Monday, May 21, 2007

Wrapping up Birdathon 2007

Audubon Ohio’s annual Birdathon event was a tremendous success this year. Even with the challenges of going carbon neutral (i.e. birding only at spots that we could reach from our homes without using a car) and threats of stormy weather, Audubon staff and board members were able to spot 93 species! Because of your support, Audubon Ohio was able to raise more than $5,000 to support bird and wildlife conservation throughout Ohio.

Early morning on Thursday May 10th, staff and board members set off on foot, bicycle or public transportation to explore the diverse habitat and wildlife in their own neighborhood. The threat of rain faded and the weather turned warm and sunny. To our delight we found our nearby wetlands, meadows, riverbeds and woodlands alive with the songs and beauty of birds. Scarlet tanagers, Baltimore orioles, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks and screech owls are only a few examples of the birds we saw and/or heard. But birds weren’t the only creatures stirring, we also spotted snakes, turtles, frogs and groundhogs to name a few. It’s comforting and awe-inspiring to know how diverse and dynamic Ohio’s natural habitats can be in our very own backyards!

By going carbon conscious this year, it made birding a little more challenging. However, by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and thereby reducing the pollution and greenhouse gas they produce, we were doing our part to combat global warming and other environmental issues. If you’re interested in learning more about what you can do to reduce the impact of global warming, please visit:

If you would like to learn more about Birdathon 2007, a complete list of bird sightings are available here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Signing off from Bay Village

10 pm
Bay Village, Ohio

Well, our early evening bike ride to Lake Erie was less fruitful than our earlier walk. We were able to pick up two more birds, a Herring Gull and a Tree Swallow to bring our total to 57 species. In addition, we managed to wear the girls out pretty well and my feet are aching.

Maya was very helpful pointing out the birds she saw, it usually went something like this, "Hey look at that, there's a bird!!" Gee Maya what is it? "It has a red breast so guess what it is....its a Robin!" I guess the apples doesn't fall too far from the tree - she is already pointing out identifying charactaristics in addition to identifying the bird itself. She was also able to find "the worlds longest dandelion" which was about 18 inches long, and we found a groundhog in Porter Creek taking a swim - no kidding.

Off to bed after a beautiful day in Bay.


Better Late Than Never

Friday, May 11th
Bay Village, OH

I scheduled our Bay Village birdathon for May 11th to take advantage of David's availability and birding expertise.

Our family's birding day started around 7:30 am when Maya (3.5 yo) woke up David and myself and we headed downstairs for breakfast - there was a House Wren sitting on the back fence. We opened up the kitchen window and had half a dozen species (mostly by ear) before we even finished our cereal! I know 7:30 is late in the birding world, but when your pre-schooler decides to sleep in you take advantage of it!!

Once Sadie (10 months) woke up we eventually got out the door around 9am for the trek to Huntington Metropark. As we strolled through the neighborhood David's keen ear picked up a few warblers including a Nashville Warbler (which we later also saw) along some wooded lots. About half way there we had to make a "potty" break for Maya at a friends' house (thanks for coming home just in time Rich). Just down the street from our friend is a nesting Red-Tail Hawk who was feeding his/her two large fluffy white chicks. This nest is on a residential street right in someone's front yard. Very cool.

We had at least 20 species before we even made it into the park! Once we hit the woods Sadie was sleeping in her carrier and David and Maya did a bit of garlic mustard pulling. We heard a beautiful Wood Thrush and picked up a Hooded, Wilson, and Black-throated Green Warbler.

Once we hit the multi-purpose trail we met two very friendly birders who used to live close to my in-laws in Florida. They were excited to hear that we were with Audubon and CMNH (where David works). The conversation was interuppted by Sadie waking up and yet another "potty" to Lake Erie Nature and Science Center! Species count is around 36.

After LENSC (where we could have added quite a few to our list from the wildlife garden!) we headed to the beach. The water was like glass and there was little activity by the time we got there but we did pick up Bonaparte's Gull, Roughed-Wing and Barn Swallow in addition to the expected Ring Bills and Mallards. After a short time on the beach, we headed back home for lunch picking up an Ovenbird on our way back through the woods. Also spotted my favorite Red Headed Woodpecker in the meadow picnic area.

