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Tuesday 17 December 2002
John Pogacnik has provided us yet again with a gull to ponder. This bird was photographed under miserable weather conditions during Monday's Kelleys Island Christmas Bird count. The bird was present where the ferry docks on the island - a common port of call for odd gulls on the island. From what John has been able to present thus far, the bird appears to be a good candidate for Slaty-backed Gull. One is not without some trepidation in presenting the bird in light of the controversial history surrounding the species in Ohio. But it is here for your consideration nonetheless.

Select the image for a page devoted to the bird. Clearly any follow-up would be helpful in nailing down an ID.
Monday 9 December 2002
Both the Fairport Harbor Common Eider and the Mentor Lagoons King Eider were present yesterday - Ray Hannikman & Haans Petruschke respectively. Also lingering, the Black-legged Kittiwake of E. 72nd St. still present yesterday - Larry Rosche.
We are now in the 10th day of a deep freeze with night-time temps a bit away from Lake Erie falling to 12-14 degrees F. Shallow water and marshes froze solid a week ago, something not seen this early in the region since 1996. Persistent cold however has also seen major rivers such as the Sandusky completely frozen but for dam sites. The push to remove the many small dams from such rivers is led by a desire to bring such systems closer to the natural state. Laudable on the surface, but some biologists worry about the easier access to river systems afforded Lake Erie exotics. But I'm idly wondering here about the impact it would have on the accessibility of open water, and what that may mean to the likes of a Belted Kingfisher. Do dams contribute to early icing of relatively still pools of water behind them, and/or is this offset by the plunge pools which remain open all winter under most extremes offered up by an Ohio winter? Seems to me an opportunity for study - perhaps a M.Sc. somewhere.
A view of the mighty Maumee River from Farnsworth Park 5 December 2002; the rapids remain open where other large rivers flowing into Lake Erie such as the Sandusky. Such a natural situation may provide for a control in a study surrounding the impact of dams on the icing of rivers and their potential impact on the winter distribution of overwintering waterbirds; copyright 2002 Art Osborn.
Of course, such freezing of the Sandusky Bay and surrounding marshes means it is time to start visiting Castalia Pond on a regular basis. Usually I do not make a point of counting waterfowl before Christmas week, but Saturday there were already 86 Northern Shoveler and 72 Gadwall - good numbers for the locale this early in the month.
Canada Goose flocks, reminiscent of the past two years, have been using the pond heavily of late. Reading neck collars has revealed a rapid turnover, even day to day, while presumably flocks are still on their way south. On Saturday the roughly 750 geese displayed 23 birds with neck collars - by far the greatest number I have seen in one place. These, and a number of other neck collars, have been added to the growing list (49 and counting) of neck collars read from around Ohio this season thanks largely to the efforts of John Yochum and Gregory Bennett. Closer attention to these birds on my part led to a couple interesting discoveries Saturday. One orange-collared bird was R1C3. If you recall the posting in these pages two weeks ago, I included a photo of a couple of orange-collared birds taken 20 January 2002 when the Ohio Wesleyan ornithology class visited the pond. Scroll down or visit the Ohio Collared Waterfowl website for the picture - one of the birds is R1C3. The other surprise, was not that there were two green-collared Canadas, but that one was sporting what appeared to be a radio-collar. see photo. I don't know the difference between a radio collar or a satellite transmitter but for certain  someone is interested in remotely tracking this bird. I found it quite tame, approaching the car to consume the cracked corn I put out for the waterfowl here. It was accompanied by another green-collared bird 7KT0
Sunday 8 December 2002
As mentioned last night, a first-year Northern Gannet was picked up barely alive in Tiffin on Wednesday. Here is the account from Mona Rutger of Back-to-the-Wild (Castalia).

The call came from Seneca County on Dec. 4th. The caller said they had a Cormorant, but described something quite different. After more description, we felt it might be another loon. When it arrived, it looked very much like a loon except for the plumage and a slightly different beak shape and it just was not a loon. It was in terrible condition - and I knew I couldn't save it. I paged through all my fieldguides and all I could come up with was a Northern Gannet. Couldn't be. It died two hours after arriving. At least she will end up in a Museum situation, to be a source of learning and appreciation by many. Mark Shieldcastle, ODNR, Div. of Wildlife, Ohio Biologist will have her taxidermied and placed on display at the Sportsman Migratory Bird Center at Magee Marsh in Oak Harbor. - Mona Rutger.

