Skip to main content


Today is International Migratory Bird Day, and as I do almost every year, I spent it at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. This 2,000-acre site is owned and managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, and the Division goes to great lengths to make birders welcome at this legendary birding locale.

The centerpiece for songbird enthusiasts is the 1.5 mile long elevated boardwalk, known as the Bird Trail, which bisects a seven-acre patch of woods. Hit it on the right day, and the trees are dripping with northbound migrants.

The hospitality works - extraordinary numbers of bird watchers descend on Magee, and never in greater numbers than on IMBD, which is always the second Saturday in May.

All of these cars - and this is but a snippet of the vehicles that were present - belong to birders. Staggering numbers of birders. It's hard to estimate how many people visited Magee today, but there were several thousand, at least. While crowds like this may not appeal to all, it is amazing to see so many people coming together at one locale to go birding.

I like to try and take some time to troll the lots for bird-related license plates to add to my always growing collection. I'll share a few from today, and I think you'll see a theme...

Yes, warblers. These colorful sprites are without doubt the most sought after group of birds, and they didn't disappoint today. At least 27 species were seen, and many in good numbers.

Conditions can approach near gridlock on the trail, but the beauty of this is that few birds go undetected. And you'll quickly hear about anything interesting.

The bird paparazzi come out in droves. There is tens of thousands of dollars of camera hardware in this photo, and the total value of optics and camera equipment on the trail would be utterly staggering if it could be tallied.
A huge number of these visitors stay for more than a day in the area, and nearly all of them drop some dimes locally. Birding has become an ecotourism tour de force in this area, and many of the local establishments give discounts to birders.

Those people with the $12,000 camera rigs are generally NOT after species like this beautiful male American Robin. However, me, not being much of a bird photographer, can do OK with a subject like this.

This is what the pros are after - species like this Tennessee Warbler. And now you can see why I am not a professional bird photographer. This particular Tennessee was probably the most photographed individual of its species anywhere in the world on this day. And I guarantee you that many far more stunning photos were snapped than the one above. Photographing warblers well requires specialized gear and lots of patience and skill.

It's not hard to figure out where something interesting has popped up. Just look for a throng of people. Today, a Kentucky Warbler, a Prothonotary Warbler, and roosting Common Nighthawk and Eastern Screech-Owls attracted lots of attention.
Birders of all stripes congregate, and people are in general very friendly and helpful. I really enjoy spending the day strolling around, and helping new birders find interesting birds. IMBD at Magee makes an enormous impression on those who come to visit and bird, and if you've never made this scene, please try and put it on your itinerary for 2010.


Wil said…
Wow, the crowds are amazing. Great to see birding is such a loved endeavor and seems to continue to grow.
I almost made the trip there this weekend myself but couldn't due to other commitments.
Thanks for sharing,
Dave Lewis said…
Hello Jim!
Hey, "WRBLRZ", that's me!
What a great weekend with good weather to boot! It was great to see you, though not as great as the warblers...sorry...
dAwN said…
Wow..wall to wall birders..

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…