Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers have returned to my yard and are very visible.  A couple of days ago, I was surprised to see that they had returned to the suet feeders.   It is a real treat to have pileated woodpeckers visit so check out your backyard to see if you see these very large woodpeckers visiting. 

Pileated Woodpeckers are large beautiful birds that are black with a white stripe down the neck and a bright red cap-like crest on their head. It is easy to tell the female from the male.  The female has a black mustache and the male has a red distinctive mustache. 

Pileated Woodpeckers prefer to live in mature forests.  They can also be found in younger forests with decaying trees as well as in neighborhoods like the one in which I live.  I often hear their loud thunderous pecking at the dead trees in my backyard. Pileated Woodpeckers loud pecking or drumming is also a way to attract mates and to announce the boundaries of their territories. Pairs of Pileated Woodpeckers establish territories and live on them all year long (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/p/pileated-woodpecker/). 

Pileated Woodpeckers drill large rectangular holes in trees looking for their favorite food, carpenter ants.  Even though carpenter ants are their favorite food, Pileated Woodpeckers also eat other ants, beetle larvae, termites, and other insects such as flies, spruce budworm, caterpillars, cockroaches, and grasshoppers. They also eat wild fruits and nuts, including greenbrier, hackberry, sassafrass, blackberries, sumac berries, poison ivy, holly, dogwood, persimmon, and elderberry (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/lifehistory). 
The holes that Pileated Woodpeckers make looking for food often become shelter for other birds and animals.

More about Pileated Woodpeckers at: 
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/p/pileated-woodpecker/
http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/pileated-woodpecker
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/lifehistory

Check out their calls and sounds:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/sounds

Photos of the Pileated Woodpecker

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Cedar Waxwings in the Neighborhood Today

Cedar Waxwings usually visit my yard in the spring and fall.  They are passing through and do not stay for more than a day or two.   In the spring, they are often looking for water and drink and bathe in the little pond in the backyard.  In the fall, they are looking for water and berries. 

The Cedar Waxwing is a beautiful bird but it is difficult to see them without binoculars.  They seem to blend into their natural world. The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, thin bird that has been described as having a brown, tan or cinnamon body with a black masked face.  They have waxy red tips on their secondary wing feathers and a yellow band on the tip of their tail. 

The Cedar Waxing prefer to live in open woodlands and near fruit trees and orchards.  In winter, they live in wooded areas where berries are plentiful. I wish there were more year-round berry trees and bushes in my yard.  Maybe next year I will not only plant a few more but they will grow!

Cedar Waxwings are very social birds and travel in flocks except when nesting. They usually have two broods of 3 to 5 eggs each year.  The incubation period is 12-13 days and both parents feed the young.  Initially, their parents feed them insects such as caterpillars, beetles, and ants.  After a few days, they are fed berries.

In the spring and early fall, Cedar Waxwings along with flocks of Robins are often seen on the campus of Ohio University near Walter Hall.  

For more information: 

http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index/birds/cedar-waxwing

http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/cedar-waxwing

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cedar_Waxwing/lifehistory

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/c/cedar-waxwing/

Photos of the Cedar Waxwings Today

 

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Blue Jays In My Backyard

Winter is on the way and it is time to put feeders up!  Birds are returning to feeders even though there are still many seeds in gardens and fields.  I keep my feeders up all year-fall, winter, spring, and summer.  I love seeing the different behaviors of the birds throughout the different seasons, especially the young birds in spring and summer. With the cooler weather, birds are visiting in large numbers.  In the coming weeks, I will write about the different birds that visit my yard.

Blue Jays are very common highly adaptable and intelligent bird in my backyard and in yours!  They are large noisy, blue birds with blue, white, and black plumage.  They have a very loud, boisterous call.   Blue Jays often alert other birds when hawks or other predators are near.   They can mimic the call of hawks which tells others birds that a hawk is near.   They seem to recognize when I am putting seed on the deck and often call the other Jays to eat.  

