(mostly ornithological)


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Franklin Carl Haas


Born in December, 1945 in Pottsville, Pa


Grew up in Minersville, Pa


Parents: William and Eda Haas


Siblings: Robert, William, and Dorothy. I was the youngest.


Graduated in June 1963 from Minersville High School.


Attended Penn State University from Sept 1963 to March 1967. BS degree in Zoology.


Worked as a research Assistant for PSU at Letterkenny Army Depot studying groundhogs for several months.


Draft number came up, so joined the US Army and served from Oct 9, 1967 to July 21, 1969 (Honorable Discharge).


Spent one year in Vietnam (Aug 68 to July 69).


Spent entire Hawkwatching Season of Fall 1969 as official counter on North Lookout, Hawk Mountain.


Hired by PA Bureau of State Parks in May 1970 to be Park superintendent at Shikellamy State Park and moved to Riverside, Pa.


Met Barbara McClure in Sept 1971.


Married: Nov 29, 1974 and moved to Ridley Creek State Park a few days later.


Became the Bureau of State Parks computer guru and moved to Narvon on Oct 8, 1989.


Retired in June 1999.


Started Bird Screen Company in Fall 2001. Closed it in December 2023.


Barbara died Jan 8, 2020.








I grew up in Minersville, Schuylkill County. My father was the projectionist for the local movie theater and was a self-employed radio (and later TV) repairman. My mother was the Children‛s Librarian at the Pottsville Free Public Library.


We lived in the house in town that was my father‛s parents‛ house. The property spanned the block from Sunbury street on the front to Lewis Street in the back.. There was a three-car garage at the Lewis Street end. We rented two of the bays to neighbors.


There was a yard between the house and the garage. It included a cherry tree (from which we picked cherries for pies each year), a couple of dwarf pear trees, and a large peach tree. There was also a large English Hawthorne tree, a rhubarb patch, gooseberry and currant bushes.


We had a small vegetable patch where we grew lettuce, peas, parsley, carrots, etc.


In winter, I would build snow sculptures in the back yard.




We had a cat and a dog. The cat was a stray off the streets and was named Pretty Putty. The dog was a female wire-haired dachshund (not pure-bred). She was ‟my‟ dog. I took her on walks up the ‟hill‟, etc.


Me and Noodles under the cherry tree


‟The Hill‟ was a hill across the street that contained a cemetery up most of its slope and then recovered strip mine habitat the rest of the way. Once past the cemetery, you could hike for miles. The habitat was a lot of aspens, Virginia and Pitch pines, blueberries, tea berries, blackberries, etc.


My childhood was uneventful.


1955 Aren't I cute!


My High School Yearbook photo. (My sister convinced me to take off my glasses...)



My interest in birding began when I was in the Boy Scouts. At summer camp one year, I worked on the Birdwatching Merit Badge. One of the requirements was to find and identify 50 species of birds. So I spent time around the camp doing so. One of the birds I found was a Rufous-sided Towhee (now the Eastern Towhee). This was my ‟spark‟ bird. It was just different and uncommon enough to get me excited. It wasn‛t a sparrow or a robin or a crow, etc. It was a species that I (and most non-birders) had never heard of. Also, it was striking in its plumage and had a distinctive call.


That Christmas, my parents bought me a pair of binoculars and the Golden Nature Guide: Birds - A guide to the Most Familiar American Birds (129 birds in full color). My birding career was off and running...


With binos and ‟field guide‟ in hand, I would hike up the hill and start identifying birds. It wasn‛t easy. One of my greatest faux pas was Bobolink. The road that I hiked at the top of the hill was an old mining road that had since grown over with grasses. So it looked like a long extended weedy meadow. As I hiked along, I would see an occasional bird fly up from the grasses and away. The only noticeable thing about the bird was its white rump. So... a bird in grasses, white rump – Bobolink! It took me awhile to finally get close enough to one of these to see it was a Flicker.


As far as I knew, there were no other birdwatchers in Minersville. So I was on my own.


I erected a bird feeder in the back yard.


House Sparrows on my feeder



American Tree Sparrow on my feeder



Soon after, my parent bought me a Peterson guide.