A weary mom and hungry kids totalled up 54 species upon returning home (including the Turkey Vulture that flew over the house after hearing me complain we had not yet seen one.)

We plan to take a picnic to the lakeshore for dinner this evening to continue the quest! Where is a Canada Goose when you need one?


Final Word From Clintonville

I added three more species prior to 7:30 am at the OSU Research Wetland this morning: Great Egret (which was there at 7:00 and gone by 7:10), Eastern Phoebe and Barn Swallow. This brings "Team Clintonville" (Jerry and Sharon Tinianow and Robin Brunotts) to 50 species in 24 hours, including 43 found in Clintonville (with seven more spotted on the Bike Trail south of Clintonville). As an added bonus, I found a big Snapping Turtle resting just off one of the trails at the Wetland this morning.

It is nice to know that residents of Clintonville, a very urban neighborhood within the City of Columbus, can see 50 bird species in a 24-hour period without the use of a car. There is wildness even in the heart of the city.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ohio Bird Atlas

By the way, my activity today did double duty as I used it as hours for the Ohio Bird Atlas survey I am participating in.  If any of you saw breeding activity (I know some of you did) with some of the bird species, they will take anecdotal evidence on that.  Just let them know the species, what you saw exactly and the location.  Just send it to:   Our own John Ritzenthaler is on the Advisory Board for the atlas.  Thanks all!
Robin M.

Day's End in Clintonville

Sharp-eyed Sharon picked up several species on the bike ride between COSI and home: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Blue-Headed Vireo, Northern Mockingbird, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting and House Finch. At sunset I biked over to Greg Cunningham's house and found the Eastern Screech Owl looking out from its nest. Robin, Sharon and I had 46 species for the day.

I'll make one more effort at the OSU Research Wetland on the way in to work tomorrow morning - ending by 7:39 am. Meanwhile I have attached a photo of Greg's owl.

Great day

I had to break during the day for some other obligations, but an evening walk netted a scarlet tanager and a rose-breasted grosbeak.  My goal had been to find 20 species in my first Birdathon, but I was one short. (Can I count my neighbor's rooster?)  Still, all in all, it was a great day.  Saw many deer, a groundhog, several chitter-ly chipmunks.  Trilliums, mayapple blossoms, the first wild geraniums and so much more.  But where was that oriole I saw last week, and why did the blue jays evade me?  I did end my day with the same little guy I started it with - my little hummingbird friend playing king of the mountain on the feeder.  Maybe if I sit outside after CSI, I'll hear a barred owl........
Robin Mullet

Forgot to Mention...

I also saw a Common tern at Hoover.

Long-distance birding for the Audubon Ohio team

Board member Alan Dolan has been birding diligently for us from Salt Lake City, Utah.

So far, the species he's seen are: Black Billed Magpie, Yellow Warbler, Starling , Robin, House finch, Rock pigeon, Mallard, Gambel's Quail, Towhee (western race), Blue Grosbeak (1st spring) Cliff swallow, Western Kingbird, Coot, Ruddy duck, American Avocet, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Barn swallow, Kildeer, Black Necked stilt, Brown headed Cowbird, Canada Goose, California Gull, Snowy egret, Redhead (puchard), Red tail Hawk, Willet, Turkey vulture

Afternoon Slow Down

Have added but a single species this afternoon and that being a Crow. Still ten species short of my target 70 -- will need a big push later today to find some birds waking up after siesta. Out in the woods, I took a brief siesta myself. With a smooth and flat, but having a strategically placed indentation, chunk of gneiss as my pillow, I allowed a few minutes of rest. Funny how a rock from Canada or other parts North and left behind by a glacier thousands of years ago can feel just right for a pillow at the right time.

Mid-afternoon in Clintonville

Robin Brunotts (not to be confused with Robin Mullet, who is reporting separately from Coshocton County) and I had a very slow afternoon in Northmoor and Whetstone Parks. We added only five new species: Turkey Vulture, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Crow, Chipping Sparrow and Cowbird. This brings us to 38 species all within a two-mile radius of my house in Clintonville.

