Friday, April 30, 2010

10 - OCVN Week 9

This week we met at the Aullwood Audubon Nature Center in Englewood, OHio. To get there I took I-75 north to I-70 west to the Englewood exit. I turned north, then east and drove over the Englewood earthen dam. This was built after the 1913 flood to keep the city of Dayton and Englewood protected from future flood damage. Pretty awesome.

The Aullwood center is named after Maria Aull, who donated the land. The National Audubon Society owns the center. They charge a $4 admission but it is well worth it. There are miles of trails and also an organic farm that sells chicken and beef. Tom Hissong, the naturalist working there, presented a program on birds.
We learned about the structure of birds and the importance of birds. However, if you go hiking with me don't expect me to "Name That Bird." There are over 10,000 species.

Tom told us some facts about the cowbird - the so called "lazy" Mom who lays her eggs in other birds' nests. It turns out when the bison still roamed the wild west, the cowbird followed the herd, eating the insect larvae in buffalo patties. But it takes time for a female bird to build a nest, lay eggs, incubate them and hatch the babies. The bison, the cowbirds main food source, wouldn't stay in one place very long. So the female cowbird deposited her eggs in other birds' nests and was content to let these females raise her young so she could move on with the herd. Pretty ingenious, if you ask me. Consider it the first birdy "daycare."

Tom took us on a hike and we saw a yellow throated vireo (which made a sound like E -8), a blue grey gnatcatcher (spee,spee, spee), a Carolina wren (teakettle teakettle teakettle), bluebird (my very first sighting), and a Northern Parula warbler (the smallest of all the warblers.) It was certainly exciting for me to see something besides a robin, cardinal, and tufted titmouse.

In the afternoon we had a Powerpoint presentation on insects. Then another hike, which I missed because I had to leave early. Next week is our last class. Time really does fly. Speaking of flying, the spring migration of birds is underway. I never really paid attention to this phenomenon before. But now that I know better, I plan to be at Birdathon in Shawnee Lookout Park and Spring Grove Cemetery on May 8. We expect to see many different kinds of warblers. (I'll use the hours toward my 40 hours of volunteer service I must do this year.) Then on May 15 I'll be working at the Queen City Bird Festival in Hueston Woods State Park. Another fun event. Till next week, go to the woods and check out some birds!

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