In prep to release Mindful Birding: A Beginner’s Guide, 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.
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
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
Indigo Bunting; Meadowbrook Marsh
House Wren; Scioto Audubon Columbus
Little Blue Heron; Hilliard
Bird calls tell primitive areas of our brains there are no predators nearby. I always find Wood Thrush calls relaxing.
Featured birds for July: Eastern United States
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 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.
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.
Meet the Author
Lakewood Library hosted a virtual “meet the author” event to discuss my books about Ohio birds and how birding is a form of mindfulness, the state of being conscious and aware. Watch on YouTube
I’ve started hearing Eastern Towhees calling in the distance on recent metropark visits. Handsome, isn’t he!
A sound of spring, a Song Sparrow singing from the treetops.
My first Tree Swallow sighting was last weekend at a metropark where they were checking out nesting boxes…house hunting!
Eastern Phoebes are back and calling in the mornings! I have not seen one yet but hearing them regularly now.
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(!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fall of 2021 was an amazing time for warberling in Ohio. Ok if it’s not a word, it should be.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.