PGAS Winter/Spring 2018 Program Schedule

PGAS monthly programs are held on the second Tuesday of each month, September through June, in partnership with the Patuxent Bird Club, a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society.  There are no programs scheduled in the summer months.  PGAS members are encouraged to attend monthly meetings and non-members are always welcome.

The formal program always begins at 7:30 pm, but doors open at 7:00 for informal conversation, refreshments, and exchange of birding news.  Each program opens with brief statements from leaders of both clubs about upcoming events, items of interest and other club business, followed by the featured speaker with a question-and-answer period afterwards. 

Click on the location links below for directions and click on the program dates for more information about the presentations.

January 9
College Park Airport Operations Building
Claudia Ferguson
Close Encounters with Galapagos Birds
February 13
Dave Brinker
The Expansion of Brown Pelicans Into the Chesapeake Bay Region
March 13 Zachary Slavin
Birds and Climate Change
April 10 Kim Derrickson Playing Dr. Doolittle: Understanding Bird Songs and
Social Behavior
May 8 David Curson Marshes for Tomorrow Ė The Fight to Save Marylandís Salt Marshes from Sea Level Rise
June 12
Members' Night

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 7:30 pm
College Park Airport Operations Building  

"Close Encounters with Galapagos Birds"

presented by Claudia Ferguson

In September 2016, Claudia spent five days birding and watching wildlife in the Galapagos Islands.  This opportunity gave her a nice glimpse of what Charles Darwin experienced when he arrived there in September 1835. Although much has changed since Darwinís visit, which was inevitable, so much remains the same, which is extraordinary. To a considerable extent, each these volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador is inhabited by different species because each has a unique environment. It was Charles Darwinís observations of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world that later inspired his theory of evolution. Claudiaís presentation will show photos providing her close observations of land and sea bird species, habitats, food sources, courtship rituals, breeding colonies, and nesting sites.

Claudia is a long-time member of the National Audubon Society. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Prince Georgeís chapter and is a public speaker for Audubonís program: Gardening with Native Plants for Birds. She lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, and her backyard has been recognized as a bird-friendly habitat by Audubon and by the National Wildlife Federation.  A native of Cuba, Claudia grew up in Argentina. She holds a Masterís degree in Agricultural Sciences. Prior to moving to the United States, Claudia worked in Panama and Costa Rica doing research on tropical crops. Since 1996, Claudia has worked for USDA-APHIS on plant health issues related to international trade of agricultural commodities, and developing policies that prevent the introduction of exotic pests into the United States. She has also been involved in federal quarantine programs for the eradication of invasive species in Florida and NewYork.

Claudia Fergusonís life-long passion for nature, wildlife, birds, and bird migration started during early childhood. Having lived in five countries and travelled to many places around the world, she certainly can relate to migratory birds, the hardships of their journeys, and the importance of bird habitat conservation efforts.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 7:30 pm                                                          
College Park Airport Operations Building

"The Expansion of Brown Pelicans Into the Chesapeake Bay Region"

presented by Dave Brinker

During the mid-1900s, Brown Pelicans seriously declined along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and were eventually listed as a threatened species.  Historically, pelicans had never been recorded as a nesting species in Maryland or anywhere to the north. As pelican populations were recovering from the impacts of DDT, Dave discovered Marylandís first Brown Pelican nesting in 1987.  Since wandering into the Middle Atlantic States, Brown Pelican populations have increased dramatically. The remarkable expansion of local Brown Pelicans in the region will be described.  Come learn how adults feed tiny chicks, and where Maryland nesting pelicans spend their winters, along with other snippets of the natural history of this fascinating water bird.

A regional ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resourcesí Natural Heritage Program since 1990, Dave works on biodiversity conservation, where he specializes in colonial nesting waterbirds, marshbirds, and raptors, as well as freshwater mussels, tiger beetles and odontates.  He began bird banding in 1975 with raptors in Wisconsin at the Little Suamico Ornithological Station, and has been banding Northern Saw-whet Owls in Maryland since 1986, and at Assateague Island since 1991. He founded the now continental collaborative banding effort Project Owlnet in 1994.  Along with colleagues and many volunteers he has organized banding of over 35,000 Brown Pelicans in Maryland and Virginia. In addition to his professional duties, during his free time he studies Northern Goshawks in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and has experience with traditional radio, satellite, and cellular telemetry of Black Skimmers, Northern Goshawks, Northern Saw-whet and Snowy Owls.  Most recently, he co-founded, and is a leading principal in Project SNOWstorm, a project tracking Snowy Owls. He has published a number of scientific papers
and authored numerous species accounts in both Maryland Breeding Bird Atlases, as well as the Northern Goshawk accounts in the recent Pennsylvania and West Virginia atlases.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 7:30 pm
College Park Airport Operations Building                                 

"Birds and Climate Change:  Using Climate Change Projections to Inform Conservation throughout the Americas"

presented by Zachary Slavin

Zach Slavin from the National Audubon Society will speak about the Societyís work on climate change, including the development of the Audubon climate models ( based on citizen science data and how the new Climate Watch program is designed to test them.

