Monday, September 26, 2011

Rare Bird Alert

We interrupt the series Tales from the Marsh for a Rare Bird Alert!

Ohio's birding community is pretty well-connected, if not to higher places, then at least to each other.

Black-throated Gray Warbler, photo by Brian Zwiebel

When a bird the rarity of a Black-throated Gray appears in Ohio, the news spreads rapidly. And when it is accompanied with proof-positive photos, like these taken by Brian Zwiebel, the scramble is on. In your face, birders!

This warbler of the west should be headed to Mexico for the winter, but we don't mind a bit that Brian found one that detoured by way of Magee Marsh's East Beach.

Special thanks goes out to Brian for allowing me to use his incredible photos. If you are not familiar with his work, follow this link. Brian Zwiebel is "the TOP photographer in Ohio (style, respect for birds and habitat, knowledge of bird natural history...)" as stated by Jen Brumfield, one of Ohio's top tour leaders. Did I mention he is a heck of a nice guy too? Rumor has it he is working on a Warbler book with Ohio's own Jim McCormac... and I can't wait!

But back to that beach. I arrived late on Saturday evening, as I was entertaining family when the alert came out. So believe me, when the beach was empty and the light too low to re-find the bird, I was feeling just a bit sorry for myself. I figured this "one day wonder" was gone for sure.

In the pre-dawn light of the next morning, I resolved to enjoy a quiet outing, and commune with nature a bit. It really didn't matter that I missed the bird. There would be other warblers on this beach, and one never knows what interesting dragonfly or butterfly might show up as well. It was a good morning. Just me and nature...

..and two other avid birders: Ben Warner and Jay Lehman. Gee, that camo stuff must really work- I can barely see Jay!

We spread out in the shrubby undergrowth, and working our way across we identified plenty of warblers. Lots of Blackpolls, a few Cape May, a Yellow-rumped and a heart-stopping Nashville. It was a morning of quietude and bliss, when suddenly before me - an unusual bird.

There was no mistaking the bold colors on the head of this warbler. We had relocated the Black-throated Gray Warbler. The Birding gods had smiled down on us. Just as I snapped the photo, I could hear Ben say, "Cheryl, are you on that?"

Oh, yeah! I am on it.

Hence, the fuzzy photo of a bird I did not expect to see, and a wonderful morning communing with nature. I can still hear the waves lap the beach...


  1. Very cool! I've been fortunate to have seen a couple of those in Arizona. Perhaps we can work out a warbler exchange with Ohio. We send you a few Townsend's and BT Gray's and you send us a dozen or so of your eastern warblers.

  2. Congratulations! It sure is a cute bird.