I should have had this out on the wire a while back, but better late than never.
The 17th annual Lake Erie Wing Watch will be held this Saturday, in Port Clinton, Ohio. Hard on the shores of Lake Erie, this is the self-proclaimed Walleye Capital of the World. But it's also a great area for birds, and as an attendee, you'll be a mere stone's toss from the Buckeye State's great cradle of wetland biodiversity, the vast marshes of western Lake Erie.
But wait. There is more. Saturday features a star-studded cast of speakers, or at least a constellation of flickering flames headed by a genuine celeb of the bird world: Mr. Chuck Hagner, editor-in-chief of Birder's World magazine. You won't want to miss Chuck's talk, as the protagonist is a bird named for an Ohio town: that rarity of rarities, the Kirtland's Warbler.
But wait. There is more yet. Other speakers include Tom Hissong on bird song; Mark Witt on waterfowl; Sharon Cummings on photography; Jen Brumfield on how NOT to bird; Mark Shieldcastle on songbird migration; and Larry Richardson on warbler ID. And since it's my blog, I can save me for last - I get to talk about those bloodthirsty winged killers, those avian scud missiles, those feathered guerillas: RAPTORS!
For the complete skinny, just go ahead and click this right here.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I should have had this out on the wire a while back, but better late than never.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28 marked the ninth annual Shreve Migration Sensation. This event is a doozy – perhaps the largest single-day birding festival in Ohio. This year, a jaw-dropping 915 attendees showed! The epicenter is the little Wayne County, Ohio burg of Shreve, which welcomes birders with open arms. The above photo shows evidence of this – one of many signs placed throughout town. The welcomed birders in the backdrop are, L to R: Marc Nolls, Cheryl Harner, Jimmy Sloan, and Jason "Grapefern" Larson.
A huge doff of the hat to all of the organizers of this great event: Kevin Higgins, Joe Edinger, Bill Fought and all of the rest who organize and run the show. Kudos too to the ODNR Division of Wildlife; Friends of the Killbuck Marsh, Inc.; The Wilderness Center; Greater Mohican Audubon Society; Triway Local Schools; Shreve Library and Shreve Business & Community Association for their support and sponsorship.
I know what I spent: about $120.00 in Shreve and Wayne County as a result of attending. That includes gas, lodging, food. If only half of the attendees – 450 – spent half that amount on average, it would still total $27,000. Not a bad one-day infusion, but I bet the total is a lot higher than that.
They’ll be putting this gig on again next year. You’ll want to make the scene.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Not long ago, one of my friends approached me to report a "mole" raiding her bird seed supply in the garage, and making a cache of the booty on a nearby shelf. This certainly didn't sound like the hijinks of any Eastern Mole that I've ever met, and I figured it was probably an even more interesting and little-known mammal.
As with the Meadow Vole I recently encountered, fate was not kind to our mystery seed-raider, but did intervene to allow us another learning experience. When I was quizzing the mole-person about field marks, she let on that the beast had expired. "What! You have it?" enquired I. And she did, so I convinced her to bring in the carcass, which has languished in the freezer until today, when I brought it out for photos.
And here it is - the mole-like thief of seed. This tiny little brute is a Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina brevicauda. They are surprisingly abundant throughout Ohio and the upper midwest. And as we shall learn, they are indeed poisonous, and I'm not making that up. Ridiculously hyperactive with a metabolism that races like a meteor, I think they sometimes essentially just blow up - their heart erupts. I've found them several times dead but in perfect shape, with no obvious signs of trauma.
Now, most of you are saying "Like, whatever. Like, he really thinks we think he owns that car, for sure. Like, whatever, dude".
That auger-like snout coupled with strong front legs and feet permit the shrew to rapidly and effectively bore through the earth in a frenzied nonstop hunt for victims to kill and devour.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I have been remiss in plugging the annual Shreve Migration Sensation, which will be held this Saturday, March 28. Ground zero is the small but charming Wayne County community of Shreve, where, incidentally, my mother hails from.
This is a fantastic birding event, and a wonderful example of birding ecotourism. Every year, hundreds of birders descend on Wayne County to enjoy the festival, look for birds, eat good Amish food, socialize, and hear a variety of programs. Last year, I think there were something like 700-800 attendees. The vast wetlands of Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area are but minutes away from the school in Shreve where the talks are given and vendors are headquartered, so it's an easy matter to go birding, retreat for a program or two, and go back out birding.
