Thursday, February 21, 2013

Winter Birding Close to Home

Guess I didn't get enough birding in Florida last week, since I went out again here at home. Several people from our bird club have seen a White-winged Scoter on the Ohio River, which is a life bird for me. According to the field guide, this sea duck should be wintering along the coast or the Great Lakes. This lone female must have gotten blown out of her territory by one of the recent winter storms. The Overlook is also home to domestic geese and ducks, and some pretty strange looking hybrids. My favorite is the tuxedo duck - a cross between white domestics and wild Mallards.

Nearby Perrin Park is a nice neighborhood park, which hosts some surprising birds sometimes, and is always worth a quick visit. Canada Geese are the dominant species every day, but this time I found three little Ross's Geese paddling around with the big guys, and one solitary male Hooded Merganser. I've never seen Northern Shovelers paddling around in circles with their heads under water before!

Visitors must be few and far between at the feeding station. I walked there for another look, and got absolutely mobbed by geese and ducks looking for a handout! If a child had been with me, I would have picked it up and run away! I was surprised that all the geese were wearing leg tags.

One goose tugged on my heartstrings though. She obviously had a broken wing and could not fly. She followed me around the platform begging for food. If she can't find it on the ground or in the lake, she must go hungry since she can't fly to another source of food.

Although it still plenty cold to me this afternoon, if Sandhills are starting back north, other winter visitors will be leaving soon as well. So I thought it would be a good time to head out to Shelby County, KY, to check on the Short-eared Owls there. Arriving about 45 minutes before sunset is usually a good time to find them, and 3-4 were flying low over the fields. Some of these photos are a little clearer than the first time, but are still fuzzy due to the distance. The house down the road has SEOs sitting on fence posts in their back yard. I may try this location one more time, and knock on their door to ask if I can use their yard. I bet they don't even know about these beautiful birds!

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