Meet the Author

Lakewood Library Virtual Event

Lakewood Library hosted a virtual “meet the author” event to discuss my books and explore the birds of the Buckeye state. The latest book in my Lessons from a Birdbrain series focuses on birds found in Ohio in the winter months. Lessons from a Birdbrain: Winter, Ohio teaches that birding is actually a form of mindfulness, the state of being conscious and aware. Watch on YouTube

Laura McDermott Lakewood Library event

November Update

Mindful Birding: A Beginner’s Guide, my new book, features the amazing work of a team of friends, family, neighbors and fellow birding enthusiasts from Seattle and Ohio. The focus is on teaching my friend and college roommate, Renée, how to get started with birding and mindfulness. And get started she did with gusto. She took nearly all of the photos featured in the book, improved her health through regular walking and is now a card carrying, birding nerd like me. This month’s blog features Renée’s photography in the hopes of inspiring you to also join the club.

BIRDING RULES!!!

Birds of Seattle

Anna’s Hummingbird

Bushtit

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

photo of Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Rhinoceros Auklet

photo of Rhinoceros Auklet

October update: Seattle in September

In prep to release Mindful Birding, my new book featuring birds of Seattle, I visited my friend Renée in Seattle in September. We had a birding marathon. For real, we walked over 26.2 miles in 4 days, visited the locations highlighted in the new book and saw over 60 species of birds. Not bad for a pretty quick trip.

Anna’s Hummingbird stretches his wing casually, while showing his stunning stuff

Sandhill Cranes jump around, jump around, jump up, jump up, jump down

Spotted Towhee smiles and looks quite pleased

Gadwall takes a snooze

September Blog

Late summer birding can be quiet as many birds are hiding out as they molt in prep for migration. Getting out anyway offers me the chance to connect with and appreciate the beauty of nature, birds or no.

Sunrise on Lake Erie

View from Kelleys Island State Park

Black Swallowtail

Butterfly enjoying a zinnia at my garden

European Robin

A recent conference offered the opportunity to meet new birds

Common Chaffinch

Probably the House Finch of Europe, still lovely

August Happenings

August is the middle of summer and many birds have started preparations to migrate. Adults are in the process of teaching “youngins” where and how to find and catch food. Some birds will molt before migration and will keep a low profile as their new plumage grows. Check out recent photos from around Ohio.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo; Kelleys Island

“Yummy mayfly for you, son”

Indigo Bunting; Meadowbrook Marsh

“Moooooom, don’t take another picture of me, my feathers are messed up!”

House Wren; Scioto Audubon Columbus

These perky, cheerful wrens have already stopped their singing and may have packed
their bags for southern U.S. or even Mexico

Little Blue Heron; Hilliard

A rare visitor to Ohio, this Little Blue Heron is a juvenile who may have decided to strike out
on its own from its parents to find more food…or just because its parents told it to stay put.

Wood Thrush Audio Recharge

Bird calls tell primitive areas of our brains there are no predators nearby. I always find Wood Thrush calls relaxing.

Wood Thrush
Click image to watch on TikTok

July Birds

The birds below can be found in July on the East Coast in states such as Ohio. Click on each bird to learn more about them.

Indigo Bunting
Migrant from Central America
Indigo Bunting

Indigo Buntings are featured in Lessons from a Birdbrain: Summer, Ohio and can also be found in Belize. They make wonderful photography subjects with their stunning color and often announce themselves throughout the summer calling from the tops of trees. I suggest you learn their call so you can look up when one is around and spot it.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher
Does not like paparazzi
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

These little cuties are also migrants in the Northern and Eastern United States and as the name suggests, they spend a lot of their time darting around catching flying insects. They are not nearly as helpful as photography subjects as Great Egrets or Indigo Buntings though and tend to dart away just as the camera clicks. If you’re looking for a challenge though, they are relatively numerous on bike trails in the summer when gnats are plentiful.

Spring Migration

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

I’ve started hearing Eastern Towhees calling in the distance on recent metropark visits. Handsome, isn’t he! 

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

A sound of spring, a Song Sparrow singing from the treetops.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

My first Tree Swallow sighting was last weekend at a metropark where they were checking out nesting boxes…house hunting!

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebes are back and calling in the mornings! I have not seen one yet but hearing them regularly now.

Brown-headed Cowbirds

Brown-headed Cowbirds

One of the less popular spring migrants, Brown-headed Cowbirds are back and making lovely noises. Some people don’t respect them because they are nest stealers and leave their offspring to be raised by other birds(!).

