Monday, January 7, 2013

Ohio Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird at BSBO in northern Ohio, today.

      Plan A for this long weekend was to head to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to try to photograph Snowy, Northern Hawk and possibly Great Grey owls.  That plan was scrapped at 5:00 this morning when I  overslept as a result of not getting to bed until midnight after working a 15 hour shift yesterday.  No longer in the mood  for a 6-hour one-way drive and overnight stay, I checked local bird reports and decided to head to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Ohio and try to see the Rufous Hummingbird that has been visiting their feeders since September.  Yes, a hummingbird in January.
      Rufous Hummingbirds are native to western North America with a breeding range that runs from Oregon, Idaho and Montana northward up the Pacific coast to Alaska.  Their normal overwintering grounds are in Mexico, but sometimes a few will cross the Rocky Mountains and spend the winter in the Eastern U.S.  In November 2011  I had a hatch-year female Rufous visit my feeders for a week starting on the 7th.  She was the first Rufous ever in Wayne County, the most populous county in Michigan.   Here are two photos of my Rufous.

  The bird today was very cooperative and showed up every 20 minutes or so, pretty much the same feeding schedule my Rufous had. 
   Around sunset I went to the causeway at Magee Marsh to check for Short-eared Owls.  Didn't find any owls but there were 4 Northern Harriers that were flying low over the marsh in search of prey.  Here are some shots of an adult male Harrier. 

Male Northern Harrier
   The gender of adult Harriers can be determined by color.  The female (not pictured) is brown while the male is grey and they are commonly refered to as the 'Grey Ghost'.  
    Years ago at the LEMP fall Hawkwatch I heard someone tell the following story...... An  experienced  hawk observer noticed the flight pattern of a Northern Harrier approaching from a distance and called out the ID.  A visitor to the migration count site marveled "Wow you must have good binoculars'. As the bird got closer and the color could be observed another veteran birder called out 'It's a male'.  The awestruck visitor  exclaimed 'YOU CAN SEE IT'S GENITALIA?'. 

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