Hawk Mountain


My mother then brought home for me the book Hawks Aloft – the story of Hawk Mountain. We lived only 23 car miles from there. After devouring the book, I begged and begged my father (who didn‛t like to drive anywhere!) to take me down there. He finally relented, and one fine October afternoon after school, he dropped me off at the HMS headquarters (Schwaumbach‛s) and would pick me up on Sunday.


I camped in the Adirondak shelter for two nights. I met Maurice and Irma Braun and Alex Nagy (the Assistant Curator). The hawkwatchers at the North Lookout were friendly and welcoming. I can‛t remember the hawks I saw that day, but I was hooked.


I bicycled down there twice more that season, camping for the weekend. I met more wonderful birders. One couple, Bob and Ann MacClay from Schuylkill Haven, even came over and picked me up and took me down to the mountain on several occasions.


Between my bicycle and friendly hawkwatchers, I was able to get down there several times each fall during my high school years and first two years of college.


I attended the Pottsville campus of Penn State University my first two years, so I was within traveling distance of the mountain. When I transferred up to the main campus, I was unable to get to the mountain the last two years.


However, I had gotten there enough times and learned hawk-identifying skills quickly enough that Alex Nagy eventually made me an official counter when I was there.


One of my fondest memories are the days spent with Charlie Gant. Charlie was a Hawk Mountain old-timer and close friend of Maurice and Irma. As such, they permitted him to stay in the upstairs room at Schwaumbach‛s when he visited the mountain. He became a mentor and good friend to me and let me stay in Schwaumbach‛s as well. He would even take me out for breakfast. And if the weather was inclement, he would take me birding nearby.


We would often sit on the north lookout on slow days and create movies in our minds centered around hawks and starring movie stars from the 40s and 50s. We had very similar senses of humor and he was the friendliest and kindest person I have ever known.


There were many other hawkwatchers over the years that I interacted with, but none like Charlie.





I enrolled in the Pennsylvania State University as a math major.


However, by the time I got there, I changed my major to Forestry.


After two-and-a-half years, I changed to Zoology and recieved a BS in Zoology in March 1967.


My first two years were spent at the Pottsville Campus and the rest at the main campus in State College.


When I got to the Main Campus, I joined the Nittany Grotto (the local caving club). My brother, Bob, and I and a few friends made this production -- The Gwonk Show.





The Army


After graduating from Penn State, my draft number came up, so I joined the army (to get a better deal than you get if drafted). My date to report was October 9, 1967. So I volunteered at Hawk Mountain from mid-August to October as the hawk-counter. I went there every day (I now had a car!), and it was wonderful.



I reported to the Army for duty, trained at Fort Dix, New Jersey, then Fort Knox in Kentucky, and finally at Fort Carson, Colorado.


When I reported to Fort Dix, they ushered all of the new recruits into an auditorium. A general then got up on the stage (Patton-style) to address us.


He basically said "You are going to Vietnam. Don't believe anyone who says otherwise!"


After finishing basic training, I went to Fort Knox for training in tanks. When we finished training, we were given orders to go to Germany!


However, that night, President Lyndon Johnson went on television to address the nation. He said (in so many words) "My fellow Americans, I am not running for re-election, but I AM sending Franklin Haas to Vietnam!"


The next day, they pulled our orders and gave us new ones to report to Fort Carson, Colorado to form the Fifth Infantry Division - Mechanized to go to Vietnam.


However, when I got to Fort Carson, they asked me if I could type. I said yes and they made me a clerk!


We trained for several months and then shipped out to Vietnam in August 1968. This was well after the Tet Offensive (which we won, by the way...) and the fighting in the area that we were in (the northern part of South Vietnam – Quang Tri Province) was relatively quiet. We did not a have fatality in our company until 11 months into our tour.


I was never shot at and I never had to shoot at anyone. As far as I know, I never saw an enemy combatant.


Birding was very limited, as you can imagine. However, I was able to identify 50 or so species during my time there. We were stationed in ‟Landing Zones‟ – cleared areas surrounded by barbed wire and mines. We lived and worked in underground bunkers. However, some of the safer bases had barracks-like structures. At some locations, we lived in large tents. We changed locations every month or so.


A couple of anecdotes.


1. One of my jobs as a clerk was night-time ‟radio watch.‟ This meant spending a two-hour shift at night sitting in an armored personnel carrier (APC) and calling headquarters every fifteen minutes to advise them of the status of your location (SITREP negative, etc.). Two notable occurrences I had while doing this.


