Sharing the joy of birds since 1971

Archive for September, 2022

The Wonder and Hazards of Fall Migration

Screen Snapshot of YouTube Video

Migration is in full swing!  For a few months beginning in August, literally millions of birds fly overhead while we sleep. Some species fly from the boreal forests of Canada to the tropics. Some long-distance migrants travel from the Arctic to the furthest reaches of South America. How they prepare, navigate, nap on the wing, cross huge bodies of water, find sustenance in stopovers, and ultimately reach their destinations is nothing short of miraculous.  But that journey is full of dangers, many of them caused by humans.

Colliding with buildings, not only skyscrapers but also our homes, kills up to a billion birds each year. What can we do?  Dim or turn out lights out for birds on peak migration nights! You can also use blackout curtains to reduce light pollution. To learn more about the problem and what we can do to help, watch this animated video celebrating World Migratory Bird Day! There are more great resources at the American Bird Conservancy’s website for Preventing Bird Strikes.

To find peak nights to dim lights, or to plan your fall bird hikes, monitor the ebb and flow of migratory birds with BirdCast. It uses weather and historic data to predict the density of birds nightly, displaying a color-coded national map. 

There you can get more detailed data for Maryland and even your county using the new Dashboard form. That tool shows the numbers of birds crossing each night, other data, and even the expected species!

Want more information about bird travels? National Audubon Society along with many partners has just launched an interactive platform, Bird Migration Explorer! Choose a migratory species and the tool illustrates its migration patterns using the most complete set of data available. Where does your Indigo Bunting go during winter?

The map is a fantastic way to see the interconnectivity of various habitats throughout the Western Hemisphere. Lots more information about conservation and specific locations is also available there.  However you experience or explore this migration season, enjoy! And remember, please dim your lights during peak migration nights.

Invasion of the Spotted Lanternfly

Photo by Nick Stoff/Penn State

Please join us for our monthly Zoom presentation Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 7-8:30 pm.

Kenton Sumpter, an entomologist with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, is a detective “On the Trail of the Invasive Spotted Lanternfly.” He will share tales of how entomologists are discovering the routes and trying to halt the spread of this menace to some of our favorite Maryland native trees and most important agricultural crops. He also will offer tips on how you can support critical research to identify, track and report this visually arresting, but highly destructive insect.

Zoom presentation is free and open to all. To receive the link to join you must sign up for our Osprey newsletter at See the sign-up block at the bottom of the homepage. We will email you the link several days before and on the day of the lecture. (Maryland Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners can earn continuing education hours.)

New “Osprey” Newsletter Is Here

Carolina Wren. Photo by Michele Black Gallipolis

This year skip the fall chores! Leave the leaves. Let the dead flower stems remain standing.

Turn your yard into a bird-friendly fall stopover and winter habitat with almost no work. Check out our latest edition of The Osprey newsletter to learn more.

Sign up at the bottom of our homepage to get a new edition of the The Osprey delivered free to your inbox every month. Get the latest news on birds, tips on birding and attracting birds, our upcoming events, and fun stories of birding adventures.

Check Out SMAS Webinars On Demand!

Our presentation “Winter Sowing: How to grow your own natives for birds & beauty” is now available for viewing online. 

Molly Moore, president of Southern Maryland Audubon and Charles County Master Gardener, demonstrates how to winter sow, step by step. And she shows you great combinations of native plants you can sow to attract birds and add beauty to your garden or patio. 

Did you know Southern Maryland Audubon records all our presentations and lectures? Check out “Winter Sowing” and other recorded presentations at program-archive/

If your student has a project on river otters or turkeys (“The Private Life of an Unloved Bird”), we’ve got them covered. 

If you are a Master Gardener or Master Naturalist looking for fun and informative advanced education webinars on anything from “The Secret Lives of Northern Cardinals” to “Mystical Monarchs” to “Native Plants for Butterflies and Birds,” we’ve got a big selection. 

And each month we add a new presentation from our live Zoom lectures held at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of most months. 

Picnic Fun, 2022

On June 5, Southern Maryland Audubon Society held its annual picnic and meeting at one of the area’s birding treasures, Kings Landing Park in Huntingtown. SMAS friends, new and old, met on a beautiful, sunny day at the picnic pavilion.