And the birding is great. Probably every species of regularly occurring waterfowl will be found, many in big numbers. I won't be surprised if a rarity such as Eurasian Wigeon is found, too. There'll be other early migrants too, including yellowlegs, Tree Swallows, Wilson's Snipe, and a variety of raptors.
This year, the speaker roster is capped by legendary Kenn Kaufman, and you won't want to miss that. And all this for the lofty admission price of $10.00. That's right, ten smackers. Can't beat that. Be there or be square!
SHREVE MIGRATION SENSATION
Saturday, March 28, 2009 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Shreve Elementary School 598 North Market Street (State Route 226), Shreve, Ohio 44676
Peak spring bird migration event includes self-guided tours with experts located at Help Stations in the nearby Killbuck Marsh, Shreve Lake, Brown's Lake Bog and Funk Bottoms wildlife areas. Killbuck is Ohio's largest inland natural wetland complex, covering 5,512 acres. Professional workshops, birding, wildlife and wetland vendor displays, pancake breakfast and lunch concessions, as well as children?s programs are held in the Shreve Elementary School.
A $10.00 admission ($15.00 per family) includes any or all events and workshops. Registration will open at 7:00 a.m. at the Shreve Elementary School with FREE MAPS to the Help Stations (located in the marsh and at three other sites, all near Shreve). The Birder's Market Place opens at 8:00 a.m.
The Shreve Spring Migration Sensation is sponsored by the ODNR Division of Wildlife; Friends of the Killbuck Marsh, Inc.; The Wilderness Center; Greater Mohican Audubon Society; Triway Local Schools; Shreve Library and Shreve Business & Community Association.
PHOTO CONTEST: Complete Rules and Entry Forms available on-line at: http://www.shreveohio.com/photo_contest.pdf
PANCAKE BREAKFAST (7:00 - 10:00 a.m.), sponsored by Shreve School Relay for Life, and LUNCH, catered by Des Dutch Essenhaus, are available in the school cafeteria, located on the lower level. Follow the signs.
8:30 to 9:15 a.m. The Birds of Shreve, by Chuck Jakubchak, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist
Chuck will preview the birds that you are likely to see when visiting the birding hotspots in Shreve during the Spring Migration Sensation. He will discuss ?uncommon facts about the common birds,? and his presentation includes many beautiful photographs. Take this opportunity to learn more about the birds of Shreve and enjoy the subtle humor that is woven throughout the presentation. This will give you a heads-up on what you might see out in the marsh.
9:30 to 10:15 a.m. This time is reserved for those in attendance to visit one or more of the sites out in the marsh. See the map inside this brochure to find where we have experts with binoculars and scopes set up at four observation areas. Also a dip-net station is set up on Cemetery Road, and a guide is at Brown's Bog. This will also allow time to visit the Birder's Market Place, located in the school gymnasium.
10:30 to 11:15 a.m. 25 Years of Change Observed in the Killbuck Valley, by Kevin Higgins, Ohio Division of Wildlife
As Kevin approaches retirement, he will reflect on the changes he has observed in his last 25 years as area manager at Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area. Land uses, human attitudes and habitat shifts have all contributed to some major changes in wildlife populations and species compositions on both the public-owned wildlife areas and the surrounding private lands and waters. Believe it or not, most wildlife populations and individual species distributions have increased. Some of these increases are due to reintroductions by the Ohio Division of Wildlife (river otter, trumpeter swan and wild turkey), but most are due to the natural ability of many species to adapt and even prosper in our constantly-changing corner of the world.
12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Africa to Killbuck Valley Marsh, by Miles Reed
Miles Reed is an award winning natural history filmmaker and the producer of the television series, The Natural World Around Us. His love of nature started as a child being raised on farms and sawmills in Ohio. He spent hours alone in the woods at a very young age. There he learned the patience required to see the unfolding of nature. Now, he still draws upon this skill to film anything from nesting warblers in Ohio to leopards in Africa or even anacondas in the Amazon. He has spent time with headhunters in the Amazon and primitive tribal peoples of Africa. This does not undermine his passion and love for our local flora and fauna. Miles speaks at venues for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, colleges and many environmental groups. Miles will be sharing footage and stories from his adventures. You can see some of his work on the internet at www.milesreed.net.