Select the image for a page devoted to the bird.
This first-year Northern Gannet died shortly after being discovered in Tiffin (Seneca County) Ohio 4 December 2002; photos of the specimen taken 7 December 2002; copyright 2002 Victor W. Fazio III

I happened by Friday meeting up with the field ecology class from Heidelberg College. Needless to say I was VERY surprised with what Mona produced from the freezer. I stopped by again Saturday and obtained a couple of photos of the bird. Peterjohn (2001) is not very clear on the details behind many of records up to the time of that publication so exactly how many specimens the state has is a guess on my part. Peterjohn singles out only two specimens, a bird in 1994 and another in 1931, referring to the latter bird as the first specimen. However, Williams, in "Birds of the Cleveland Region" 1950, mentions a bird taken in Nov. 1929 and sent to Ohio State University. Perhaps the specimen is not extant. A bird captured in 1925 was banded and released (Williams 1950), but the fate of a bird captured in Cincinnati in Dec. 1967 is not mentioned by Peterjohn. There may be a couple of other specimens, but I feel that there are sufficiently few that the Ohio Division of Wildlife would see museum curation as the more appropriate treatment. As would be the case for most any other OBRC documentation review species rather than becoming a mounted display or accessioned within a teaching collection.

Saturday 7 December 2002
The Fairport Harbor Common Eider and the Mentor Lagoons King Eider were resighted today - Gabe Leidy & Sally Isaaco respectively. See the Ohio-birds posting by Haans Petruschke updating directions for the King Eider.

Larry Rosche reports the E 72nd St. Eared Grebe still present yesterday. Also a first-year Northern Gannet put in an appearance around 1:30. at the mouth of the Grand River yesterday for Larry. Hard to say how many birds are involved but that is the 4th lakefront report of the past two weeks. Coupled with the dying bird retrieved in Tiffin (Seneca County) on Tuesday, this is the best showing of Northern Gannet in Ohio since 1947. More on the Tiffin bird, including photos, tomorrow.
Here is an update from Mona Rutger regarding the Greater Roadrunner which hitched a ride from Mexico aboard a truck. It's arrival and capture was previously reported to Ohio-birds.

Many of you have been wondering about the outcome of the wayward Roadrunner who arrived here at Back To The Wild almost two weeks ago. He was a stowaway aboard an auto parts semi shipment out of Hermisillo, Mexico, bound for the Visteon Plant here in Sandusky, Ohio. Several workers there helped to capture him and bring him into the center. After recovering from shock, dehydration and whatever else he had to endure, the Roadrunner is in fantastic condition (actually taking over my office/reptile room, which is heated to 85 degrees) and is scheduled for a Flight out of the Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Monday, Dec. 9th aboard an American West Airlines. With much thanks to a rehabber in Cave Creek, AZ, Sam Fox, I was able to reach Captain Terry Stevens of American West, who graciously offered to fly him for free and get him into the hands of a fellow-rehabber in Tucson, Kathie Schroeder, who will take him near the border for release. Taking the bird across the border is not an option, due to much red tape with Federal and State regulations. There are so many factors involved in releasing wild animals and release criteria has to be carefully paid attention to. Issues like home ranges, seasons of the year, prey abundance, territories already occupied and defended by same species, and even the potential for introducing bacteria or viruses into a habitat that could seriously impact native populations. We can only hope we have all made the right decisions and that our Roadrunner gets a second chance to be wild again! - Mona Rutger.
At Killdeer Plains W.A. on Thursday, Ron Sempier reports songbirds of local interest such as Brown Thrasher, 25 Snow Bunting, and a Fox Sparrow. Another Fox Sparrow appeared at a feeder in Wilmington. The dark Fox Sparrow reported earlier this week at Blacklick Woods Nature Center in Columbus was thoroughly studied by several local birders. Consensus at the moment identifies the bird as belonging to a western form of the eastern complex not unlike zaboria. See Ohio-birds for more elaboration on this identification. Also Pam Raver has posted images of the bird to the web.
Mary Ann Trask of Cuyahoga County shares this interesting bird with us. The overall size and proportions, especially that of the bill, wing, and tail, identifies this as a House Finch. The bird has been present at her feeder since 11 November.

