Thursday, January 24, 2008

Winter Day at The Wilds

Dust-bathing horned larks.

The Ohio Ornithological Society had its annual winter birding day at The Wilds in SE Ohio recently. More than 125 hardy souls made the scene. It was colder than a gyrfalcon's uvula there on the rolling grasslands near Cumberland, Ohio. The Wilds is a rare animal breeding and research facility nestled in the middle of 10,000 acres of recovering strip mine. And it's got the birds. In winter it's home to loads of raptors. The day's raptor tally included American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, Cooper's hawk, northern harrier, rough-legged hawk, bald eagle, and golden eagle. Large numbers of waterfowl were seen on those few ponds still unfrozen. Horned larks, a snow bunting, and even a few over-wintering eastern meadowlarks were present, too.

Cars lined up to see the last bird of the day.


But the bird that about half of us stayed to see waited until sunset to make its appearance. A short-eared owl coursed low over the frozen grasses giving all of us a great look.

Short-eared owl.


It was a fitting end to another wonderful day of birding with my fellow members of Ohio's largest birding organization.

For an another report of the day, see OOS Director Jim McCormac's blog here.

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