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The field trip to Dunning's Creek Wetlands, originally scheduled for March 14, has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 28.

The ice is slow to thaw at Dunning’s Creek Wetlands and the waterfowl are elsewhere, so we are postponing the field trip. Even the March 28 date is tentative; if the spring thaw is too fast, then flooding will be a big problem. We may have to cancel the March 28 trip, if flooding occurs.

We still plan to meet at Eat 2 Live Bistro at 8:30 AM on Saturday, March 28 and will carpool to Dunning's Creek Wetlands. Lunch at Eat 2 Live Bistro is optional. Eat 2 Live Bistro is located along Rt. 56 at the former location of Apple Bin Restaurant. (Directions here.)

Killdeer have been reported on the farm fields, ring-billed gulls are migrating through to the Great Lakes, and red-winged blackbirds are arriving!!! Spring is in the air.

Please let Laura know if you plan to attend the March 28 field trip (mljackson2@embarqmail.com).

The March-April 2015 Gnatcatcher has just been published to the web. Thanks to editors Alan and Terri Swann and content-wrangler Laura Jackson for all their work. There are three downloads this month: the issue itself and two supplements:

March-April 2015 Gnatcatcher
Golden-winged Warbler Weekend agenda and registration
JVAS Membership Reminder

Alternatively, here's the issue in an online reader, via Issuu.com:

Highlights of the issue include descriptions of upcoming programs, field trips, and the banquet; an article on how to inculcate a life-long appreciation of raptors in kids; two book reviews; a report on the 2014 Christmas Bird Count; and the President's message. Think spring! Trout lilies and warblers will be here before you know it.

Male Golden-winged WarblerGolden-winged Warblers are one of Pennsylvania's most beautiful songbirds, but this secretive warbler is in trouble, partly due to habitat loss in its breeding range right here in Pennsylvania.

We know that many people are interested in knowing more about Golden-winged Warblers, so Juniata Valley Audubon Society has partnered with Audubon PA and Penn State Altoona to do a two-day workshop on the identification, biology, and conservation of these beautiful birds. The free workshop, which we are calling the Golden-winged Warbler Weekend, will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 10 – 11, 2015 at the Penn State Altoona campus.

Our speakers will share their research on the biology and habitat needs of Golden-winged Warblers in Pennsylvania, as well as in Honduras, where many Golden-winged Warblers spend their winter. On Saturday afternoon we will have interactive sessions so participants can choose between programs that address conservation work in Pennsylvania or conservation programs in Honduras.

The Vice-President of Juniata Valley Audubon Society, Dr. Mark Bonta, is active in bird conservation programs in Honduras. He has connections with researchers in Honduras, as well as Honduran conservationists, who need our help in protecting Golden-winged Warblers on their winter range. We hope to form a coalition of volunteers who are willing to promote conservation projects in Honduras. Saturday's afternoon session will provide details on how we can take those critical steps toward forging international connections. Private forest landowners are also encouraged to attend the conference, as details will be share on funding that is available for habitat conservation work on private lands using WHIP funding through NRCS.

You can attend the free programs on just one, or both days. The only charge will be for the Golden-winged Warbler Dinner Party, which is a buffet held at Marzoni's Brick Oven & Brewing Company near the campus. More details are on the agenda.

Young Golden-winged Warblers on nestThe registration form is located at the bottom of the PDF version of the agenda. Please return the registration portion of the agenda, if you are interested in attending, as well as payment for the dinner party, if you plan to join us for dinner. Please mail the registration form and dinner payment to Laura Jackson as soon as possible: mljackson2@embarqmail.com

We look forward to meeting you at the workshop. It should be a great opportunity to learn more about Golden-winged Warblers and how we can help keep them off the Endangered Species List.

Browse the events page on our website to see what's on tap through June. JVAS programs, field trips, our annual banquet and our annual picnic are all open to the public. If you want a paper copy of the schedule and don't subscribe to the Gnatcatcher, you might print out and save the relevant pages from the PDF of the latest issue. The web descriptions link to location pages with maps and, in some cases, driving directions.

We think we have a great line-up this year, including two driving tours, a special focus on Golden-winged Warblers, and a wide geographical spread — all the way from Everett to Milheim. Whether you're a fan of birds, wildflowers, herps, rocks, trees, views, or conservation issues, there's something in the calendar that ought to appeal.

The field trips listed in the Gnatcatcher and on the website are our "official" field trips, but a number of other, impromptu hikes and outings also take place throughout the year in response to weather events, fickle wildflower blooming dates, and other things that favor more last-minute planning. To learn about these, we encourage everyone to "like" the Juniata Valley Audubon Society Facebook page and check it at least once a week.

The January-February 2015 Gnatcatcher (Vol XLVII, No. 1) has just been published to the web. You can download the PDF or read it via Issuu.com.

Subscribers to the print edition should be getting it in their mailboxes in a few days, and if you've signed up for the electronic edition (thank you!), look for an email containing the PDF link.

Highlights of this issue include news about an exciting event upcoming in April, the Golden-winged Warbler Weekend; a review of Berndt Heinrich's book Winter World; Golden Eagle migration reports from Jacks and Stone Mountains; news about a research team in Honduras that JVAS Vice-President Mark Bonta is involved with, and their success in radio-tagging a rare species of bellbird; and descriptions of JVAS winter and spring field trips and programs.

