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Some heavy raptoring approaches!

Your narrator's car perches along a long and lonely stretch of highway near the Wilds, in Muskingum County. This is Big Sky country for Ohio: thousands of acres of "reclaimed" strip mine grasslands. Shortly after I made this image, several Short-eared Owls lifted from the snowy fields and put on a show.

This Saturday is the Ohio Ornithological Society's 9th annual Winter Raptor Extravaganza at the Wilds, an event that has become a high point of the winter season. Nearly every year since the event's inception, it has attracted about 150 birders from all quarters of the state. We might get even more, but 150 people is the most that we can accommodate. I've only missed one - last year - and am looking forward to being a part of the scene again.

This photo was taken a few years ago, during the one Wilds raptor fest that did NOT attract a full house. There WAS a full complement of birders registered, but not everyone showed. That may have had something to do with the MINUS 12 Fahrenheit temperatures that morning! It won't be that way this Saturday - temperatures should be a far balmier 30 degrees when we meet, warming into the 40's as the day progresses.

With luck, everyone will see Golden Eagle, and perhaps Northern Shrike. We had a really cool experience with a shrike a few years ago, HERE. Northern Harriers, Rough-legged Hawks, and Short-eared Owls (for those who stay until dusk) will be a given, and who knows what else 150 sets of eyes will turn up.

Look forward to seeing everyone who makes the scene this Saturday, and you can expect a pictorial report here afterwards.


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