Sharon split off this morning to put in a few hours of work at COSI, but just called in from the bike trail on the way back home to report a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and a Scarlet Tanager - just north of Spring Street downtown! She and I plan to work the bike trail to the north later this afternoon and, as previously reported, visit Greg Cunningham's house for the owl this evening.

For the record, we started our Birdathon at 7:40 am today, which means we can still get up early and work the OSU wetland again tomorrow morning for at least another hour, ending at 7:39. We carbon-conscious Birdathoners never give up!

Return from Hoover

I just returned from my bike ride to Hoover Reservoir where my biggest sighting was an osprey on the nesting platform seen from the boardwalk at Galena. Pretty cool. I took a walk into the woods as well and ran into a group with spotting scopes who pointed out a "nesting" Prothonotary as it flew past me. If I make them part of my team, can I count it? Other sightings included Ring-billed gulls and Tree swallows at the reservoir, and Starlings and Goldfinches enroute.

Off to the shower and another tick check.

This is probably not allowed according to the rules of Birdathon...

I'm not an expert, but I think this Scarlet Tanager is a bit outside of its usual habitat.

Technically, I think in order to count it would have to be a live bird. But since at least one of our groups today has already seen one, maybe we can let it slide.

It might only be plush, but at least it was sighted in a carbon conscious fashion! (I walked to the Audubon Ohio office, in order to bring everyone all the news from the front.)

Continuing bird saga

Mid-morning sightings were slower and harder to come by, but the turkey vultures were finally up on the thermals.  At my neighbors hayfield, I spotted the ubiquitous redwing blackbird and a field sparrow.   Across the field was an indigo bunting - my first one ever. What a treat!  On my way on our wooded lane, I had scared up a pileated woodpecker, and later saw a downy.  On the edges of the field and road, I heard a distinctive song several times, but could not see the bird making it.  I went home and played by Ohio Birds CD and I am pretty positive it was a prarie warbler.  Then, while Dick and I were enjoying lunch on the porch, a group of tree swallows flew in circles briefly, eating their lunch on the fly!
Robin Mullet

Rare flower on the Birdathon

One doesn’t run across this mint everyday. It is called Synandra, but I don’t know if it has a common name. (Posted for John Ritzenthaler, who took a few minutes away from birding to stop and smell the roses. So to speak.)

Lunch Break

Time for lunch and reporting in. I had some wonderful encounters -- deer, people, and of course birds. I found myself within about 20 feet and at eye level with a Red-tailed Hawk before she took least from her size, I'm assuming it was a female. And a very shaggy deer was escaping my approach and that of a couple coming from the oposite direction. What a beautiful morning. My sightings: Mallard, Turkey vulture, Red-tailed hawk, Killdeer, Eastern wood-pewee, Black-capped chickadee, White-breasted nuthatch, Gray catbird, Yellow warbler, Eastern towhee, Field sparrow, Red-winged blackbird, Brown-headed cowbird. I found myself really wishing I knew the calls better!

Phoebe nestlings

Eastern Phoebe nestlings, photographed by John Ritzenthaler at the start of Birdathon 2007. They didn’t pledge but they do count!

Lunchtime Report from Clintonville

Ellen Armstrong did a fine job of posting the morning sightings by Robin, Sharon and me -- see her posting below. The only addition since has been a House Sparrow, which brings our species count to 33. All of these were at the OSU Research Wetland. We also spotted a hawk about halfway up the huge OSU TV tower in the distance, but it was too far away to identify the species. Our best guess was a Cooper's Hawk. Hopefully we will get a close-up look at a Cooper's this afternoon.

Attached are three photos from this morning. One shows a Great Blue Heron and a Mallard out on the wetland; one shows what we believe is an Oriole nest; and one shows a male Wood Duck that we spotted just before lunch.

I must say that birding at the Wetland requires a lot more work than birding at Magee Marsh. I know our species count would be a lot higher if we were up there, but on the other hand we have not released any CO2 (other than by exhaling). We also should step back and appreciate the fact that a small wetland in the heart of a major metro area is capable of producing 33 species on a lovely spring morning.

