Delmarva Ornithological Society celebrates 50th anniversary
The Delmarva Ornithological Society, a regional conservation organization and birding club, celebrated its 50th anniversary Sept. 29-30. Participants celebrated the organization’s conservation, education and scientific achievements with a banquet dinner and a series of field trips to important birding sites in Delaware.
Gov. Jack Markell highlighted the impact the organization has had as one of Delaware’s key conservation partners. “We could never achieve the breadth of work needed to protect habitat for more than 400 species of birds - even in a small state like ours - without your help,” Markell said.
In his multimedia presentation, “How Birds Can Save the World," keynote speaker Dr. John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, emphasized the importance of getting people involved in conservation. “Birders represent an enormous army of people who can help us listen to the signals that birds are sending us about the health of their environment,” Fitzpatrick said.
Through its continued involvement in habitat conservation, DOS has become a key partner in the state's Delaware Bayshore Initiative, for which Delaware and its partners have secured nearly $3 million in federal funding for conservation and wildlife viewing along the Delaware Bay.
“DOS is a critical partner in Delaware’s efforts to expand habitat conservation, improve access for birding, and help our local communities and businesses realize the value in protecting habitat and birds that attract birders and tourism dollars to our state," said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary and novice birder Collin O’Mara.
One of the society’s major conservation initiatives is the annual, weeklong Delaware Bird-a-Thon fundraiser in May, during which participants hold 24-hour birding marathons. The Bird-A-Thon has raised more than $250,000 to conserve 1,025 acres over the event’s first seven years.
DOS collaborates with a wide range of conservation partners on a variety of other projects. These projects include the energy-saving Lights Out! Wilmington campaign to reduce migratory bird mortality from window strikes; the Wilmington Peregrine Falcon webcam; the Delaware Birding Trail Map and Guide; the current Breeding Bird Atlas study of Delaware’s resident and migratory birds; and the annual autumn hawk watches at Cape Henlopen and Ashland.
The hawk watches, a partnership of DOS, DNREC, and Delaware Nature Society, are a great opportunity for the public to learn about and participate in the collection of ornithological data under the leadership of a professional field biologist.
For the next generation of conservationists, DOS also sponsors the Delaware Dunlins Youth Birders Club, which organizes birding field trips and other programming for school-age kids and their parents. “Learning to bird helps connect kids to the natural world, sharpens their observation skills, and encourages them to contribute to conservation. Having a group allows them to have more fun by sharing these experiences with friends. We were pleased to host 173 children and adults last year at Dunlins events,” said youth birding leader and Dunlins club founder Derek Stoner.
Also attending the 50th anniversary celebration was American Birding Association President Jeffrey Gordon, whose own organization just announced plans to relocate to offices in Delaware City. A Delaware native, Gordon is a longtime DOS member and past president. “There is no other ornithological society quite like DOS,” he said. “For a volunteer-run organization to have such depth and scope is remarkable. DOS is the driving force behind partnerships that achieve results much larger than the society itself. It is a regional organization with truly far-reaching impacts.”
The Delmarva Ornithological Society was founded in 1963 by Seal T. Brooks and 80 charter members. Over the last 50 years, the organization has given more than 50,000 volunteer hours to conservation efforts. For more information on DOS, go to www.dosbirds.org.
The DOS 50th anniversary celebration was sponsored by a number of organizations and companies, including lead sponsors DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife, Rockjumper Birding Tours, and DuPont Clear into the Future.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and its Division of Fish and Wildlife are leading the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, working with partners and communities to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, increase volunteer participation in habitat stewardship projects, enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities, and promote associated environmentally compatible economic development. For more information, click Delaware Bayshore.
Rockjumper Birding Tours is an international ecotourism company whose director of New World Operations, Forrest Rowland, is a veteran of the DOS hawk watches, serving as the professional hawk counter for one year at Ashland Nature Center and for three years at Cape Henlopen. For more information, search for Rockjumper Birding.
DuPont Clear into the Future has been a lead sponsor of the Delaware Bird-a-Thon since the event’s inception in 2007 and has also funded the Wilmington Peregrine Falcon Webcam. For more information, go to ClearIntotheFuture.com.