December Featured Birds

Late Fall, Early Winter

A few brave bird souls are starting to arrive in Ohio from even colder places to the north of us where waters are starting to freeze up. Hawks are super cool to watch now as the foliage has dropped from many of our trees, they are very visible and often fairly easy to spot and sometimes pretty vocal. A few mockingbirds also stick around and have conversations with the hawks.

Mockingbird
Mocking, that’s so rude

Mockingbird

Actually the mocking noises that this bird makes are a very cool characteristic of this bird. They can imitate hundreds of sounds, including mostly other birds but sometimes can also be heard imitating car alarms and fire engines.

Cooper's Hawk
Rahhhhhrhhhhhhhh

Cooper’s Hawk

This Cooper’s Hawk was making a ton of noise at Scioto Audubon Metro Park in early November. I didn’t see other hawks or predators around but most likely the call was to defend its territory. I was not about to try to take over, especially after its fair warning.

Hawk
Does not eat pets

Red-tailed Hawk

Though they look kinda tough and scary, Red-tailed Hawks are not able to pick up pets and carry them away from yards. They weigh less than most pets at around 2 pounds but their fluff makes them look bigger and tougher.

Merlin
Merlin, no not the wizard

Merlin

Although considered rare in Ohio, I’ve been lucky enough to spot these small, cool lookin hawks in Ohio a few times in the last year. This one was perched in a tree on the quarry trails of Kellys Island the weekend I was there for the Owl Fest. Its expression probably means it is not happy there is not a Merlin fest.

Migration Celebration

Fall Migration…the next wave

Migration through Ohio continues to wind down and they are well on their way to their wintering destinations. Some have come and gone already and some are just now arriving in Ohio. Check out these recent photos for some of the action.

Saw-whet Owl
Saw-whet Owl…is that not the cutest owl EVER??????

Owl Festival

I highly recommend the Kelleys Island Owl Festival, held each year in November to learn more about bird banding and enjoy an amazing experience getting up close and personal with these beautiful Saw-whet Owls. They are later migrants through Ohio and some will stay with us through winter while others will head further south.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

Headed for a Party

Sandhill Cranes migrate through Ohio in the fall to their wintering grounds in southern United States and Mexico. If you really want to see a Sandhill Crane migration PARTY, they apparently queue up in Jasper County, Indiana and have been estimated to number in the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS in late November. I hope they have enough snacks to go around.

Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco

Les Juncos est arrivé!

Dark-eyed Juncos are welcome visitors to my feeders in November and will stay through the winter. They typically show up in November and can be seen hopping around on the ground. Their plumage is variable across the United States, sometimes showing up with a lot more brown than our Ohio juncos which typically are more gray.


More Warblers

Fall of 2021 was an amazing time for warberling in Ohio. Ok if it’s not a word, it should be.

Nashville Warbler
Nashville Warbler

Never made the cut

I was on quite the mission in the fall to get a better picture of a Nashville Warbler than what I had in the original edition of my Migration book. Despite many attempts, the best one of fall 2021 never turned out better than 2020. Mindfulness at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

Warbler Mania, again

I was a bit surprised yet grateful to see this Palm Warbler at Kelleys Island when I was there in early November for the Owl Fest. This was the only one I saw but it perched nicely for me for this photo as it was probably warming its feathers in the unusually warm temperatures and sun. As its name suggests, it is probably headed to someplace like Florida to perch in a palm tree. Lucky!

Tennessee
Tennessee

Cool Eyeliner

As with many things in life, I’m still learning, especially how to tell warblers apart. And especially especially how to tell fall warblers apart. A Tennessee has a strong eyeline which I’m starting to recognize more consistently.

Cape May
Cape May

Bright and Bold

ln the spring, these guys are even brighter with rufous coloring around their eyes. I’d say this guy is still pretty bright and beautiful, considering. He along with several other warbler varieties were hanging out in berry bushes.

Common Yellowthroat

Zorro

Common Yellowthroats were one of the first warblers I learned because the males have the Zorro mask going on. And they are, well, common. I always wonder if birds that have the name “common” in their name take offense. Let’s hope not.

American Redstart

What’s in a Name

In the spring particularly, the male American Redstart has bright reddish orange patches that make them fairly easily identifiable. The “start” part of the name is from old English, the word for tail.