Monthly Archives: September 2011

Spotlight On Ohio Birds

Sharp-shinned Hawk-Accipiter striatus

Family: Accipitridae

Order: Accipitriformes

Description:  10″-14″ ( 25-36 cm) This jay sized hawk has a long, narrow tail with a square tip and short rounded wings. Adults are slate gray above and pale below with fine rust-colored barring. Immature shows brown above with whitish spots. Creamy below with streaks on breast and barring on the flanks.

Voice: Sharp kik-kik-kik-kik  Also a shrill squeal.

Habitat: Breeds in dense coniferous forests, less often in deciduous forests. During migration and Winter they can be seen in almost any habitat.

Nesting: 4 to 5 whitish eggs, marked with brown in a shallow platform of twigs concealed in a conifer.


FYI’s: It’s the smallest and most numerous of the Accipiters. It feeds mainly on birds which it catches with swift, sudden attacks. It’s rounded wings and long narrow tail enables the hawk to pursue birds through woods, making sharp turns to avoid branches.

It’s number are decreasing in the East, which could be caused by the decline of it’s prey species.

The Northward migration of Sharp-shinned Hawks begin with the favorable winds of late February, and they become more widely distributed by March 10th through the 20th.

Be careful when identifying Sharp-shinned Hawks in the field. Generally Cooper’s Hawk are the larger of the two, but remember that a female Sharp-shinned Hawk is about the same size as a male Cooper’s Hawk. It’s been said that a “Sharpie” looks like a flying mallet, and a Cooper’s Hawk looks like a flying cross.

Resource material provided by:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/

The Birds of Ohio by Bruce G. Peterjohn

Notes From The Field/ # 291

Gilmore Metropark & Caesar Creek State Park

A friend of mine recently reminded me about “best laid plans”, which was the case this Saturday. Certain chores had to get done, so I made the best of it, an accomplished everything before noon. Which left my afternoon open. It’s very much out of character for me to go birding other than in the morning. It’s my nature to get up early and head out into the field. And with my change of plans, East Fork was out of the question. It’s just a wee bit too far for never having birded there before. So I headed over to Gilmore Metropark to see what I could see. I’m really glad I made the decision to go. It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes after I arrived that I finally spotted my nemesis bird, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.  If you don’t see one either during the Spring or Autumn migration, you’ll probably won’t see one around here. I was extremely lucky, and fortunate today. I guess somethings were meant to happen.

I walked back to Cattail Marsh to see if any water was there, and hopefully some shore birds. The last time I was there there was at least some water, however this time it was practically dry, with only a few spots of water too small to even see without a scope. No shore birds except for some Great Egrets and some Great Blue Herons.

I left Cattail Marsh and made my way to South Pond. This is another pond that I’ve not been to, so I was anxious to see if it was dried up as well.

The gravel road/trail that heads towards South Pond.

As you can tell by the above picture the vegetation was real dense on both sides, which was good cover for Warblers. And if I spent more time there I’m sure I would have added a few more species to the list. And not only were Warblers  active, Flycatchers were also abundant as they flew across the trail. I walked down to South Pond only to find a field of green., and one lone Wood Duck box.

This was once a large pond, and the observation deck I’m standing on will attest to the fact that this park has seen better days. I’m just grateful that it’s open to the public.

As I was leaving Gilmore Metropark I was able to find this Acadian Flycatcher that would sit still long enough for me to get a quick digiscoped picture.

After leaving Gilmore Metropark, I traveled to Caesar Creek State Park. First to the beach with hopes of finding some shore birds feeding. However upon arriving I noticed a large gathering of people as if it was a family reunion. So needless to say I didn’t stay long other than to run down to the beach to see if anything was feeding. Other than a lone Killdeer there were 100+ Ring-billed Gulls. So my only hope for any shore birds were the Mounds Road mud flats. These mud flats are at the Northern most part of Caesar Creek Lake past the turn off to Spring Valley Wildlife Area. As I neared the end of the Mounds Road I noticed that the gate was open. Since this portion of the road is on park property they feel the need to keep vehicles out of this area. However at the end of the road there is a nice turn around and the start of the trail. Now the last time I was here the water level was up, and hence no mud. However today luck was on my side. As I stepped out and spooked a immature Bald Eagle, I was greeted with a nice size hunk of mud from which could be found plenty of shore birds.

Osprey with fish

Even though there wasn’t a lot of variety of shore birds, there were plenty of them. This is a small undisturbed corner and was kind of surprised when i noticed a couple on guys in a boat float slowly by. Probably fisherman.