First some background. As clerk, I carried a 45 caliber pistol, as did other clerks, corpsmen, etc. In order to clean that weapon, the first thing to do is make sure it is empty. The procedure is to remove the ammunition clip, pull back the slide to eject any rounds in the chamber and physically inspect the chamber for any rounds. Then pull the trigger and start to disassemble the firearm.


One night, one of the corpsmen (medics) joined me in the vehicle to pass the time. He decided he would clean his pistol while there. So he pulled back the slide, then removed the ammo clip, and pulled the trigger. The bullet penetrated the floor of the APC just inches from my toe!


That was the closest I came to being wounded...


2. Another night, when I arrived, I noticed an orange ball of fuzz next to one of the overhead lights inside the APC. It turned out to be a bat! It was bright orange. I told the guy who relieved me later not to disturb it, but in the morning I found the bat lying dead outside the APC.


Painted Bat (Kerivoula picta), Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam 1969


I took photos of it and forgot about it. It was the perfect Halloween bat! Several years later, at our annual picnic (see below), as the sun was setting, bats were coming out of our eaves. Alan Keith remarked that he was a bat enthusiast (as well as a pre-eminent birder!). I said ‟Do I have a bat to show you!‟ I ran inside, dug out the slide of the orange bat and showed it to him. He could not identify it, but had a friend at the American Museum of Natural History who probably could. So I got a duplicate made of the slide and sent it to him. It turned out that the bat in question was a Painted Bat (Kerivoula picta) and this was the first recorded sighting of this species in Quang Tri Province. You never know...


3. One of the bases we were at was Con Thien, a hilltop overlooking the Demilitarized Zone between north and south Viet Nam. Because of its location, this was one in which we lived in bunkers. When we arrived, I was directed to a bunker for our platoon. I went in, randomly selected a bunk to be my bed, stowed my gear and lay down for a rest. When I looked up, I noticed that some graffiti had been painted on the timbers that arched over my bunk. It was ‟Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.‟


For the uninitiated, this was a theory developed soon after biologists were able to study fetal development in the womb. If one looks at the stages of fetal development (ontogeny), superficially it appears to mimic the evolution of man (phylogeny). Ie. from a single-celled organism, to an aquatic-looking creature, to amphibian-like, mammalian, etc. But, internally, and otherwise, it doesn‛t actually do that.


However, here I was – a zoologist – in the middle of nowhere (as far as I was concerned) and randomly selecting a bunk to sleep on, and I selected the one formerly occupied by another biologist! Just amazing...

Me at Con Thien



I won the Battalion Chess Tournament and as such received a ticket to the Bob Hope USO Christmas Tour.


I received an Honorable Discharge and the Bronze Star for meritorious service (non-combat related).


I arrived home in July 1969 (I was flying over the Pacific Ocean when we landed on the moon).




The Season at Hawk Mountain


I decided to do one more stint at Hawk Mountain before finding a job, so I volunteered to be the North Lookout counter for the entire season. This was a wonderful experience – watching the migration unfold throughout the Autumn.


Me hard at work at the North Lookout, August 1969


I gained valuable experience and made many birding friends. This was the year that Michael Harwood (future HMS Board Member and HMANA founder) spent a few weeks at the mountain in order to write his book – The View from Hawk Mountain. I offered, and he accepted, lodging at my parents‛s house in Minersville. He was gracious and we had a great time together.






In May of 1970, I accepted a job as the Park Superintendent of Shikellany State Park in Sunbury. I found a duplex to rent just up the (Susquehanna) river in Riverside. I continued my hawkwatching passion, going down there every chance I could each fall.


I was also expanding my general birding skills – learning more about non-hawks and doing more general birding. I met Allen Schweinsburg from Lewisburg up there and we started birding together. This is when my (non-hawk) birding skills took a giant leap forward. I learned calls and behaviors. I spent time on my own tracking down unknown bird calls until I found the caller. This engrained these birds into my memory – much more that having someone else find them and point them out to me.


Then in September 1971, Barbara McClure moved into the other half of the duplex.


She had recently graduated from Kent State (yes, she had been there during the shooting and knew one of the girls that was wounded), with a masters degree in Audiology and had accepted a position at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville (the opposite side of the river from Riverside).