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Peregrine Falcon, by Chad and Chris Saladin
Chad Saladin and his wife Chris have been observing peregrine falcons in the wild for over 10 years. During that time, Chad and Chris have been volunteer peregrine nest monitors for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, keeping track of up to eight nest sites in northeastern Ohio. Their monitoring experiences have enabled them to witness the fierce personality, dynamic behavior and life cycle of peregrine falcons, which will be described and presented in this program using their photos and videos. A live peregrine falcon from the Medina Raptor Center will also be on hand, exhibiting the specialized features of this incredible bird of prey.
2:45 to 3:30 p.m. Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage, by Jim McCormac, Division of Wildlife
Based on a new book authored by Jim McCormac, with imagery by Gary Meszaros, this program is a photographic journey through the best remaining wild places in the Buckeye State. From southern haunts bordering the Ohio River to lakeshore habitats buffering Lake Erie, Ohio is filled with wild landscapes. We'll look at some of the creatures and plants that make these sites so special and the global role Ohio plays in conservation. After 30 years of observing birds, Jim's Ohio list stands at 356. His book Birds of Ohio is a 360-page illustrated guide published by Lone Pine Publishing Co. in May 2004. Another book, Great Lakes Nature Guide, will be released in spring 2009.
3:45 to 4:30 p.m. Understanding What You See for Better Bird ID, by Kenn Kaufman
Identifying birds isn't just a matter of memorizing all the field marks or knowing what the bird is supposed to look like. Whether you are birding by impression or feather detail, Kenn will help you with a more complete understanding of what you?re seeing and enhance your accuracy at bird identification. You'll want to visit Kenn's website at www.kknature.com/KFGseries.html.
We'll make one last pictorial visit to the clear, rushing waters of Big Darby Creek, and take a look at a few more darters. I've got one more ichthyological mission scheduled in early April, and if all goes well, I'll return with even better fish photos.
Speaking of photos and fish, a number of people have asked about techniques for getting shots. This has been my first stab at shooting fish, so I can claim no expertise, but am glad to share what I've learned. Ideally, a photo of a fish should look as if the photographer were in the stream and under the water with the fish. I wasn't.
No real trick to getting the shots, but it is a bit of work. We lugged a small aquarium down to streamside, and fixed it up with rocks and gravel from the very riffles where the fish were caught. I found it is vital to really clean those rocks, or you'll have lots of suspended solids floating around. Then, just fill it up with clear water from the upper column of the stream. Next time, I will more thoroughly clean the rocks, though, and also put more of them in the aquarium, to put the fish higher up from the bottom of the tank, so that the edges of the aquarium don't intrude on shots. Might even try lugging out a few gallons of distilled water, letting them sit in the stream until temperatures are equalized, then using that in the tank for maximum clarity.
The well-being of the fish is most important. We caught them in a seine, and kept them in small holding tanks in the waters of the creek, so that the water would remain cool. When I was ready for a new subject, I'd just remove it from the temporary tank and drop it in the aquarium. After shooting it, the darter would be liberated back to the creek. We didn't lose any in the process of photographing them. And darters are easy to work with. As they lack swim bladders, they sink right to the bottom of the tank. With a bit of prodding, they can be enticed to settle about where you want them, eventually. Next trip, we're hoping to catch things like Rosyface Shiner in full breeding condition, and they'll be tougher to photo as they're more active.
So, no great magic to this, but it is more work than going out to shoot wildflowers.
Monday, March 23, 2009
I offer some more photos from Sunday's aquatic excursion - images of those beautiful little fish known as darters. It would be a better place if everyone could see these colorful little jewels in person - any life would be enriched.
Banded Darter, Etheostoma zonale. These elfin beasts lurk in the cobble of riffles, seeking out, attacking, and eating small stream life. I suppose it would be an honor to be consumed by such a beautiful creature. Better than being eaten by a catfish!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
When I first began my career, I had the good fortune to make many trips afield with Ted Cavender and Dan Rice, two of the top fish guys in Ohio. Once they saw I was truly interested in stream ecology and fish, they let me serve as labor on fields trip far and wide. In the process, I got to see nearly all of Ohio's fish, and learn them pretty well.
