Monday, October 08, 2007

Take two lifers and call me in the morning

The days I get lifers are the days I am glad I am a birder.

The Miami-Whitewater Wetlands are listed as one of the top 10 birding hotspots in Ohio and I decided it was time I went there.
Three minutes into my walk, I got my first lifer of the day:
The harrier is out there but you can't see it

Can't see the bird? Well, it's in there but you will have to trust me on this one. It was a Northern Harrier!
Here's why reading up on different kinds of birds can help you see things that help you ID them: When I saw it, I at first dismissed it as a vulture flying low. Then it changed directions, coursing low over the fields, not acting like a vulture at all. It was making bells go off in my head.
Then I saw a white rump.
A white RUMP? Holy sh*t, it's a harrier!

sign with harrier on it

I did get a picture of the sign saying that you can see harriers in this area. The reason I didn't get a real picture is that when my camera was fixed, all the factory settings were reset, so my digital zoom was off. I have to admit I vocalized some filthy things into the hot air today.

Lifer number 2:

Lark sparrow

Update....I was wrong. I can admit that, since it only happens once a decade or so. It seems that this is either a savanah or song sparrow.

infuriating bird hiding behind berries

This bird just pissed me off. Stop eating those berries for 10 seconds and look at me so I can tell what you are!!!!

I can do the splits

Hmmm...two dark spots on what looks like a song sparrow. Anyone want to jump in?

A pair of common yellow-throats were frolicking in the sapling in front of me. It was neat to see them in their fall plumage, because the only time I ever see them is in May, on my yearly trip to Magee Marsh.
female yellowthroat in mid air

The female in mid-air. Birds are so cute.

We have an overnight guest...RAPTOR's great horned owl. He/she is going to the vet tomorrow morning and I offered to take him/her. And we will finally find out if this bird is a male or female. The general consensus is that it is a male, but a DNA test will be done, along with a thorough check-up, and examination of the right foot. This was one of the bird's original injuries that kept it at RAPTOR and the foot seems to be getting weaker. This bird has been at RAPTOR for 10 years and is NOT a spring chicken anymore. I hope it's nothing serious.
All this will be done under anesthesia and I am thankful that Cindy, our Bird Care director will be picking the bird up and taking it back into its mew.
For tonight, though, Miss/Mister Fussy Pants will be sleeping in the laundry room.

I disapprove of your lighting

"I don't approve of your lighting."

I disapprove of your panty hose

"I don't approve of your pantyhose hanging there."


"Give. Me. My. Dinner."
Yum. Ratatouille.


mon@rch said...

very cool lifers and the lark sparrow would be a lifer for myself!

John said...

Congrats on the lark sparrow. That's a hard one to find.

I think the berry bird might be a yellow-rumped warbler, but a couple key details are obscured.

KatDoc said...


Lark Sparrow is very rare for our part of Ohio, although not impossible. The only established nesting area in Ohio is considered to be the Oak Opening colony at the Girdham Rd. sand barrens. We did have at least two nesting pairs here this year, at Blue Rock and New Haven Rds., New Baltimore, which is quite near the MWW.

The timing, however, is against it being a Lark Sparrow, as they have usually migrated by August (check the timeline in your "Birds of Ohio.") Running a report in the database of the CBC, I find only 3 Lark Sparrows at MWW in the last 25 years: 2 in April and 1 in July, and all in the last 3 years.

Might I suggest two more likely birds: Savannah Sparrow with its heavier streaking and central breast dot, fairly common in our area, or Lincoln's Sparrow, with its finer streaking and a high breast dot, which is at the peak of its migration right now. [I have seen 2 Lincoln's in the last week.] Vesper Sparrow also migrates through here in Oct, but I think your description doesn't match Vesper.

There are over 50 reported sightings of Savannah Sparrows in Sept and Oct of the last 10 years at MWW (many with multiple birds) and over 40 sightings of Lincoln's Sparrows during the same time period, also with multiples. So, you can see the odds are not in your favor for it being a Lark, hence the "Rare Bird Report" on e-Birds.

Not saying you are wrong, mind you, just suggesting some alternatives, since Lark is so unlikely for this time of year and in this location.

Did you see the bird fly? The large white patches on the sides and tip of the tail would be diagnostic, only leaving Vesper Sparrow as a possibility.

~Kathi, out to spoil your fun again

PS: Congrats on the Harrier - MWW is THE place to see them around here.


Mary said...

Whew! These finds make up for the "no birds in sight" days, don't they? Congrats!

Love the owl captions. I swear you know what they are thinking...