Since it was in the fall, she noticed that every Saturday and Sunday, I would disappear before dawn and arrive home after sunset.


So one day she made a point to watch for me and met me at the stoop. She asked where I went on these weekends. I told her about Hawk Mountain. And she said ‟I‛m interested in birds...‟


The die was cast. We were married two years later.


Our first date was to Hawk Mountain in the first week of November. Not being a country girl, she was ill-prepared for the cold and wind. I lent her a pair of long-johns to help. Fortunately, when we arrived at the North Lookout, a hawkwatching friend (Doug Cook), just happened to have an extra down jacket in his backpack! He also brewed up some hot tea for her (with a little something extra added).


Although she was cold, she thoroughly enjoyed the experience (and people). We saw five eagles that day (4 Golden, 1 Bald). She was hooked.


The next day we went out and bought her some practical clothes for birding.




Barb‛s birding evolution


After high school, barb was in a water-skiing accident that shattered her vertebrae. She underwent five operations over the next few years (the initial operation, which was groundbreaking at the time, and subsequent operations to remove scar tissue that kept building up). She was constantly in pain, but managed to get on with life somehow.


After one of those operations, some friends of her parents put up a bird feeder outside her bedroom window and gave her a pair of binoculars and the National Geographic Society 2-volume set, Song and Garden Birds of North America and Water, Prey, and Game Birds of North America, and the just-off-the-presses Golden Field Guide by Chandler Robbins, et. al.


With these, she identified the few birds at her feeder, but more importantly, she read those books cover to cover, making notations in the field guide from the larger tomes. So she developed a good book-knowledge of birds. As she regained mobility, those same friends took her out on a few local birding trips – Tyler Arboretum, for instance.


She then lost interest (or no one was around to further stimulate that interest).


She went to Ursinus College, graduated with a BA and then spent 26 months traveling and working her way around Europe. Unfortunately, she was not yet a birder.


After arriving home, she held a few different jobs (ground hostess for Eastern Airlines, secretary at a pharmaceutical company, etc), then decided to study Audiology. Which brings us back to Riverside.


Barb at Cape May


As mentioned above, she had good book knowledge, but no field experience. After the hawk migration season was over, we started going out doing general birding. She quickly picked up the tricks of the trade and we bonded permanently.


Because of her back, her routine was to work all week and then basically vegetate on the weekends. This did not help her physically or mentally.


My taking her out birding regularly took her mind off her pain and got her some exercise. She told me how much better she was feeling because of it.






During this period in Riverside, I took up bird carving and painting. I took lessons from renowned artist and then Assistant Curator at Hawk Mountain – Fred Wetzel. I pursued this for several years and sold several works. I then lost interest. You can see some of my work at







I took violin lessons for a year or so (can't remember how old I was) , but I never liked it and quit.


During my college years, I learned to play guitar (acoustic) and played and sang folk music.




Woodworking and Other Skills



I am skilled in woodworking and have made several pieces of furniture over the years. Here are some samples.








I am also experienced in electrical maintenance, plumbing, and painting.





Astronomy and Solar Eclipse


In my teen years, I built a 3-inch reflecting telescope (you could buy kits from Edmund Scientific) and dabbled in astronomy.



On March 7, 1970, I drove down to the DelMarVa peninsula to view the solar eclipse. It was one of the most awesome experiences of my life.


I drove down there, pulled off at a rest stop and set up my telescope. I had it rigged so that the image was projected on a white sheet of cardboard, so I (and other people there) could watch the progress of the eclipse until totality. Then we could look directly at it for a minute or so.



Solar Eclipse, March 7, 1970






In 1974, we attended the founding meeting of the Hawk Migration Association of North America in Syracuse, New York.


Mike Harwood (who‛s idea the organization was) asked me to put together a slide show for the hawk identification panel discussion. I came up with the novel idea of having three projectors and three screens so that images of different species could be viewed side-by-side. So I would show a Sharpie, a Coop, and a Goshawk all at the same time. This way you could actually see the differences.


It was a big hit and I took it on the road as a hawk identification lecture to local bird clubs for a number of years thereafter.


You can find a write-up of this panel discussion in the November-December 1976 issue of Birding.