Blue Jays love peanuts and I offer them shelled and unshelled peanuts as well as sunflower seeds and corn.  They also enjoy fruit and I have observed them pecking and eating the apples from my apple tree.   Blue Jays also eat insects and may even raid the nests of other birds.  They are also known for eating and spreading acorns increasing the number of oak trees. 

When eating Blue Jays hold their food between their feet while pecking the food open.  They are often putting lots of food in their mouth at the same time storing the food in their throat or gular pouch.  They hide the food for another time similar to the way squirrels store their food.

Blue Jays like to live in forests near oak and beech trees.  They are very social and live in pairs, family groups, or small flocks.   They are monogamous and stay together for life.  They breed from mid-March to July.  Both parents are involved in caring for the hatchings but the mom is the primary caregiver. 

The oldest wild, banded Blue Jay was at least 26 years, 11 months when it was found dead in 2016.

For more information check out the following websites.
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_Jay/id
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_Jay/lifehistory
http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/blue-jay
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/b/blue-jay/
https://owlcation.com/stem/Blue-Jay-Bird-Facts-Pictures-Behavior

Photos of Blue Jays in My Backyard

 

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Emeriti Park at Ohio University

I was on campus yesterday taking photos.  One of my stops was Emeriti Park.  Emeriti Park is one of the most beautiful places on the campus of Ohio University.  According to the website, it is a scenic four-acre site along South Green Drive, situated on the former bed of the Hocking River. It includes a pond, picturesque flowerbeds, benches, trees, fountains and a waterfall. A gazebo has been added at the northwestern edge of the park.  The entranceway is named for Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Emeritus William Kennard who retired in 1997 after 31 years of service with the university. 

 

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Blendon Woods

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Blendon Woods, another one of the amazing MetroParks in Columbus.  The color of the trees was gorgeous with the brilliance of red, orange and yellow leaves everywhere.  There were about 40 wood ducks at Walden Pond.  The serenity and quiet of walking through the woods even on a Saturday morning was worth the trip.   Birders with binoculars and cameras seemed to be the main hikers even though there were a few couples with and without children.   

According to the website (http://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/blendon-woods/ ) : “Blendon Woods is a spectacular stream-cut ravines with exposed ripple rock sandstone and open fields surrounded by beech-maple and oak-hickory forests. The 653-acre park is a great place to see a variety of songbirds, waterfowl and other wildlife, especially the flock of wild turkeys meandering about in search of food. The 118-acre Walden Waterfowl Refuge with its 11-acre Thoreau Lake provides a sanctuary for hundreds of birds, ducks and other wildlife. Open year-round, it features two elevated observation shelters with spotting scopes for viewing waterfowl”.

Fall at Blendon Woods Photos

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SLATE RUN

Friday was a beautiful Autumn day in OHIO.  I spent the day visiting Slate Run and taking photos.  Slate Run is a 1,705-acre park and wetlands in Canal Winchester.  There are viewing areas along the wetlands to watch the water bird.  Unfortunately, today there were only a few water birds so I spent the day shooting the landscape which was quiet, serene, and beautiful.  I could have stayed all day.  If you are looking for peaceful place to hike and observe nature, visit the wetlands and hiking trails at Slate Run.  Check out the website at : http://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/slate-run/.

Even though I was disappointed that there was very little visible wildlife, I did enjoy taking photos of the scenery. 

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HOT AUTUMN and the BLOOMING FLOWERS

 

Many of us have experienced a very warm Autumn but now the weather is quickly changing.  In Athens we are expecting a heavy frost so the flowers that continued to bloom into Autumn are at risk of freezing tonight. 

Today I took photos of the flowers that continued to bloom in my garden.  Today was the first day that the bees and butterflies were not around and the hibiscus did not bloom.  I guess it is a sign that soon cooler weather will be here to stay. 

The last flowers of summer!

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Pickerington Ponds

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to Pickerington Ponds which is about one hour and a half from Athens.   My first trip was almost two years ago and this was my second trip.  I will become a frequent visitor because there is so much to see: http://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/pickerington-ponds/park-map/.   The Fall foliage was beautiful and there are many shore and water birds.  Unfortunately, I did not have my extra-long telephoto lens because it was out for repair.  The sun was also reflecting on the water which created shadows.  I will visit again very soon since my lens should arrive as good as new tomorrow. 

According to the website: “Pickerington Ponds is a premier spot for birdwatching, with more than 260 species seen. The combination of seasonal ponds and rich wetland vegetation, with bordering woodlands, serve as a magnet for migrating waterfowl, shore birds and land birds. Deer, beaver, fox and other wildlife can be seen near the ponds and adjoining woods and fields of this 1,608 acre park”.  

See the website for trail maps and directions: http://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/pickerington-ponds/.   


A few of the sights ......

Pond at Pickerington Ponds

Pond at Pickerington Ponds

Double-Crested Cormorant

Double-Crested Cormorant

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Mallards Flying Over

Mallards Flying Over

A Favorite Tree

A Favorite Tree

Carp in the Pond

Carp in the Pond

Great Egret

Great Egret

Milkweed Pods

Milkweed Pods

Crows Hanging Out in a Tree

Crows Hanging Out in a Tree

Egret Flying Over

Egret Flying Over

Fall Foliage on the Edge of the Pond

Fall Foliage on the Edge of the Pond

Fall at White's Mill

I was visiting White's Mill a couple of days ago buying bird seed.  My birds are very happy because they love bird seed from White's Mill, especially the Woodpecker Mix.  I had my camera with me so I asked permission to take photos.  They are geared up for Fall! 

 

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I must say that even though I am not a cat person, a cat was there to greet me as I exited the car.

According to the White's Mill Facebook Page, White's Mill has proudly served southeast Ohio since 1809. Feed, Bird Seed and Feeders, Great Local Products, Chimes, Dog and Cat supplies, Lawn and Garden Supplies, Native American Jewelry and much more can be found at White's Mill. Uniquely Athens for over 200 years ( https://www.facebook.com/pg/Est.1809/about/?ref=page_internal).  

Fall At White's Mill !  My  Photos! 

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Early Fall at Hoot Owl Hollow

Hoot Owl Hollow Nature Preserve and Botanical Garden, a place of peace and serenity.  

On Wednesday, I spent the morning with Jane and Hank at Hook Owl Hollow and saw the early Fall changes.  The seasons at Hoot Owl Hollow are always beautiful. Spring with daffodils, peonies, forsythia, and azaleas and many other plants. Summer with day lilies as far as the eye can see and poppies, hollyhocks, and many other summer blooms.  I have not been to Hoot Owl Hollow in winter but I would guess that it is magical when there is a snowfall.  Truly a beautiful place!

Hoot Owl Hollow is open in the summer and other times by appointment.  Worth a visit especially if you are in need of daylilies or other special plants for your flowerbeds.

According to the website “The Perennial Gardens at Hoot Owl Hollow have been in existence for over 40 years, gradually evolving from very practical vegetable gardens, to less filling, but more soul satisfying ornamental beds. Over the past twenty or so years they have been greatly expanded to the point where, despite having 108 acres available, we are running out of space on the ten or so acres that we intensively garden. The rest of the land is primarily in woods, lovely to walk through any time of the year, but especially in the spring to see the wildflowers”.

Check out the website at http://www.hootowlhollow.com.

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Great Egret

The Great Egret is a tall, long-legged white feathered bird with long black legs, a long s-curved neck and a yellowish-orange bill.  They live in fresh water and salt water in marshes, ponds, mudflats, lakes and rivers in wooded areas.  They mostly eat fish but will eat salamanders, snakes, frogs, rodents, grasshoppers, and small birds.

In the 1800’s the population declined because of plume hunters.  Conservationists stopped the slaughter. The Great Egret became the symbol of the National Audubon Society (http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/great-egret). 

In Ohio the Great Egret is a bird of concern.  They only nest in the West Basin of Lake Erie on the West Sister Island NWR and Turning Point Island http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index/birds/great-egret.

