Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter Birding

You might have noticed it is cold. But that doesn't mean the fun has to stop, it only changes.  Let's focus on some of the special happenings going on in Ohio in the fall, and yes, winter.

Oh, this looks interesting!  
Bob Scott Placier gently handles a Saw-whet Owl.
Saw-whet Owls invade parts of the United States in the fall.  Leaving the forests of Canada, many cross Lake Erie to take up winter residence in Ohio, Pennsylvania and beyond.  Researchers are just getting a good understanding of the habits of these nocturnal creatures.  The group at Project OwlNet are the the primary movers and shakers of the studies.

In Ohio, we have Tom Bartlett banding these secretive owls on Kelleys Island.  My good friend, Bob Scott Placier recently did a night time banding at Lowe-Volk Park in nearby Crawford County.  He was able to band one of the elusive birds that evening, but in general, the numbers are down this year.  

Cackling Geese, now coming to a inland lake near you!
Note the stubby bill which is most diagnostic.
 Last week I had the opportunity to bird a bit at Maumee Bay State Park's inland ponds.  There were good numbers of Canada Geese moving through just in front of this weather front we are now experiencing.  Two mini-geese where associating with the Canada Geese, but maintaining their own space and distance from the larger birds.  Cackling Geese, once a sub-species of the Canada Goose   have been "split" out and are now considered a separate species.

Two Cackling Geese in the forground were about 65% smaller
than the geese with which they were asscociating
These Mallard-size geese are real stand-outs in a crowd. I spent a good bit of time studying the birds, and got some video as well.  I will try to post that later.

The whole science of splitting out Crackling Geese has been called "hopelessly muddled" by several of America's best birders.  So I will not attempt to explain them other than, when you see one- you will know it!

And with snow comes: Snow Buntings!  Keep your eyes pealed while driving back country roads for these farm-field wonders from the north. Every day we are getting reports of more winter birds arriving!

Snowy Owl
 This is a picture I took while on a Black Swamp Bird Observatory winter pelagic tour several years ago.  Experts are predicting another boom year for Snowy Owl watching and the Cleveland Lakeshore is a good place to start your search.  In fact, go here to sign up for your own  Lake Erie Freeze-fest!  They will pour the hot coffee and provide expert birding leaders as well.

Short-eared Owls are winter fare.
Birders will soon be seeking Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers in grasslands across Ohio.  My photo was taken at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, but Short-eareds are also frequently seen at The Wilds near Zanesville.  Ohio Ornithological Society will be offering a trip to the Wilds on January 17th, 2015. For those interest in winter grassland birding, go to the OOS website for all the details.

  • This weekend, the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association will be birding at La Due Resivoir and I hope to see you there on Saturday Nov. 22, Please go to their website for details. 

  • The ONAPA birding is from 10:00-2:00 and following at 3:00 pm is Greater Cleveland Audubon's program and refreshments at nearby Novak Education Center, 382 Townline Road in Aurora, Ohio (3-5pm).  The speaker will be someone you might know, a Weedpicker.  I will be talking about Birding by Habitat, and Habitats for Birds.  

No comments:

Post a Comment