The Derby Hill Hawk Watch adopted my photo of a Rough-legged Hawk that I used in my presentation for their logo.





Ha-Ba Hawkwatch


I was the Park Superintendent of Shikellamy State Park, which consisted of two sections. An overlook on the west side of the river and a marina on an island. The marina portion was still under construction and the state inspector/engineer – George Holliday – had a side business going of purchasing lands at tax sales and then reselling them.


In the summer of 1975, he asked me if I would like to help him survey a piece of property he had just acquired. I said yes. So that weekend we went down to a ridge just south of Sunbury called Little Mountain. We drove out the ridge, found the property and did the surveying to mark the property lines.


The property saddled the top of a sharp ridge (only about 40 to 50 yards wide at the top). At one point there was a rock slide on the south side of the ridge that presented a lookout. It looked very inviting as a possible hawkwatch.


After looking at topographic maps, I determined that this ridge had the potential to be a hawk migration corridor. I asked George if he would sell me a portion of the property and he agreed. We laid out 20 acres that saddled the highest point.


I then discussed it with Barb and she agreed to be a co-buyer. We purchased the property and then went about figuring out how to watch hawks from there. It was quickly apparent that simply viewing from the small opening on the south side of the ridge was not going to cut it.


So I proposed building a hawk-watching tower to raise us above the tree tops, giving us a 360 degree view. We constructed the tower out of trees we cut down on site. The platform was 35 feet above the ground and was accessed with steps to the first level and then a ladder the rest of the way into a hatch-door. Yes, we built it ourselves...



Original Tower


Original Tower


Original Tower


Working on Original Tower



Note: The physical exertion needed to build the towers was just what Barb needed for her back. Although the pain didn‛t disappear completely, it greatly declined and her physical well-being was much improved.


This served us well for a few years, but it quickly became apparent that it was not quite high enough and the logs were quickly rotting away.


So we tore down that tower and replaced it with a 40-foot version made of treated timbers and poles.



New Tower


New Tower


This one was much better. We also built a cabin to stay in. The first couple years, we had camped in a tent.



Our cabin (You can see the tower in the background)


Having started hawk-watching here, we were no longer showing up at Hawk Mountain.


One weekend Doris Steffey and Barbara Lake – fellow hawkwatchers from Hawk Mountain – joined us at our new hawk watch.


It was in September and we had a few hundred Broadies that day.


An interesting thing had happened the day before. I received a type-written letter from a hawkwatching friend from Ohio (Ethel Surman) that enclosed a quarter and stated ‟Enclosed is 25 cents (one thin quarter) for membership in the Ha-Ba Hawkwatching Association. Where is this place anyway?‟


We showed it to Doris and Barbara and they found it amusing.


Upon arriving home later that day, I found 40 more of the same letter (xeroxed) in my mailbox! Including from Doris and Barbara! They had all plotted to mail them on the same day, but one arrived early.


There was also one from James Bond (not the spy, but the bird book author for whom the spy was named – Ian Fleming was his neighbor in Jamaica) who happened to be on the North Lookout the day they came up with this scheme.


Bob Hughes sent a check for ten cents. We never cashed it so his checkbook balance would always be off...


We began calling the hawk watch ‟Ha-Ba‟ after that.


We hawkwatched there until 1990. Then our interests turned elsewhere.


I sold the property in 2023.




The Picnic


We got married and moved to Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County in November 1979.



Our wedding


Barb thought it would be a nice idea to hold a picnic the following summer as a thank you for the friends who participated in the Ha-Ba plot.


So we sent out invitations and included some other local birders that we had become friends with.


Everyone enjoyed themselves and asked if we were going to do it next year. We said ‟Why not?‟ and so the Ha-Ba Picnic was born. We held the picnic every year until we moved up to Narvon (where we didn‛t have the room anymore).


The guest list grew every year and included almost any birders we met in our travels. We had birders from Texas, Florida, Ohio, and many other states. The attendance grew to around 100.


Side note: In June 1996, we were in Cave Creek, Arizona, staying in one of the cabins. One morning we decided to walk down the South Fork Road as trogons had been reported down there. We didn‛t get the trogons that day, but when we got to the end of the road, we sat down at the picnic table to take a break before walking back.


