If endangered birds of prey are the proverbial miner's canaries of Ohio, then something good must be happening in the Buckeye State's environs.
For the state's bald eagles and peregrine falcons are responsible for unheard-of numbers of young this year.
The eagle total is a record - 89 eaglets hatched from 45 nests, with a record 63 nests statewide. A record total of peregrine chicks, 27, hatched from eight nests in the state's major urban areas as well.
Both species remain on the Ohio endangered list, though they have been removed from endangered status federally. Here is a rundown of the nest success:
Eagles: Twelve nests failed and six did not start incubation. The 2000 total is up from a record 72 eaglets and 57 nests a year ago.
One of the interesting developments among eagles this year is that about 10 nests produced triplets, according to Adam Blank. He is eagle program coordinator at the state's Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station in Ottawa County.
Triplets may be a sign of still-expanding populations. Eagles typically produce two young a year.
Though the western Lake Erie counties continue to be the state's eagle stronghold, the birds continue their spread into the state's interior, following river corridors.
Peregrines: Twelve pairs produced eggs this year, and eight pairs - the most ever - hatched out chicks. The prior record was 19 chicks in 1997.
Toledo's nest, atop the former Commodore Perry Motor Inn downtown, produced three male chicks this year, said Bill Roshak, a biologist with Ohio Wildlife District 2 at Findlay. He said that the young falcons should be fledging - flying on their own - any day. They were banded by Roshak May 30 at about three weeks of age.
If a young falcon just trying its wings is found on the street or ground downtown, observers should call Wildlife District 2, 419-424-5000, or Nature's Nursery, 877-0060. The fledglings may not be able to lift off from the ground until their wings strengthen more, and may need assistance..
Other falcon sites include: Cleveland area, six nests, three successful; Cincinnati area, two nests, and Columbus and Akron, one nest each, all successful. A nest at Dayton hatched out but the four young disappeared shortly after a rainstorm, said Dave Scott, falcon project coordinator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Of note is an incident involving both eagles and falcons in Cleveland. A pair of peregrine adults harassed a passing immature bald eagle and forced it down on a rooftop. Scott Denamen, a state wildlife officer, was called to rescue the eagle. "You just don't expect to find an eagle in downtown Cleveland," he stated.
The sixth annual North Coast Open, a one-day bird-listing competition sponsored by the Toledo Naturalists' Association, turned in a grand total of 185 species of birds seen or heard by teams between midnight and 9 p.m. on May 20 in Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Erie counties.
The tally demonstrates just how many species of birds - at a minimum - that the region may harbor, especially during the peak of spring migration. The top team in the open division spied 160 species during the 21 hours of team birding.
Fishing report - The walleye fishing on western Lake Erie is as hot as the weather this week as the season's best action continues, particularly closer to Toledo.
The area from the outer Toledo Ship Channel to West Sister Island has been producing limits of walleyes, and many boats from the Port Clinton area are motoring west to join the fishing fleet, according to a check of several lakeshore baitshops.
Top choices among casters are mayfly rigs, weight-forward spinners, and bottom-bouncers with worm-harnesses, all dressed with nightcrawlers. Best colors for spinners and bodies are gold, silver, and fire tiger. Trollers also are doing well with Wiggle Warts, with perch color-patterns working well.
Action had been good on the Canadian line between D and E Cans west of Middle Island, and on West Reef west of North Bass Island. But fish there, while larger, have been fewer in numbers, according to reports.
Vince Lamberjack, at Lamberjack's Marina on Turtle Creek near Davis-Besse, said the he has never seen so many baitfish - emerald shiners and gizzard shad - in the lake since he began business in 1972. He agreed that at times, too many baitfish can slow walleye appetites for anglers' offerings. But such is not the case for now.
Inland, the white bass run continues in the Maumee River, with shiners fished under bobbers or on the bottom being the best bet in muddy waters.
Crappie angling also has been good in lower Lake Erie tributaries, according to Vern Zunk at Zunk's Bait on State Rt. 2 at Curtice. He noted that Jeanette Hych, of Toledo, landed a huge crappie - 15 inches long and three pounds - from Mud Creek, which feeds into Sandusky Bay between Fremont and Port Clinton.
In addition, Zunk said, yellow perch anglers have been doing well, catching limits off Metzger Marsh Pier. Lots of channel catfish also are being taken, with some 18 and 19-pounders taken recently from the Toussaint River on nightcrawlers or crayfish.
The Ohio State Trapshooting Association has scheduled its 114th annual tournament Tuesday through June 25 at Vandalia, O., on the home grounds of the Amateur Trapshooting Association.
It is the largest state tournament in the country, with 9,400 entries. The six-day event will award 296 trophies and $30,000 in prize money.
The ATA will host the 2000 Grand American World Trapshooting Championships Aug. 10 to 19. For details on either tournament, call the ATA at 937-898-4638.
A new magazine, the Great Lakes Angler, has hit the streets and it aims to provide technical information for all skill levels of anglers on all five Great Lakes for everything from trout and salmon to bass, walleye, perch catfish, and others.
The magazine is published five times a year in Evanston, Ill., and includes a Fishing Annual. For details call 1-800-214-5558 or 847-869-5400, or check the Internet at www.GLAngler.com.
Steve Pollick is the Blade's outdoor writer.