But that's been a while, and circumstances haven't let me look for fish in a serious way for a long time. For a few years, though, I've been threatening to make concrete plans with Mac Albin, another true fish guru, to work some riffles in Big Darby Creek. Finally, today was the day, and we couldn't have picked a better one. Warm air temperatures and low water levels made conditions for catching fish just perfect. And we're not talking Smallmouth Bass or Bluegill - oh, no, much more interesting piscine targets than those were our goal.
Our main quarry were darters. These are tiny members of the perch family, and they mostly lack air bladders and thus can't float. So one doesn't often notice darters, and you've pretty much got to make a special effort to find them. And darters truly are the warblers of the depths. At this time of year, males brighten up and their colors rival just about anything one might find in aquaria. Reds, oranges, blues, greens, you name it - darters are a rainbow palette of showiness.
Big Darby Creek, in Battelle-Darby Metropark. This 8,000-acre park protects large swaths of the Big and Little Darby Creeks, one of North America's standout river systems, and one of Ohio's most significant natural resources. More species of fish occur in these waters than any other Ohio stream, including many very rare ones.
Friday, March 20, 2009
I saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk the other day, tracing lazy, languid circles high in the sky. A migrant, the "sharpie" was off to parts north, and this is about as placid as you'll ever see one of these birds behaving.
This got me thinking about "Sky Watch Friday". A lovely bit of goodness, this site allows photographers to post beautiful images of fluffy clouds, tantalizing sunsets, and other awe-inspiring views of the ether.
But there are winged savages up there in the sky, like the above Sharp-shinned Hawk. If these feathered balls of testosterone were the size of Trumpeter Swans, we'd all be dead. They'd run us down, pluck off our extremities, and feast on our innards. The sharpie is a fitting subject for Psychotic Homicidal Beast Friday, a blogger's tribute to the week's end that is very unlikely to catch on.
Sharp-shinneds like to attack things. They seem to be utterly devoid of fear. In migration, they'll routinely strafe larger, more sluggish and mellower co-migrants like Red-tailed Hawks, just for kicks, apparently. Yes, if these boys were human, they'd be stored in rubber rooms and fed through slots.
All of the Accipiter tribe are hostile. These are the bird hawks, equipped with long rudderlike tails to facilitate quick jigs and jags, and short rounded wings, the better to accelerate in fast bursts and get through dense thickets. No songbird is safe with lurking accipters nearby.
The above silhouette is a cardinal's Grim Reaper come to life; the spector of death for small birds. A Cooper's Hawk, the bigger relative of the sharpies and every bit as aggressive. They are like Mike Tyson, Wayne Gretzky, and Ghengis Khan rolled into one: savage aggression, suberb agility, and cunning warrior skills. I have seen coops go so far as to run on foot into shrubby thickets where songbirds cowered and the vegetation was too dense to fly into. That'd be like your worst dream come true, if you were the House Sparrow in the shrub.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
A great paper recently was published in the esteemed Wilson Journal of Ornithology by three Ohio researchers: Cheryl Dykstra, Jeff Hays, and Melinda Simon. They've been studying red-shouldereds for years in southern Ohio, and have unearthed some fascinating behavioral traits associated with nest construction. The title of the paper is: Selection of Fresh Vegetation for Nest Lining by Red-shouldered Hawks.
Dykstra, Hays, and Simon document the preferences of the various tree foliage that these hawks, arguably our most beautiful raptors, use to rejuvenate their nests at the onset of the breeding season.
Stunning Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus, captured for banding. Photo courtesy of Bill Bosstic.
THE WILSON JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY • Vol. 121, No. 1, January 2009
Selection of Fresh Vegetation for Nest Lining by Red-shouldered Hawks
Cheryl R. Dykstra, Jeffrey L. Hays, and Melinda M. Simon
ABSTRACT.—Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) typically line their nests with fresh branches of coniferous and deciduous trees. We recorded all species of green material present in 63 nests from 2003 to 2005 in suburban Cincinnati in southwestern Ohio, and in 35 nests in Hocking Hills in southeastern Ohio, United States. We identified all trees within 0.08-ha plots at 33 nest sites in southwestern Ohio and 30 in Hocking Hills. Red-shouldered Hawks in southwestern Ohio and Hocking Hills used black cherry (Prunus serotina) branches as a nest lining more frequently than expected, based on Bailey’s 95% confidence intervals. Black cherry was found in _80% of nests but present in only 57–58% of the vegetation plots, and composed only 4–5% of the trees in the forests of the study areas. White pine (Pinus strobus), red pine (P. resinosa), and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) also were used more than expected in both study areas.
