Pennsylvania Birdlists Summary 2014

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Compiled by Peter Robinson

The following people submitted list information for 2014: Tim Becker, Chuck Berthoud, Gerry Boltz, Brian Byrnes, Bruce Carl, Dick Cleary, Michael David, Michael Defina, Dave DeReamus, Jim Dunn, Gary Edwards, Devich Farbotnik, Mike Fialkovich, Ian Gardner, Carl Garner, Deb Grove, Greg Grove, Al Guarente, Michael Hartshorne, David Hawk, Jonathan Heller, Carol Hildebrand, Marjorie Howard, Chad Hutchinson, Roy Ickes, Bruce Johnson, Chad Kauffman, Jon Kauffman, Bill Keim, Andy Keister, Dave
Kyler, Trudy Kyler, Alex Lamoreaux, Wayne Laubscher, Ron Leberman, Sandy Lockerman, Geoff Malosh, Paul Mauss, Mark McConaughy, Flo McGuire, Jerry McWilliams, Bill Oyler, Martin Page, Brian Quindlen, Dan Richards, Peter Robinson, Michael Schall, Allen Schweinsberg, Russ States, Shannon Thompson, Mark Vass, Joseph Verica, Andy Wilson.

There are now 88 birders whose Pennsylvania Life Lists are 300 or more, an increase of two from 2013. Twenty-four have Pennsylvania Life Lists of 350 species or more, and six are at 375 or more. There are nine birders at the 300 mark or more in the Pennsylvania Life List-Unassisted category.

This year’s high Pennsylvania Annual List was Devich Farbotnik’s 262.

There were a few County Life List lead changes in 2014. Andy Keister established a new high of 190 for Columbia, 10 more than the previous 180. Flo McGuire’s 210 is a new high for Forest, 22 more than the previous high of 188. Michael Schall’s 223 is one greater than Phillips Street’s former Monroe record.

Some new highs were achieved for County Annual Lists. In Centre, Joseph Verica’s 241 was two better than his 2011 total. Andy Keister’s 165 for Columbia replaced his 2013 high of 147. In Huntingdon, Jon Kauffman’s 221 exceeded David Kyler’s 218. Tim Becker established a new high of 249 for Lebanon, better than his own 244 for 2013. Andy Keister found 182 species in Montour, well above his 147 high for 2013. In Northampton the 239 by Michael Schall bested his own previous 236, and in Pike his 182 exceeded his previous 166 high.


The winners for the Pennsylvania bird of the year were Snowy Plover and Snowy Owl with 16 points each.

In second place with 11 points was Purple Gallinule, and in third with 9 points was Cinnamon Teal. The Crested Caracara would probably have received more votes if anyone besides the person who reported it had gotten to see it. These total scores for the top three were rather low because the votes were spread out over so many candidates. A total of thirty species received votes. Seaside Sparrow got eight points. At seven points were Crested Caracara and Sabine’s Gull. Pacific Loon and Long-tailed Jaeger got six points. At four points were Trumpeter Swan and Franklin’s Gull. Three points were garnered by Red-necked Grebe, Pink-footed Goose, Yellow-headed- Blackbird, and House Sparrow (a first place vote!). At two points were Least Bittern, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, White-winged Scoter, Piping Plover, and European Starling. Nine species got one point each: Red-throated Loon, American Bittern, Greater White-fronted Goose, Ross’s Goose, Eider species, Harlequin Duck, Iceland Gull, Rock Pigeon, and Dickcissel.


Birders were invited to submit comments on birding in Pennsylvania in 2014, along with their votes for Bird of the Year (BOTY). Each birder who submitted comments is shown below, with their current PA Life List total, the species they added to their PA Life List in 2014 in parentheses (if less than 10), their top 3 votes for BOTY, and any comments submitted. Birders are listed in no particular order.

