Monthly Archives: April 2013

Rare Bird Alert


Yesterday evening a Glossy Ibis was seen feeding at Voice of America Park in Butler County. From details left on the sightings log at Cincinnatibirds the bird was seen as you enter the park on the right after you pass the entrance booth on your way to the main lake. At the time of this blog post (10:30 am ) no more sighting posting concerning this bird have been received. Yet.


Notes From The Field

Spring Valley Wildlife Area

This last Sunday morning I joined 30+ avid birders at Spring Valley Wildlife Area as the Ohio Ornithological Society joined forces with the Cincinnati Bird Club for this early Spring trip to one of my favorite places. And it’s right in my backyard.

So at 8 am a group of us birding explores left the McDonald’s and drove north to our destination, where we joined many more birders already there scoping out the area around the parking lot anticipating the arrival of our group leaders for the day.

After assembly was sounded and all the proper introductions were over we set off down the trail towards the decaying boardwalk. You see, during the final set of instructions were given to the mass of birders , one point was brought up about the boardwalk. The need for replacement and the state of disrepair it’s presently in. So our group leader advised that since we had such a large group it would be wise to space ourselves out so as not to add to the strain by the sheer bulk by this group of people.

IMG_3728As you can see I sort of hung out at the back of the pack waiting to make my move. No, not really. For myself  have difficulty with too many people talking and the constant crunching of feet on the gravel path. It’s not that I’m anti-social, I just like to hear the birds as well as see them.

The progress was slow as you might imagine as we stopped along the way to spot birds and to talk about them. With a group this size, with all levels of skill, it’s stops like this that keep the more novice birders interested and coming back for more.

All the common species were seen on both sides of the path leading to the boardwalk with the exception of Warblers. Far too few, or just too early. Either way as soon as the group hit the boardwalk, people started to spread out a bit. Some went to the observation and the rest, myself included, was satisfied with staying near my favorite spot and wait. And what am I waiting for you might ask? Marsh Wrens, Soras and Virginia Rails.

IMG_3729A fly over of a group of Double-crested Cormorants. They were flying in a nice and neat V formation, however when they saw that I was going to take their picture, they broke up the formation.

We were there for about 30 minutes when the first of several calls from the Marsh Wren were heard. And it wasn’t soon after that the first one was glimpsed briefly. A very dependable bird year round since Jon and myself saw them back in December and again in March.

But my sights were set on the Virginia Rail and Sora. 2 birds that are pretty dependable to get, however those are normally confirmation by call, not by sight. They can be rather reclusive even if their right in front of you. Which they were. One of the leaders saw one fly from one clump of reeds to another, so anticipation was high. Then were heard one call. Then another right next to it. But they were calling just feet from the boardwalk. So as the group gathered around my thoughts went back to our morning talk about not having too any people jammed into one spot. Well, when it comes to a Virginia Rail we throw caution to the wind and hope for the best.

I stood and watched as I could see the water under the boardwalk ripple from the birds. The reeds are so thick it’s real difficult to spot one through such a tangled mesh. They kept calling as they moved away and parallel to the open water. Then Ann, one of our group leaders called out that one was coming out into the open. Not being one of those pushers and shovers I moved to my left and pulled out my camera.

rail2Here’s the first one as it exited the reeds and worked it’s way across the open flat of water and grasses.

rail1Still the first one. I never was able to get a picture of the 2 together as they both turned tail and flew into the reeds across the opening never to be seen again. I just love Rails, they poise such a problem for us birder. Secretive, quiet and stealthy. Except when they call, then all hell breaks loose. They can be rather LOUD!

All in all a super morning, and to top it off I meet up with birding friend Gail Wulker as we nailed a Sora calling just feet again from the boardwalk as the group departed, missing out on another great bird. It pays to be patient with these buggers.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Osprey
  2. Double-creasted Cormorant
  3. Northern Cardinal
  4. Red-tailed Hawk
  5. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  6. Swamp Sparrow
  7. Sora
  8. Song Sparrow
  9. Northern Parula
  10. Virginia Rail
  11. Marsh Wren
  12. Red-winged Blackbird
  13. Blue-winged Teal
  14. Canada Goose
  15. Great Egret
  16. Wood Duck
  17. Pied-billed Grebe
  18. American Goldfinch
  19. Common Crow
  20. Common Grackle
  21. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  22. Mourning Dove
  23. American Robin
  24. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  25. White-throated Sparrow
  26. Tree Swallow
  27. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  28. Wilson’s Snipe
  29. Turkey Vulture
  30. Downy Woodpecker
  31. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  32. Chimney Swift
  33. Great Blue Heron

Spotlight On Ohio Birds

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

Family:  Parulidae

Order:  Passeriformes

Description:  5 1/2″ (14 cm)  SPRING ADULT Eastern breeder has mostly olive-buff upperparts with faint streaking on back and two very faint, pale wing bars. Head has extensive chestnut crown, yellow supercilium, olive cheeks, and yellow throat with dark malar stripe; underparts are otherwise bright yellow, with rufous streaks on flanks. Western breeder has grayer back and wings; yellow is restricted to throat and undertail coverts. FALL ADULT AND IMMATURE Less colorful than their respective spring adult counterparts, lack rufous crown and streaks on flanks, are only lightly streaked above and have faint buff wing bars. Eastern breeder has yellowish supercilium and yellow wash to underparts; western breeder has white supercilium and gray underparts except for yellow undertail coverts.

