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Robert is a great birder, as are many others in his community. Because of the extraordinary concentration of ace birders in Holmes County, an extraordinary number of mega-rarities have been found in this area. Now we can add Rock Wren, Salpinctes obsoletus, to the rarity ranks.
Finally, a wonderful woman rushed over to us and shouted that they "have the bird!" Yes! The only problem was that the wren was down by that green-roofed building, and I was a quarter-mile or so away. I began a brisk walk in that direction, and before long saw a small throng, all of whom had their binoculars fixed at a certain point. As I moved along, I stopped occasionally to try and pick up the wren, too, by scanning where they seemed to be looking. No luck, and well before I arrived I saw all of the birders drop their binoculars and watched as they pointed to the bird as it apparently fled up that grassy slope.
No luck - I wasn't close enough to spot it.
Rock Wrens breed throughout the western half of the United States, barely extending into Canada. They are extremely rare vagrants to the eastern half of North America; there might be two dozen or so records, ever. Prior to this bird, there was only one record in Ohio: December 7-14, 1963. That bird hung around rocky riprap at Cleveland's Edgewater Park. Needless to say, very few people who are still around have this species on their state list.
"Salpinctes obsoletus is a very plain name for a bundle of fire known as the rock wren. It is heard, up on the bluffs, up in the rocks, but it is seen only by those who climb the bluffs regularly, and then it is seen only irregularly. . . . After reading even the most elementary writings of the rock wren I am shocked at society’s ignorance of this bird."
Major thanks are in order to Michael Hershberger for making a truly spectacular and utterly unexpected find. Big thanks too to the operators of Hochstetler Wood and everyone who works there. They've tolerated the birder invasion with remarkable tolerance and aplomb. Not all businesses would be so accepting of having our kind lurking around the buildings.
Oh, being as I am far too young to have tallied that 1963 Cleveland Rock Wren, this was indeed a state bird for me. #371 to be exact.