The Ohio Birds listserv has been aflame with the news of a first state record Stygian Owl, found early this morning in Erie County. The fact that this Central and South American species could make it to Ohio is amazing, but it isn't the first North American record. To date, two have been found in south Texas, so this bird's appearance in Ohio wasn't entirely unexpected.
The bird was found at 9:15 this morning, and word quickly spread. Acting with great rapidity, by about 9:45, after extensive deliberation amongst themselves and consultation with outside experts, the Ohio Bird Records Committee (OBRC) unanimously voted to accept the record, ensuring all of us lucky enough to see the bird of a bonafide tick for our lists.
As is frequently the case with vagrant owls, the Stygian Owl was found aboard the deck of a boat. In this case, this fishing boat, the SS Trix, out plying the waters of Lake Erie. Fortunately for us, one of the crewmen, Al Bard, spotted the bird in a large Christmas tree that he had tethered to the fore deck in the hopes it would attract migrants winging over the vast lake. You can see the tree propped up on deck in the photo above, almost to the front of the ship. Al is an active, longtime birder, and sailors with an interest in birding often place trees on the decks of their ships to lure in birds.
If you're a birder, you won't want to miss this one. Good charter services that can get you out to the SS Trix to see the owl include the Jet Express in Port Clinton, and Joe's Canoe and Johnboat Service on Kelleys Island.