As we were sitting there, a car pulled up and two elderly women (obviously birders) got out and came over to the table and started getting out a picnic lunch. The one introduced herself – Irma Braun! She was now living in Portal. I quickly introduced Barb and myself and mentioned how long it had been since I had seen her.


She responded ‟Oh, the Haases, the ones who held those wonderful birders‛ picnics and didn‛t invite the Brauns!‟


There was no rock to crawl under...


As mentioned above, Charlie Gant was a close personal friend of the Brauns and apparently would tell them about the picnic every year. I was never close to the Brauns, and no one (including Charlie) ever suggested adding them to the guest list. We certainly would have...


After we moved away, the DVOC (see below) started having an annual club picnic instead.








When I met Barb, she had a cat named Audi.


Over the years we adopted many more cats (mostly strays that showed up at our door).


We had as many as eight at one time...





I currently have two.





When we moved to Delaware County, the local birding club was the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC) in Philadelphia. However, it was a men-only club!


So, although I had been invited to join, I declined.


In 1982 they changed their bylaws to admit women and both I and Barb joined. We quickly became active members, both serving on council, then I became editor of Cassinia and Barb became the Treasurer. We were honored with several awards over the years including the rarely presented DEVOC – a special award for service to the club.


Our participation in the club waned when we moved up to Narvon (too far to drive).






Our first big trip together was to California in November 1972. Barb was scheduled to attend an Audiologists Convention in San Francisco. She was going out there with several co-workers. At the last minute, one of them (her boss – also named Frank) had to cancel and asked Barb if she wanted to take someone in his place! She asked me and I jumped at the chance. So I got his ticket for the flight, showed up at the airport and away we went. That was another time...


We arrived in San Francisco, rented a car ($99 for a week!), drove to the hotel, she checked in for the conference, and then we went birding for five days.


She picked up 63 lifers, I had 36 (I had seen a bunch of western birds when I was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado).


A couple of stories from that trip.


1. We were south of Sacramento, driving down the coast after dark, looking for a place to spend the night. We got to some small town, but didn't see any motels. We spotted a patrol car and asked the cop if there were any motels nearby. He gave us directions and we quickly found the place.


It was a series of little cabins or bungalows. The proprietor, a young lanky man, checked us in and directed us to our cabin.


After getting our stuff inside, I turned to Barb and said "Doesn't he remind you of Anthony Perkins?"


She immediately shoved a chair up under the door knob and didn't take a shower that night!


True story.


For those of you who might not get the reference, watch the movie Psycho.


2. Earlier in the trip, we were down on a rocky beach. She had gone ahead of me around an outcropping and I heard her yell to me "What bird is all black with a large bright orange bill?"

I yelled back – in my best know-it-all voice – "There ain't no such bird!"

I then rounded the outcropping to see a Black Oystercatcher.


She never let me forget that.


Over the years we traveled to most of the states and several provinces in Canada. In 2016 we traveled to Europe and birded around Switzerland and France for two weeks. This trip was prompted by Barb wanting to return to where she stayed back when she worked in Europe. We spent an hour finding and looking at that place... The rest was a birding trip.




Big Days and Big Years


When we still lived in Riverside, we both joined the American Birding Association.


Most of their early focus was on listing – Life Lists, Year Lists, Big Years, Big Days, etc.


We got into Big Days and ran them every May for quite a few years. We thoroughly enjoyed them. We never topped Johnny Miller, but came close.


We also kept Year Lists, but our first organized Big Year State List was Delaware in 1981. We tallied 280, which was a new state record.


In 1986, we decided to tackle Pennsylvania.


In 1979, James Vardaman, a birder from Mississippi, did a North American Big Year. What was novel at the time, was that he created a network of birders to act as his eyes and ears. He sent out a monthly newsletter informing them of his progress and urging them to contact him if anything new showed up (We contacted him when the Black-tailed Godwit appeared in Philadelphia). He chronicled his adventure in the book Call Collect, ask for BIRDMAN.


We decided to do the same thing, just on a smaller scale. We contacted all of the birders we new across the state and sent out a monthly newsletter. This was not difficult to do with the advent of personal computers and printers.


We ended up with 288, a new record. Our effort is detailed in Volume 2 of Pennsylvania Birds.




Pennsylvania Birds


When our Big Year came to an end, I suggested to Barb that maybe we could start publishing a statewide birding journal. Pennsylvania did not yet have a statewide organization, but Massachusetts had a publication (Bird Observer) that was not published by a birding club, but by a private entity. So why not us?


