May 20, 2014
Humans and the family Hirundinidae (swallows and kin) have grown to become mutually helpful and even dependent. Without swallows many of our farms and cities would fill with mosquitoes and their ilk. Without man many swallows family members would lose nesting sites and thus diminish in numbers.
In North America the co-operation between humans and members of the swallow family has increased over the past two centuries. In the mid 1800s naturalists noted how the Barn Swallow had begun to nest around buildings in Northern California. Today Tree Swallows and Purple Martins regularly use nest sites provided by people. Sometimes Tree Swallows will appropriate a box first intended for bluebirds. Martins are colonial nesters so they oust House Sparrows and take over the provided tenements. Barn and Cliff Swallows regularly use manmade structures from bridge to barns to porches across their range.
A Purple Martin tenement at Ottawa NWR, Ohio.
A perched Martin.
Tree Swallow nesting in a natural hole.
Barn Sweallows working on nests on the side of a building.
Many other birds now take advantage of intentional or incidental manmade nest sites: Barn, Great Horned, Great Gray and Screech Owls, European Kingfishers, many raptors nest on pylons or utility poles, Wood and other ducks, nuthatches, chickadees, bluebirds or all three species, phoebes, House Wrens, White-throated and other swifts. In Europe the most obvious building users are White Storks.
All these pictures were taken during a PIB field trip to northwestern Ohio earlier in May.
May 17, 2014
The Magee Marsh Boardwalk today was alive with feeding warblers as weather and insect activity brought nearly all predators down to lower levels of the forest. Most surprising were the scads of Scarlets who came down with them…Scarlet Tanagars at about fifteen feet above the ground.
Our PIB tour group got twenty species of warbler in addition to many fine views of both male and female Scarlet tanagers during our hours on the Magee Marsh Boardwalk today. Magnolia, Bay-breasted and Blackburnian Warblers drew gasps of appreciation. When two Blackburnians appeared near one another I commented it was a conflagration of Blackburnians (with their flame-colored throats).
May 16, 2014
Spring here in northwest Ohio comes in many shades, from gray to grass green to brilliant red. Here are a few:
Tufted Titmouse and Cardinal share feeder.
Groundhog, known also as woodchuck. How much wood wuld a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? We await the answer.
Golden-winged Warbler at Wildwoods Metropark in Toledo area. This disappearing warbler is the central figure in a conservation program headed by American Bird Conservancy.
Red-bellied Woodpecker, which has no red belly.
Solitary Sandpiper, Ottawa NWR.
Baltimore Oriole, Magee Marsh.Indigo Bunting male, Oak Openings Preserve.
All these birds seen in the first two days of the Partnership for International Birding Trip, co-sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon, to northwest Ohio for spring migration. So far we have 109 species for the two days and over 20 species of warblers seen.
May 14, 2014
There was a kettle of immature Bald Eagles over Pointe Mouillee just south of Detroit this morning. When I first saw this phenomenon I could not imagine what was up:
At one time there were six of them circling and swooping about.
One of the eagles had a duck or coot and the others were hoping to make a steal. Here’s the successful predator carrying its prey.
OKAY, KIDS, OUT OF THE WATER:
Northern Rough-winged Swallow:
Osprey on nest, Pointe Mouillee
Tomorrow we begin the PIB trip to northwestern Ohio, co-sponsored by Golden gate Audubon.
May 13, 2014
Forster’s Tern fishing along Metzger Marsh, Ohio.
Eastern Screech-Owl sleeping.
House Wren at its nest hole.
Wren on ground hunting for building materials.
The five of us here at Magee Marsh’s bird festival from Partnership for International Birding and Neblina Forest Tours had a combined species list of 179. Tomorrow two of us begin leading tour for clients from California, Colorado and Florida–here to see the warblers and their friends.
May 11, 2014
These four photos were taken by Michel Lussier, a birder from Montreal, We were all standing at the PIB table under the tent at Ottawa NWR,