Zach is a Program Manager with National Audubon Societyís Science Division, where he works on citizen science programs, including the Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, and Hummingbirds at Home. Previously he managed the Toyota TogetherGreen Innovation Grants program that provided funding and training to environmental projects and leaders around the country. Zach also serves on the Board of Directors of the Audubon Society of the District of Columbia and is currently president of that organization. Zach holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental Studies from Brandeis University. Zach enjoys leading bird walks, especially for beginners, and is also interested in bird and wildlife photography.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 7:30 pm
College Park Airport Operations Building                                 

"Playing Dr. Doolittle: Understanding Bird Songs and Social Behavior"

Presented by Dr. Kim Derrickson

Sex, Drugs, and Rock ní Roll Ė Avian Style.  Well, maybe not the drugs, but more than enough of the other two to make an
entertaining evening.  Come hear about the amazing lives of our feathered friends.  You will be utterly amazed by its complexity. Come learn about our local avian virtuoso, the Northern Mockingbird, and hear why they keep you up at night singing from your chimney.  Dr. Kim Derrickson, our speaker for this evening, will tell you all you ever wanted to know* about Northern Mockingbirds (*and you donít have to be afraid to ask).  He will also discuss his various research endeavors attempting to unravel the social lives and singing styles of another local species with a beautiful song, the Wood Thrush, and a Panamanian bird, the Dusky Antbird.  As these stories unfold, you will see how experiences in the field, several completely unexpected, have directed and altered Kimís research efforts.  During the presentation, we will explore questions such as:  Why do mockingbirds have one of the largest vocal repertoires of any bird species?  How do birds know how far away a neighbor is by listening?  Why are there good Dads and poor Dads in Wood Thrushes when it comes to parental care?  And, do Wood Thrushes actually see their eggs?

Dr. Kim Derrickson is an Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Biology at Loyola University, Maryland where he teaches an introductory course on ecology, evolution, and biodiversity and upper level courses in animal behavior and evolution.  He has also taught upper-level courses in avian biology, ecology, conservation biology, and ecosystems during which   
he took classes to the Amazon Rainforest and our Desert Southwest.  His research has been supported by the National Science
Foundation and Smithsonian Institution.  He has published over 20 scientific papers and given numerous professional presentations on the behavior of several local species, most notably Northern Mockingbird and Wood Thrush.  Kim is recognized as one of the worldís experts on the Northern Mockingbird, a local species with an exceptionally large vocal repertoire.  He also participated in a long-term study at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on the singing behavior and mating system of the Dusky Antbird.  In recognition of his research career, he has been appointed an Elective Fellow of the American Ornithological Society.  Dr. Derrickson earned his B.Sc. degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  He was a Research Associate at the National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. before joining the faculty at Loyola.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm
College Park Airport Operations Building                                 

"Marshes for Tomorrow Ė The Fight to Save Marylandís Salt Marshes from Sea Level Rise"

Presented by Dr. David R. Curson

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge lies at the heart of one of the largest tidal marsh complexes in the northeastern United States, which is recognized as an Important Bird Area (Southern Dorchester County IBA) supporting globally important populations of Black Rail and Saltmarsh Sparrow. Rapid sea level rise threatens the survival of this ecosystem during the current century.  Audubon is working with federal, state and NGO partners to ensure that Marylandís salt marshes and their birds do survive, by implementing innovative strategies including thin-layer sediment application, removing salt-stressed trees to facilitate the transition of dying forests to salt marsh, and enhancing tidal exchange through hydrological management.

Dr. David Curson has worked as Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Maryland-DC since 2004, overseeing the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program and running conservation projects for birds and their habitats.  In recent years, Davidís work has focused on tidal marsh conservation and climate change issues in the Chesapeake Bay. David also teaches ecology classes at Johns Hopkins University as an adjunct professor.  David received his B.Sc. in Ecology at the University of East Anglia, UK and earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His graduate research focused on the ecology and behavior of Brown-headed Cowbirds. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 7:30 pm
College Park Airport Operations Building

Join members of the Prince Georgeís Audubon Society and the Patuxent Bird Club as they present a few of their favorite photos and give brief presentations about their birding adventures.  Members who wish to present must contact Fred Fallon at no later than June 5 so that he can organize the agenda.

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