Several things have conspired to keep me away from blogging lately, not the least of which has been a massive, four-day long migraine headache. Although I have had headaches since high school, they haven't been as frequent in recent years and the worst of them usually only lasts 24 hours, leaving me with a post-migraine "hangover." This one has been a doozy and I'm glad it is lessening as of today.
All whining aside, I thought I'd catch up by reminding you of some birding events. First and foremost, this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, co-sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society. Whether you count for one day or all four, whether you bird from your back yard or further afield, your participation in this weekend's citizen science project is important. Go to the GBBC link above for all the details, and count the birds at your feeders this weekend.
Secondly, this weekend winds up the Rusty Blackbird Blitz, a nine day period when birders volunteer their time and effort to locate hotspots for this declining species. Check the link for the protocols and help save the Rusty Blackbird!
In my own back yard, I am seeing and hearing the "half-hardy" birds, those species which don't truly migrate during the winter months, but merely congregate in hidden sanctuaries, out of sight of the casual observer. Birder purists are fond of reminding me that bluebirds, blackbirds, killdeer, and meadowlarks overwinter in Ohio and that seeing one in February is no big deal. Poo on you, birder snobs! The return of these birds always makes me feel that spring is not too far away, and I am happy to report that in the past week I have seen an Eastern Meadowlark on a power line, had a flock of 30 male Red-winged Blackbirds descend on my back yard feeding stations on Thursday, and heard a Killdeer calling last night. I also saw a Great Blue Heron flying towards an area where I'm certain there is a rookery. I am determined to find it this year. Finally, others in SW Ohio are reporting woodcocks dancing this week, and I have been listening for mine, so far without success.
Other spring-like omens include the Carolina Chickadees beginning to sing - the books and tapes describe this as "Fee-bee, fee-bay," but I hear "See you, see me" - my resident Eastern Bluebird pair inspecting the nest box (and him softly singing, "Cheer, cheerful charmer," to his bride), and the Red-shouldered Hawk pair across the road perching together and calling.
Soon, soon, spring will be here. And then, the frenzy starts -
New River Gorge Birding and Nature Festival, Fayetteville, W.Va., April 27 to May 2 (Come and bird with the Flock in wild, wonderful West Virginia!)
International Migratory Bird Day weekend celebration at Magee Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and Black Swamp Bird Observatory, among other places May 9 & 10
Annual Meeting of the Ohio Ornithological Society, Oak Openings Metropark, Toledo, Ohio, May 16
Here's hoping the groundhog was wrong.