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JVAS President's Message

It was an early Autumn morning and the sun was just peaking over the mountain top. I could hear the Red-winged blackbirds and Song Sparrows wake up the neighborhood. I was enjoying a fresh cup of shade grown Lenca Farms coffee, and that was when I heard the sound that makes all of us bird lovers just cringe. Yes, it was a loud thud against the window from an alluring Red-eyed Vireo.

Red-eyed Vireo

With the white eyebrow stripe bordered above and below by blackish lines, this olive-green colored bird was certainly dazed but did not appear to have any other injuries such as a broken wing. I held the bird for a few minutes to see if it would come to and fly-off, but it seemed comfortable in my hands. I have read that birds can overheat in your hands, so I didn’t want to hold this adult bird longer than necessary. I got a shoebox and softened the bottom with some cloth. After 15 minutes, I opened the box and the bird was clearly calm and alert, ready to take flight once again.

Sadly, in many of window strike cases, birds suffer serious injuries such as internal hemorrhages, concussions, or damage to their bills, wings, eyes, or skulls. Window collisions kill vast numbers of birds in the United States each year and is reported to be at least a billion birds per year.

Here are some strategies from the National Audubon website to help protect our bird friends from window strikes:

  • Make windows look like a barrier to birds, such as
    • Window decals may help, but they must be placed no more than 2-4 inches apart in order to be effective. Birds will try to fly through larger gaps. This means that on large windows, many closely spaced decals may be necessary to deter bird collisions.
    • Create temporary designs with window markers or tempera paints, soap, or hang ribbons on window exteriors. Again, designs or ribbons should be placed no more than 2-4 inches apart.
  • Install external screens or netting on windows. When done effectively, external screens can break up reflections or can slow birds down before they hit the glass.
  • Close window drapes or blinds partially or completely whenever possible. This is especially important at night when interior lights are in use.
  • Position feeders either directly on a window with suction cups or within 3 feet.
  • Avoid placing plants near windows inside your home.

Thanks for helping keep our birds safe!

—John Carter

Additional Solutions

Mike and I have also found birds that were injured or killed by flying into a window. Most of the problems occurred outside our big kitchen window, in the back yard where we have bird feeders and a bubbling boulder to provide water for wildlife. The kitchen window reflects the forest that surrounds our backyard, so it’s no wonder that birds fly into the glass. Birds don’t realize that they see a reflection; they think they are flying into the forest.

One thing that does work is screening. Frank Haas, a well-known Pennsylvania birder, started the Bird Screen Company. His products do work, by providing a screen that deters most birds from hitting the windows. The screens are not flush with the window and have enough tension, so birds that hit the screen bounce off without being injured. We bought enough screens to cover our kitchen window and thought we had the problem solved, until our backyard bears discovered the suction cups that attached the screens to the windows. For some reason, the bears delighted in removing the suction cups, rendering the screens useless.

Still searching we found a product called Bird Crash Preventer. This setup has easy-to-install brackets that held up a curtain of fishing line spaced 4 in. apart and fastened to brackets below. The fishing line is very reflective, so birds avoid the “curtain.” However, we found that small birds like American Goldfinches would fly between the fishing line and hit the window. We then strung more fishing line to make the gap just 2 inches apart. This helped, but a few birds still hit the window. Next, we bought black garden nylon netting sold in hardware stores used to cover fruit trees and shrubs. We strung this on top of the fishing line, attached it to the brackets, and pulled it taut. When birds hit the netting, they just bounce off without being injured. Voila! Problem solved.

There are other solutions, too. Check out Acopian Bird Savers (Zen Wind Curtains). You can purchase this solution or make your own. This product has been scientifically shown to be effective. You can download the research papers from the website.

—Laura Jackson

The JVAS Blair County Christmas Bird Count (CBC), centered at Culp, will be held on Saturday, December 19, 2020 with a Tally Count to be held via Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

The JVAS Blair County Christmas Bird Count (CBC), centered on Culp, will be held on Saturday, December 19, 2020 with a Tally Count to be held via Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 22. All are invited to attend the Zoom tally – even if you aren’t a counter. Details here.

Sign up soon to be a counter! Call or email Laura Jackson by Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Phone: 814-652-9268 Email: [email protected] or email John Carter: [email protected]

Participation is free, but you must count within the established circle, which is located within 7.5 miles of Culp in Sinking Valley. If you live inside the circle, you could count birds at your feeder and on your property, but please sign up so we know your property is covered. Counters will receive a map, a species checklist, and pointers on any hotspots that might be in your part of the circle. We hope you will spend most of the day counting birds in your area of the circle or observing the birds at your feeder if you live in the circle.

Download the Culp Circle map [PDF], and/or find the count circle on National Audubon's interactive map by searching for "Culp, Tyrone Twp, PA, USA".

If you have a favorite part of the circle, then don’t wait to call as the “early birders” get first pick of the count area. Below are the historic count areas, but anyone who lives in the circle can cover their property, just be sure to sign up so we don’t overlap count areas.

