Creature Feature: Map Turtles (Graptemys species)
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Creature Feature: Map Turtles (Graptemys species)

We were looking at turtles basking along Darby Creek and something wasn’t clicking. The kids were asking about the turtles, and my mind was drawing a blank. I was used to Painted Turtles and Sliders (both common in ponds in the Midwest), but these flat olive turtles didn’t look right. When we tried to edge closer…

Creature Feature: Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
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Creature Feature: Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

I leaned over the footbridge railing and looked where she was pointing. At first all I could see was a tangle of zig-zagging sycamore branches, but then a movement caught my eye. A tiny wing flick revealed a tiny bird: a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, squeezed atop a tiny lichen-covered knob that could only be her nest. We…

Creature Feature: Rusty Blackbird
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Creature Feature: Rusty Blackbird

“Something isn’t right here,” the woman said with a perplexed look on her face. Our group was birding Greenlawn Cemetery, and we’d just looked through an apparent group of Grackles. Most of us had already moved on, but she looked back at the Grackles, a few of which had dropped to the ground and were tussling with leaves and tree debris. “They don’t sound like Grackles,” she intoned. As it turned out, we had almost been fooled by the Midwest’s stealthiest winter resident, the Rusty Blackbird. Her initial comment was also prophetic about the species as well.

Creature Feature: Great Egret
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Creature Feature: Great Egret

It’s one of the most recognizable symbols in conservation: the flying Great Egret, symbol of the National Audubon Society, devised when the organization was lobbying to curtail the millinery trade. Most of you have probably also seen a live Great Egret as well, but have you stopped to think about how these essentially southern birds…

Creature Feature: Green Darner Dragonflies
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Creature Feature: Green Darner Dragonflies

green and blue slivers the dragonflies whirl and dart high and low circles The above haiku is one of many about dragonflies, an insect contemplated in Asian poetry and prose for hundreds of years. But you don’t need to be haiku master Basho to appreciate these fantastic little predators. We in Ohio are blessed with…

Creature Feature: Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens)
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Creature Feature: Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens)

I saw the small bird out of the corner of my eye as it hovered only inches from my head, plucking insects from a budding branch. It was a ‘BTG’ or Black-throated Green Warbler; one of the more fearless migrants, and its closeness that spring morning took my breath away. Almost all local birders have…