits that came from the DDT ban, which he outlined in his presentation.

Dr. Charles Wurster was born and raised in Philadelphia, went to Haverford College,University of Delaware, and received a PhD in chemistry from Stanford University (1957). CWursterHe is a lifelong birder, which got him interested in DDT. Beginning in 1963 he helped organize the scientific case against DDT, and in 1967 became one of the founders of the Environmental Defense Fund, EDF. He remains on the Board of Trustees today. For 35 years he was on the faculty (environmental sciences) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Our meetings begin at 8:00 pm, with a social period for early bird arrivals starting at 7:30. Any contributions of food or beverage will be most gratefully received. There will be a drawing for door prizes. Northern Virginia Bird Club pins will be available for members who would like to buy them ($5 each).

 

 

LATEST UPDATE