Black cherry is a cyanogenic species and may provide an advantage to nesting Red-shouldered Hawks by functioning as a natural pesticide.
Received 26 February 2008. Accepted 1 July 2008.
Many raptors line their nests with fresh green vegetation consisting primarily of
branches or sprigs of trees (hereafter ‘‘greenery’’) (Preston and Beane 1993, England et al. 1997, Buehler 2000, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The purpose of the lining has
not been definitively shown. However, it has been suggested that vegetation brought to the nest might serve a signaling function, indicating the occupancy status of the nest to con-specifics and others (Newton 1979), or a nest sanitation function, covering prey remains and waste (Newton 1979).
Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) line their nests with branches of fresh vegetation
(Dykstra et al. 2008). They begin bringing greenery during the nest-building phase (early Feb in southern Ohio; Dykstra et al. 2008) and continue to add fresh vegetation throughout the incubation and nestling phases. Red-shouldered Hawks in southern Ohio,
United States, bring only coniferous greenery from February through mid-April, but after
leaves appear on deciduous trees, they carry both deciduous and coniferous branches to the nests (C. R. Dykstra and J. L. Hays, unpubl. data). The objective of our study was to examine if Red-shouldered Hawks selectively used particular species of green vegetation to line their nests.
Study Areas.—We studied Red-shouldered Hawks nesting in two regions of southern
Ohio. The southwest Ohio study area (SWOH) in Hamilton, Clermont, and Warren
counties in the suburbs of Cincinnati, is composed of residences surrounded by lawns and
non-native plantings, interspersed with small areas of natural forest dominated by second-growth mixed mesophytic, oak-hickory (Quercus spp., Carya spp.) and beech-maple
(Fagus grandifolia, Acer saccharum) associations. The Hocking Hills study area (HH) in
southeastern Ohio is composed of portions of Wayne National Forest, Hocking State Forest, Zaleski State Forest, and associated private lands in Athens, Hocking, Vinton, and Perry counties. The predominant forest type is oak-hickory with plantations of white pine (Pinus strobus) and red pine (P. resinosa).
Green Vegetation Used in Nests.—Red-shouldered Hawk nest locations and breeding
areas were previously known to us (Dykstra et al. 2000, 2004). We climbed to all accessible nests containing nestlings between 4 May and 13 June, 2003–2005 to document greenery and to band nestlings. We identified all branches or sprigs of fresh green vegetation in the nests to species or species-group, and recorded the presence/absence of each species. We identified only fresh greenery; it is likely this vegetation was collected by hawks after deciduous leaves had emerged in mid-April.
Tree Species Available in the Study Areas.
We recorded tree species and diameter at breast height (dbh) of trees _8 cm dbh to provide a sample for trees available near Red-shouldered Hawk nest sites in the SWOH and HH study areas in 1997–1998 (Dykstra et al. 2000). We centered a 0.04-ha circular plot (James and Shugart 1970) on each nest tree (n _ 33 in SWOH, n _ 30 in HH) and located a paired random plot at a distance of 75–200 m in a random direction from the nest. All trees within the plots were identified and measured (Dykstra et al. 2000). We combined data from each nest plot with that from its paired random plot to create a combination vegetation plot of 0.08 ha. Nests for which we identified trees in circular plots in 1997–1998 were not the same as those where we identified green vegetation in nests in 2003–2005; however, plots and nests were well distributed throughout the same study areas. This study design necessitated a pooled statistical analysis.