For more information https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/id and https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/lifehistory.

Photos of the Great Egret

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Signs of Fall

The weather is cooler in Athens and sunrise is later!

Cooler days, shorter days, leaves changing colors and falling, pumpkins, apples, flowers turning to seed are all signs of Fall or is it Autumn.  Fall is near or is it Autumn that is near.

Fall is the Americanized term for Autumn.  At one time there were only two seasons-summer and winter.  Fall/Autumn is a relatively new season.  Autumn first appeared in the 14th century meaning harvest. In the 17th century Fall was introduced in writing.  In the 18th century, Fall and Autumn became the acceptable terms for the season between summer and winter. https://www.livescience.com/34260-fall-autumn-season-names.html. 

When does Fall begin?  There are at least three beliefs about when Fall begins http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/does-autumn-start-2017-autumn-equinox/.
             Using the Meteorological Calendar Fall begins September 1.
             Using the Astronomical Calendar which is used by most of us, Fall begins September 22
             Using Phenology, Fall is fluid and is dictated by changes in the natural world such as the changing of tree colors and ripening of fall fruits.

A short walk capturing early signs of Fall yesterday!

 

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Green Heron

 

The Green Heron is one of my favorite shorebirds.  I saw my first one a few years ago.  They seem to blend into their environment often looking a dark dusty blue-gray.  Up close or through a camera lens, they are a very colorful bright velvet-green bird with a brownish body.  They are quite beautiful.  

Green Herons are often seen standing motionless on the water’s edge of ponds, marshes, rivers, and lakes.  You can also find them in trees.  They have a unique call. Their call is a sharp kyowk! or skyow! 

Even though I have never seen a Green Heron use a tool, they are known as “one of the world’s few tool-using bird species.  They create fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish” (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Green_Heron/lifehistory). 

Green Herons eat mainly small fish such as minnows, sunfish, catfish, pickerel, carp, perch, gobies, shad, silverside, eels, and goldfish. They also feed on insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents.

Green Herons are still common, but their population suffered a gradual decline of over 1.5% per year from 1966 to 2014, resulting in a cumulative decline of 68%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.  They are apparently stable today. 

More about Green Herons at http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/green-heron

Enjoy the photos of the Green Heron!

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Flower Garden End of Summer

The summer is nearing the end and my flowerbeds are filled with  flower seed heads and weeds but there is still some color. 

The hibiscus are still going strong and new buds are showing up everyday.

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Other flowers that continue to add color include sunflowers, zinnias. coneflowers, asters, roses, sedum, anemones, and more.

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Lotus Plants and Pods at the ODNR Fish Hatchery

Lotus Plants and Pods at the ODNR Fish Hatchery

During our trip to the Fish Hatchery, Anne and I were fascinated by the variety and diversity of the lotus seed pods so I took many photos of the lotus plants and pods.  

The lotus plant –flowers, seeds, young leaves, roots- are all edible. Lotus plants have a distinctive dried seed head that looks like a watering can spout.   Lotus seeds have nutritional and medicinal uses.  The seeds are edible and can be cooked or eaten raw.  The seeds are harvested in August and September and are dried in the sun by the growers. 

Photos of the lotus plant and seed pods.  Enjoy.

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ODNR Fish Hatchery


Friday lunch with Anne.  We took a trip to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources  Fish Hatchery in Hebron OH (http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/publications/fish%20management/pub090.pdf).  I heard from friends about the birds that visit and wanted to see for myself and take photos.  Friday was a cold, blustery day which we did not expect.  In spite of the weather, I was able to get a few good shots of the landscape and wildlife. We saw and I photographed eagles, mostly juvenile ones, a kingfisher, turkey buzzards, and a green heron.  The Fish Hatchery is a very nice setting so I will have to return on a bright, sunny day.   

Photos of the trip to the Fish Hatchery.  Enjoy. 

