Tag Archives: birds

Migratory Madness

It’s coming on that time of year (no, not when college hoops rules – although I am listening to the Bucks play the Arizona Wildcats tonight) when the birds migrate through Ohio. These birds are heading up from the south into Canada and the boreal forest or arctic regions, with some having flown from as far away as Central and South America. They have one more push to reach their final destinations, but Lake Erie is out there, one last – and rather large – obstacle to cross.

USGS flyway map

If you look at a map of Lake Erie, the western end of the lake isn’t as wide, providing an easier place to cross. So before these birds head out, they gather strength in the marshes and preserves in Northwest Ohio. By March, some of the birds are making their way warblernorth, although more will be traveling in May. In fact, in searching around the Internet, I found a site, Biggest Week in American Birding, which takes place this year in Northwest Ohio the week of May 3rd. It is, apparently, a big deal (and a lot of tourist dollars) to see all of these birds come in. Some of the more spectacular birds that fly through are: Kirtland’s Warbler, American Redstart, Mourning Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler. The little beauty above is the Blackburnian Warbler. I can imagine why people would travel from around the world to have the chance to look at such a bird…If any of you have gone to Lake Erie to bird watch, let me know how it was.

When I was a kid, the biggest thrill for me (at least as far as birds were concerned!) was to see the first robin of the season. That told me that winter was over and spring was around the corner. Unfortunately, since then, I’ve learned that robins stay in Ohio all winter long; it was a bit like finding out that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real when I saw my first robin in December, happily munching on a hawthorn berry.

Speaking of birds, Pete and I were walking to the market when I heard a bird song that I didn’t recognize. I tracked down the bird on the top of a tree. Pete said it was a male chickadee with his mating call. He was so funny to watch with his head bobbing around. Pete said he was looking out any females in the neighborhood. So spring – and love – is in the air.

Basketball ain’t the only game in town!

Until next time!

A Tale of Two Kitties

After all the happy news about our ribbon cutting, this post won’t be quite so upbeat. It’s a very difficult post to write because I love cats, and I love birds. In nature, cats and birds are enemies, as birds would be considered a food source in the wild. But here in Clintonville, we don’t have any feral cats that I know of, so for cats, birds become something to catch and play with and kill. They have a strong hunting instinct that kicks in even if they aren’t hungry.

We have several cats in our neighborhood who roam outside most of the day. I love cats and know that they will chase and catch anything they can. (Remember this post?) Some of the cats near us have bells on their collars that will warn away birds and other creatures like squirrels. I still remember one of the saddest sights from last year: a momma squirrel crying so forlornly, carrying her dead baby in her mouth. It had been attacked by a cat. I started to cry and just couldn’t stop. This year already, we’ve found several dead birds that had been killed by cats in our neighborhood. I have Pete bury them as I say a few words of love to speed them on their way to wherever they are going.

The best solution is for the cat owners to keep their cats inside, not only for the bird’s protection, but for the cat’s. I’ve come close several times to hitting a cat near our home. But if you are like us and have cats just coming into the yard (which we are trying to make a place that birds like to come and visit), then here are some suggestions on how we all can help our fine-feathered friends:

  • Have the cat wear a bell on its collar.
  • Keep claws trimmed to prevent climbing to get to birds.
  • If cats must go outdoors, do not leave them unsupervised, and do not allow them outside overnight, during early morning or other peak bird feeding times.
  • Keep bird feeders and bird baths at least five feet from shrubbery and cover that can conceal a stalking predator. Ideally, feeders should be 10-12 feet from potentially dangerous cover.
  • Check brush piles and shrubbery regularly for ground nests and fledgling birds that are most vulnerable to prowling cats.
  • Avoid using low feeders or ground feeders that make it easier for cats to capture wild birds. Clean up spilled seed regularly to minimize ground feeding birds.
  • Use plastic or metal poles to support feeders so cats’ claws cannot help them climb to the feeder. Baffles are another option to deter hunting cats.

I will leave you with this very sad photo taken in Glen Echo by Chris O’Leary. It’s an indigo bunting that was killed by a cat without a bell on its collar. I have never seen one of these beautiful birds (Pete has in the ravine), and I can tell you that this is not how I wanted to view this bird for the first time. It saddens me so.

Until next time.

ALTernative Answers

On Friday night, Jason, Corinne, and Pete and I went to a presentation at Whetstone Library by Tim Lai and Eliza Ho, of Tim Lai ArchitecT and founders of the nonprofit organization ALTernative. The presentation described the power of design as a solution to a problem; how to use art to improve the community; and how education can help to create a better community.

One of the projects that Tim and Eliza worked on is the tree mural on Hudson near Summit. The building walls there were getting tagged, and the solution of a mural was presented. With community help, trees were painted on the wall. It’s really quite an accomplishment and looks very nice when I drive by – much better than graffiti! You can read more about the project on this FaceBook page.

The team hopes to expand the current tree mural by adding another mural on the building next door, showing what the inside of the building might look like, sort of trompe-l’œil with staircases and people walking on them. It’s really interesting to look at and something that one could look at for quite a while, seeing new things each time.

Another project in the works is a mural under the Indianola bridge in Glen Echo Ravine. This bridge has been tagged numerous times, costing Columbus money each time it has to be repainted. ALTternative has presented the idea of a bird mural with birds found in Ohio. There would also be an education element to the mural, with information about each bird presented. Additionally, there would be birdhouses throughout Glen Echo Ravine to provide a place for some of these birds to nest. That would be wonderful to increase the number of birds that call the ravine home!

Finally, Tim and Eliza are coming up with possible solutions for the many dining trucks around Columbus and the lack of seating for these diners. Simple solution of mobile seating, too!

Until next time!