Michael David, 326. (Yellow-headed Blackbird, Cinnamon Teal, Purple Gallinule, Mississippi Kite, Snowy Plover, Chuck-Will’s-Widow, Buffbreasted Sandpiper, Connecticut Warbler, Seaside Sparrow, Barnacle Goose) BOTY: Seaside Sparrow, Snowy Plover, Cinnamon Teal. Chasing the Seaside Sparrow was one of the year’s highlights for me. Kayaking out to the Bainbridge Islands for the first time on very short notice was a fun adventure, and we eventually got brief but beautiful looks at this rare visitor.

Dick Cleary, 324. (American White Pelican). It’s sometimes a little disappointing to read the county reports in Pennsylvania Birds and learn that there were unusual birds found nearby that would have been nice to see, but which weren’t reported at the time they were sighted. I guess this is a plea for birders to share their sightings of unusual birds more freely on either the PABIRDS listserv or on eBird.

Deb Grove, 305. BOTY: Purple Gallinule.

Bruce Johnson, 228. BOTY: Snowy Owl, Rednecked Grebe, Dickcissel.

Ron Leberman, 350. (Black Rail, Sabine’s Gull). I made at least 58 bird trips, mostly in Crawford and Erie counties. The two new species were the Sabine’s Gull at the Pymatuning spillway, and an adult Black Rail 7/20 at the Conneaut Marsh. I got a good look at the Black Rail. I know what they look like, having birded at the Conneaut Marsh several thousand times since the 1950s. The rail was not an immature of another rail

Geoff Malosh, 363. BOTY: Sabine’s Gull, Least Bittern, Iceland Gull. With the exception of most of 1993-2001 when I was attending school and later living in Michigan, I have been a year-round resident of Pennsylvania for my whole life. 2014 marked the first year since I started keeping a life list (as a kid in 1984) in which I did not record a new state bird for Pennsylvania. I guess I am getting old. However, 2014 did bring the best close encounter of my life with one of my favorite species: the unforgettable adult Sabine’s Gull at the Pymatuning spillway in Crawford County. Also memorable was the Least Bittern that Michael David and I found in Allegheny County, the first for my home county since 1924! Rounding out my Bird of the Year voting is Iceland Gull, the emblematic species of the latest gull invasion into downtown Pittsburgh, which occurred in January and February 2014. There is no way of knowing for sure, but sightings of Iceland Gulls were so frequent that there may have been more Iceland Gulls found in Pittsburgh last winter than in all previous winters combined.

Dave DeReamus, 380. (Snowy Plover) BOTY: Crested Caracara, Snowy Plover, Snowy Owl.

Mark McConaughy, 300. I finally got to see some Cackling Geese. They were a nemesis bird for me.

Jerry McWilliams, 338. BOTY: Pacific Loon, Snowy Plover, eider sp.

Chad Kauffman, 321. (Cinnamon Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, Willet, Purple Gallinule, Franklins Gull, Iceland Gull) BOTY: Snowy

Owl, Cinnamon Teal, Purple Gallinule.

Alex Lamoreaux, 316. (Barnacle Goose, Willet) BOTY: Pink-footed Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Franklin’s Gull.

Ian Gardner, 307. (Iceland Gull, Cinnamon Teal, Willet, Glossy Ibis, Franklin’s Gull, Long-billed Dowitcher, Snowy Egret, Seaside Sparrow) BOTY: Franklin’s Gull, Seaside Sparrow, Cinnamon Teal.

Russ States, 303. BOTY: House Sparrow, European Starling, Rock Pigeon.

Mike Fialkovich, 345. (Yellow-headed Blackbird) BOTY: Yellow-headed Blackbird, White-winged Scoter, Red-necked Grebe. For the second year in a row I added a new species to my Erie County list—Snowy Plover, my second in the state. The first was in my home county of Allegheny of all places, so it was a notable event in my personal birding history to have it in both counties. I even saw it on my birthday and it was associating with a Piping Plover. This was a great example of the benefits of protecting habitat, in this case shorebird habitat at Gull Point at Presque Isle. I also finally had the good fortune to see my first Yellow-headed Blackbird in the state; an adult male in Westmoreland County, just a few miles from the Allegheny border. It also “sang” a few times while I was observing it. To see a rarity is exciting, but hearing it sing, call or engage in typical behavior adds a lot more to the experience. Since it was my first in the state, it was my first choice for bird of the year. My second and third choices for Bird of the Year were two notable species pushed south due to the harsh winter of 2014: White-winged Scoter and Red-necked Grebe. It’s rare to see so many adult White-winged Scoters in Pennsylvania, especially just minutes from home on the rivers in Pittsburgh. Red-necked Grebe numbers were also memorable, so it was quite a combination for the season.

