Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Short-eared Owls at Killdeer Plains

     Monday was a gorgeous day! Beautiful sunshine and best of all....NO WIND!
That made it a great day to watch and photograph Short-eared Owls. "Shorties" usually begin hunting about 30-60 minutes before sunset. They don't prefer to hunt in windy weather.
    The Shorties begin moving north to their spring and summer locations around early to mid February. Some years they stay a bit later depending on weather conditions. 
    Last year, we skipped Killdeer Plains in favor of visiting Pickaway County. We had amazing opportunities there, but hadn't had an opportunity to go there. We've also watched them at Huffman Prairie....and watched as 7 Shorties launched out of the prairie within seconds of each other.
    I saw that the owls were still showing at Killdeer so we made the trip on Monday.
There's so much to see at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area! I'll add a separate post on our other views.
    Here's some of our favorite Short-eared Owl images for this visit, and a clip of David's amazing capture of a Shortie Dive for prey. 
    I've included a map as well....our favorite area to see the owls is on Township Highway 108, along the two ponds. The area is boxed in red. While the Shorties can be seen almost anywhere at Killdeer, TH 108 offers the most reliable looks. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Pileated Woodpeckers

    We were taking advantage of the unseasonably warm and sunny weather and happened upon this Pileated Woodpecker pair readying their nest cavity. Nest construction takes 4-6 weeks....looks like they have been working on this one for a while. Mom was doing most of the work, chipping out the interior of the cavity....she does not have the red facial stripe as dad has. He was staying nearby; keeping an eye out (he's the last pic). Once eggs are laid, both mom & dad take turns incubating the eggs which takes from 15-18 days. Hoping we can watch this family through the season. I'll share pics, but am not posting the location so the birds won't be distracted as they begin nesting.

Mrs. Pileated Woodpecker enlarging the nest cavity.

Chipping away...

Mr. Pileated Woodpecker keeping watch. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Sandhill Crane Migration at Jasper-Pulaski

We took a daytrip to Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area last week to see large numbers of Sandhill Cranes as they travel south for the winter. The reserve had been on my list of places to visit, and when it popped up in my calendar notifications we decided to visit. 
Jasper-Pulaski is located in northwest Indiana....about 4 hours from us here in west-central Ohio. We elected to arrive in time to see the cranes socialize and then move to the marshes for the night. 
The Sandhill Cranes, with wingspans of up to 7 feet, breed in the northern US and Canada. They migrate to the southern US for the winter months. As they travel, they stop for the night to rest and feed. The Indiana  DNR posts weekly counts of the cranes ....during our visit, the count was approximately 13,000. 
Purdue University's Forest and Natural Resources Extension has some interesting data on Sandhill migration....showing  Jasper-Pulaski as a "collection point" where cranes meet up to continue migration.
The preserve has a "Sandhill Crane Observation Area" in which a raised observation deck allows great views of the cranes. 
We arrived about 3pm, and made our way to the Observation Deck, where we watched many cranes that were already in the fields. As sundown approached, more and more cranes kited in. All became quite social and active...."dancing" and vocalizing. 
We watched and flock after flock came in, settling in the marshes seen in the distance. The orientation of the deck allowed for wonderful sunset views of the cranes. 
What a great time we had....well worth the drive and one that we'll likely make in the future. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Auroras and the Mighty Mack Bridge

This was our first visit to the Mackinaw area. We scouted yesterday knowing that the KP index (measurement of the strength of the magnetic impulse from a sunspot and predictor of aurora potential) was going to be up to 5. My dream was to get pics of the aurora over the bridge. We arrived at Old Mackinaw Lighthouse Point well before sundown last evening, and shot lots of pics of folks enjoying the sunset. We shot more of the bridge as dusk encroached, and darkness finally arrived. We captured some fireworks being shot off from the St. Ignace side. Then, just before 9pm, we caught our first glimpse of the aurora. It was a tear-jerking moment. It became intense enough for us to see some pillars (intense vertical streaks of light)! The auroras faded (as predicted) as the waning full moon rose....and using my fisheye lens, I was able to catch the moon with the bridge and the fading auroras. Thank you to David for fulfilling a dream and sharing an amazing night!

Saturday, July 22, 2023


 It's my favorite time of the year.....the Trumpet Vines and Rose of Sharon shrubs are blooming and Hummingbirds are zooming about enjoying the blooms.
Something so peaceful and restorative sipping my coffee on the deck and watching these little birds. Yesterday, there were up to 6 at a time on the Trumpet Vines....all females. Their aerial battles were epic...some captured and posted below.
Meanwhile, the solitary male claimed the feeders as his territory.