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CATCH THE FIRST WAVE AT SHAWNEE STATE PARK!

The first warbler migration wave that is! Registration is now open for our conference and anniversary at Shawnee State Park!  Plan now to join your fellow OOS members at Shawnee State Park near Portsmouth, Ohio April 24 to 26, 2015 and reserve your space! Not only will this event give you a chance to head south to meet the first big wave of spring migration, you'll also get to enjoy excellent presentations, the charm of the Shawnee State Park lodge, and the wonderful fellowship of a bunch of fun, avid birders.  Details here!  Want to join us as a vendor or an exhibitor at this event? It's easy, just complete this form!

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Marsh Madness at Magee 2015!

The Ohio Ornithological Society (OOS) will soon be accepting registrations for beginner bird tours during the weekend of International Migratory Bird Day at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. The tours will be scheduled for Saturday, 5/9 and Sunday, 5/10. 

Knowledgeable and very friendly guides from OOS will be leading small groups on one-hour outings along the world-famous Magee Marsh boardwalk to see flying gems as the Warblers arrive for a brief rest prior to the long Lake Erie hop to their breeding grounds up north.

Save these dates and bring the family. Last year’s trips were a great success. OOS will be announcing specific times very soon, so check our website and our Facebook page.

Will You Accept the Rusty Blackbird Challenge?

Rusty Blackbirds have experienced an 85-99% population drop in the last half-century. Over the last 15 years, research on Rusty breeding and wintering ecology has allowed us to develop conservation strategies to protect this vulnerable species. But many questions still remain, and Rusty Blackbird migration habits are largely a mystery. Are there hot spots where many Rusties congregate during migration? Are similar migratory stopover areas used by Rusties each year, and are these areas protected? The International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, in partnership with eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Smithsonian, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, is launching a spring migration Blitz. The objectives of the Blitz are:1. Identify migratory stopover sites; 2. Determine consistency of numbers/timing of Rusty Blackbird migration;3. Strengthen relationships with state and federal agencies in order to advance Rusty Blackbird conservation;4. Engage the birding community and create increased awareness and excitement about Rusty Blackbirds
Go to rustyblackbird.org/outreach/migration-blitz  to help advance understanding of one of the most rapidly declining landbirds in North America!

Native Cavity Nesters Workshop

Darlene Sillick and Paula Ziebarth, Ohio Bluebird Society Area Contacts, are presenting native cavity nester workshops on March 14, 2015. The events will be held at Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio. Those interested should call Stratford and register at 740-363-2548. Indicate which session(s) you wish to attend when calling in:“Backyard Bluebirding Basics” (9:00 to 11:30 am) - $10;“Bluebirder Lunch” (11:30 am to 1 pm) - $5 if ordering sub sandwich;“Nest Box Trail Management” (1 pm to 3:30 pm) - $10. 
Don't miss this great opportunity to help our native cavity nesting birds raise young successfully!

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.

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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!

Reporting a Rare Bird Sighting

Part of the excitement of birding comes when we find something unusual, something rare or unexpected that we can relish and share with others. But telling others about your finding, in person or on the internet, is fleeting. Even more important, for the ornithological record, is documenting your record in a permanent way. Reports of rarities, when they can be authenticated and published, help to fill out the total picture of our local avifauna. As records, they can help us all to recognize habitats, regions, or seasons in which scarce species are most likely to be found.

Why Submit Documentation?

Any scientific report of an unusual phenomenon must be supported by documentation: that is, verifiable evidence reported and vouched for by a first-hand observer, submitted for peer review before acceptance and publication. In general, the rarer and more interesting the occurrence, the more important it is to document and verify it for the record.