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Fallow Deer

Took another trip to Logan and a visit to Ruby’s Petting Zoo (https://www.facebook.com/rubyspettingzoo/) to take photos of the Fallow Deer.  

Fallow Deer are the sole survivors of the Megacerines, a diverse deer lineage abundant during the Ice Age (https://www.britannica.com/animal/fallow-deer#ref1022133).  

Fallow Deer are medium size with light brown coats and white spots. A subspecies are all white with dark eyes.   The males  weigh between 130 to 200 pounds and have  broad flattened antlers.  The females weigh between 60 to 90 pounds.  Both the males and females have powerful legs and are very fast runners.   Green grass is their favorite food.  For more information read http://www.deerworlds.com/fallow-deer/.

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Lotus

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Lotus or waterlily? For a couple of years I have seen tall aquatic flowers and called them waterlilies.  I was incorrect.  They are lotus.  Yes, very different plants.  The easiest way to tell the difference is that waterlilies float on the water surface  but lotus leaves and flowers grow above the water. For more information see https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/whats-difference-between-water-lilies-water-lotus.

On State Road 56,  there is a house with a pond and each year they have the most amazing lotus plants growing in their pond.  For two years I have taken photos of the flowers. 

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Moonville Tunnel

 

My friend Anne and I took a short trip to Moonville Tunnel today and then lunch at Lake Hope Lodge.  We having a standing lunch date for Friday usually with a hike or a visit to an interesting place close to Athens. 

Moonville Tunnel is located near Zaleski OH.   It was a town that originated in the late 1880’s around the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad which later became the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the mining industry.   At Moonville’s peak, there were 100 residents.  Read more at http://www.moonvilletunnel.net/Moonville_History.htm. 

Moonville Ghosts are said to be haunting the tunnel. According to the legend, the tunnel is haunted by several ghosts (http://www.hauntedhocking.com/Moonville_Tunnel_Brakeman.htm)  but the most notable is the story of the death of the brakeman.  The brakeman’s job was very dangerous and on one night a slightly drunk brakeman for the railway fell asleep and sometime during the night.  He was awakened by the sound of his train leaving the depot. He arose, stumbling on to the train track and falling beneath the wheels of the train. The brakeman never recovered from his injuries and the ghost of the man is said to be seen stumbling down tracks within the tunnel with a lantern in hand, still trying to catch the train before it leaves Moonville Station.  Read more at http://www.forgottenoh.com/moonville.html.

Some of the photos I took today.  The lighting was poor and there were times that my camera would not focus at all due to no obvious problems.  Were there ghosts today when Anne and I were visiting? 

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Injured Heron on Hocking

Many of us in Athens are stressed because of the Blue Heron who has fishing line wrapped around his mouth. After reading several very similar posts online of Blue Herons that were injured by fishing line and other trash that we discard. We must continue to raise awareness of hazards associated with these practices.  They can be detrimental to the wildlife in our natural habitats. 

We want to do something to help the Heron but we should act with caution.  Several websites as well as experts indicated the danger of nonprofessionals attempting to rescue a Heron.  

A rescue: https://vimeo.com/82502275

The position held by most experts is to observe until the bird is unable to fly and even then approach the bird with caution and control the beak because it can pierce through the body.  Heron rescue: http://www.werc-ca.org/great-blue-heron.html

Also, as noted in http://theraptortrust.org/the-birds/injured/handling/  "Wading birds such as herons, egrets and bitterns are difficult to handle and can be very dangerous to rescue. Most are large (Great blue herons are four feet tall), long-legged, long-necked, birds with formidable beaks. They primarily eat fish, capturing them by stabbing and impaling them with their beaks. These birds are capable of inflicting a painful and serious wound. Be careful when handling them. The best way to capture any of these birds is with a long-handled, large fishing net. If a net is not available, use a blanket or coat and cover the entire bird before picking it up. If you must carry the bird in your arms, be sure to keep its beak away from your face. Place it in a box suitable for the bird’s size, and keep it warm, dark and quiet until you can get it to a rehabber".

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