Gary Edwards, 294. BOTY: Sabine’s Gull, Glossy Ibis, Red-throated Loon.

Andy Wilson, 247. (Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Purple Gallinule) BOTY: Snowy Owl, Purple Gallinule. The year’s highlights included adding two species to my Adams County Life List: Ross’s Goose and Great Black-backed Gull.

Dan Richards, 296. (Pacific Loon, Cattle Egret) BOTY: Pacific Loon, Trumpeter Swan, Ross’s Goose. I should mention that the Pacific Loon went unreported since my e-mail was unavailable at the time (April 11). I located the bird on a private lake, and the loon was only present the morning I found it. I didn’t wish to cause a delayed stir by posting when it would have been too late to chase the loon, plus telling people they wouldn’t be able to enter the gated community of Treasure Lake without permission. That would have cast doubt on the veracity of my discovery. Trumpeter Swan was my first for Clearfield and the Ross’s Goose found on the CBC was the second ever for Clearfield County.

Brian Quindlen, 257. BOTY: Long-tailed Jaeger, Purple Gallinule, Greater-white Fronted Goose. 2014 was my favorite year of birding to date. Between new friends, old favorites, and a healthy addition of Pennsylvania lifers, 2014 provided many moments of shock, awe, and excitement. Of the 221 birds seen this year, a flyover Longtailed- Jaeger at Rushton Farm in Chester County seen alongside some of the finest birding friends was one of the most special birding moments of all time. This year, birding has proven itself time and time again as an unpredictable, exhilarating lifestyle, and I’m forever thankful for both the birds, birders, and the Band of Birders. “Get off my pond…” and remember, “Birds over everything!”

Michael DeFina, 221. BOTY: Snowy Owl.

Bill Oyler, 309. (Cinnamon Teal, Purple Gallinule, Marsh Wren, Le Conte’s Sparrow).

Chad Hutchinson, 150. BOTY: Long-tailed-Jaeger, White Ibis, American Bittern. The flyover Long-tailed Jaeger at Rushton Farm Preserve was an unbelievable stroke of luck. As a new birder, I was blessed to be with a few expert birding friends that day and this sighting helped make my first yearly list an interesting one. I listed a Long-tailed- Jaeger before Dark-Eyed Junco—crazy! A pair of juvenile White Ibis showed up in a retaining pond behind a local Walmart, another cool rarity for my first list. Some think the American Bittern is making a comeback in Pennsylvania, so to see one at our local haunt, Exton Park, was very heartening. I got to see it a few times, and early in my list-making, so that made it a pretty special sighting for me.

Andy Keister, 290. BOTY: Snowy Owl, Snowy Plover, Sabine’s Gull.

Devich Farbotnik, 384. (Snowy Plover, Seaside Sparrow). BOTY: Snowy Plover, Seaside Sparrow, Crested Caracara. The Snowy Plover at Presque Isle State Park was a new state bird that I had missed two other times.

Shannon Thompson, 343. (Seaside Sparrow).

Chuck Berthoud, 323. BOTY: Cinnamon Teal.

Peter Robinson, 379. (Snowy Plover) BOTY: Crested Caracara, Snowy Plover, Seaside
Sparrow. I made an overnight run to Presque Isle and got to see the Snowy Plover on July 4. After we got more distant views, Mike Fialkovich and I got to see it as close as about twenty five feet as it walked along the beach past the end of the fence.