Thursday 5 December 2002
Both the Fairport Harbor Common Eider and the nearby King Eider remain as of yesterday (Tim Smart & Anders Fjelstad respectively). The King Eider was off Mentor Lagoons Park, a property immediately east of Mentor Beach the previous location for the bird. Both birds can be tricky to locate as they hug the shoreline or keep to just out of range from the lakeshore access points. With regard to the King Eider, Anders had this to relate

. . . about 75 yards off the beach (from the Marina Trail); he was with about a dozen Red Breasted Mergs! The City of Mentor is building a "seawall" of all those rocks they had stacked on the beach there; we had to walk west around the digger and bulldozer; then walk east along the beach about 1/4 mile before we found the Eider; an adult Bald Eagle was also roosting in the trees and flying along the Lake all the time we were there; at one point, he even sat above the digger for about 15 minutes (the noise and activity didn't seem to bother him) !!

Tim also had 1 Purple Sandpiper still on the breakwall at Headlands Beach State Park yesterday.
Rob Thorn , in a couple of recent posts to Ohio-birds, has rightly pointed to the phenomenon of recent feeder/yard birding activity being productive for some uncommon species. With wintry weather, especially a relatively deep and widely distributed snow cover across the state for this time of year, relatively scarce 'half-hardy' songbirds with a tendency to appear in early winter are more likely to be drawn to one's fruiting ornamentals or one's feeders.

An eastern Fox Sparrow at a Columbus area feeder 1 December 2002; copyright 2002 Joe HammondThis weekend saw an apparent small movement of Fox Sparrows with birds appearing at feeders Sunday in Tiffin - Susan Carty and Columbus - Joe Hammond. Joe digiscoped his bird through a window for this handsome shot of a typical eastern form of the species. The Fox Sparrow species represents a complex of many described races, which boil down to 3-4 groups. Check here at the Birdguide.com website for a run-down of the ID of those groups, one or more of which may be recognized as separate species in the not-too-distant future.
Rob further relates the ASTOUNDING find of a dark form Fox Sparrow at the nature center feeders of Blacklick Metropark in Franklin County. Staff members first saw the "Rocky Mountain" Fox Sparrow Tuesday and was confirmed yesterday. I am personally unaware of any published photographic evidence of the form east of the Mississippi so if someone can direct me to a reference, I would be thankful.
More expected, though still very much a treat, are recent appearances of an Ovenbird in Columbus, and a Baltimore Oriole previously mentioned in these pages from Ashtabula in late November. Doug Snapp discovered the Ovenbird Tuesday digging around his feeders in Columbus and obtained some identifying photos yesterday which have been posted to his website. Here is the Ashtabula Baltimore Oriole photographed by Scott Wright at the time of discovery 23 November. Select the image for more of this bird.

a first fall male Baltimore Oriole in Ashtabula County 23 November 2002; copyright Scott Wright 2002
Monday 2 December 2002
Another Selasphorus hummingbird to report. A bird has been coming to a feeder in Wooster (Wayne Co.) since October; still present yesterday - Su Snyder.
A Northern Gannet was a flyby at Lakeshore Metropark (Lake Co.) yesterday morning - John Pogacnik. The day before, Ray Hannikman had a bird flying past Headlands Beach State Park (Lake Co.). As anyone reading the Ontario birding news lately is aware, there may be an unprecedented number of Northern Gannets in the lower Great Lakes. This week may present the best opportunity for finding one of your own in Ohio.
The Common Eider remains at Fairport Harbor as of yesterday - John Pogacnik. The last report of the Mentor Beach King Eider is for Saturday - Gabe Hostetler et al.
The Clear Fork Reservoir Red-necked Grebe was last reported Friday - Su Snyder. The Gordon Park Eared Grebe and nearby Black-legged Kittiwake were both seen throughout the weekend by many observers. One to two Little Gulls were among the thousands of Bonaparte's Gulls at Fairport Harbor Friday & Saturday - Larry Rosche & John Pogacnik. Two Purple Sandpipers were on the breakwall at Headlands Beach State Park Saturday with one remaining yesterday - Brian Barchus et al. A Glaucous Gull was discovered Friday at Huron, and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull off Sandusky Harbor through the weekend - Mike Busam.
Friday 29 November 2002
Both King & Common Eiders were present at their respective Lake County locations this morning - Larry Rosche. Among the thousands of Bonaparte's Gulls within Fairport Harbor this morning Larry also located a Little Gull. Late yesterday, Ray Hannikman found a Black-legged Kittiwake off the Cleveland lakefront at E. 7nd St. The Eared Grebe continues at Gordon Park on the lakefront while Gabe Leidy also re-sighted the Killdeer Plains W.A. Loggerhead Shrike yesterday.
An immature King Eider off Mentor Beach, Lake County 28 November 2002; copyright 2002 Paul GardnerThis photo of the King Eider is provide by Paul Gardner. Selecting the image will bring up a quicktime movie of the bird provided by Larry Rosche. This is a 735k file - expect 2-3 minute download via 56k modem.

