Monthly Archives: June 2012

Colloquial Bird Names

How many of you out there still call an American Woodcock a Timberdoodle or Labrador Twister? Or how about Butter-butt for a Yellow-rumped Warbler? Why, it only seems like yesterday if you opened any field guide Oldsquaw was what we all called a Long-tailed Duck. Have you ever heard it refered to as Old Wife, Butterfly Coot, Cockawee, or South Southerly?

It was a real treat the other day to be reading the recent ABA Blog and finding this post, The Top 10: Best Colloquial Bird Names. And if having the top 10 isn’t enough for all your birding trivia needs they add a heaping portion of “honorable mentions”.

Being a more straight forward kind of birder, I go for more of the official name. Not the Latin name, just the regular name you’ll find in every bird guide. Now every once in a while “Butter-butt” will slip out, but not often. When I really started into memorizing the birds name to  their picture you get into the habit of identifying them the way you learn them.  However if I grew up in the part of the country where a “Squeaker” was a Harlequin Duck, my reaction to that name might be the same in the reverse for a Midwesterner like myself.

So click on the link above and enjoy a very enjoyable little read which might bring a smile to your face. And remember if you spot a “Bog Bull” let me know.

Notes From The Field

Fernald Preserve

It certainly has been a long time since my last visit to Fernald Preserve. As a matter of fact the last time I was there was when Phil and I conducted our annual Bird Study Merit badge Workshop back in April. It has been a long time, and I’ve missed coming here. So it’s up before  sunrise, and that long drive to the far side of Hamilton County.

One of the birds I was anxious to get a picture of, or at least try, was a Grasshopper Sparrow. They are numerous at Fernald however getting a picture of one can prove difficult. You’ll here them as they call from the thick grass as you walk along, and that’s about all you’ll get, unless your lucky. Today I was unlucky, I heard plenty Ammodramus savannarum, and actually saw a couple fly back and forth across the path, but they didn’t hold still long enough to get a picture. But to make things a little better the Dickcissels were abundant and ready to give excellent views as I made my way straight back from the visitors center.

A treetop Dickcissel singing.

I couldn’t tell you how many Dickcissels were here. This is one time of the year where they drown out the Red-winged Blackbirds. Spiza americana has some beautiful coloration that I never get tired of, and look forward to each Summer as I visit Fernald.

When one thinks of Fernald Preserve you get a picture in your head like this…

Wide open expanses of open grasslands, dotted with small ponds where all sorts of waterfowl gather. However I’m heading towards a different part of the property that is a little off the beaten path.

The shady, wooded portion of the preserve. This part of the trail wanders through the woods for about 1/2 mile. It certainly is nice to get out of the hot Sun for a while and enjoy a walk in the woods. Now you start to pick up different species of birds. Cardinals, Towhees, Titmouse, Acadian Flycatchers, Wood Thrush. This is just great birding.

American Goldfinch

Orchard Oriole

Indigo Bunting

Common Yellowthroat

As I made my way back towards the wooded portion of the preserve I was reminded how alone I was. Not one soul did I meet coming or going. Only the birds and the bugs to keep me company. Which at times is all you need as you submerse yourself in your thoughts as nature surrounds you with it presence.

So as I leave you and make my way back to the bird-mobile, may the Bluebird of Happiness …

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. Field Sparrow
  3. Song Sparrow
  4. Grasshopper Sparrow
  5. Mourning Dove
  6. Eastern Bluebird
  7. American Robin
  8. Eastern Phoebe
  9. Willow Flycatcher
  10. Acadian Flycatcher
  11. Scarlet tanager
  12. Carolina Chickadee
  13. Tufted Titmouse
  14. Northern Cardinal
  15. House Wren
  16. Eastern Towhee
  17. Wood Thrush
  18. Blue Grosbeak
  19. Tree Swallow
  20. Barn Swallow
  21. Pileated Woodpecker
  22. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  23. Downy Woodpecker
  24. Northern Flicker
  25. Indigo Bunting
  26. Dickcissel
  27. Yellow-throated Warbler
  28. Yellow-breasted Chat
  29. Common Yellowthroat
  30. Northern Parula
  31. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  32. Baltimore Oriole
  33. Orchard Oriole
  34. Brown-headed Cowbird
  35. Green Heron
  36. Great Blue Heron
  37. Mallard
  38. Wood Duck
  39. Blue-winged Teal
  40. Mute Swan
  41. Belted Kingfisher
  42. Cedar Waxwing
  43. American Goldfinch
  44. Northern Mockingbird
  45. Canada Goose
  46. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  47. Common Grackle
  48. Gray Catbird
  49. Common Crow
  50. Turkey Vulture
  51. Eastern Meadowlark
  52. Killdeer

Spotlight On Ohio Birds

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

Family: Icteridae

Order: Passeriformes

Description: ADULT MALE Has a black hood, chest, and back, and brick-red underparts and “shoulders.” Wings are black, with a white wing bar and white edges to flight feathers. Rump is brick-red and tail is black. ADULT AND IMMATURE FEMALE Have mostly yellow plumage, grading to olive-yellow on back. Dark wings have two white wing bars and white edges to flight feathers. Rump is yellow and tail is grayish. IMMATURE MALE Has a black face and throat, but otherwise mostly yellow plumage, grading to olive-yellow on back. Dark wings have two white wing bars and white edges to flight feathers.

Voice: Song a rich, whistled warbling with some guttural notes, ending with a slurred “wheer.” Calls include a soft “chuk” and a rapid chatter.