Thanks to Alan and Terri Swann for all their work on putting the issue out, Charlie Hoyer for assistance with mailing, and JVAS President Laura Jackson for helping to round up articles and other content.

Marzoni's logoReservation and payment are due by Tuesday, Nov. 18 if you'd like to join us for the Christmas Bird Count supper on December 20. We'll be meeting at 5:30 at Marzoni's Brick Oven & Brewing Co. at Pinecroft, 1830 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd, Altoona. (Here's a map.)

You don't have to participate in the count to join us for dinner!

The meal will be buffet style with three delicious Italian entrées from the Banquet Menu:

  • Eggplant Parmigiana (Meatless)
  • Beef Tips Marsala with mashed potatoes and vegetables
  • Chicken Alfredo

Also included:

  • Fresh Garden Salad
  • Unlimited Bread Sticks
  • Soft drinks, Juice, Coffee, and Tea (Free Refills)

Marzoni's own, hand-crafted beer is available at an additional cost.

Only $18 per person (includes gratuity). Make check payable to Laura Jackson and mail to:
8621 Black Valley Road
Everett, PA 15537
or pay at the Nov. 18 JVAS program meeting.

For more information on the Christmas Bird Count, see the event description, and be sure to read CBC compiler Steve Bonta's article on the front page of the Gnatcatcher.

cover of Second ATlas of BReeding Birds of PennsylvaniaThe Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania is available at a special discount of 25% off the list price of $64.95, particularly to Audubon Chapters, until December 15.

This beautiful book presents stunning photographs, detailed maps, and compelling descriptions for nearly 200 nesting bird species. Two thousand dedicated birdwatchers – including many Audubon members – contributed the data which provides a comprehensive understanding of the distribution of each species and shows in detail the changes in distribution since the first Atlas.

This beautiful book may be ordered by:

  • Phone: Call 800-326-9180 and pay with credit card between 8:00 am and 4:30pm, Monday-Friday.
  • Mail a check to:
    Penn State University Press
    University Support Bldg. 1, Suite C
    University Park, PA 16802-1003
    In amount of: $56.63 (tax and shipping included for 1 book)
  • Or go to the Penn State Press website, add to cart, and enter the discount code WS14 upon check-out.

For each of these methods, reference the "WS14" discount code for 25% off and reduced shipping.

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Download the PDF

We’d like to recognize Terri and Alan Swann as the new editors of The Gnatcatcher. They are JVAS members who have graciously donated their time and talents to produce a top quality newsletter. We really appreciate their efforts!

This issue introduces a couple of exciting new features, in addition to the usual mix of conservation and club news. Laura Jackson, JVAS President, is encouraging members to submit book reviews, original poetry, and nature articles for future issues of the newsletter. Please send your submissions to Laura at mljackson2@embarqmail.com.

UPDATE: Despite opposition from fishermen, birders, and conservationists, HB 1565 was signed into law by Governor Corbett during the last days of the 2014 legislative session.

A letter published in the Oct. 4, 2014 Altoona Mirror.

Juniata Valley Audubon urges our state legislators to oppose House Bill 1565 which eliminates the requirement to have forested buffers along streams designated as High Quality or Exceptional Value. HB 1565 would be a step backward and would unnecessarily jeopardize the Commonwealth’s most sensitive waters.

Riparian buffers are an essential component of watershed management, providing numerous physical, chemical, and biological benefits that include reduction of non-point source runoff, attenuation of flood flows, and maintenance of stream water temperatures and aquatic habitat.

By their very nature as being designated the “best of the best,” the High Quality and Exceptional Value streams for which buffers currently are required represent a minority of waters. Further limiting its scope, the existing requirement applies only to new development and includes a number of exceptions. Thus, the current scale of required buffers is already relatively minimal statewide.

Riparian buffers are the least expensive, most effective, and lowest maintenance approach to sustaining water quality and reducing the harmful impacts of erosion, sedimentation, and flooding.

By opposing HB 1565 our lawmakers will contribute to the long-term health and maintenance of Pennsylvania’s water resources, the recreational and ecological functions they support, and the downstream communities they serve.


Laura Jackson
Juniata Valley Audubon


Edward Henry Wehner engravaing of the albatross from Rime of the Ancient MarinerWhat???? It's true, we are spending thousands of dollars each year to print and mail The Gnatcatcher. It has become a significant financial burden for JVAS, just as the dead albatross became a burden to the sailor in Coleridge's poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

If you currently receive the print edition as a chapter-only or a National Audubon member, we need your help so we can keep The Gnatcatcher.

Email me, Laura Jackson, at mljackson2@embarqmail.com and just state that you will accept the digital version of The Gnatcatcher. When each issue comes out, we'll simply email you the download link.

Your email will be a wonderful conservation donation that won't cost you a dime and it will let us keep The Gnatcatcher!

There are a number of advantages with the digital version:

  • The photos will be in color.
  • You will get The Gnatcatcher sooner.
  • You will feel good that you are helping to preserve the financial stability of JVAS.

We pledge to keep your email address confidential. We will not share it with other organizations or companies.