The plan this afternoon is to work Northmoor and Whetstone Parks and nearby ravines. I know of an active Red-Tail Hawk nest in Northmoor, and we still have a few common birds to pick up, such as Crow and Turkey Vulture. We will end the day in the back yard of our board member, Greg Cunningham, who has an active Eastern Screech Owl nest there. Wish us luck!

Stork Stopped By

Just checked the Bluebird boxes and this morning two nestlings hatched in one, leaving two blue eggs still to go. Unfortunately, we can't count the stork for our birdathon list as it must have left by the time I visited the boxes.

Birding on the Whittier Peninsula

Audubon staff members Heather Starck and Doreen Whitley spent the the morning on the Whittier Peninsula, future home of the Grange Insurance Audubon Center.

They saw a total of 25 species, including: Barn Swallow, Summer Tanager, Blue Gray Gnat Catcher, Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, Great Blue Heron, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Coot, Song Sparrow, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Northern Flicker, Laughing Gull, Yellow Warbler and House Wren.

Birdathon Lunch Break

Time for lunch and a bit of sitting and listening in the late morning. So far, no misses for expected birds with the exception of Rough-winged Swallow which I had seen by the bridge over Honey Creek for a couple of days and Acadian Flycatcher in the woods. Warblers are scarce--only the expected ones on territory (Yellow, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, and Common Yellowthroat) and migrant Tennessee, Magnolia, and Black-throated Green. I have seen four members of the thrush family so far including American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Trhush, and Swainson's Thrush; still looking for Hermit and Gray-cheeked. Similarly, I've seen seen four of the five woodpeckers I might expect, watching a pair of Downy Woodpeckers copulate for a timed 14 seconds! They did not seem embarrassed. The male flew off and the female ducked back into her nest hole in a small dead elm about 8 feet up.

The sun is out, the woods are green, and the birds are singing. Let's go.

From the OSU Research Wetlands

Audubon Ohio staff members Jerry Tinianow and Robin Brunotts were joined by Jerry's wife Sharon at the OSU Research Wetlands this morning. They have been busy sighting birds and enjoying the weather. They've seen 32 species so far!

So far, the species they've seen include: Red-Winged Blackbird, Northern Cardinal, Gray Catbird, Carolina Chickadee, Double-Crested Cormorant, Mourning Dove, Rock Dove, Mallard Duck, Wood Duck, Blue Gray Gnat Catcher, American Goldfinch, Canada Goose, Common Grackle, Great Blue Heron, Blue Jay, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Parula, East Wood Pewee, Song Sparrow, European Starling, Rough-Winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Chimney Swift, Warbling Vireo, Blackburnian Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Downy Woodpecker, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, House Wren and Swainson's Thrush. Stay tuned for more news from the field!

My first Birdathon

At 6:30 am, my first bird appeared in the misty rain outside my kitchen window while I was making coffee - my ruby-throated hummingbird friend who visits me daily.  From seven to nine, I walked from the cabin to the valley and saw the following: Red-bellied woodpecker, eastern phoebe, eastern towhee, robin, crow, canada goose, cardinal, chickadee, chipping sparrow, what I am 99.9% sure was a Tennessee Warbler migrating through, and several gray catbirds - one of which chased me for several yards!  I think they might be nesting.  Now that I have had a second cup of java, I hit the neighbor's fields.  I think I lost five pounds walking this morning! 
Robin Mullet

From my back porch in Galena

Good morning! With coffee and binoculars in hand, I started the morning on my back porch and path with birds singing all around. Here are my sightings as of 8:00 a.m.: Canada Goose, Mourning Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue Jay, American Crow, Purple Martin, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Common Grackle, and House Sparrow. All of the usual suspects. More later!

