There's been a bit of a stir in the uplands of Mohican. We have visitors from the Great North, the likes of which we have not seen for quite a few years. The Evening Grosbeaks, Coccothraustes vespertinus have returned in good number again- for the first time since 2008.
And these eye-blinding photos, provided by uber photographer Dane Adams are almost better than seeing them in person! These 'beaks are winter birds and they usually arrive in a blowing snow, or sleet or...worse. But if the weather cooperates enough to get to them, they are hard to miss. They're the size of a black-bird, with the bill of cardinal and all colored-up like a summer goldfinch!
|Evening Grosbeak, photo by Dane Adams|
|Evening Grosbeak, Photo by Dane Adams|
You can't blame them for wanting to be out in the open, after all- they are quite glamorous!
|Grosbeak gathering, photo by Dane Adams|
If you come to Mohican State Forest in Ashland County, Ohio in hopes of seeing the birds- let me give you a few tips. Look for gatherings in the tree tops. Evening grosbeaks like to T-up in the trees between feedings and they are pretty conspicuous, too!
|Mohican map to Grosbeak treasure.|
You will hike from the parking lot to the west, it is less than a 1/2 mile. The tall pines along the road provide some of the best scenery and birding in Ohio. The optimum time of day is between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., when this particular flock is known to feed. Watch all along the ornamental shrubs and crab apple trees. I have seen the birds directly above me next to the road.
|Evening Grosbeak (EVGR), Dane Adams|
Audubon Christmas Birds Counts have noted these 'beak sightings are in great decline. The numbers I find run around 90-91 percent reduction! This could be a shocking warning to us that something is going on. Are they irrupting into our territory less, or have their numbers totally plummeted? These are questions for inquiring minds (but I doubt you'll read it in the Inquirer.)
If you are interested in the trends- go here for a fabulous study by BirdSource created by Audubon and Cornell University. I think you will find the maps most entertaining, and maybe it does not reflect a true decline in EVGRs. It might mean there has been a change in their territories and there are just fewer here. Either way, we need to be protective of the visitors we currently have.
Again, a special thanks goes out to Dane Adams, for allowing us to enjoy these photos. They are almost as thrilling as seeing the actual birds!