2019 - 2020 Season

Click here for last season's programs.


September 11

Ian Gardner
Confusing Fall Warblers

While the spring warbler migration gets most of the attention due to the birds' showy plumage and conspicuous song, the fall migration is even larger and more nuanced. The colors are muted and songs almost nonexistent, making identification more challenging. But the potential for a fallout or rare species is always tempting. While some warblers only travel from boreal Canada to the southeastern U.S., others journey from Alaska to well out in the Atlantic Ocean before eventually continuing to the Caribbean and South America. Come join Ian Gardner as he provides insights and tips for understanding and enjoying this fall spectacle.

Ian Gardner was born, raised, and educated in Central PA where he still resides. He earned his B.S. degree in Wildlife Conservation at Juniata College, and his M.S. degree in Forest Resources at Penn State University. He is employed as a Wildlife Technician at Fort Indiantown Gap, where he specializes in birds, plants, and moths. During the last two years he has helped found the Partners in Neotropical Bird Conservation (PiNBC), a volunteer group of conservationists interested in studying and conserving neotropical migrants and their habitats by working with local communities and conducting rapid assessments in at-risk natural areas.

October 9

Laura Densmore
A Fascination with Birds

Laura Densmore has spent the last 20 years traveling to birding "hot spots." She is a bird photographer, not a birder. There is a distinction. Her images capture avian detail and behaviors, all with an artist’s flair. This largely visual presentation will include: Migrating birds in Galveston and other south Texas locations, wading birds in Florida, eagles and songbirds in Alaska, loons with chicks in Canada, desert birds in Arizona, puffins in Iceland, gannets on Bass Rock in Scotland, and Sandhill Cranes in New Mexico. During the presentation Densmore will share techniques for luring songbirds from dense foliage into areas where backgrounds are uncluttered. With years of experience working in diverse locations and environments, she enjoys sharing her expertise on how photographers can develop a rich knowledge of their favorite sites — wherever they might be — enabling them to establish a deep body of work around the places and subjects for which they care.

Laura Densmore is a second-generation photographer whose father ground his own lenses and took photographs of American workers during the Great Depression. Thirty-plus years ago she started doing her own color darkroom enlarging, but moved to digital cameras, Photoshop and desktop printing as the technology changed. She has studied with prominent nature photographers in Scotland and Ireland, as well as in Iceland and the United States. While not adverse to landscape photography, Densmore is fascinated with birds and has traveled extensively in search of different species. Densmore has also photographed Quaker Meetinghouses in the Delaware Valley. She has combined her love of shape note singing and photography by documenting a family of traditional Sacred Harp singers from South Georgia for the Georgia State Archives.

November 13

Ian Stewart
Delaware Half-hardies

About half of the songbird species which breed in the mid-Atlantic fly south for the winter while the other half stay behind. However, there are a small group of ‘half-hardy’ species, such as Common Yellowthroats and Eastern Phoebes, in which a handful of individuals sometimes linger into the winter. Ian has used data from the last 50 Christmas Bird Counts undertaken in Delaware to determine which of these half-hardy species overwinter most often and whether the variation in their numbers between winters can be explained by simple ecological or environmental factors.

Ian is an ornithologist and bird bander for the Delaware Nature Society where he is studying the effects of their land management upon birds.

December 11

Dr. Daniel P. Duran
Species discovery and the future of biodiversity exploration

A great number of scientific studies have demonstrated that biodiversity is crucial to humanity's survival and well-being. In recent decades, the term "ecosystem services" has been used to describe the many functional ways in which biodiversity sustains human life. In spite of this, we still know little about most of the world's biodiversity, and only about one out of five species on earth has been described as of the present time. In this talk, we will explore the ways in which previously unknown biodiversity is being discovered and described.

Dr. Daniel P. Duran is an Assistant Professor at Rowan University as well as Naturalist at Scotland Run Park, a 1300-acre nature preserve at the edge of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Dr. Duran has published scientific articles on novel molecular methods to identify biodiversity, and described eight new species of insects and a new genus, all previously unknown to science. He received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Stockton University in 1998, an M.S. in Entomology from University of Missouri in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Evolution and Ecology from Vanderbilt University in 2010. In between his degrees, he has also worked for the Natural History Museum, London, UK and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. In addition to his research, he teaches university courses pertaining to ecology, insects, and plants. Dr. Duran is a co-author of the book "A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada, 2nd Edition".