Screech owl

Never one to fail me, my female screech owl is peering out of her nest box, wondering why I'm staring at her on this muggy morning. What better way to start the day than with a shot of stink-eye from a screech owl :-)

Misty Morning Bird Song

Back in for breakfast. Many species are awakening. Loudest and most persistent is the Scarlet Tanager -- singing interspersed with his diagnostic "chip-burr" call. Also Eastern Phoebe, Wood Thrush, and American Robin nearby, with American Goldfinch, Eastern Towhee, and Brown Thrasher singing from the edges over there. Overhead, the Chimney Swifts have taken wing from the chimney looking for any insects that may be flying in the 58 degree air above the woods. Now I'm off for a proper Birdathon bird hike.

Under the Moon

Time -- 05:early. Under the beautiful waning gibbous moon, I listened as the dew literally fell from the air onto the woodland leaves. It sounded as if it were a gentle rain, but the stars were shining dimly through the thin haze overhead. In the dark with coffee mug in hand, I whistled softly the downward whinny call of the Eastern Screech-Owl. In less than a minute, I got a soft reply...then two. I stopped and the pair called back and forth for a couple of minutes, then went back to business. As I post this, a Great Horned Owl puts in his last two-cents of the night. Hope he isn't hunting up a Screech Owl morsel. By the way, the first bird song of the morning was at 05:17. What was it? A lone Northern Cardinal. Almost 6:00, now and many birds are starting up. Off to listen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The 5-Minute Birdathon

Unfortunately I'll be behind bars on May 10 (a.k.a. at work), but will add my speed-sightings to the birdathon effort. Between the screech owls nesting in my back yard and the warblers and thrushes passing through, I hope to add to the list!

Quick Fundraising Update!

Great news, everyone! We are nearly halfway to the fundraising goal for Birdathon. So far, we've raised $4,340. Of that, $2,470 has been raised by the Audubon Ohio staff, and $1,870 has been raised by the board.

The current leaders and their totals to date are:
  • Cheryl Roberto (Audubon Ohio Board) - $1,075
  • Heather Starck (Audubon Ohio staff) - $800
Great job, everyone!

John's Plans for the Rural View

Thursday promises to be a day with birds aplenty if they don't all wing north on the good south winds. My route will traverse hill and dale with a bit of stream-side meandering thrown in for good measure. I will be afield in northwestern Clark County generally on the former acreage of the original European settlers of this area, the Black family in 1809. The watershed of Honey Creek is my target with ample woodlands (think Screech Owl, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush) interspersed by hay fields (think Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Field Sparrow) and shrubby edges (think Indigo Bunting, Song Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat) all inclined toward the riparian corridor of Honey Creek (think Baltimore Oriole, Wood Duck, Great-blue Heron).

Coffee. I will be checking for owls early as Venus wanes in the western sky, then listen for the pre-dawn chorus of new arrivals mixed with those resident birds already on territory. Coffee. Next it will be checking out the close known individuals to fill the list. Coffee. Then on to whatever feels right, checking for morels underfoot and birds overhead. Good birding to all.

Christie's plans...

Twas the night before Birdathon and I am strategizing and planning. Those who know me well, know that I am such a great birder...I shouldn't admit that out loud. So if I have photos of wildflowers instead of birds, well I hope you'll understand. Look for me in and around my neighborhood, the Genoa Twp. bike path, and Hoover Reservoir. I'll keep you posted!

Jerry's Birdathon Preview

'Twas the night before Birdathon ....

Tomorrow (Thursday) is our "carbon-conscious" Birdathon. Our ground rules are simple. We have to look for birds in places we reach without using a car. This means we are walking, cycling or using public transportation.

The weather forecast is dicey, with a growing chance of thunderstorms. This has been exacerbated by my discovery last Sunday that the Olentangy bike trail between Bethel Road and Antrim Park is going to be closed between 8 am and 5 pm - and maybe more - for construction. This is the key north-south bike route for accessing Antrim and points north on the trail, including Highbanks Metro Park. On the other hand, two consecutive days of warm weather with the wind out of the south suggest that a new wave of migrants may be passing through.

I will do my best to post results during the day. Just to get the juices flowing, I've attached a nice photo of two Sandhill Cranes that I spotted up in Lorain County a few weeks ago. I'm sure we won't see this species tomorrow, but it provides some inspiration nonetheless.

Keep your fingers crossed!