A Great Egret from quite a distance.

This may be a crappy picture, however one will see a Lesser Yellowleg, Pectoral Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, and Killdeer

It was a great day with a new life bird and no rain despite the forecast. I finished the day at 5:30 and the notable birds for the day include:

  1. Willow Flycatcher
  2. Acadian Flycatcher
  3. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Indigo Bunting
  6. Great Blue Heron
  7. Great Egret
  8. Double-crested Cormorant
  9. Mallard
  10. American Redstart
  11. Nashville Warbler
  12. Wilson’s Warbler
  13. Carolina Chickadee
  14. Gray Catbird
  15. Killdeer
  16. Ring-billed Gull
  17. American Crow
  18. Osprey
  19. Bald Eagle
  20. American Robin
  21. Northern Flicker
  22. Downy Woodpecker
  23. Field Sparrow
  24. Turkey Vulture
  25. Red-eyed Vireo
  26. White-brested Nuthatch
  27. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  28. Cedar Waxwing
  29. Belted Kingfisher
  30. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  31. Red-shouldered Hawk
  32. Blue Jay
  33. Common Nighthawk
  34. Greater Yellowleg
  35. Lesser Yellowleg
  36. Mourning Dove
  37. Least Sandpiper
  38. Pectoral Sandpiper
  39. Spotted Sandpiper
  40. Semipalmated Plover
  41. Canada Goose
  42. Solitary Sandpiper
  43. Green Heron

A Birder’s Haiku

Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

Sycamores white skin

warbler dances from branch

thru the morning sun

Spotlight on Ohio Birds

Lesser Yellowlegs-Tringa flavipes

Family: Scolopacidae

Order: Charadriiformes

Description: 10 1/2″ (27 cm) Slender, gray streaked wader with conspicuous white rump and long yellow legs. This is the smaller, more slender edition of the Greater Yellowlegs. They have a proportionately shorter, straighter, more slender bill. They appear to have longer legs than the Greater Yellowlegs.

Voice: A flat tu-tu, less musical than Greater Yellowllegs

Habitat: Breeds in Northern bogs, frequenting marshy ponds, lakes, and rivers shores and mudflats during migration.

Nesting: 4 buff eggs, blotched with brown, in a slight depression on the open ground near water.


FYI’s: Both male and female provide parental care to the young, however the female will leave the breeding area before the chicks can fly, leaving the male to protect them.

They are Ohio’s most abundant and widely distributed shore bird. In the Spring they start arriving with their greatest numbers between April 20th and May 15th. Some of the largest concentration occur on Lake Erie where 300-500 individuals can develop.

During the Fall migration they are one of the first to migrate. The last migrant will usually be gone by the first week in November. The largest total of Fall migrants at one time happen in Ottawa County in 1982 with 1,700 Lesser Yellowlegs.

Resource material provided by:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/

The Birds of Ohio by Bruce G. Peterjohn

Notes From The Field/ # 290

Lost Bridge

A Western Sandpiper has been reported in the Lost Bridge area on and off for the past week or so. The first report wasn’t very certain as to it’s identity, so local birders just considered it a “probable” sighting. Then when we had our field trip there last weekend, there was plenty of talk as to the identity to our mystery bird that the group leader finally said was a Semipalmated Sandpiper.

However, what a week will bring in, especially during migration. Yesterday morning a Western Sandpiper was finally confirmed from a reliable source at Lost Bridge.  And with Kathy going out with a friend late this afternoon, this was a great opportunity to travel once again to Lost Bridge to see if I can finally see this new bird. AND I DID! The drive to and from takes longer than my actual time at the bridge, but it sure was worth it.

The funny thing is that while I was driving home my friend Jonathan called me and told me that a local birder had just posted on Cincinnati Bird web site that he also spotted the Western Sandpiper prior to me arriving. I had talked to Jonathan earlier to let him know that I was going over there to look for the bird, so he knew I would be interested in the info.

I sure do love the chase, but with the heat today I had to suck it up and just go for it. And it payed off with a new lifer. So I’ll leave you with a parting shot of a Lesser Yellowleg that I digiscoped while at Lost Bridge.

Lesser Yellowleg

Notable birds for the afternoon include:

  1. Least Sandpiper
  2. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  3. Western Sandpiper-Lifer
  4. Pectoral Sandpiper
  5. Killdeer
  6. Lesser Yellowleg
  7. Greater Yellowleg
  8. Great Blue heron
  9. Great Egret
  10. Green Heron
  11. Belted Kingfisher
  12. American Crow