Pileated Problem

It’s a struggle for the Pileated Woodpecker to hold onto the suet feeder, and also maneuver his bill to reach the suety-goodness inside! That’s what happens when you are a woodpecker, and nearly the size of a crow.

Pileated Woodpecker / The Backyard / 2021-05-31

Backyard Insect Roundup

After a rather overcast morning filled with yardwork, the sun came out in the afternoon so I grabbed my camera and looked for something to photograph. Birds were scarce, but insects were plentiful, with several species I had not seen before.

Metallic Green Ground Beetle / The Backyard / 2021-06-01
Golden-backed Snipe Fly / The Backyard / 2021-06-01
Cuckoo Bee / The Backyard / 2021-06-01

New Life Birds

An outing to Chippewa Inlet Trail produced several new “life birds” for North America, which is rewarding and also a bit of a challenge now that I’m at 176 unique species. (At least, a challenge as long as I’m only birding in Ohio.)

There was a group of shorebirds on a mud flat, and at first I didn’t realize there was anything new because the Semipalmated Plover (the new life-bird) look similar to Killdeer, especially if you are not paying attention. And also especially if they are mixed in with real Killdeer! It was the wife who first noticed that not all of the birds looked quite right for Killdeer.

Semipalmated Plover, Chippewa Inlet Trail, 2021-05-22
Killdeer, Chippewa Inlet Trail, 2021-05-22

The second new bird was the Least Sandpiper. As implied by the name, they are the smallest of sandpipers, not much larger than a sparrow. The key to correct identification is leg-color (which should be yellow-green) and I struggled for a long time to get a good picture where that detail was visible. The lighting conditions were terrible, with very overcast skies and quite a bit of glare off the water, not to mention that the birds were running around in mud, which can cover and obscure their legs.

Least Sandpiper, Chippewa Inlet Trail, 2021-05-22

Atlantic Camus

My plant-lore is not nearly as developed as my bird-lore or butterfly-lore. This wildflower was seen at Schoepfle Garden along the banks of the Vermilion River, and I had no idea what it was. So I put some observational skills to work and did a web search for “light blue spring wildflower with six petals with a yellow stamen.” (I should have added “and a green center” but I did not notice it until afterwards.) This led me in the right general direction with a near-miss, the Great Camas. However, the Great Camas is only found on the West Coast, so a further refinement of the search for “Eastern United States” turned up the likely winner, “Atlantic Camas a.k.a. Wild Hyacinth.”

It’s very pretty, and it had filled up the river valley around Schoepfle with waves of azure.

The Song in Songbird

The Bobolink is not the most beautiful bird to look at. But he makes up for it with his wonderful song. There were two Bobolinks singing to each other in Bath Nature Preserve this morning, and I made a recording which you can listen to below.

Two Bobolinks Singing / Bath Nature Preserve / 2021-05-18
Bobolink / Bath Nature Preserve / 2021-05-18

Promise Kept

On my previous visit to Kopf Family Reservation, I noticed a lot of Mallards along Gable Creek. So when I made the sales-pitch to my wife to join me on this birding trip, I told her “You should come, there will be lots of ducklings, I promise!”

Well, that’s a lot to live up too. Fortunately the Mallards came through.

Mallard Female with Ducklings / Kopf Family Reservation / 2021-05-16

Does Kopf rhyme with Hawk?

So I made a second trip to Kopf Family Reservation over the weekend. Last visit, a Red-shouldered Hawk provided a great photo op when it landed in a tree only forty feet away from me. This time, a Cooper’s Hawk dropped in. This hawk was so close that he would not fit into my lens frame at full zoom. I highly recommend Kopf (Avon Lake) for a raptor experience.

Cooper’s Hawk / Kopf Family Reservation / 2021-05-16
Cooper’s Hawk / Kopf Family Reservation / 2021-05-16

Scarlet & Grey Black

The Scarlet Tanager is not your typical backyard bird, unless you live next to a large forest. Tanagers are not attracted to bird feeders, but might show up to raid your mulberry tree. My yard is heavily forested, but even so I was extremely fortunate to have this Tanager land in a tree right next to me. I was even more fortunate to already have my camera in my hands. As for the annoying twig, what can I say? Take a deep breath, and accept it.

Scarlet Tanager / The Backyard / 2021-05-18