Statistical Analyses.—We recorded nest lining vegetation at some breeding areas in 2 or
3 years during 2003–2005. We randomly selected 1 year of data for inclusion in the data
set for these breeding areas to avoid pseudoreplication associated with individual pairs of
birds or territories, leaving 63 independent nests in SWOH and 35 in HH. We limited our
analyses to the 10 species of greenery most commonly found in nests. We used Bailey’s
95% CI (following Boal et al. 2005) constructed following a _2 goodness-of-fit test
(with Systat 8.0). The CIs for the proportion of nests using a particular species for nest lining were compared to the proportion of vegetation plots containing at least one tree of
that species (availability). If the proportion of plots containing the species was below or
above the 95% CI, we considered the nesting Red-shouldered Hawks had used that species as a lining more or less than expected, respectively.
We also recorded the number of trees of each species in the combination plots
and reported the sum as a percentage of total trees in all plots combined.
Red-shouldered Hawks in both study areas used black cherry (Prunus serotina) branches
as a nest lining more frequently than expected (Table 1). Black cherry was found in _80%
of nests but present in only 57–58% of the 0.08-ha vegetation plots (Table 1), and composed only 4–5% of the trees in the forests of the study areas (i.e., in the vegetation plots). The 95% CI assessment indicated white pine, red pine, and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) were used as nest-lining material more than expected based on availability in both SWOH and HH (Table 1). Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) was used more than expected in SWOH. The remaining species were used in proportion to their availability or less often than expected (Table 1). The average number of species of greenery was 4.3 _ 0.2 (SE) per nest in SWOH and 3.5 _ 0.2 per nest in HH. However, the amount of greenery in nests varied widely, from a few small sprigs in the center of the nest cup to many large branches that covered the entire nest (C. R. Dykstra and J. L. Hays, unpubl. data). The average number of trees per 0.08-ha plot was 32.7 _ 2.5 in SWOH and 33.4 _ 2.5 in HH. Totals of 1,079 and 1,001 trees were identified in circular plots in SWOH and HH, respectively.
Use of Coniferous Species as Nest Lining.— Red-shouldered Hawks in both study areas apparently used red pine, white pine, and eastern hemlock more than expected based on availability. Both pines are non-native in the study areas and are nonrandomly distributed (i.e., planted primarily in plantations or in residential areas); it is possible that our vegetation plots may not have adequately sampled the distribution of pines in the habitat. Hemlock is native in the Hocking Hills region, growing primarily in north-facing ravines and along streams. It is not native to southwestern Ohio although it is planted in some residential areas. Red cedar, used more than expected in SWOH but not in HH, is native to both study areas. It is much more common in SWOH than in HH, probably because the species’ nature as a scrubby, early-colonizer makes it more suited to the developed habitats of SWOH than to the heavily forested HH. Red-shouldered Hawks also carry significant amounts of these conifers to their nests before deciduous leaf-out (C. R. Dykstra and J. L. Hays, unpubl. data).
Use of Deciduous Species as Nest Lining.
Red-shouldered Hawks in both study areas used black cherry more than expected based
on availability: more than 80% of nests we studied contained this species as a nest lining.
Black cherry, a medium-sized tree native to both study areas, is present in small numbers
in most forest types throughout the region. Black cherry is a cyanogenic species, releasing volatile hydrogen cyanide (HCN) from its leaves when they wilt or become damaged by herbivory (Conn 1979). The cyanogenesis reaction, in addition to HCN, also releases other volatile compounds such as acetone, 2-butanone and benzaldehyde, the last of which has been shown to repel ants (Formicidae) (Peterson et al. 1987). We suggest the black cherry used by Red-shouldered Hawks may provide an advantage to the nesting birds by functioning as a bactericide, insecticide, or insect repellent. Clark (1991) suggests that greenery some passerines add to their nests may release volatile compounds having insecticidal properties. The addition of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) to Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) nest boxes reduced flea abundance (Shutler and Campbell 2007), and removal of greenery from nests of European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) resulted in an increase in mite populations (Clark 1991). It would be interesting to examine the relationship between microbe and insect abundance, and presence of black cherry in hawk nests, to learn if black cherry has a positive effect on reproductive success. It would also be interesting to learn if Red-shouldered Hawks in other regions selectively line their nests with black cherry or any other species.
We are grateful to Ann Wegman and Sandra Stone for assistance with field work. We thank the many landowners in southwestern Ohio and Hocking Hills who allowed access to private property. D. E. Andersen kindly reviewed an earlier version of this manuscript.
This research was supported in part by RAPTOR, Inc., Martin and Julie Wiltz, Brad and Marsha Lindner, and the Ohio Biological Survey.
