Some people have gotten excited over seeing robins recently — some in small flocks of 10 or 20 birds — and thinking this is a sign of spring.
Robins will winter in Ohio and can be seen through those months. I’ve seen them and heard them in my front and back yards and also in the country. Often they are found near crab apple trees that still have fruit.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, one reason robins seem to disappear every winter is that their behavior changes. In winter robins form nomadic flocks, which can consist of hundreds to thousands of birds. Usually these flocks appear where there are plentiful fruits on trees and shrubs, such as crabapples, hawthorns, holly, juniper, and others.
The real harbinger of spring is the red-wing blackbird. Blackbirds can be seen within cattails near water and sometimes in ditches along highways. Their distinctive song is familiar to many people.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the classic male sound as conk-la-ree! It says the 1-second song begins with an abrupt note that turns into a musical trill.
On the big bird scene, this past week my wife and I scoped out a bald eagle’s nest about 200-300 yards below Independence Dam in Independence Dam State Park, a few miles west of Defiance. An eagle in the nest was easily identified by the naked eye via its white head. Putting binoculars on it, the bird appeared to likely be incubating one of more eggs.
On a late afternoon while walking our lab Rusty in our neighborhood, my wife and I spotted two different hawks. One was smallish for a hawk while the other sitting high in a maple tree on a different block appeared to be a Cooper’s hawk, which is a big bird. The smaller hawk was in a shorter tree near a bird feeder obviously looking for a meal (another bird, not the seed).
It doesn’t matter what the season might be, there always are certain wildlife you can observe.
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After a month of miserable winter weather, think positive. There are only 3 1/2 weeks before spring officially begins. Let’s hope Mother Nature remembers that.
While looking forward to nicer weather, this would be an excellent time to contemplate doing something new or different around the water this year. Mixing things up sometimes makes fishing outings more fun.
Over the decades I’ve fished streams, rivers, ponds, reservoirs and lakes (small or miles long that were stained and super clear). I’ve fly fished, ultralight fished, pier fished, sought big game fish and bass tourney fished. I’ve had as much fun catching hand-sized bluegills and slab crappies as I have hooking 5 and 6-pound bass or 36-pound flathead catfish and chinook salmon and muskies.
I’ve waded streams and rivers and fished from small boats, canoes and lake charter boats. I’ve not tried kayak fishing or paddle board fishing, but that could be on a bucket list.
I’ve always changed up through the year in how I fish and what I fish for. Talk to your fishing friends who do some fishing different than you. They can help you learn and appreciate other types of fishing.
One should consider some key items when fishing.
How much time do you have to fish is important. There are days when I may have an hour or 2. That’s when proximity of my fishing location is the most vital. The second is what type of fish I usually catch at different locations.
If I’m around Lake Erie with little time, I choose convenience and do some pier fishing for white bass and an occasional large or smallmouth bass. If I want to relax for a couple of hours in an evening, I take a fly rod or ultralight gear to a friend’s pond and try for bluegills and crappies and hopefully some bass.
If I have most of a day, I may travel some distance and try for bass. If I have a few hours in the evening, I’ll try pitching a certain lake for bass or try for bass with my fly rods or ultralight gear.
There are several factors to consider when planning something different. Now is a good time to think about what new types of fishing, new bodies of water, etc. to try this year.
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A painting of an American Black Duck by Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Indiana, won first place in the 2019 Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp Design Competition last Saturday at the Ohio Ducks Unlimited annual banquet in Columbus. His painting will appear on the Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp issued in the fall of 2020.
A dozen original paintings from around the country were submitted in the competition with Klinefelter winning for the fifth time. Adam Grimm of South Dakota took second place honors for his painting of a Mallard. The third place entry was by Robert Metropulos for his painting of a pair of Trumpeter Swans.
Proceeds from the Wetlands Stamp help fund vital wetland habitat restoration projects in Ohio. Such habitats are important to many resident wildlife species including several that are state-endangered.
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A free basics of coyote trapping workshop will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. March 13 at the Wildlife District Five office, located at 1076 Old Springfield Pike in Xenia. Trained professionals will cover topics such as life history, laws and trapping techniques.
Since space is limited to 30 participants, pre-registration is required. No walk-ins will be permitted. Interested persons may register online at tinyurl.com/ohiocoyoteworkshop. This workshop will take place outdoors so participants should dress for the weather.
According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), urban coyotes are not out to eat people’s dog or cat at the first opportunity. They are not regular dumpster divers either. The wildlife agency says, studies have shown that urban coyotes stick mainly to a natural diet. Typical foods consumed by coyotes include small mammals (voles, shrews, rabbits, mice), plant matter, nuts and dead animals such as road-kill.
According to the DOW, coyote activity builds in January and continues through March during the breeding season. Coyotes may attack dogs in defense of themselves or their territory, so keeping control of domestic dogs is crucial for a pet’s safety. During April and May, coyotes tend to actively protect their litters as well, which could lead to potential conflicts with humans and pets.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL