Migrating birds by the thousands have poured into the area, riding the crest of the recent “heat wave” and southwest winds.
Spring officially arrives tonight at 8 o'clock, but birds, like other wildlife, are attuned not to calendar dates but to weather and the progression of seasonal changes, including increasing or decreasing daylight.
Among the more interesting birds seen in recent days are sandhill cranes.
Betty Carstensen, who lives near Bono, reported five sandhills plus a flock of tundra swans over the weekend.
Sandhills appear grayish, have a red crown, stand four or more feet tall and have wingspans of about seven feet. More cranes were seen over the weekend by Toledo Naturalists' Association birders at the sledding hill in Maumee Bay State Park, and along nearby Bay Shore Road.
Dozens of tundra swans also were seen in the latter area.
Some excellent viewing of sandhills by the thousands is available at Jasper-Pulaski State Wildlife Area in northwest Indiana.
Julie Shieldcastle, executive director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Oak Harbor, saw between 7,000 and 10,000 cranes there over the weekend.
Shieldcastle also reports good numbers of red-winged blackbirds, killdeer and horned larks nesting in fields, thousands of hawks, especially red-shouldered and red-tailed, turkey vultures and lots of waterfowl.
Greg Links, who maintains the rare-bird alert for TNA (419-877-9640), said the “best bird” Saturday at the sled hill at Maumee Bay was an adult golden eagle.
A gyrfalcon, an arctic visitor, was seen in Monroe County as recently as last Friday, he added.
Other migration observations that Links reports include a northern goshawk in Wood County, thousands of Lapland longspurs on the wing, and scattered sightings of bluebirds.
Waterfowl have been plentiful in the waterfront at Bay Shore Power Plant, including swans, snow geese, and horned grebes, among others.
Unexpected birds seen there include a tree swallow and a merlin. TNA has scheduled a birding field trip for Saturday at 8 a.m. at the campground parking lot at Maumee Bay State Park.
Fishing report: As the Maumee and Sandusky rivers continue to recede in the wake of ice-out and the sudden thaw, hopes are rising that some walleye fishing activity will begin by the weekend.
The Maumee level, as measured on the I-475 Bridge at Side Cut Metropark, had dropped to 585 feet and the water temperature was nudging 40 degrees yesterday.
“We'll see some [walleye], probably by the weekend, and possibly a few a day or two sooner,” said Gary Lowry at Maumee Valley Bait and Tackle.
The first activity is expected at Orleans Park in Perrysburg and the access at the foot of White Street in Maumee. Wading to popular fishing sites such as Blue Grass Island at Side Cut is not possible until the river falls to at least 582 feet.
On the Sandusky River at Fremont, the water was high but receding, said Bernie Whitt at Anglers Supply there. He predicted some walleye at the downtown fishing zone possibly by the weekend.
Saturday: Black Swamp Bird Observatory, 9 a.m., ditch-litter cleanup along State Rt. 2 in front of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area; call BSBO, 419-898-4070.
Saturday: Bluebird box workshop, 1 to 3 p.m., White Star Park maintenance shop, off State Rt. 300 south of Gibsonburg; to register call the Sandusky County Park District, 419-334-4495 or 1-888-200-5577; also Sunday and Monday, eagle watching, 1 to 4 p.m., meet at park district office, 1970 Countryside Dr., off U.S. 6 south of U.S. 20 bypass, east of Fremont; call to register.
Saturday: Turkeyfoot Gobblers Chapter, National Wild Turkey Federation, third annual fund–raising dinner, AMVETS 1313 Hall, 2250 North Scott St., Napoleon, doors open 5:30 p.m., dinner, auction, raffles; for tickets call Chuck and Becky Klingshirn, 419-533-8816.
Saturday-Sunday: Gun show, Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg.
Sunday: European-style pheasant hunt, Rocky's Hunting Preserve, near Edgerton, to benefit youth hunters of Wood/Lucas Chapter, Pheasants Forever; call Wynn Brinker, 419-833-1718, or Mark Gozdowski, 419-666-1185.
Sunday: Wild turkey-hunting clinic, 1 to 6 p.m., Ohio Wildlife District 2, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay; to register call 419-424-5000.
Sunday: Bowshoot, Mudjaw Bowmen, 6240 Benore Rd., register 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; call Mike Dutkiewicz, 419-729-4241.
Tuesday: Dundee Chapter, Whitetails Unlimited, annual fund-raising dinner, Old Mill Banquet Hall, 245 Toledo St., Dundee, Mich., doors open 5 p.m., dinner 6:30 p.m.; for details and tickets, call Scott Heck, 734-216-5601.