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Winter Birding on the Lake, Program and Membership Meeting!

December 6, 2014 8:30 am to 3:30 pm

Winter Birding on Lake Erie, OOS Members Meeting and Birding Lake Erie Presentation
All are invited to join OOS for day on the Lake.  Morning birding will be followed by a chance to warm up with your brown bag lunch and a cup of hot soup provided by OOS. We will have a brief membership meeting with elections, then hear a great presentation by Chuck Slusarczyk, Jr.!  Free and open to the public but please RSVP. Check out all the details below.
Winter Birding on the Lake  8:30 am - Noon 
We will start the day birding at 8:30 am with friendly birding guides at two fabulous winter birding locations: Wendy Park and E72nd Street.  We'll concentrate on gulls and waterfowl.  Birders are invited to visit one or both locations.  (*follow link to the next page for directions to Wendy Park and E72nd Street information about board nominations)
Members Meeting & Program by Chuck Slusarczyk, Jr. 
1:00 - 3:30 pm  
Bay Lodge, 492 Bradley Rd, Bay Village, OH 44140.
1:00- Meet at Bay Lodge to warm up, eat, and talk about birds!  Bring your own brown bag lunch.  Hot soup will be provided by the OOS. Please RSVP to Board Member Rebecca Hinkle so we know how much soup to make at: Cerulean.hinkle@gmail.com. We will have a brief membership meeting with elections. 

2:00 - Program by Chuck Slusarczyk, Jr., "Birding Lake Erie / Gull ID".  Chuck Slusarczyk, Jr. is a life-long birder, guide, and wildlife photographer.  His works have been seen throughout the Ohio birding community, and his efforts to assist and educate novice birders via social media are well known. Chuck is currently employed as a Seasonal Naturalist with the Cleveland Metro-parks and is a member of the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) and a graduate of the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program (OCVN).

Directions and annual meeting information »

Passenger Pigeons Remembered

The OOS and Cincinnati Zoo Passenger Pigeon Symposium provided birders from as far away as Toronto and Louisiana with a value-packed itinerary for Labor Day weekend.  On Friday night's “Martinis with Martha”, funds were raised for the Zoo's Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) program while everyone enjoyed the combined musical styling's of Bill Thompson, of The Rain Crows and John Kogge, of the Lonesome Strangers from Oxford, Ohio.  Chris McCullough gave origami lessons and was assisted by a local Girl Scout Marci, as we folded our own passenger pigeon flock. Cincinnati's Masterworks of Nature displayed beautiful bird themed works of art.  Most exciting was an extensive opportunity to visit with most of our guest speakers over informal drinks and semi-formal finger foods!

 Saturday morning author Joel Greenburg (A Feathered River Across the Sky) led our line-up of speakers that included Jim McCormac, John Ruthven, and Brian Jorg.  Attendees had options in the afternoon that included full zoo access, an advance look at the newly refurbished 1914 aviary, or a behind the scenes tour of the Geiger Museum featuring their collection of extinct bird specimens.  After dinner several attendees went birding with special access to Fernald Nature Preserve, where the water levels had been managed especially to provide shorebird habitat for our visit.  Many also visited the 3-story tall Ruthven's mural downtown.  On Sunday, we were invited by Oxbow Inc. to bird their properties, with the group led by several of our speakers.

As OOS board member Randy Rogers noted in his opening remarks, “I believe that future historians will look at the human destruction of the Passenger pigeon as not just an event significant to the history of a particular culture or region, but an event that ranks with a relative few events…as significant in the history of humanity.”  Commemorating the extinction anniversary was an important for OOS and the zoo, and our event successfully reflected on our loss while generating a positive energy going forward in our appreciation of birds and protecting species for the future. 

Photo of Joel Greenberg viewing the Zoo's Passenger Pigeon exhibit, courtesy Randy Rogers

The Passenger Pigeon in Ohio

Passenger Pigeons in Ohio

Historian Caleb Atwater observed in 1838 that passenger pigeons still passed through Ohio in huge numbers in the spring and fall, adding that "[f]ormerly the pigeons tarried here all summer, building their nests, and rearing their young, but the country is too well settled for them now; and so, like the trapper for beaver, and the hunter, they are off into the distant forests, where their food is abundant, and where there is none to disturb them in their lawful pursuits." Actually, large nesting colonies survived in a few spots in the state after the middle of the century, even though there were growing numbers of humans who continued to persecute them. 

By 1882, Wheaton, born in 1840 and author of Report on the Birds of Ohio, observed it had become "much less abundant and irregular." Less than twenty years later its extinction in the wild was complete. Lawrence Hicks in 1935 summed up its former abundance in “immense numbers in every section of the state and presumably breeding generally, though usually locally and in very large colonies,” citing confirmed large nestings historically in rural Licking, Pickaway, Morrow, Huron, Wayne, Medina, Columbiana, Portage, Trumbull, Ashtabula, and Geauga counties. 

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:
Still extant is a mounted specimen, now at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, collected in the state in 1900, thought for many years to have been the last pigeon verified in the wild.  Martha, a pigeon kept at the Cincinnati Zoo until her death in 1914, is considered to have been the last of all her kind.

Learn More »

Birding Festivals

Looking for a birding festival this summer? Visit the Bird Watcher's Digest  "Festival Finder" page to have look for festivals around the country. This is a great way to get to find birds with local guides and field trips to hotspots in the area, and a fun way to get to know other birders too!


We have an exciting line-up of field trips, speakers, conferences, and other state-wide birding and educational events scheduled in 2014. Some of these are still in the planning stages, so be sure to check back often for updates. Please check our calendar page for upcoming events. We hope to see you there!

Winter Raptor Birding at the Wilds - Save The Date!

The OOS will return to the Wilds on January 17, 2015 for this annual trip to find wintering raptors! The Wilds is a large reclaimed surface mine grassland area that has abundant wintering raptors and grassland nesting birds. While most of the region is rolling grassland, there are also areas of ponds, lakes, wetlands, spoils forest, and remnant hardwood forests. Wide-open vistas make this a great raptor-watching spot. Special species that we may find are: all phases of Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers, Short-eared Owls, Bald and Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcon (2003,2004), Eastern Meadowlarks, and Trumpeter Swans. Registration will be open by the end of November, so check back for updates.


Christmas Counts are coming in for 2014. From the drop-down menu go to Library then select Winter Counts to see a listing. Additions or corrections can be sent to Ned Keller and we'll update the list.

Pesticide Use and Grassland Bird Decline

First Bees, Now Birds
From Pesticide Action Network North America

Prairie bird populations are falling in many Midwestern states, from ring-necked pheasants to horned larks to sparrows. Scientists now say insecticides are a primary culprit.

Minnesota birds are hardest hit with 12 species in decline, followed by Wisconsin with 11, and Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and New York with nine affected species each.

The recent study looked at a range of possible causes of the population declines, including habitat loss which has long been considered a key driver of the problem.

Bird conservationists are “still concerned” about range management, urban development and loss of habitat, but are now focusing additional attention on the harmful impacts of pesticides. According to Cynthia Palmer, Manager of the Pesticides Program at American Bird Conservancy:

[This study] suggests that we also need to rein in the use of lethal pesticides in agriculture, and that we need to be especially careful about any new pesticides we introduce into these ecosystems such as the neonicotinoid insecticides.

Neonicotinoid use has increased dramatically in recent years, and as we've reported here before, many studies link this class of systemic pesticides with dramatic honey bee declines. American Bird Conservancy is expected to release a toxicological assessment of neonicotinoid impacts on birds and other organisms soon.

The current study was conducted by Dr. Pierre Mineau, a scientist recently retired from Environment Canada, along with Mélanie Whiteside of Health Canada. Using pesticide-use data from the 1980s and 1990s, the study focused on organophosphate insecticides such as diazinon and chlorpyrifos, as well as carbamates. According to Dr. Mineau:

What this study suggests is that we need to start paying a lot more attention to the use of pesticides if we want to reverse, halt or simply slow the very significant downward trend in grassland bird populations.

Blogs from Ohio Birders and Naturalists

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