Stop Releasing Balloons!
Love Wildlife? The Stop With the Balloons.
You change the world with every small decision you make.
I give my kids a lot but one thing I refuse to buy is balloons. Want to know why?
This is why….
Spring is such a wonderful season.
Especially after a winter that just doesn’t want to go away.
You’re itching to hit the trail and see some spring wildflowers – heck at this point you’ll be thrill with a green leaf!
On a recent trek to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, the weather prediction was a slight chance of rain. Ha! Ha HA! Right….Good one!
On the drive in, I passed several cars heading out. Yippie! I thought. I’ll have the place all to myself.
Now, I must say I wasn’t hiking in this heavy thunderstorm because I don’t have a death wish but I did use my vehicle to protect me from the raging storm and get some great photos of wildlife. So while you can use the sound of rain to dampen the noises you make in the woods, if there is thunder you need to hightail it back to the safety of your vehicle or a building.
In the middle of the deluge, I decided to drive around and see which animals were using the controlled water units. These are man-made wetlands that the water level is strategically controlled to benefit certain species of waterfowl and shorebirds. I didn’t even get to these units before I spotted the heron.
Every wonder what wildlife does in a thunderstorm?
It even grabbed a bite to eat! Of course, the fish went down faster than my shutter!
That little sort of black smudge on the right side and about half way up is the heron. When the rain died down, the heron flew to the wood line in the distance.
And, that folks is what at least what one great blue heron does during the thunderstorm.
If you’d like to read a good book to your kids about herons checkout Henry the Impatient Heron. We picked up our copies at Books By the Banks. This annual event is a blast. The kids will have plenty to do and you bookworms will be able to meet and greet some of your favorite authors and possibly discover some new ones! Books by the Banks is coming up October 12, 2013.
It never ceases to amaze me that there are peregrine falcons living in major downtown areas. Today, the girls and I went to see a peregrine falcon banding.
The reason the birds are banded is for identification and monitoring purposes. The bands are pretty close to clunky bracelets but don’t interfere with the falcons ability to survive.
At three weeks of age the legs of the young birds have stopped growing in width so the federal and state identification bands can be put on their legs without causing any problems.
If fact, that is my daughter helping Diana Malas, the wildlife biologist put a band on one of the birds.
While the banding is happening inside, the adults are outside (thank goodness) are none to happy with having their young taken from the nest. The two adult birds are both unbanded which means there is no history on where the birds are from or their age. This is a bit different than usual because most peregrines that find their way to Ohio cities are banded.
The bands have a letter number combination on a varied colored band. This combination of letters, numbers, and color coding makes it easier for wildlife biologist to identify the adult birds via the use of a spotting scope and an appreciable amount of patience.
The Cincinnati nest isn’t online due to a few factors (no available wiring or wifi–that is unless someone wants to make a donation) but there are other nests in the state that you can watch here is the link to the list.
If you’d like to learn more about the birds click here.
~~ Oh, and my young biologist reports that the young’s feathers are super soft and fluffy. Just in case you were wondering.
Hey, want some free hikes? Menasha Ridge Press and I are partnering with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to help people get out an enjoy the great outdoors! Check it out.
Share it with your friends! The robin is counting on you….
Seriously, these eggs won’t hatch without your help!
As I mentioned in the last post, the biologists collected data from the birds that were captured.
This little downy woodpecker was not happy with being handled and spent a fair amount of his time letting the room know. At one point he also latched onto the fragile bit of skin on the inside of the biologist’s finger.
One of my other favorite id books is The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Stokes Field Guides). It is perfect for gaining a better understanding of the bird’s behavior which gives a little be of insight on what and why the birds do what they do.
On a side note:
I am always so happy when I meet people who are so enthralled with nature. They are such joyful souls and talking to them about nature and the great outdoors is like taking a ride on a roller-coaster–fun, exciting, and adventuresome.
The biologists at Germantown were so excited to share their love of ornithology. They happily answered the audiences questions and gave mini-dossiers on each species of bird that was captured.
One of our favorite parks is Germantown because of the trails, nature center, and the Twin Valley Backpacking trail which connects the Germantown and Twin Valley trails. But, back to Germantown.
As we stepped into the nature center we were immediately greeted by Emily who invited us to join the bird banding program going on in the next room.
A mist net (extremely fine net designed to capture birds without harming them) was set up outside near the feeders and as birds (chick-a-dees, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, etc.) were caught biologists were retrieving them from the fine net, placing them in a mess bag and bringing them into the center for processing.
The biologist then took the bird out of the mesh bag, inspected it, took measurements, determined the sex, age, and then gently stuffed the bird head first into a cardboard tube with one end closed and took the birds weight. If the bird didn’t have a leg band, it soon got one.
The kids were completely absorbed in this process. Yet as I looked around the room, I noticed there were only two other kids there and they were older than mine. I wondered where are all the other kids? Are they still sleeping, watching television, or playing video games.
If you are heading to Mary Gray this weekend, you may also want to check-out Shrader-Weaver Woods near Bentonville.
The Shrader-Weaver Woods is amazingly tranquil especially in winter. This hike is one I have done many times and I enjoy the serenity it offers.
The parking area is right off of the road and easy to miss if there is snow on the ground. If you decide to try this hike during the summer, make sure you have ample bug repellent on because the back of the woods is a wet woods with a seep. Vegetation includes your standard water loving plants such as white oaks and skunk cabbage.
It is true! You can go hiking in the winter. It is one of the best times to go. The snow dampens any noise you make and you are more likely to see a variety of critters. On New Year’s day we went for hike at Sugarcreek MetroPark in Dayton, Ohio.
The kids had a great time “tracking” animals via the prints left in the snow.
Plus, since it is cold and snowy the trails are typically less used. Although, I was happy to see there were a lot of people either hiking, cross country skiing, or jogging.
Here is a sweet video of a female and male mallard chillin’ out in the creek.
Look for hummingbirds feeding on trumpet creeper and honeysuckle vines. Beware of planting this in your yard, since trumpet creeper will grow and grow and grow and…well, you get the idea.
You are most likely to see this little beauty. The ruby throated humming bird has the distinction of beign the only hummingbird that breeds east of the Mississippi River.
The ruby throated hummingbird which is about 3 to 3 3/4 inches long, with a wingspan of 4 to 4 3/4 inches. The beautiful iridescent red throat of the ruby red hummingbirds are only on the males and is not a color but the way the light hits and is reflected off the feathers.
The males also have a slightly forked tail.
The females have a white throat and white tipped outer tail feathers.
The nests are usually built where there is one branch that forks into two or three other branches forming a cup like shape.
At a little distance the hummingbird nest looks like bark. The female will lay two white eggs just about the same size and shape as Jelly Belly jelly beans.
The nest of the ruby throated hummingbird is usually built using spider webs to weave it together, plant fluff to keep it soft, and lichens to hide it from the world.
Wanna hear what one sounds like then go here: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Home/species_a_to_z/SpeciesGuideIndex/rubythroatedhummingbird/tabid/6746/Default.aspx
You can also place hummingbird feeders in your yard to attract ruby throated hummingbirds. Spend a little extra and get a glass feeder that is easier to clean and looks like a work of art.