BOAL, C. W., D. E. ANDERSEN, AND P. L. KENNEDY.
2005. Foraging and nest habitat of breeding male Northern Goshawks in the Laurentian mixed forest province, Minnesota. Journal of Wildlife Management 69:1516–1527.
BUEHLER, D. A. 2000. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). The birds of North America. Number 506.
CLARK, L. 1991. The nest protection hypothesis: the adaptive use of plant secondary compounds by European Starlings. Pages 205–221 in Bird-parasite interactions: ecology, evolution and behaviour (J. E. Loye and M. Zuk, Editors). Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.
CONN, E. E. 1979 Biosynthesis of cyanogenic glycosides. Naturwissenschaften 66:28–34.
DYKSTRA, C. R., J. L. HAYS, AND S. C. CROCOLL. 2008. Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). The birds of North America. Number 107.
DYKSTRA, C. R., J. L. HAYS, F. B. DANIEL, AND M. M. SIMON. 2000. Nest site selection and productivity of suburban Red-shouldered Hawks in southern
Ohio. Condor 102:401–408.
DYKSTRA, C. R., J. L. HAYS, M. M. SIMON, J. B. HOLT JR., G. R. AUSTING, AND F. B. DANIEL. 2004. Dispersal and mortality of Red-shouldered Hawks banded in Ohio. Journal of Raptor Research 38: 304–311.
ENGLAND, A. S., M. J. BECHARD, AND C. S. HOUSTON. 1997. Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni). The birds of North America. Number 265.
FERGUSON-LEES, J. AND D. A. CHRISTIE. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, USA.
JAMES, F. C. AND H. H. SHUGART JR. 1970. A quantitative method of habitat description. Audubon Field Notes 24:727–736.
NEWTON, I. 1979. Population ecology of raptors. T. and A. D. Poyser Ltd., London, United Kingdom.
PETERSON, S. C., N. D. JOHNSON, AND J. L. LEGUYADER. 1987. Defensive regurgitation of allelochemicals derived from host cyanogenesis by eastern tent
caterpillars. Ecology 68:1268–1272.
PRESTON, C. R. AND R. D. BEANE. 1993. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). The birds of North America. Number 52.
SHUTLER, D. AND A. A. CAMPBELL. 2007. Experimental addition of greenery reduces flea loads in nests of a non-greenery using species, the Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor. Journal of Avian Biology 38: 7–12.
Monday, March 16, 2009
It's not only the birds that are possessed of silky voices and interesting vocalizations, you know.
Anyone who is spending much time outside these warming days will have noticed other sounds - sounds from the amphibian world. If you are interested in learning about bird calls, you'll want to know about the above critter. It's a Spring Peeper, Pseudacris crucifer. These are tiny tree frogs, distinguished by that (more or less) X marks the spot on the back.
Enjoy the amphibious symphony will you can. It doesn't last long.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
After spending yesterday sequestered inside, finishing off various things WHICH MUST BE DONE, today was ripe for an escape. And that I did, on a big blue sky day, warm and balmy. At least by early spring Ohio standards. Signs of winter's end were everywhere and very much in my face. Tallied singing Western Chorus Frogs, Northern Leopard Frogs, Spring Peepers, and noted Green Frogs leaping desperately from the bank as the giant humanoid approached. Even some Painted Turtles basked on sun-soaked logs. A real treat was hearing the sweet lilting whistled songs of American Tree Sparrows, tuning up before they strike out for the land of Midnight Sun and Polar Bears. I also saw a few Tree Swallows, bold scouts back before the mobs of their brethren arrive.
Destination: Big Island Wildlife Area. This place sometimes gets overshadowed by the better known Killdeer Plains, seven miles to the north, but Big Island is even better. I had scads of birds here today, especially waterfowl, which were my main targets. At least seventeen species, and several thousand birds in all. Nothing unexpected, but this'll be a good place to watch for rarities such as Eurasian Wigeon in the coming week or so. There were plenty of American Wigeon, and it's in with those that the Eurasian will likely be. There were also a few hundred Green-winged Teal, and I knocked myself out looking for a Common Teal, to no avail. Gotta try, though, and definitely spend time looking through teal flocks for one with a horizontal rather than vertical white bar.