Habitat: Nests in gardens, orchards, suburban areas, along streams and lakes, and in large planted trees near houses. In winter found in tropical forests.

Nesting: 3-7 light blue eggs with blackish markings. The nest is an open cup of woven grass, lined with fine grass, plant down, wool, and feathers, suspended from fork of tree branch far out on limb.

Range:

FYI’s:

  • Only loosely territorial, the Orchard Oriole is often described as a “semicolonial” species in areas of prime habitat, but it is relatively solitary in marginal habitats. In areas of dense nesting, one tree may contain multiple nests.
  • The Orchard Oriole is a rather late spring migrant, but it heads back southward quickly. Some orioles may return to their wintering grounds as early as mid-July.
  • The Orchard Oriole eats nectar and pollen from flowers, especially during the winter. It is an important pollinator for some tropical tree species, transferring the pollen from flower to flower on its head.

Notes From The Field

Port William, Ohio (Clinton County)

Located 8 miles North of Wilmington Ohio, situated at the junction of Route 134 and a “little slice of heaven” the tiny village of a little more than 250 residents probably don’t get a lot of visitors, especially birders. This sleepy little hamlet is “Small Town America” with a cherry on top as Phil and myself are about to discover.

Reports came in about 5 to 6 days ago about a sighting of a small group of Eurasian Collared-Doves (Streptopelia decaocto) making Port William their home. This Eurasian species introduced to the Bahamas started to spread to Florida in the late 1970′s. There it quickly established themselves till it spread Westward in the 1990′s, where it’s reached the West coast. However if you look at it’s range map it’s considered a rarity in the Eastern portion of the United States. This is our target bird tonight as I pick up Phil at 6:30 pm and make our way towards Port William. This would be a life bird for Phil and I’m excited for him. My life bird was sighted at the Magic Kingdom. While making our way through the massive theme park, I saw the large dove land on a lamp post in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Since the family was more excited about getting to the next attraction, my only exposure of this bird was a quick ID through my bins, which by the way never left me all the time I was there.

As we entered the village the first spot we stopped at was the grain elevators/silos at the edge of town. There was good bird activity, which is normal for any grain silo, with lots of Doves. I noticed what looked like a Eurasian Collared fly between 2 silos and disappear. Could we have found them this quickly, we’ve only been here just a few minutes? Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and we were lucky tonight as Phil pointed out one perched on the electrical line right next to us. Quickly retrieving my camera I was able to get off a couple of shots before it took off.

What you want to look for in field marks is the squared off tail. Mourning Doves come to a point. Lighter in color overall with a dark crescent around the back of the head. Also it’s call is different than the Mourning Dove.

In this picture (which was one hell of a lucky shot) you can see how the tail is squared off with the tail feathers being a little lighter in color at the corners. You can really see the crescent collar on this picture.

Completely satisfied with our quick discovery it was a shame to leave so soon, so we drove around town and looked for more. As one would expect traffic wasn’t much of an issue as we stopped frequently at any Dove we saw. We turned around at the far edge of town at the local cemetery and made our way back to another set of grain silos that we didn’t check out.

This small river to the left in the picture flows underneath Route 134, with the other set of grain silos on the opposite bank. It was this set of silos was where Phil and myself saw the most of the Eurasian Collared-Doves. The first report out of Port William was of 5 individuals, and tonight we saw what we thought were 4 individuals.

What I love about this picture you can really see the underneath coloration of the tail. Look at the white patch that you don’t have on a Mourning Dove.

As you come into town this will be the first set of grain silos you’ll come to, with this lovely spill-way where I’m sure a mill was located at one time.

I love little trips like this and wish I could do them more often. Happy as any birder would be, after about 45 minutes or so, we packed it in and left Port William for home

Summer Solstice

As the first day of Summer officially starts I start to think what birding is like where you live during the hotter months of the year. During the Spring and Autumn we’re all giddy over the bi-annual migration with all it’s surprises and rarities. I’m just a guilty as the next birder who’s chased a rarity during these prime birding times. However, what effort do any of us put forward as we spot the same birds over and over again every time we go out into the field?

In a case like this I enjoy changing up the location as to where I bird. A change in scenery is always nice, and even though visiting a new place can be intimidating, think of the adventure and memories. If you happen to live close to another state check out ebird to see if any unusual birds are in a neighboring state.

Plan a trip. All my “On The Road” series of trips weren’t thrown together at the last minute. Prep work for me starts as soon as I’m inspired. For instance with all this hot weather we’re having in Southwest Ohio I’m beginning to touch base with John and Jon about a trip to Northern Michigan in either January or February for some very cool birds of the Great White North. Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays, Hoary Redpolls, and Pine Grosbeaks.

Prepare for Fall migration. It’ll be here before you know it, and will you be prepared for all those confusing Fall Warblers. We can’t depend on them to sing those familiar Springtime songs we all know by heart, now we have to rely on some studying to tell the difference between a Blackpoll and a Pine Warbler. Check your local Listserv’s and find where the hotspots might be and begin to scout out these places.

Birding during the Summer doesn’t have to be such a awful thing, all you have to do is use your imagination and the skill you already have to make it one of the best Summers in a long time. So fill up your water bottle and slather on the sun screen and bug repellant, lets go birding.

Rare Bird Alert

A fairly recent arrival to North America, the Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto ) has been seen on 3 occasions in the Northeast Clinton County town of Port William. And from the sound of things they may stick around for awhile. Despite the fact that they’re increasing in numbers all across the U.S. they are still pretty rare in Ohio. So check this one out if it’s not on your life list.