Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Northern Harrier roost at Magee Marsh

Last year, Rita Schneider was the first to draw attention to the fact that numbers of Northern Harriers were roosting communally at Magee Marsh, gathering in the evening along the causeway out to the beach at Magee. Rita has just passed along word that the roost has formed again this year; she and Laura Alldridge saw at least 16 harriers together, just east of the causeway, late in the evening on December 29th. If you happen to be birding the area (where at least one Northern Shrike has been seen repeatedly in the last few weeks), it's worth waiting for dusk to watch the harriers come in. We're accustomed to seeing harriers widely dispersed in the daytime, so to see one of these evening gatherings is quite a sight.

For those who aren't familiar with the area, the road in to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is well marked from Ohio Route 2, between Rt. 19 and Rt. 590, north and west of Oak Harbor.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fox Sparrows at BSBO

One of the many great things about birding in northwestern Ohio is that Fox Sparrows can be found reliably, sometimes even in substantial numbers, during migration. They migrate mostly very early in spring and late in fall, so fair-weather birding may not turn them up; but sometimes at the end of March or in early November you can find dozens in the thickets near the Lake Erie shoreline.

Usually they're a lot harder to find in December. But right now (Saturday Dec. 6) there are two Fox Sparrows right outside Anna's Window on Wildlife at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. The birds have been there for a couple of days, and BSBO web guru Delores Cole and others have been able to get good photos of them. The observatory is open today and tomorrow, Saturday Dec. 6 and Sunday Dec. 7, from 11 to 5. Come out on Sunday between 1 and 5 p.m. and there will be other attractions of BSBO's holiday open house, including special prices, conservation-related gift ideas, refreshments and shade-grown coffee, complimentary gift wrapping, and book signings by Jim Mollenkopf and yours truly. Click here for more information and to download a savings coupon from the BSBO web site.

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