To play within your browser get a free quicktime movie plug-in here.
Rebecca Hinkle provides this note regarding public use of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge this December.

All trails at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge will be closed from December 1st through December 7th. The refuge is conducting it's annual controlled deer hunt and all trails are closed for visitor safety.The auto tour route will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday December 15th
Thursday 28 November 2002
An immature male King Eider was discovered yesterday off Mentor Beach, Lake County by Nick Barber. This is only about 15 minutes to the west of the Fairport Harbor Common Eider, allowing several observers to see both species in Ohio in the same day. The King Eider was still present this morning - Dan Sanders. Directions to Mentor Beach

OFF Rt. 2, [situated between the Rt. 306 (east) and Rt. 615 (west) exits off Rt. 2]. East on Lakeshore (Rte. 283), a bit past Rte 306, you turn left at a light where there is a Walgreen's. Looking at the map, I'm thinking that the road is called Andrews. In any event, it remains Rte 283 despite the left-hand turn. Follow that road to the end, to the lake, to the park. Then, as previously stated, the bird should be on the far left. - Suzanne Wagner.
A Red-necked Grebe first found Tue. at Clear Fork Reservoir (Richland Co.) - John Herman was verified yesterday by Roger Troutman. The Gordon Park Eared Grebe was still present yesterday - Greg Miller.
Wednesday 27 November 2002
The Batavia Selasphorus hummingbird was last reported Saturday - Neill Cade. A detailed photoessay of the Massillon Ruby-throated Hummingbird can be found at Joe Hammond's website.
I neglected to run-down the initial flight of Sandhill Cranes last week through the southwest:

17 Nov. - 150 over Englewood Reserve, Montgomery Co. (fide Dayton RBA)
17 Nov. - 21 over West Chester, Butler Co. - Jim Becker
18 Nov. - 20+ over Anderson TWP, Hamilton Co. - Lois Shadix
19 Nov. - 40 at the Shaker Trace Wetlands (AKA Miami-Whitewater) - Bill Leaman
23 Nov. - 35 in cornfield at the intersection of Dull Road & St. Rt. 503 in Darke Co. - Regina Schieltz

If true to form, the peak movement has yet to come, traditionally being the weekend of Thanksgiving, although strong movements have been noted well into December in recent years.
A female White-winged Scoter 24 November 2002 off Fairport Harbor, Lake County Ohio; copyright 2002 Joe Hammond Scoter round-up. Numbers have generally fallen off on Lake Erie, but all three species are still be seen at several locations. Inland, Scott Reeves reported 6 Surf and 3 Black Scoters at Caesar Creek Reservoir last Friday. The Black Scoter was still present Sunday. Also in the southwest, on Saturday one of each was found at East Fork State Park - Jack & Jay Stenger. On Lake Erie, 2 Black, 3 Surf, and a White-winged Scoter were seen at Fairport Harbor on Sunday - Joe Hammond et al. The waterfowl flight that morning past Lakeshore Metropark in Lake County produced 14 Black and 5 Surf Scoters - John Pogacnik. Off Rocky River Park, the flock Sunday had dwindled to 23 Surf, 28 Black, and 8 White-winged Scoters - Joe Hammond et al.
Tuesday 26 November 2002
Paul Gardner supplies this photo of the Fairport Harbor Common Eider from Sunday.

