The monthly meeting of the Urner Ornithological Club will be held Thursday, July 26, 2012. The meeting commences at 7:45 p.m. at the Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary of the New Jersey Audubon Society on Hardscrabble Road, Bernardsville, NJ.
All are welcome.
Glenn Mahler will present a program on The Lesser Sundas – Land of Birds and Dragons.
Susan Phelon will present a program on Finland at the August 30th meeting.
Following are Notes from the 75th Urner Annual Dinner – May 31, 2012 written by Tim Vogel, president of the Urner Club and including a brief history of the club.
30 members and guests attended the dinner at the Olde Mill Inn’s Grain House in Bernardsville. Much of the Urner archives was on display including original field cards from the 1920’s (pre-Urner days), journals, letters from Urner to other notable birders, photos, the bound copies of the Urner Observers and other historical items. Rich Kane brought items including the group photo from the 50th dinner. Tom Halliwell put together a poster board of photos including the day we spread Irv Black’s ashes in Sandy Hook bay.
As a reminder the Urner archives are stored at the Sherman Hoffman Sanctuary and are available for review.
Bill Boyle did a grand job of welcoming our guest speakers, Pat and Clay Sutton. They presented an amazing slide show about birds and birding at Cape May. Sprinkled throughout the presentation was quite a bit of the history of Cape May.
Tim Vogel’s Welcoming Notes
In the mid 1930s there was a growing interest in organizing a bird club in northern NJ so that people didn’t have to travel to the Linnaean Society meetings in NYC.
On April 5, 1937 a letter went out from Charles Urner.
“There will be a meeting at my house, 596 Westminster Avenue, Elizabeth, 8pm, Friday April 9 to consider organizing a Union-Essex Bird Club. Hope you can come”
17 birders attended and the name Union-Essex Bird Club was adopted
During the early meetings the club met at Mr. Urner’s home, the Newark YMCA and the Old First Church in Newark.
In 1938 Ed Lang, on the staff of the Newark Museum, persuaded the Newark Museum to allow the club to hold meetings there.
The sudden and unexpected death of Mr. Urner in June 1938 was a blow to the young club. He had been returning from a Linnaean Society meeting when his heart failed. In his NY Times obituary, it was noted that in 1935 he was reported to hold the amateur record for bird identification in the East, having seen as many as 170 different birds in one day in his native state of NJ. Shortly after, the club’s name was changed to the Urner Ornithological Club in his honor. Mr. Urner’s life and contributions were celebrated in a memoriam published by NJAS and is contained in one of the bound books from the archives.
The club’s early history was well documented by Gilbert Cant and Al Eynon’s The Origin and History of the Urner Ornithological Club, April 1947.
I’ve spent some time reading through the club’s archives over the past couple of months and it has been a walk through early NJ birding history. Since the beginning, the club has been actively involved in field research, hawk watching, Christmas counts and club trips. There are field cards from the 1920s on display here tonight, letters written by Mr. Urner and other field notes, photos and items of interest.
Also of note was Al Eynon’s “Some Remarks on the Big Day”, April 1952. Big days, it seems, were taking place as early as the 1920s. Competition was strong especially between the NY and NJ birders, including noteworthy birders such as: Urner, Allan Cruickshank, Ludlow Griscom, T. Donald Carter and Robert Cushman Murphy.
A review of the 1943 membership list includes a young Bill Weiss of Rutherford who is here tonight and I believe our senior member leaving only Dick Thorsell whose current status is unknown and Charlie Mayhood with memberships dating back to the 1940s. I’m open for any comments on the subject or if I missed someone.
At the 25th anniversary in 1962 the guest speaker was Roger Tory Peterson and he was introduced by long time member Dudley Ross. Peterson and Ross were good friends, in fact Peterson lived in the Ross household for a time he separated from his first wife.
At the 50th anniversary dinner Peterson again was our speaker and again he was introduced by his friend Dudley Ross. I had met Dudley at his home in Springfield MA. While sitting in his living room listening to his stories, looking around his living room, I noted that there were a number of original Peterson paintings on display, gifts from a grateful friend. I asked him if we would consider coming to the 50th dinner. When he found out that Peterson was coming, he agreed. The club offered to put him up in the hotel as we were doing with Peterson. At the time he was 86. Dudley drove the 3 hours down, dined with his good friend and drove home that night. He told me later on that it was one of the dumbest things he had ever done.
The club met monthly for years at the Newark Museum. During spring meetings we often heard the Nighthawks calling as they hunted across the city’s buildings.
After Irv Black, the museum’s supervisor of science, retired, the club settled into the Turtle Back Zoo for a few years and finally to NJAS’s Sherman Hoffman Sanctuary where we meet now. For those of you who may have forgotten – we meet the last Thursday of the month @7:45. All are welcome. We get some pretty impressive programs and some lively discussions.
I took a look at the first annual meeting that I attended – 1969 at the Black Horse Inn in Mendham. It was $5.00
After 75 years the club has seem many changes, changes to the membership, changes to our meeting places, changes to our travels but mostly we’ve seen changes in how we communicate amongst each other. There was a time – not that long ago – when one would wait for the weekly changing of the rare bird alert or pour over field notes when they arrived in the mail.
Today information is available immediately and because of that birders’ travel patterns, locally and worldwide, have changed to pursue their goals. Nothing wrong with that I just wonder what the “old timers” would think. I was fortunate to have met and birded with several of the founding members but I can’t imagine they would object to today’s birding activities.
I encourage everybody to take a look at the archives, to see the many accomplishments of the club. Also check the membership list through the years. Some pretty formidable birders, professional and amateur, have been Urner members. The club’s archives are stored at Sherman Hoffman and are available for you to enjoy and learn from them.
Thanks and again welcome.
Urner Ornithological Club