Your blogger (left) leans against a post in downtown Shreve. That's (from L to R) my mother, father, and brother Mike. They all made it up for the annual Shreve Migration Sensation, which dominated this small town today, and temporarily grew the local populace by 1,000 or so people. We had just stumbled from the adjacent Des Dutch Essenhaus restaurant, and my brother and I carry plunder: cookies, and some sort of insanely robust frosted rolls.
Ducks abounded. Several thousand Lesser Scaup, and a great many Ring-necked Ducks, Redheads, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, and at least a smattering of nearly everything else ducky. Highlight: A ravishing adult male Black Scoter, his bulbous orange bill glistening. I like ducks of all stripes, and could watch them pretty much all day.
The swallows were more interested in remaining fully fluffed than they were with me, and I was able to make a close approach, act the paparazzi, and leave without disturbing them. A common reaction to plumply fluffed birds such as these Tree Swallows is to ooh and aah and comment on their cuteness. This fluffiness is pure survival mode, though. By expanding their feathers, the swallows maximize heat retention by trapping and warming air near their body.
Our first Tree Swallows typically return to Ohio by early March, and they are fairly plentiful by now. At least part of this intense urge to push the envelope and fly north into potentially perilous late winter weather is due to their cavity-nesting habits. Competition for cavities is fierce, and the early bird gets the worm, so to speak. The downside is the very real possibility of perishing in a brutal bout of lion-like late March Ohio weather.