January 8

Dr. Stephen Rannels
Madagascar: Birds and much more

Madagascar, a laboratory of natural selection and speciation, is home for unique birds, lemurs, chameleons and plants, most endemic to the island. The relationships and distribution of Madagascar's biology will be presented using photographic, video, and audio media.

Steve Rannels has been interested in the natural world since early childhood when he developed a fascination for insects, a love that has persisted for 50 years. Rannels attended Penn State University as a zoology major and then obtained a Ph.D in physiology at the Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey. His professional career includes basic research as well as teaching graduate and medical students. His philosophy is to preserve as much of the environment as possible for all species. Steve lives in Hershey with his wife Sharon, a native of New Zealand, and is an active member of local bird clubs and land conservation groups.

February 12

Brian Quindlen
Y Birding: A Retrospective

The Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn, Pennsylvania is unlike most other YMCAs. It is situated on a 54-acre campus in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Twenty of these acres contain the Cassatt Preserve, which is part of the first conservation easement in the state of Pennsylvania. This property contains a unique history for both the habitats and the people who have enjoyed it over the last century. Serving first as a summer estate, then a Norbertine monastery, and finally a YMCA, this property would eventually be home to a robust youth birding program and environmental education center. This program is a tribute to history of the habitats, people, and birds that make this property special.

March 12 Program Cancelled due to CoronaVirus

Andy & Mariana Pesthy
Birding Eastern Australia

Australia is well known for the many endemic species of birds and other wildlife unique to this continent. There are over 400 endemic bird species. Our trip in November 2017 covered several national parks and other wild lands in 20 days, from the tropical northeast, to Tasmania. We saw and photographed many of the fantastic birds and amazing animals.

This presentation combines photographs and video clips to bring you highlights of our Australian birding experience.

Mariana and Andy have been BCDC members for well over a decade and have travelled widely in their birding quest.

April 8
Program meeting was held in Zoom in order to observe county restrictions due to CoronaVirus.
The Zoom meeting was a club discussion, and did not include a formal presentation.

May 13
Program meeting was held in Zoom in order to observe county restrictions due to CoronaVirus.
The Zoom meeting was a club discussion, and DID include a formal presentation.

Dr. Mark Bonta
Firehawks: Arsonists or Land Managers?

View it online on YouTube

Across Australia’s tropical North, certain raptors have an amazing tool-using ability: they spread fires. Black Kites, Whistling Kites, and Brown Falcons, when in need of more food, snatch burning brands from wildfires and campsites and drop them in patches of unburned grass to flush out prey. Every Aboriginal group and every firefighter in the bush knows this, because firehawks can become quite a nuisance. But are these raptors part of the problem, or part of the solution? In 2016, Dr. Bonta started leading teams of researchers into remote corners of the Northern Territory to find out more about this enigmatic behavior and what it could tell us about the intelligence of birds, human evolution, and the future of Australian tropical ecosystems in a warming world. Over the next few years, they talked to Aboriginal firefighters and the owners of sacred sites whose ancestors have been on the land for 40,000 years. What they found out will amaze you! Read more at and join geographer Mark Bonta for a slide and video presentation on their discoveries.

Mark Bonta was raised on a mountaintop in central PA, and went on to explore the remote corners of the planet through service to the Peace Corps and academic research at several small colleges. Dr. Bonta has traversed more than 40 countries and six continents in his pursuit of global citizenship, and has been involved in environmental conservation efforts in the Philippines, Australia, Honduras, Mexico, and the US. His many passions include all things related to birds, including the wisdom traditions of avifauna among local and Indigenous peoples. Mark is also a leading expert on cycads, "living fossils" that are the most threatened group of plants in the world. You can access his publications at and his eBird profile at

June 10

Annual Picnic at Ridley Creek State Park Cancelled

Instead: BCDC Virtual Picnic
Time: Jun 10, 2020 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 746 6533 8306

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