Our First Trip to Magee Marsh

Magee Marsh East Entrance Sign
The East Entrance to Magee Marsh

Each May, northern Ohio’s Magee Marsh is a magnet for birders who want to see a wide number of warblers and other migrants up close. The local Ohio birders make the trip even more worthwhile by throwing The Biggest Week in American Birding festival during the height of warbler migration, with all kinds of activities held at birding hotspots throughout the area. If you are a birder, it really is an awesome adventure.

This year’s festival ran from May 5 through May 14. Jim and I traveled from Maryland to bird the area from May 6 until May 12. It was our first trip there. We saw so much and learned so much and got to see one hundred and one bird species (sixteen of them warblers.) We added twenty-seven new birds to our life list, including five warblers we had never before seen.

This post is an account of what the experience was like for us as first-time visitors to the marsh and the festival, including some of the logistics of staying in the area and visiting the marsh and other local birding hotspots. I’m also working on a companion post with additional photos of the birds we saw that will touch on what we learned in trying to photograph them.

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Spring Birds in the Yard

Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Here in central Maryland, while it has been feeling like summer lately, we have to remind ourselves that it is actually still spring. The yard has been lively, with quite a few interesting spring visitors over the past week. Most of them will not settle in to become yard regulars and will continue on their way within a day or two, but it sure is fun to watch them while they are here.

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Reducing Bird Strikes: DIY Birdsavers Project

Zen Window Curtains
Zen Window Curtains

Most of the time, adult birds are very coordinated and avoid flying into things, but the clear hard windows we put all over our buildings can cause them problems. Reflections in windows can give the appearance of a clear route to fly, especially to a bird who is trying to get away from a predator in a panic.

You get a sick feeling in your gut when you hear the thump of a bird hitting the glass hard. Bird strikes can injure and even kill birds and we’ve seen both. When you feed birds, you are drawing even more birds near to your house and its windows. As a responsible bird watcher, you do what you can to reduce strikes. With that in mind, I looked for an inexpensive solution that also doesn’t obscure our view out through the window.
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Looking Beyond The Bird Feeder

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

During the winter months, most of the bird action in my yard is at the feeders. There are also birds looking under leaves and in bark crevices for bugs or searching for natural sources of seed or fruit. But none of these things is as abundant in the cold months, so for many birds that stay around here through the winter, the feeders become the center of activity.

But come spring, there are more and more things around for birds to eat so, while they’ll still happily come to feeders, many can also be seen in other places in the yard. Sparrows who up until now were mostly found under the feeders are now searching for seed and bugs in the grass (or what passes for grass in my yard) or up in the trees that are now leafing out. Some birds are getting nectar from flowering plants or finding insects attracted to the flowers. And there are all kinds of really interesting spring migrants coming through that don’t come to feeders at all, but who might be found in your yard if you watch for them.

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A Raccoon is Eating My Suet!

Suet Feeder in the Birdbath
Suet Feeder in the Birdbath

Just as I was congratulating myself that I had gotten my various bird feeders strategically set up around my yard so that they attracted the birds I wanted to attract while keeping squirrels out of the seed . . . a new visitor from nature arrived. While I have yet to actually lay eyes on the furry creature, I’m confident that I’ve got a raccoon as a new yard visitor or resident. Here is the evidence of the critter’s crimes against my bird feeders and my strategy for (hopefully) thwarting the raccoon’s attacks on the food I put out for the birds.

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Into the Nest (Book Review)

Into the Nest Cover
Into the Nest Cover

As I’ve gotten more and more interested in birds, I’ve spent more time reading about them. I must admit though that I’ve never been able to get too excited about the nesting and parenting section of a bird’s entry in the typical bird identification guide. They so often seem to be about numbers: x amount of time to build a nest, x number of eggs, x number of weeks sitting on the nest, x number of days or weeks of fledging the young, etc. My eyes would glaze over and it just wouldn’t stick in my mind. But I’m currently reading a book about just this topic and I’m completely fascinated. If you enjoy watching birds, I highly recommend that you check it out.

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Birding at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

An Osprey Enjoying Sushi
An Osprey Enjoying Sushi

Saturday morning started chilly but clear. The weather folks promised 66 degrees, so Jim and I bundled up in layers and headed over the Bay Bridge to spend the day at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Horsehead Maryland. We saw some cool stuff (including forty-five bird species!) Here are some highlights in pictures and stories.

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