  • Northern Altoona
  • Sinking Valley
  • Bellwood
  • Canoe Creek State Park
  • Tyrone-Tipton
  • Canoe Valley
  • Park Forest/Watts Road
  • Tyrone Treatment Plant
  • Brush Mountain (NE end)
  • Juniata River Corridor

There are 3 other Christmas Bird Counts that need counters:

Bedford County CBC is on Saturday, January 2, 2021 and is centered at Manns Choice, Pa. Contact compilers Mike & Laura Jackson: 814-652-9268 or [email protected]

Huntingdon County CBC is on Sunday, December 20 and is centered at Donation, Pa. If you’d like to help, contact compiler Deb Grove: 814-643-3295 or [email protected]

Raystown CBC: Historically occurs near the end of December. If you’d like to help, contact compiler Jon Kauffman: [email protected]

The JVAS Board has decided that we want all of our members to stay safe during these Covid-19 uncertain times. Because we care about your health and safety, and because we want our members to feel connected, we are offering virtual meetings this fall via Zoom.

Before joining a Zoom meeting on a computer or mobile device, you can download the FREE Zoom app from the Download Center (https://zoom.us/download). Otherwise, you will be prompted to download and install Zoom when you click a join link.
You can also join a test meeting (https://zoom.us/test) to familiarize yourself with Zoom.
JVAS Fall General Meetings via Zoom:
When: Tuesday Sept. 15, 2020 at 7pm
When: Tuesday Oct. 20, 2020 at 7 pm
When: Tuesday Nov. 17, 2020 at 7pm
When: Tuesday Dec. 22, 2020 at 7 pm

See the Events listings for information about the programs.

To join any one of these meetings, follow these instructions:

Try to log in about 5 to 10 minutes before 7:00 pm.

  • To join by computer, use this link:
    https://psu.zoom.us/j/97418229426
  • To join from the Zoom app on a smartphone: enter this meeting ID:
    974 1822 9426
    Passcode is: 123456
  • To join by phone, call this number: +1 301 715 8592 (US Toll)
    Enter the meeting ID followed by the pound sign.
    974 1822 9426
    Passcode is 123456

Due to the Cornonavirus pandemic, we have been forced to cancel our annual banquet, along with other activities. Please keep birding, though!

Due to the Cornonavirus pandemic, we have been forced to cancel our annual banquet. If you've already signed up, Laura Jackson will be returning your registration fee shortly.

Our other events in March and April have also been cancelled, with the exception (so far) of the Earth Week Birding Classic, which may still go ahead in some form if social distancing protocols can be maintained. Check back here for updates. And don't stop going outside! As the Associate Editor of Audubon magazine, Andy McGlashen, recently pointed out, Birding Is the Perfect Activity While Practicing Social Distancing.

A CDC computer rendering of the surface of SARS-CoV-2
A CDC computer rendering of the surface of SARS-CoV-2 (public domain)
Some final food for thought: This pandemic does illustrate the ecological perils of global trade. Our native forests, grasslands, wetlands, and other habitats are being overwhelmed by invaders every bit as deadly and insidious to other creatures as the Cornonavirus is to us, whether you're talking about native ladybird beetles displaced by the harlequin ladybird, spring beauties smothered by Japanese stiltgrass, or natural forest openings filling with Ailanthus. Bringing back American manufacturing, if done in a cleaner, greener way, would not only shorten supply chains, help workers, and protect the public, but it might also provide some relief for natural ecosystems already stressed by climate change, habitat fragmentation, pesticides, and so many other assaults.

The Juniata Valley Audubon Society is cancelling our upcoming field trips in April.  This includes the Greenwood Furnace Adventure on April 4 and the Trillium Hike on April 18.  

We feel this is necessary for the safety of our membership and the general public with regards to the coronavirus pandemic.

Please check the JVAS website for future updates.

~ Susan Braun, Field Trips Chair

Due to concerns over the Coronavirus, the JVAS Board has decided to cancel the Tuesday, March 17 chapter meeting.

Due to concerns over the Coronavirus, the JVAS Board has decided to cancel the Tuesday, March 17 chapter meeting.

As of now, the April 21 banquet is still scheduled, but we will assess the situation in late March and send out an update in early April confirming or canceling the banquet.

Please do not send any more banquet reservations until we send out the update in early April. I will refund payments to those who have already paid if we do cancel the banquet.

Also, please note that the Bedford conference scheduled for Saturday, "Managing forests and Wildlife in a Changing World," has been postponed, according to the WOSA website.

Stay well and stay outside as much as you can!

~ Laura Jackson

1

Please send comments on the Draft Master Plan to let the USACE know that you support their decision, which is based on sound science versus a desire for economic gain.

Please send comments on the Raystown Lake Draft Master Plan (pages 8-125, 126).

To send comments, go to www.nab.usace.army.mil/raystown-master-plan-revision/ and scroll to the bottom of the first page. Fill in the form or email the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The form will ask you to "select the section of the draft Plan your comment refers to." Choose "Summary of Recommendations."

Please let the Army Corps know that you support their decision, which is based on sound science versus a desire for economic gain. Comment deadline is Dec. 7, 2019.

