While traipsing through the winter-browned Sandusky Plains prairies today, I crossed the path of some American Tree Sparrows, Spizella arborea. Lucky me, and I had my camera in tow. These jaunty little sparrows rank high among my favorite birds, and I settled in to watch the little flocks as they worked over the seeds of goldenrod, switch grass and other ripenings.
I'm usually first alerted to foraging tree sparrows by their thin wispy tseet notes - contact calls by which they talk to each other. Sooner or later, the flock will take wing, blowing low over the ochre prairie like delicate little leaves on the wind. Their sweetly musical flight notes sound like tiny icicles shattering. The tree sparrow and its subtle melodies mesh perfectly with the barren prairies of winter.
Should you have an interest, I wrote in more detail about American Tree Sparrows HERE.
I am a lifelong Ohioan who has made a study of natural history since the age of eight or so - longer than I can remember! A fascination with birds has grown into an amazement with all of nature, and an insatiable curiosity to learn more. One of my major ambitions is to get more people interested in nature. The more of us who care, the more likely that our natural world will survive.
Unless specifically noted, all photos used on this blog are by Jim McCormac, and are my property. If you are interested in the use of any of these photos, please contact me at jimmccormac35 AT gmail DOT com. I am generally fine with loaning photos for educational or non-commercial uses, but please ask! It is a bit disconcerting - and annoying - to see one's photos appear without credit elsewhere on the Internet.
Most of the recent photos on this blog were made with a Canon 5D Mark III. At present, I use three lenses with the Canon: a 100 mm macro L-series; a 17-40mm wide-angle L-series; and a Sigma 150-500. Many older photos used on this blog were shot with a Panasonic FZ50, which is a high-end point and shoot and an awesome camera. That model has been discontinued. I still love my Panasonic and will use it until it gives up the ghost. Other photos were taken with a Nikon D7000,or a Canon T3i. I also have a Nikon Coolpix P510 point & shoot, which is a remarkably versatile camera with awesome zoom power (42x) that holds up very well. Finally, I've got a GoPro Hero, which is fully waterproof and can be used for underwater work. Sometimes I even use the camera or video feature on my Droid X smartphone - it's amazing how good phone cameras have become.
Speaking and Guiding Gigs 2014
January 15, 2014 - The Owls of Ohio webinar (free), sponsored by the Ohio Bird Conservation Iniative. Visit http://obcinet.org/ to register.
January 18, 2014 - Summit County Master Gardeners' Design and Beyond Conference. Butterflies and their darker side, moths. Akron, Ohio.
January 31, 2014 - Ohio Fish & Wildlife Management Association Conference. Bringing back the Sandusky Plains: Success with a Hardin County Wetland Restoration. Columbus, Ohio.
February 15, 2014 - Beech Creek Gardens, Garden Symposium. Backyards & Beyond: Plant Locally, Save Globally. Alliance, Ohio.
February 20, 2014 - Worthington Garden Club. Growing Caterpillars: A Tale of Birds, Plants, and People. Worthington, Ohio.
February 25, 2014 - Akron Audubon Society. Wood-warblers: The rest of the story. Akron, Ohio.
March 8, 2014 - Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage. Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, Bowling Green, Ohio (rescheduled from January 25).
March 13, 2014 - Lens & Leaves Camera Club. Macrophotography (and probably other stuff). Blacklick Woods Metro Park, Gahanna, Ohio.
March 18, 2014 - Franklin County Master Gardeners.Growing Caterpillars: A Tale of Birds, Plants, and People. Columbus, Ohio.
March 29, 2014 - Shreve Migration Sensation. Birding Ohio's North Coast. Shreve, Ohio.
April 1, 2014 - Ohio's Birding Hotspots. Lithopolis Garden Club, Zion Lutheran Church, Groveport, Ohio.
April 5, 2014 - Black River Audubon's Distinguished Speaker Series. Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage. Carlisle Visitor's Center, Lorain County Metroparks.
April 22, 2014 - Columbus Audubon. Earth Day 2014: A Celebration of Ohio’s Greatest Natural Resources. Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Columbus, Ohio
April 26 & 27, 2014 - Ohio Ornithological Society annual conference. Speaking Saturday night, and leading field trips. Shawnee State Park, Portsmouth, Ohio.
April 28 - May 3, 2014 - New River Birding & Nature Festival. Giving programs and leading field trips to some of the coolest places east of the Mississippi. Fayetteville, West Virginia.
May 8, 2014 - Raven Rocks Bioblitz. This place is gem, and full of biodiversity. Belmont County, Ohio.
May 14 - 23, 2014 - NettieBay Lodge, Presque Isle County, Michigan. Leading natural history trips in one of the coolest areas along the shores of the Great Lakes. Hawks, Michigan.
June 8, 2014 - Cleveland Metroparks.Growing Caterpillars: A Tale of Birds, Plants, and People. Cleveland, Ohio.
June 14, 2014 - Cedar Bog Association. Insects of Ohio's most famous fen, with field trips. Urbana, Ohio.
June 27 - 29 - Mothapalooza. The world's largest moth festival (insofar as we know). Don't miss this one!. Burr Oak Conference Center, Glouster, Ohio.
July 8, 2014 - Native plants make the world go 'round: Why we must protect native ecosystems. Environmental Professionals Network breakfast program followed by walk. Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Columbus, Ohio.
July 12, 2014 - Butterfly Symposium, sponsored by the Midwest Native Plant Society. Emcee and field trip co-leader. Caesar Creek Visitor's Center, Waynesville, Ohio.
July 26, 2014 - Geauga County Park District. Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage. West Woods Nature Center, Geauga County, Ohio.
August 1 - 3, 2014 - Midwest Native Plant Conference. Milkweeds, Monarchs, and more: The Asclepias ensemble (program), and leading field trips. Bergamo Center, Dayton, Ohio.
August 30, 2014 - Cincinnati Zoo's Passenger Pigeon Symposium (commemorating the centennial of extinction). Passenger Pigeons and Cerulean Warblers: A connection?. Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, Ohio.
September 13, 2014 - Ohio Sustainable Landscapes Symposium. Butterflies, and moths, their darker side. Dawes Arboretum, Newark, Ohio.
September 13, 2014 - Ohio Young Birders Club nocturnal foray into the wilderness of Cedar Bog. Singing insects, owls, who knows what. Cedar Bog, Urbana, Ohio.
September 18, 2014 - Southeast Ohio Tree Care Conference. Growing Caterpillars: A Tale of Birds, Conservation, and People. Athens, Ohio.
September 23, 2014 - Birding Ohio's North Coast: The Lake Erie Birding Trail. Audubon Society of Mahoning Valley, Mill Creek Metropark in Canfield, Ohio, 7 pm.
October 8, 2014 - The wild world of moths. Worthington Hills Garden Club, Worthington, Ohio.
October 18, 2014 - Birding Ohio's North Coast: The Lake Erie Birding Trail. Summit County Metroparks, at Seiberling Naturerealm, Akron, Ohio. 7 pm.
November 18, 2014 - Birding Ohio's North Coast, and the new Lake Erie Birding Trail guidebook. Blackbrook Audubon; meeting at Holden Arboretum in Lake County.
December 3, 2014 - Canton Audubon annual Holiday Dinner meeting. Birding Ohio's North Coast. Canton, Ohio.
More to come!
Birds of Ohio
Lots of info about our avifauna
Great Lakes Nature Guide
A primer of the earth's greatest freshwater resource.
Wild Ohio: The Best of our Natural Heritage
Pictorial essays of Ohio's best remaining natural lands