Creature Feature: Dark-eyed Junco
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Creature Feature: Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail. Juncos vary across the country but in general they’re dark gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open, particularly in flight. In…

Creature Feature: The Frog that Ate the Midwest
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Creature Feature: The Frog that Ate the Midwest

Bullfrogs. They’re our ideal mental image of a frog: squat, slick, and green, with big eyes and a loud croak. They make homes in all our man-made habitats: farm ponds, reservoirs, and even roadside ditches. Plus they’re good to eat…or at least their legs are, so that they’re actually managed as a game animal. But there are still a…

Creature Feature: Screech Owl (Otus asio)
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Creature Feature: Screech Owl (Otus asio)

“We’re leaving during the day, but I can give you a few pre-dawn hours. I might know where some Screech Owls are lurking.” With those words, Dave Horn became a Christmas Bird Count hero to me, the Columbus CBC compiler. Not only was it an audacious offer – he was leaving to visit family on Count day, after all…

Creature Feature: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
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Creature Feature: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

We knew the birds were there, long before we could see them, mostly from the noisy begging by the juveniles. We were near several Osprey platforms with nests. Osprey calls are piercingly loud, but the adults don’t make them often. Big begging juveniles are another story; they squeal long and loud, imploring the adults to catch them…

Creature Feature: Beaver (Castor canadensis)
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Creature Feature: Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Imagine an Ohio awash in wetlands. Every stream with slow, willow-choked meanders, most rivers with meadows and pools, all without human intervention. This was how the state must have appeared during the early 1700s, when beavers were widespread. Most of Ohio’s watercourses would’ve looked more like those in Canada or the northern Rockies, where the terms beaver…

Creature Feature: Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
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Creature Feature: Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

I was gazing out at the bird-feeder when the hawk cruised in. As the birds scattered, I expected the usual Cooper’s Hawk, but was startled when a Red-shouldered Hawk did a quick turn past the feeder and chased a squirrel off into the bushes. I never did see the outcome, but made a mental note: another adaptation…