Use the following excerpts from the Plan as talking points to support the draft Master Plan:

The draft plan states that, "The proportion of public comments received specifically opposing the proposal to develop and/or reclassify the Hawn’s Bridge area was significant. This indicates that expressed public desires at this time do not support the reclassification to High Density Recreation." Justification for this decision was based on factors that changing the area to “high density recreation” would potentially negatively affect the following:

  1. Proximity to Bat Conservation Area
  2. Impact on fisheries
  3. Proximity to Shale Barren area
  4. Impact on hunting
  5. Impact on timber resources or tree cover
  6. Topographic impacts to infrastructure construction

The USACE applied objectives in the classification analysis with the following results:

  • The proposal would support the objective to identify and evaluate increased opportunities to provide and implement education and outreach on the missions of the RLP.
  • It would not preserve the unique scenic beauty and aesthetics of the project by minimizing development and maintaining the undisturbed natural buffer between the shoreline and all future development.
  • It would not achieve recreation goals in conjunction with the USACE Recreation Strategic Plan and the Pennsylvania SCORP.
  • It would not actively manage and conserve fish, wildlife, and special status species or enhance biodiversity.
  • In addition, it would not support goals to manage invasive species, promote forest health, or prevent erosion and sedimentation.

There is already pushback from the developer who wants to turn Hawn’s Bridge area into a resort. Janet Chambers, spokesperson for the proposed resort, is quoted in a recent issue of the Huntingdon Daily News. Chambers maintains that the Corps ignored the WIIN Act, which instructed the Corps to increase recreation areas. She also is quoted as stating that any conflicting issues can be "worked out."

Although we need renewable energy infrastructure to combat climate change, surely there are more appropriate sites where less environmental damage will occur. Reclaimed strip mines, brown fields, and developed areas should be considered for renewable energy projects, not forested mountains that serve as important habitats for species of concern, migratory corridors, and sources of clean water.

Introduction

While renewable energy projects are an important step away from fossil fuel consumption and have great potential to mitigate climate change impacts by reducing carbon, they must be sited properly. In Pennsylvania, the best wind resources are at higher elevations, so wind turbines are most often sited on forested mountains instead of degraded lands. Joseph Kiesecker, Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, points out in his book, “Energy Sprawl Solutions,” that it is possible to balance energy needs and conservation, but we need careful planning, or we could trade one crisis for another: “land-use change and conflict.” His research shows that wind projects should be built on degraded lands, instead of forested mountains, in order to protect critical wildlife and their habitats.

Such is the case for Dunning/Evitt’s Mountain, a forested ridge in Bedford County that contains core forest habitat for several species of conservation need. CPV Kettle Wind, LLC is in the early permitting stages of an industrial wind turbine project proposed for the top of Dunning/Evitt’s Mountain. The turbines would be constructed just south of Rt. 869 and could extend for over 5 miles along the top of the mountain in East St. Clair, South Woodbury, and Bedford Townships. Dunning/Evitt’s Mountain is quite narrow in areas, so a cut and fill construction project would most likely involve:
a. removal of trees on the top of the mountain
b. blasting of bedrock to create rubble
c. bulldozing and compacting the rubble to create a shelf wide enough to support wind turbine pads and roads
d. deep sedimentation ponds below each wind turbine to control stormwater runoff – these ponds would be filled with permeable soil obtained off-site to slow runoff
e. trenches between turbines for electric cables
f. a swath of trees removed down the mountain so an above-ground transmission line can be run from on top of the mountain to the substation along Black Bear Lane
...continue reading "Environmental Concerns and Potential Impacts of a Proposed Wind Project on Dunning/Evitt’s Mountain in Bedford County"

We are proud to announce that JVAS is sponsoring a solar rooftop co-op called Solar United Neighbors (SUN).

From the September-October 2019 issue of The Gnatcatcher.

It’s been a hot summer, so aren’t you interested in finding out how to capture all that solar power? We are proud to announce that JVAS is sponsoring a solar rooftop co-op called Solar United Neighbors (SUN)! One of our members who lives in Cambria County is already part of SUN with 28 solar panels on her roof. We also applaud other members who have solar. You may wonder why a bird group like JVAS is sponsoring solar, but just remember that rooftop solar helps to preserve important bird habitat since it reduces the demand for fossil fuels.

We are working with Henry McKay, SUN’s program director in Pennsylvania. Henry writes,

Solar United Neighbors is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights. We'd like to bring together individuals and organizations in and around Blair County who are interested in helping to launch and promote a local solar co-op.

Solar co-ops are nonprofit programs that make it easier for homeowners and small businesses to go solar. People interested in going solar join the solar co-op, learn about solar technology and incentives, receive unbiased technical guidance from Solar United Neighbors, and pool their collective buying power to get a better deal on a solar installation. Solar co-ops are a powerful tool to increase solar adoption and build a stronger movement of solar advocates.

Solar co-ops are administered by Solar United Neighbors but require the assistance of motivated individuals and local partners to spread the word in the target communities and drive sign-ups. Right now, we are trying to determine if there is enough interest and support from local organizations in the Blair County area to launch a successful solar co-op.

Watch for a planning meeting announcement later this fall.

Thank you for your continued support!

Catie

More information on Solar United Neighbors: https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/pennsylvania/