Monthly Update: February 2017
Wow! February brought a crazy month of weather here in Ohio.
It has been extremely warm and included some big shifts in temperature. We had everything from multiple days that reached records highs in the 70’s to the next day having an inch of snow on the ground.
And I can’t believe I am going to be writing the next statement:
Spring Peepers made multiple appearances in my backyard. How is that possible?? I used to volunteer with project FrogWatch USA and would monitor when they first starting giving their well known chirping calls every year. Normally it’s toward the end of March, the earliest being in the middle of March on an extremely warm night.
Never even close to February!
As I am writing this post at the beginning of March, outside my window is 4 inches of snow that came down last night. I hope the Spring Peepers made it back underground!
The warm weather in February brings up a few different emotions. First, something about it makes me feel uncomfortable. I think it’s because this warm weather is so unnatural. Normally a February in Ohio is the worst month of year. There’s multiple inches of snow on the ground and it’s cold all month. The fact that frogs and bugs were coming out of hibernation is just weird.
These included the Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Screech-Owl, Common Grackle, Song Sparrow and Wood Duck.
This brings my life list total to 28 birds. I don’t think that’s too bad for winter in Ohio. It seems that nothing is living in winter. The woods sometimes seem so dead and quiet. You can go for almost an entire hike and not see any wildlife.
But by careful observation and looking in right places, I have been able to find 28 different species of bird that make Ohio their home in winter. That’s awesome! And I know there are a lot more species that I have just not come across yet.
- Total # of Species: 25
- Birds Added to Life List: 5
- Checklists Submitted: 9
I need to submit more checklists! I did a great job in January and was able to submit 25. What a slacker! I did not do a good job of submitting my incidental birds that I came across, especially all the birds that come and visit my yard and feeder daily. I am going to try hard and do better next month. It’s just a matter of getting back into the routine of doing it every day.
Favorite Birding Trip of the Month:
On February 11th, I headed to a local birding hot spot near my home – The Beaver Marsh in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
It sits along a well maintained bike and hike trail, complete with a boardwalk through the marsh. This was my favorite trip of the month for a few different reasons.
First, there was a lot of activity with 10 different species being observed.
The highlight was getting to see my first owl of the year, an Eastern Screech-Owl! It was sitting in a tree cavity about 100 yards off the trail. He blended right in. Luckily, two other people were sitting quietly with their binoculars watching the owl. After politely asking what they were looking at, they were more than happy to share the good fortune!
Second, I had some great company:
She is our little King Charles Cavalier mix who absolutely loves getting away from our two year old human child to go birding with me. She has no problems splashing around in the mud, getting filthy.
The only issue with bringing her along is when I try to stop and watch birds, she immediately starts whining, pacing and throwing a fit.
As you can see from the photo’s, she loves being on the trail and exploring the great outdoors. On the other hand, getting a bath back at home is a necessary evil that she hates and tries to hide as soon as we get inside!
Favorite Bird of the Month:
Great Blue Heron: They are back!!
Very near my house in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a herony of Great Blue Herons. Since childhood and as long as I can remember, the heron’s come back every year to the exact same spot. There are a few tree’s next to the river that have dozens of nests built that are reused every year.
The heron’s conveniently picked a spot right next to a road. Over the years this has become a big local event and draw. At almost any time of day, there are photographers, bird watchers and other interested people that stop and pull off the road to observe the birds. Even a pull off has been created.
Luckily, all this activity doesn’t seem to both the heron’s. There is a big fence at the road, which prevents anyone from getting too close.
It’s exciting every year when they start nesting and always sign that Spring is just around the corner. The sight of dozens of them sitting on their nests, with herons flying out to gather food and returning constantly. There is so much activity over the next few months until the babies leave the nest.
I have to wonder, with the insane warm temperatures in Ohio, is this earlier than normal for the herons to start nesting?
Bird Watching HQ Updates:
In the month of February, I published two new posts:
My goal is to get out more content than this, but I actually spent a lot of time working some of my previous binocular reviews.
Have you ever written something, let some time pass and realize how bad it was? That is how I felt about these reviews. The content was decent, but I thought they were hard to read, didn’t keep the reader’s attention and overall just looked sloppy. I feel a lot better after republishing.
This is a significant increase from last month where I only had 5 and the page was brand new! Thanks to everyone who has “liked” the page. I am amazed at how fast the page has grown and it show’s how many people out there love watching birds and being out in nature. I did a little experimenting with Facebook Ads to promote a few posts which got my material in front of a new audience.
I’m hoping to crack 1,000 by the end of March!
Email Subscribers =5
As well as the Bird Watching HQ Facebook has grown, it has been the opposite for my email subscribers. After an entire month, I only added 2 people that wanted to receive the email updates and newsletter.
Whatever I am doing doesn’t seem to be working! Before making any significant changes I am going to give it one more month. I’m thinking I may change up the free gift to a different article or incentive?
I need to think about this a bit more. 🙂
Even though the weather has felt like Spring, Ohio’s migrant birds from down south won’t be arriving for many more weeks.
I plan on trying to do my normal 1-2 birding hikes every week. In February, I was not very good at submitting a checklist every day. That is just being lazy! I will start submitting more of my daily observations again to eBird.
In May, I am heading to Utah to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park to do some backpacking with friends. I have never been to Utah and need to get ready to see lots of new species! On my “To Do” list is to learn many of the most common species in these parks to be ready for my trip.
What does March have in store for you?