Voice:  Song a weak trill. Call a thin “tsip” or a sharp “chip.”

Habitat:  Breeds in bogs, open boreal coniferous forest, and partly open situations with scattered trees and heavy undergrowth, usually near water. Found in migration and winter in a variety of woodland, second growth and thicket habitats, on the ground in savanna and open fields, and in mangroves.

Nesting:  4-5 eggs that are creamy white with dark speckles around large end.      Open cup of weed stalks, grass, sedges, bark shreds, rootlets, and ferns, lined with fine grasses, bryophytes, and occasionally hair and feathers. Placed in sphagnum moss at base of short tree.




  • The Palm Warbler is found in two different forms. Birds that breed in the western part of the range are duller, and have whitish bellies. Those breeding in the eastern part of the range are entirely yellow underneath.
  • Despite its tropical sounding name, the Palm Warbler lives farther north than most other warblers. It breeds far to the north in Canada, and winters primarily in the southern United States and northern Caribbean

Resource material provided by:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/

Notes From The Field

Armleder Park, Fly Ash Pond, 4 Seasons Marina, Magrish Preserve, California Woods

There are times when you go birding that taking pictures is the last thing on your mind. For me to digiscope birds I have to carry
my spotting scope with me all the time. This is not an option when searching for passerines. Anyway I forgot to take along my other camera, not that it would have mattered. There were some good opportunities for getting some decent bird pictures but it will have to wait for another time.

I texted Jon the other day in hopes he would be up for a little field trip today. He replied that he was, however he was only open for the morning. So I picked him up at 8 am and made our way to Armleder Park. The possibility of some wading birds at the “Bean Field” and some good Sparrow habitat makes this an inviting destination. And with the added plus of Vesper Sparrows being seen just a few days earlier made this a great choice for the day.

We started out searching for the Vesper Sparrow. We dipped, though Savannah, Swamp, Song, and White-crowned were present along with other great birds. The Bean Field held a good bit of water but the only wading birds seen and heard were both Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. The resident Great Horned Owl was seen as it flew by and into a far tree with a couple of Crows giving it grief.

With a few more FOS (first of season ) under our belt, we made our way back to the car and drove to what locals call ” Fly Ash Pond “. In th e past this pond has produced some great birds, especially wading  birds. Even though the wading birds were lacking a Red-tailed Hawk scared up our first Green Heron for the year.

After leaving the pond we headed over to Magrish Preserve with a brief stop over to 4 Seasons Marina to scan over the pond that’s right next to the road. This location produced several FOS birds, which included Barn, Bank, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. At Magrish Preserve we added yet another FOS bird, Palm Warbler that was viewed scratching around and underneath leaf liter on the ground. And the Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere.

The target bird for California Woods were Waterthrushes. This is my go to location if I need Louisiana Waterthrush, but not today. However the keen ears of Jon made out a Northern Paula on the drive in just before we parked. And sure enough we heard and saw at least 2. Nesting Eastern Phoebes and a fly by Pleated Woodpecker was the highlights till the time we left. While loading our stuff into the car Jon spotted a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. While we were watching this bird we both jerked our heads as another bird made it’s call. Jon got on the bird first. Blue-headed Vireo. A very cool bird and one I’ve not seen for a couple of years. We were out of there with a pretty nice list of birds.

Sorry again for the lack of pictures.

Notable birds for the day include:
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
House Sparrow
Canada Goose
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Wood Duck
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
American Coot
Red-tailed Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
American Kestrel
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Belted Kingfisher
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Chimney Swift
Green Heron
Greater Yellowleg
Lesser Yellowleg
Great Horned Owl
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Northern Parula
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
American Robin
Tufted Titmouse
Northern Cardinal
Carolina Clickable
Carolina Wren
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Eastern Goldfinch
House Finch
Mourning Dove
Chipping Sparrow
Common Crow
Blue-headed Vireo
Dark-eyed Junco
Blue Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Phoebe

Birding by Ear

I woke up sick today. I felt it coming on yesterday while at work and was hoping it wouldn’t come to calling off from work. However there was no way around it this morning after I woke up and knew that my premonition from yesterday was correct. So now while the morning wanes into afternoon, I’m sitting on my front porch drinking some juice and listening to the birds.
As I Concentrate on writing this post a Field Sparrow is calling from across the street from the empty lot. This is such a good exercise as Spring migration and the breeding season comes into full bloom. To be able to pick out all the different bird songs is a skill that we as birders always work at. These are skills thAt we hone so even the most common of birds can be readily identified.
With the warmer weather leaving some the windows open to the house let in a symphony of bird songs that was glorious even if someone was ill. Chipping Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Carolina Wren, American Robin, House Sparrow were filling the house with songs.
As a birder we rely on a keen sense if hearing g to be able to locate and identify the birds, however just the sweet music can be all that we need to sustain us. The sound of nature at it’s best.

Migration News


With bird migration in full swing our friends at eBird has created  a separate bird migration web site. Divided into regions with up to date news concerning all bird movement this is a must need for your “favorite’s list”. The link is below.