So we sent out another letter to all of our contacts asking if they would subscribe to a statewide journal. The overwhelming response was positive, so Pennsylvania Birds was born.


It was modeled on American Birds (now North American Birds), with articles and then a summary of the season and regional reports. The regions in our case were counties.


The first few issues were crudely done, but as we acquired better equipment and skills the quality improved. We were soon publishing four issues per year to hundreds of subscribers. We recruited compilers for most of the counties to write up the sightings for each quarter.



We edited and published it for 15 years. During that time, the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) was formed and adopted it as their official journal. We then turned it over to the PSO and let someone else do the work. However, I have always played a part in its publication and have been the Publications Manager for the PSO for many years.


The PSO also adopted the Pennsylvania Birds logo that I created as their logo.





Other Publications and Articles


Over the years, we have had our hand in other publications and articles.


We edited the second edition of the Annotated List of the Birds of Pennsylvania and the second edition of A Guide to the Birds of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.


We have authored (solely or together) 40+ articles for Pennsylvania Birds.


And in 1994 - The Real First Record of Ancient Murrelet for Massachusetts?. Bird Observer, Vol 22, No. 2, pp 79-83




Breeding Bird Atlas


In 1983, Ed Fingerhood called us to suggest that Pennsylvania should conduct a Breeding Bird Atlas. He called us, as we were ‟all-birds-Pennsylvania.‟ We thought it was possible, so he set up a meeting with us and Frank Gill (then curator of birds at the Academy of Natural History in Philadelphia).


We met at Frank‛s house and discussed the project and the atlas was born.


In addition to the planning parts, we were the coordinators for Delaware County and also conducted field surveys in 54 blocks (in Bradford, Chester, Clinton, Delaware, Northumberland, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming).


The atlas organization eventually led to the founding of the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology in 1989.



Christmas Bird Counts


I participated in my first Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in 1971 (Bloomsburg). I did that count until 1974 (when we moved away). Barb joined me in 1972.


When we moved to Delaware County, we joined the Glenolden count and I was the compiler from 1980 to 1988 (again when we moved away).


We also started doing the Southern Lancaster Count in 1976 until the present.


Since moving to Narvon, we also have participated in the Elverson Count and then in the Western Chester County Count when it was started in 2011.



Winter Raptor Surveys


When the Winter Raptor Survey was initiated in Pennsylvania in 2001, I created a route around New Holland.


I added two more routes in 2011 (Eastern Lancaster County and Northwest Lancaster County).


Since Barb died, Sandy Lockerman or Barbara Hunsberger have helped me run these routes.




Breeding Bird Surveys


Back in the 70s (when my hearing was good), we ran several Breeding Bird Surveys. I can't remember which ones or how many years.





In 1988 the Ornithological sub-committee of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey selected us to be part of the committee established to set up the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee (PORC).


We established PORC and both served on it for numerous years in various capacities (Treasurer and Secretary - Frank, Secretary - Barb).


I created the paper ballot voting system that was used until the 2010s.


In 2023 I digitized all of the old paper records and media and then created an online voting and record-keeping system for the committee.



Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology


In 1988 at the last Atlas Coordinators‛ Meeting near Lock Haven, the parties assembled passed a resolution to found the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology. A committee was formed, bylaws were written, and the PSO was formed.


From its inception, I (and Barb) have played a roll.


I was a Board Member from 1991 to 2001 and 2003 to 2004.


I was president from 1994 to 1996


And Treasurer from 2004 to present.


I became the webmaster and created a website for the PSO in 2008.I have been the webmaster up to the present.


I am also the Publications Manager (getting Pennsylvania Birds to the printer and mailing).


As Treasurer, I am also in charge of PSO Sales. I keep the PSO sales items at my house and fill orders as needed.


My address is used as the official address of the PSO.



Hearing Aids and ABA Conventions


When I took the computer-guru job for the Bureau of State Parks and we moved to Narvon, Barb decided to open her own hearing aid business out of our house.


During ensuing years, fellow birders asked her advice on hearing aids for birders. No hearing aid can fully restore your hearing, but they can help you hear things you otherwise would not.


