It’s been 56 years since the Hancock County Naturalists conducted their first spring bird count and they aren’t about to give up now. On May 12, another field trip found 21 volunteers exploring the county to record the number and species of birds that they observed.

This year proved very successful with 160 species spotted, easily eclipsing the previous all-time high of 143 seen in 2014. This year, 8,208 individual birds were recorded, just below the previous high in 2002 (8,625).

It is believed that the line of rainstorms north of the county on the day of the count served as a sort of “avian dam,” stalling the birds on their trek north. This resulted in the unusually high numbers.

Not only were the numbers of birds and species high, but there were some unusual birds seen during the count. These included a willet (at the landfill), Kentucky warbler (Camp Berry), blue grosbeak and Bell’s vireo (Oakwoods), western meadowlark (east of the reservoirs), and some late red-breasted nuthatches (Van Buren) and pine siskins (Findlay).

Here is a rundown of their observations:

Waterfowl and water lovers: Canada goose (345), wood duck (13), mallard (39), lesser scaup (2), red-breasted merganser (6), ruddy duck (1), common loon (2), double-crested cormorant (28), great blue heron (22), great egret (1), green heron (6), belted kingfisher (1).

Raptors and owls: Turkey vulture (183), osprey (9), bald eagle (12), northern harrier (1), sharp-shinned hawk (1), Cooper’s hawk (1), red-tailed hawk (11), great horned owl (2).

Shorebirds and gulls: Killdeer (52), sanderling (2), least sandpiper (70), pectoral sandpiper (1), semipalmated sandpiper (5), short-billed dowitcher (3), spotted sandpiper (49), solitary sandpiper (2), greater yellowlegs (2), willet (1), lesser yellowlegs (2), Bonaparte’s gull (5), ring-billed gull (131), herring gull (8), common tern (3), Forster’s tern (2).

Woodpeckers: Red-headed (26), red-bellied (77), downy (43), hairy (14), pileated (2), northern flicker (32).

Flycatchers: Olive-sided (3), yellow-bellied (2), Acadian (6), willow (4), Traill’s (5), least (50), great crested (59), Empidonax species (6), eastern phoebe (16), eastern kingbird (16), eastern wood pewee (27).

Thrushes, mimics and vireos: White-eyed vireo (9), Bell’s vireo (1), blue-headed vireo (6), yellow-throated vireo (5), Philadelphia vireo (3), warbling vireo (32), red-eyed vireo (35), eastern bluebird (25), veery (13), gray-cheeked thrush (19), Swainson’s thrush (57), hermit thrush (11), wood thrush (39), American robin (537), gray catbird (184), brown thrasher (12), northern mockingbird (3).

Swallows: Northern rough-winged (65), tree (607), bank (46), barn (990), cliff (30), purple martin (19).

Warblers: Blue-winged (3), black-and-white (15), prothonotary (1), Nashville (25), Tennessee (47), mourning (7), Kentucky (1), Cape May (12), magnolia (62), bay-breasted (9), Blackburnian (17), yellow (83), chestnut-sided (28), blackpoll (10), black-throated blue (14), palm (28), myrtle (95), yellow-throated (4), black-throated green (45), Canada (4), Wilson’s (10), northern parula (36), common yellowthroat (41), American redstart (86), unidentified warbler species (1).

Sparrows: Chipping (87), Savannah (19), grasshopper (4), field (36), fox (1), white-crowned (38), white-throated (27), vesper (2), song (103), swamp (6), Lincoln’s (5).

And the rest: Rock pigeon (18), mourning dove (88), common nighthawk (2), chimney swift (183), ruby-throated hummingbird (25), American kestrel (5), blue jay (139), American crow (39), horned lark (21), Carolina chickadee (10), black-capped chickadee (5), unidentified chickadee species (3), tufted titmouse (28), red-breasted nuthatch (1), white-breasted nuthatch (37), brown creeper (1), winter wren (3), house wren (123), marsh wren (1), sedge wren (1), Carolina wren (28), blue-gray gnatcatcher (66), ruby-crowned kinglet (12), European starling (349), American pipit (13), cedar waxwing (78), ovenbird (24), Louisiana waterthrush (1), northern waterthrush (4), yellow-breasted chat (1), eastern towhee (10), summer tanager (2), scarlet tanager (20), northern cardinal (187), rose-breasted grosbeak (36), blue grosbeak (1), indigo bunting (53), bobolink (6), western meadowlark (1), eastern meadowlark (28), orchard oriole (7), Baltimore oriole (88), red-winged blackbird (367), brown-headed cowbird (86), common grackle (357), house finch (12), pine siskin (8), American goldfinch (189), house sparrow (263), ring-necked pheasant (1), wild turkey (4).

“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” — Henry David Thoreau

“The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” — Author unknown

Along the way:

Applications are being accepted for controlled deer and waterfowl hunts on selected areas during the 2018-2019 season. The application period opened yesterday and runs through July 31.

These special hunts are held on selected areas to provide additional opportunities for Ohio’s hunters. All applicants, youth and adult, must possess a 2018-2019 Ohio hunting license and meet the age requirements to apply for a controlled hunt.

Hunters can apply for the controlled hunts by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System at wildohio.gov. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $3 per hunt.

Hunters will be drawn randomly and successful applicants will be notified and provided additional hunt information by mail and email. Applicants are encouraged to visit Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System online to view the status of their application and, if selected, print their controlled hunt permit.

More specific information about hunt dates and locations, including opportunities dedicated to youth, women and mobility-impaired hunters, can be found at wildohio.gov on the Controlled Hunts page.

Step outside:

Every year, the Division of Wildlife conducts turkey and grouse brood surveys to determine population growth. They rely on the public to report observations during May, June, July and August. Submitted information helps to predict population trends and guides wild turkey management in the state.

More than 2,800 turkeys were reported during the 2017 survey time frame, with an average of 1.8 young turkeys (poults) per adult hen turkey. This average was below the long-term average of 2.4 poults per adult hen.

State and county population information is available online at wildohio.gov. Biologists began tracking summer observations of wild turkeys in 1962. Ruffed grouse was added to the survey in 1999. You can report observations at the new Wildlife Species Sighting web page at wildohio.gov.

• Tomorrow: Trap shoot, 1 p.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186.

• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.

• June 10: Birding tour, Maumee Bay State Park, 1400 State Park Road, Oregon. Meet in front of the nature center. The tour is designed to develop existing birding skills or to get you started in this great hobby. You’ll learn about bird field markers, flight patterns and behaviors.

• June 24: 3-D mixed animal archery match, registration opens at 8 a.m., Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Contact Harold Spence at 419-423-9861.

• June 24: Air gun field target shoot, Wyandot County Coon Hunters, 12759 Township Highway 133, Nevada 44848. This shoot is free and open to the public, so bring friends and family to check out what air guns are all about. Contact rogersgunshop@live.com or call 419-458-0001 for information.

Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.

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