Here…..birdie, birdie

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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.

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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.

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Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse

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

Wahkeena’s Hike for Health

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium reginae)

This past Saturday, I finally took the advice I hear often: take a hike! So I did. Actually, it was a fundraiser called Hike For Health. A hike for health that benefited the walker and also raised monies for the OAGC (Ohio Association of Garden Clubs) Foundation. I chose to hike at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Fairfield County south of Lancaster, OH. Talk about a gem in the wild, Wahkeena sparkles!

Amazing sights included the native Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchid and the Showy Orchis as well as the Flame Azalea, all of which were in bloom. Using my cell phone’s ringtone, I managed to call in not one, but two Ovenbirds who ended up having a territory spat because of me. I also called in a Tufted Titmouse by whistling. In fact, the titmouse came within about 6 feet and apparently wanted me to feed it. It was the highlight of the day. Enjoy the photos. If anyone has some identification on the fungi, let me know and I’ll add captions.

Flame Azalea buds (Rhododendron calendulaceum)

Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum)

A bumble bee giving me a high-five

Squawroot (Conopholis americana) A non-photosynthesizing parasitc plant of oak roots

Devil's Urn (Urnula craterium)

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Local events:

Be sure to check out other events at the Events Calendar page tab at the top of this page.

My garden club, the Here & There Garden Club, will be holding its annual Plant Sale this Saturday, May 21, from 9 am to 1 pm at 5200 Bigger Road, Kettering OH 45440.

College Hill Garden Club will hold its annual plant sale May 19-21 at 40 Carson Ave, Dayton OH 45415.

The Mercer-Smith Historical Park is giving a free presentation and holding an Open House demonstration. “Heritage Plants in a Frontier Garden” will be shared this Saturday, May 21. The presentation is at 10:30 am in the Fairborn Library Meeting Room (1 E. Main St., Fairborn OH) and the Open House runs from 11 am to 3 pm at Mercer-Smith Historical Park (corner of First & Middle Streets, Fairborn OH). Learn some of the ways that plants, seeds and gardening techniques of the early 1800s differ from those of modern day.