Most hearing aids are designed to amplify the frequencies mostly associated with speech. This does not help birders very much, as the frequencies they are interested in are much higher.


At a hearing aid convention, she learned of a piece of technology called the K-Amp, which did a better job of amplifying higher frequencies than the normal hearing aids on the market.


She talked with the hearing aid comnpany that she used most and they agreed to make hearing aids for her using the K-Amp module. This became what she sold as the Birder Hearing Aid.


I was her first patient for this new device and I was impressed. I could hear many calls that I had been missing for years (I had a high-frequency hearing loss that had started in the late 90s).


So she started to market it and, as part of that, we attended ABA conventions and had a vendor‛s booth. So we got to go to a number of ABA conventions as a business expense.


One side note: As a promotional item, we printed wallet-sized cards listing all of the bird hotlines in North America (this was the time of recorded hotlines and telephone calling trees!) and gave them away to anyone interested. They were a big hit (both at the conventions and among our local birding friends).




The Bird Screen Company



In 2000, we had our back deck converted into a sunroom. This meant two almost-solid walls of glass. We quickly started losing birds to collisions with the windows.


I noticed that on the sections with screens on the outside, birds rarely struck them and the few that did appeared uninjured.


So I set about figuring out how I could put screens in front of the fixed panes to serve as collision prevention.


Thus, the Bird Screen was born.


I started a business, selling them online. I have saved innumerable birds‛ lives over the 23 years I was in business.


I finally closed the business in 2023.






We worked fairly diligently on our North American Life Lists (both are over 700 for North America). As part of that, we salivated at the birds being found on Attu. However, Barb‛s back made it impossible for her to be physically capable of hiking and biking around the island as was required. And if she couldn‛t go, I wouldn‛t either.


In the middle of the Aleutian Islands is Adak. It had been a naval base since World War II, but the base was closed in 1997. During the time that it was a naval base, access to the island was limited to base personnel and their families. Birders could only gain access if they were with a government agency or university doing research or were stationed there in the military.


In 2003, the local government decided to invite birders to the island as a source of tourist revenue. They contacted the ABA and the ABA sent a scouting party to the island in the fall of 2003. They wrote up their trip in the May 2004 Winging It. We were intrigued.


Here was an accessible place with rare Asian birds like Attu, but not physically demanding. So we made our reservations and arrived on Adak in the May of 2005.


We arrived on Adak around 5 pm on Sunday, May 22. There were already a bunch of birders on the island (most of them from Pennsylvania, it turned out!) who had the same idea we had. Some came for a few days, others for several weeks. Over the course of the month, the list included the following – from PA — John Puschok, Devich Farbotnik, Jason Horn, Dave Wilton, Geoff Malosh, Eric Marchbein, and Jay Lehman (Columbus, OH), Dan Sanders (Columbus, OH), Charlie Lyon (Shreveport, LA)


We picked up 13 lifers (not all Asian rarities) and we were hooked.


It wasn‛t Attu, but close enough!


So we started to make more trips there, eventually settling in to two weeks in May and two weeks in September every year.


Happy Far Eastern Curlew watchers on Adak


After Barb died in 2020, I returned to Adak in 2021 to continue the tradition (it was closed in 2020 because of the pandemic).


You can read about all of our trips on my blog at


I started keeping a daily Adak blog in 2011 and retroactively added summaries of previous trips.


I also created an online guide to birding Adak to encourage more birders to go there and to give them all of the information they need to plan a trip there.


Because of the limited access until the base closed, the birding records from Adak were sparse. So I have been adding new records to the island practically every year. And picking up lifers along the way.


I don‛t get lifers on every trip, but I at least contribute to the ornithological record for the island.




ABA Birding Index


In 2022 I was doing some research and I needed to look something up in an old Birding magazine. I had shelves of all of the issues from its beginning, but unless you knew which issue something was in, there was no easy way to find it.


I contacted the ABA and asked if they had digital copies of the older issues. They had recent years‛ issues available online, but not older ones.


I offered to digitize them, and after a few committee meetings and back-and-forths, I began the project.


I scanned all of the issues (and the newsletter Winging It and the youth newsletter Birds Eye View) and uploaded them to the ABA website so any member can now look through them and search them online.


I then extracted all of the bird identification articles and indexed them and added them to the website as a separate resource.