2018 Fall Meeting

GOS Fall Meeting
Jekyll Island, Georgia
October 5-8, 2018
Keynote Speaker – Denver Holt - Owl Research Institute 
GOS Friday Speaker – Tim Keyes, Abby Sterling, Brad Winn - Manomet Observatory
Bird List Compiled by Ellen Miller - 153 species

Temperatures were much warmer a little more than a month ago when we gathered on Jekyll Island for the fall meeting. They were approaching 90˚F and, of course, the humidity was very high, too. I was fortunate to have attended the field trip to Altama Plantation Wildlife Management Area, one of the newer acquisitions of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR). We all were delighted to have very good looks at an incredibly cooperative Black-billed Cuckoo. The photographers among us were able to document the rarity as it consumed a few caterpillars before we lost track of it. For many on the trip, including me, it was our first Black-billed Cuckoo. I heard great reports from other field trips conducted during the long weekend. Many thanks to the field trip leaders: Adam Betuel, Diana Churchill, Nathan Farnau, Malcolm Hodges, Gene Keferl, Tim Keyes, Bill Lotz, Evan Pittman, Bob Sattelmeyer, John Mark Simmons, Andrew Theus, Lydia Thompson, Dan Vickers, and Gene Wilkinson. Thanks also to First Vice President Ellen Miller for coordinating the field trips and recruiting speakers and to Second Vice President Ed Maioriello for securing our venue and coordinating our “Flockings” and banquet.

The Friday night presentation was delivered by Tim Keyes (GA DNR), Abby Sterling (Manomet Observatory), and Brad Winn (Manomet Observatory and formerly GA DNR). Their talk centered on the criticality of conserving Georgia coastal habitats as breeding grounds, wintering grounds, and migration stopover habitat for large numbers of shorebirds. The uniqueness of the Georgia coast is highlighted by the fact that the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) recently designated our coast as a “Landscape of Hemispheric Importance.” Georgia’s coast was the 100th site recognized for its importance to shorebird migration, but it is only the third to have been designated at the “landscape” scale. The trio also discussed the importance of the entire Georgia Bight, which includes coastal South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida, and their involvement with the Georgia Bight Shorebird Conservation Initiative. Thanks to Tim, Abby, and Brad for their informative talk and their dedication to the conservation of Georgia’s shorebirds.

Our keynote speaker was Denver Holt, founder of the Owl Research Institute (ORI). Denver’s talk was animated, humorous, and informative. If you were at the meeting, you also know that he is quite an accomplished mimic of many owl species. The first part of Denver’s talk was a who’s who (pun intended) of North American owl species, their evolution and relationships, and their great ability to hide themselves via their cryptic plumage. Denver also spoke about ORI’s long-term Snowy Owl/lemming research in Alaska, about to enter its 27th year of study. We have long known that Snowy Owl populations wax and wane depending on the cyclical nature of lemming abundance, but Snowy Owl populations have declined 64% since 1970, a trend that is not fully explained by the availability of prey items. Denver believes that warming climates may be partially responsible and has documented thinner ice, deeper permafrost, and less snow accumulation during the course of his study. He hopes that his continuing research will help identify the main causes of Snowy Owl declines and, hopefully, provide a path forward to implement remedies to conserve this wonderful species.

Bird List: 

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Canada Goose

Wood Duck


Mottled Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Pied-billed Grebe

American White Pelican

Brown Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

White Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill

Wood Stork

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel


Peregrine Falcon

Clapper Rail

King Rail


Common Gallinule

American Coot

Black-bellied Plover

Wilson’s Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover


American Oystercatcher

American Avocet

Spotted Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs


Lesser Yellowlegs

Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Red Knot


Semipalmated Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper


Stilt Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Sandwich Tern

Black Skimmer

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-dove

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo

Eastern Screech-owl

Great Horned Owl

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Wood-pewee

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Loggerhead Shrike

White-eyed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Fish Crow

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

House Wren

Marsh Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Eastern Bluebird

Swainson’s Thrush

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Northern Parula

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Pine Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Palm Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

American Redstart

Prothonotary Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler

Northern Waterthrush

Common Yellowthroat

Eastern Towhee

Savannah Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow

Summer Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting


Painted Bunting