Here…..birdie, birdie

DSC06277

Juvenile Bald Eagle

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!

Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

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 HERENormally 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.

All this just for a glimpse of a Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

All this just for a glimpse of a Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

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.

IMG_7347

Downy Woodpecker

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…..

Be sure to occasionally check the EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES tab at the top of the page for upcoming events.

IMG_7278

Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse

Visit Ohio Association of Garden Clubs, Inc.’s profile on Pinterest.

Birds of a feather

Snowy Owl, Hardin County, OH

Were you one of the lucky few who caught a glimpse the glorious Snowy Owl in nearby Hardin County north of Bellefontaine (OH)? If not, our Viner friend Roger Garber put his new camera lens to work and has shared a wonderful shot for you. Snowy Owls, normally residents of the Arctic north, have been spotted much, much farther south of their native range. This unusual visitation is called an irruption and may be the result of inadequate food sources, primarily lemmings, that may have driven some owls this far south.

Sadly, it was reported today on the Ohio Ornithological Society’s Facebook page that our local avian media star was found dead today perhaps a victim of starvation. Take a listen to Jim McCormac, a biologist with ODNR’s Division of Wildlife, who was interviewed on  NPR’s All Things Considered by Melissa Block HERE.

The Harry Potter fan in me says, “Hedwig, we hardly knew ye….”

Pileated Woodpecker

I always enjoy feeding the birds in my backyard. Suet is a great way to attract many birds. Imagine my excitement spotting this pileated woodpecker. Thank goodness the feeder had a tail prop or else this guy would have been left hanging!

Educational Opportunities

Yes, it’s that time again! WHOOOOO HOOOOOO! The seminars, conferences and symposiums are gearing up.

Adams County Amish Bird Symposium – Saturday, March 3

This daylong celebration of birds features speakers, vendors and activities at the Wheat Ridge Amish Community Building, West Union (OH). Speakers include Harvey B. Webster, Cleveland Museum of Natural History; author Geoff Hill, Auburn University professor; Chris Gilkey, Wildlife Officer; Jim McCormac, Division of Wildlife; and Kimberly Kaufman Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Amish lunch included. Find registration information HERE.

Wildlife Diversity Conference – Wednesday, March 7

Wildlife Diversity: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Held at the huge Shriner’s Complex in Columbus, this event is awesome. Speakers are among the best in their field. Worms, Freshwater Mussel Restoration, Aquatic Invasive Species, Lake Erie Pelagic Bird Survey, Wildlife Orphans, Wetland Restoration & Small Mammal Community Structure and Beavers/Porcupines and Fishers. All in one day! Read more/register HERE.

Hosta College – Friday/Saturday, March 16 & 17

One of the most anticipated events of the spring is the American Hosta Society Great Lakes Region’s Hosta College in Piqua (OH). This year the date is Friday-Saturday, March 16 & 17. Check it all out HERE. Early class registration for Miami Valley Hosta Society members opens 12 midnight January 13. Non-member registration opens January 25 at midnight.