New and old friends gather at the picnic pavilion. Photo by Barbara Hill

To kick off the activities, Lynne Wheeler donated dozens of her grown-from-seed native plants. Those who arrived early scooped up deals on Spotted Beebalm, Butterfly Weed, Swamp Milkweed, and other delights. The plants sold out quickly! Between the plants and a silent auction for new birdhouses, donated by our supporters, SMAS raised $605 for the coffer.

Bird houses for auction and a few of the native plants for sale at the 2022 picnic. Photo by Barbara Hill

Of course, food was high on the agenda! The serving tables were jam packed with goodness, including fried chicken and salads of every description. The dessert options—from Smith Island Cake to brownies, cupcakes to cobblers—were especially mouthwatering. 

At the dessert table, Mike Callahan cuts his Smith Island cake. Photo by Barbara Hill

Board member Tracey Stuller shared bird-themed centerpieces for each picnic table to heighten the festive mood.  Many thanks to our generous friends who brought food, refreshments, and supplies. 

Bird-themed centerpieces were made by director Tracey Stuller. Photo by Barbara Hill

When we introduced the meeting business, members immediately approved the proposed amendments to our Constitution and Bylaws. These updates will help SMAS bring its operating procedures up to the digital age. Members also voted on directors and leaders for the 2022 to 2023 program year.  The slate passed as follows:  President, Molly Moore; Vice President, Elena Gilroy; Treasurer, Julie Daniel; and Secretary, Barbara Hill. The five board members for the coming year will be Tiffany Farrell (past president), Dean Newman, Karolina Popovicova, Ben Springer, and Tracey Stuller.  Please check out the bios for the new folks at the SMAS Leaders page. We are grateful to all of them for volunteering their valuable time.

Incoming director Ben Springer introduces himself. Photo by Barbara Hill

Bob Lukinic, the hardworking chairperson of the Conservation Committee, presented this year’s Conservationist of the Year Award to Calvert Nature Society.  Calvert Nature Society is dedicated to the protection and preservation of Calvert County’s natural heritage and the creation of an environmentally literate and aware community. They run a nature center and conduct programs, including internships, camps, and other educational activities that support the Calvert Natural Resources Division. Representatives from Calvert Nature Society, including President Joyce Baki, accepted the award. 

Bob Lukinic (far left) gives the Conservationist of the Year Award to reps from Calvert Nature Society. CNS President Joyce Baki holds the award. Photo by Barbara Hill

Outgoing President Tiffany Farrell then presented her awards to board members who gave extra support over the past year. Greg Klesch earned kudos during his final year as director for his leadership in organizing the first Drum Point Osprey Festival. Greg and his wife, Georgiana, are a dynamic duo. Georgiana launched many of our creative fundraising events, including the one at Perigeaux Winery in 2018, the Solomons Island boat trip in 2019, and Covid-friendly portrait sessions at Greenwell State Park in 2021.

Greg Klesch, Tiffany Farrell, and Georgiana Klesch (left to right) celebrate the Klesch family’s many contributions to SMAS. Photo by Barbara Hill

Julie Daniel was also recognized for her reliable and important work as treasurer, and Lynne Wheeler for her nonstop energy and commitment to all things SMAS.   

Lynne Wheeler presented a surprise gift to Tiffany Farrell: a framed print of a very special photograph—an Osprey (the SMAS mascot) capturing a Blue Crab—by Calvert photographer Sal Icaza.  The Calvert County theme was strong at this picnic!

Lynne Wheeler (left) and Tiffany Farrell mark the end of Tiffany’s 3-year service as SMAS president. Photo by Barbara Hill

Finally, Mike Callahan led a productive bird walk around the park’s shaded trails. Birders learned the alpha codes (four-letter abbreviations) for some common species. TUTI for Tufted Titmouse was a fan fave. Among the memorable sightings was an adult Brown Thrasher feeding a fledgling on the trail. Hikers explored woodland where Northern Parulas sang high above;  a campground serenaded by Eastern Wood Pewees, Acadian Flycatchers, and Blue Grosbeaks; and then along the marsh of Cocktown Creek.  From a boardwalk overlook there were clear views of a surprisingly low Osprey nest with an occupant.

Boardwalk at Cocktown Creek, Kings Landing Park. Photo by Tiffany Farrell

Back at Tom Wisner Hall the group had excellent views of a Scarlet Tanager in a small tree, barn swallows nesting under the eaves, and a Summer Tanager—an ideal cap to a day of celebrating birds and nature outdoors.