A pair of peregrine falcons appear bound and determined to make Bowling Green the home of falcons other than those associated with Bowling Green State University sports teams.
Two fleet, sleek, crow-sized birds of prey have been roosting in recent days in the clock tower of the Wood County Courthouse in the city, and while nesting season does not begin until next spring, it seems as though these winged predators are establishing a territory. Pigeons, taken on the wing, are a favorite urban food.
"I watched them through binoculars," said Pam Menchaca, a naturalist with the Wood County Park District. "They are exhibiting some pair-bonding behavior."
Scott Butterworth, wildlife management supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 2, said that state biologists will adopt a wait-and-see stance and monitor the birds with an eye toward their continued pairing behavior.
"It's about time they showed up," he lightly added, in reference to real falcons finally joining BSGU "Falcons" in residence in the city.
Initial reports indicate that neither bird is banded with a telltale leg-tag that would reveal its original home.
The biologist said that if the falcon pair remains in the vicinity into late February or early March, the Ohio Division of Wildlife will be in touch with Wood County administrators about setting up an artificial nesting box on the courthouse tower.
The artificial nest-box has proven to be safe and secure, compared to natural nests, in urban environments.
Peregrine falcons first were confirmed in Ohio in the modern era in 1988 in a nest atop the former Commodore Perry Motor Inn in downtown Toledo. The nest came at a time when various programs were under way to establish these endangered birds of prey in urban skyscrapers and other tall structures that artificially mimic the cliffs and mountainsides where they nest in nature.
The original Toledo nest was the result of a natural adoption of the territory by a pair of falcons hatched out and reared from artificial nests as distant as Hamilton, Ont. Falcons later artificially were introduced to other cities across the state in a program mimicked across the country.
In 2010, Ohio recorded peregrines on 34 territories, with 26 sites producing at least 97 eggs and ultimately rearing at least 60 young, 50 of which were banded.
An endangered Kirtland's warbler, the rarest member of the family of wood warblers in the world, was observed and photographed in western Lucas County during fall migration.
Rick Nirschl, a well-known member of the Toledo Naturalists' Association, reports the encounter in the Nov. 1 edition of TNA's newsletter, saying that the bird, apparently a first-year female, showed up Sept. 19 along Eber Road north of Angola Road.
"When I first saw the bird, it was 20 feet away at eye level, about a foot back into a bush," Nirschl wrote. He later photographed it as well.
The Kirtland's principal summer nesting zone is northeast lower Michigan's jack pine forest stands, but the rare birds also have been found in Wisconsin upper Michigan, and Ontario in recent years. They winter principally in the Bahamas.
The annual census this year turned up 1,773 singing males, the third highest total on record, said Chris Mensing, a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office in Lansing, Mich. A singing male is assumed to represent a pair of mates.
Kirtland's numbers have fallen as low as 167 singing males in 1974 and 1987, but with intensified, cooperative management of intermediate-age jackpine stands, the species' prime habitat, numbers have grown steadily to the current range.
The Ohio Young Birders Club, an arm of the Oak Harbor-based Black Swamp Bird Observatory, raised more than $3,100 during its recent Big Sit fund-raiser.
The idea behind a Big Sit is to raise money through pledges and gifts based on the number of bird species identified from 17-foot circle during a limited period of time. The more species spotted, the more money raised.
The event took place at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and the young birders spotted an impressive 62 species, including bald eagles, hawks, tundra swans, and five species of woodpeckers.
Proceeds will benefit both the club and the Middle Bass Island Preserve restoration project of the Black Swamp Conservancy, a Perrysburg-based land trust, and its Lake Erie Islands Chapter.
The Ohio Young Birders Club is a statewide group for young people, ages 12 to 18, who have an interest in birds and in nature. While similar in name, Black Swamp Conservancy and Black Swamp Bird Observatory are separate organizations. For details on the Young Birders, call BSBO 419-898-4070 or visit bsbobird.org.
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