I love birdwatching. Anyone who has ridden in my car knows that I watch more than just the road. (Hubby doesn’t agree that this is a noteworthy skill….) I often do many a shout-out while driving when I spot a hawk, a flock of turkeys, a deer (live or dead and maybe even on the other side of the road, no less) or vehicles with unusual vanity plates – all while in the driver’s seat. I’m always on the alert. Just last week I noticed a larger than normal bird near a deer carcass off Nutt Road in Centerville. I HAD to stop in the middle of the road to try to get a photo. It turns out I spotted a juvenile bald eagle! Yippee!
Lately, I’ve been scanning the skies, barn roofs and pole tips for a glimpse of a Snowy Owl. Those familiar with Harry Potter movies or books will recognize that Harry’s pet owl, Hedwig, was a Snowy Owl. As of January 16, Jim McCormac of ODNR noted there have been 136 sightings in 46 Ohio counties. You can check out a map of the sightings HERE. Normally these majestic birds live in the arctic. But when their populations rise and/or the numbers of their favorite meal (lemmings) drop, they may be found out of their normal range — something called an irruption.
They are quite large; the body is 20 to 28 in with a wingspan, 4.2 to 4.8 ft, yet they only weigh a wee 3.5 to 6.5 lbs! Birders near and far were all a-twitter when one was spotted in Washington Courthouse in Fayette County. They flocked, pun intended, toting spotting scopes, telescopic lenses and binoculars just to get a glimpse of this majestic creature. I did not get the opportunity to get there but my friend Roger Garber shared many photos on Facebook. Sadly, it was reported yesterday on the Ohiobirds.org mailing list that the Washington Courthouse owl was found dead along side a road. I doubt I’ll ever find something so rare in my yard – though that doesn’t keep me from watching out for the unusual.
Ornithologists from Cornell University collect data from backyard scientists (like me) in a program called Project Feederwatch where surveys provide numbers and types of birds visiting bird feeders. Evidence is mounting that suggests that insectivorous birds like woodpeckers may be finding the emerald ash borer larvae a new and abundant food source. More food may mean more woodpeckers! My Downy Woodpeckers love this seed feeder (from Wildbirds Unlimited). I noticed (see how observant I am?) that the feeder is missing today. I’m going to lay blame on the DUMB SQUIRRELS! I’ll have to wait until the snow melts a bit to track it down…..
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