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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2011

Pearson expansion gives birders perfect perch

Region sets activities for avian enthusiasts

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
At Pearson Metropark, Karen Mitchell, left, Stacey Schamberger, center, and Heather Norris, each a Metroparks naturalist, stroll away from a cabin for a view of the aerial wildlife. At Pearson Metropark, Karen Mitchell, left, Stacey Schamberger, center, and Heather Norris, each a Metroparks naturalist, stroll away from a cabin for a view of the aerial wildlife.
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For now, the egrets, pied-billed grebes, Soras, and other rails are visiting Pearson North wetlands to seek food.

Hopefully, though, they will nest along with other waterbirds at the Pearson Metropark expansion, which brings a 300-acre slice of Great Black Swamp conditions back to Oregon.

"Really, the wetlands areas are providing more habitat for the birds -- that's what's really important," Karen Mitchell, a naturalist with Metroparks of the Toledo Area, said.

Said Metroparks naturalist Heather Norris: "We can never re-create the Great Black Swamp, but we can try to restore what we can."

With the northern expansion, Pearson Metropark offers two kinds of habitats for birds that stay year around, come back in the spring, or migrate farther north. There is the long-standing wooded area for warblers, thrush, and woodpeckers, along with the marshy area under development for a few years for waterbirds such as Blue-winged Teal ducks, which Ms. Norris enjoys watching take off in the morning.

"This would be a great place to come when the sun is rising," Ms. Mitchell said last week while at Pearson North, binoculars in hand.

One birding high point last year at Pearson was when 50 egrets arrived at the park, Ms. Norris said.

"There was quite a lot of attention to that," she said.

What is billed as the biggest week of birding -- or, more accurately, the biggest 1 1/2 weeks -- starts Thursday and runs through May 15. International Migratory Bird Day officially is celebrated May 14.

A feathered friend takes wing over the wetlands in Oregon. A feathered friend takes wing over the wetlands in Oregon.
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Nature lovers can enjoy a variety of International Migratory Bird Day-associated venues and activities in eastern Lucas and northern Ottawa counties:

●  Maumee Bay State Park will have activities from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 14 at the nature center, including an 8 a.m. bird hike along the boardwalk and 11 a.m. slideshow about bird migration.

●  Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is offering a self-guided auto tour on May 14, with the entrance open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the exit gate closing at 6:30 p.m. There will be guided bird walks at the refuge, and participants should meet at the visitor center.

●  Magee Marsh will have songbird-banding demonstrations from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both May 14 and May 15.

●  At Pearson, avian experts will lead a guided walk at 2 p.m. May 15. The group will meet on the porch at Packer-Hammersmith Center.

Ms. Norris said Pearson North, where walking trails were installed last year and crayfish already can be found in the water, remains a work in progress.

As trees, grasses, and plants grow, different birds and insects will be attracted to the area, she said.

Shorebirds, such as Killdeer and juncos, can be found in Pearson, Ms. Mitchell said. So can a variety of ducks, woodcocks, snipes, wigeons, and shovelers, she said.

"Some of your birds are migrating," Ms. Mitchell said. "Some of them are going to stay here."

Great Blue Herons, robins, and mergansers are among birds who may stay in northwest Ohio for the winter or migrate south, Ms Mitchell said.

"Birds are like people," she said. "They don't always follow the rules. You can't say 'Every one is going to do this.' "

Free bird guidebooks and other publications are available from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources's Division of Wildlife at ohiodnr.com/tabid/4414/Default.aspx.



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