The Fairport Harbor Common Eider 23 November 2002; copyright 2002 Paul Gardner

On Saturday, Scott Wright had a first-yr male Baltimore Oriole in Geneva Twp., Ashtabula County at the corner of Lake and Meyers Rd.
Around 11:00 am yesterday morning, Dave St. John had a flock of 31 Greater White-fronted Geese over Newark for what must be a rare record for Licking County. A flock of 25 Snow Geese flew over Mark Wessel at the corner of 12 mi. Rd. and Rt. 132 in Clermont Co. the 24th. Two Snow Geese were overhead for Pat Hayes on Kelleys Island Sunday. My waterbird census around the island that morning produced island records of 117 Horned Grebe and 155 Common Loon. I was only able to locate one of the four Red-throated Loons discovered the previous day by Tom Bartlett. The only other Red-throated Loon reported this past week was a bird on Sunday off Lakeshore Metropark - John Pogacnik. Bufflehead numbers on the island had dwindled substantially from last week to little more than 1750 birds Sunday. However, Common Goldeneye exceeded 220. Two Surf Scoters remained while on Saturday Tom was able to add a White-winged Scoter to the island's impressive waterfowl list for the fall. Songbird highlights include 3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Generating a bit of excitement, if only for a short while, from the end of Lincoln Rd., looking S into the sun, I spied 4 swallows appx. 500 yards distant. Silhouetted at that distance, surely they were Caves:-) Unfortunately, I managed to work my way to within 50 yards only to have them resolve into Tree Swallows.
There are uncommonly few Great Blues and egrets lingering this year, fewer than perhaps the past 7 years I have been keeping track. Shorebirds too are scarce with but 28 Dunlin remaining Sunday at Meadowbrook Lake. Nor were there any terns left at Port Clinton. The extensive mud from the Cedar Point Chaussee drew a blank, although in the distance were 227 swans. Against the light some 700 yards away best to leave them swan spp. - V.W.F.III.
Monday 25 November 2002
The Fairport Harbor Common Eider was relocated near the original location (between marina and beach) yesterday morning - Joe Sedransk, Brad Sparks, Paul Gardner, Randel Rogers.
Yet another November hummingbird to report. A bird identified as an immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird is coming to a feeder in Massillon (Stark County) - Larry Rosche, mo.bs. The hosts, David and Maryjo Knowles, are welcoming birders to 3625 Southway SE. The white ranch is on the SE corner of Southway and Genoa. Park in their driveway. View the bird from inside the garage. As supplied by Elaine Sniveley
The Harris's Sparrow coming to a Fairfield County feeder was still there yesterday - Jason Estep. See 20 November entry for directions.

The Killdeer Plains W.A. Loggerhead Shrike was still present Saturday - Randel Rogers. After 5-6 years of shrikes aplenty, sightings of Northerns have been scant thus far this season. A bird appearing Sunday at Lakeshore Park in North Perry, Lake County is only the 2nd of which I've been made aware.

The Gordon Park (Cleveland) Eared Grebe was still present yesterday - Randel Rogers.

Off Rocky River Park Saturday, Michelle Hendrick & Ernie Cornelius had a 1st-yr Glaucous Gull. The Huron pier flats were home to a 1st-yr Thayer's Gull and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. yesterday - V.W.F.III
An immature Glaucous Gull off Rocky River Park 23 November 2002; copyright 2002 Ernie Cornelius
Saturday 23 November 2002
Throughout Ohio, but most especially within the Western Basin, birders encounter collared geese and swans. Green-collared swans are Trumpeters from Ohio. White-collared Canada Geese are also from Ohio.
Colors such as orange, blue, green, and yellow originate from outside Ohio. Orange is by far the most frequently encountered color in Ohio and represent birds banded in Canada within the Mississippi flyway. During the winter of 1994-95 at Castalia Pond all of the above colors were represented. The blue collar is likely a bird from the Mississippi flyway but banded in the United States. Yellow was in use for the small forms of the western flyway, while the only reference I have gives green as belonging to an Aleutian Canada Goose. I recall the bird well and I did not considered it an unusual form. Last winter, I saw my first collared Snow Goose in Ohio, a bird on the Crane Creek estuary with a ruby-red collar. Apparently, from La Perouse Bay, Churchill Manitoba.

References:
Arctic Goose Joint Venture
About Goose Collars
I propose, as a means by which to generate interest in collared waterfowl in Ohio, a webpage to act as a clearinghouse of sightings of individual geese. I have started with five birds I read at Castalia Pond on the 14th.

Below are a couple of geese at Castalia Pond from 20 January 2002. Reports need to include the alpha-numeric code read off the collar.

orange collared Canada Geese at Castalia Pond 20 Janaury 2002

More on Canada Goose forms of the Mississippi flyway

and this interesting note of caution from Rouge River Bird Observatory, Michigan.

maintained by Victor W. Fazio III / last modified 26 Nov. 2000; copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved.