December 20th was Ashland's Christmas Bird Count, and I drew the good fortune of Birding with Gary Cowell and Jason. Although the weather felt much colder than the 29 degrees on the thermometer, we had a pretty good run of birds. The open water on Charles Mill Lake afforded us more species of waterfowl than most Ashland counts, including all the regulars plus Redheads, Canvasback, Pintails and a Horned Grebe. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Field Sparrows and Purple Finches were three of the highlights of our 61 species list.
Eastern Bluebirds were our surprise species. Some years we have had to hunt about for Bluebirds, but this year we racked up 51! This is a stunning number for the species that was short supply a decade ago. I sure hope these brave ones know what they are doing, as tonight's cold will be a bitter test for them!
Eastern Bluebirds are usually migratory as they are insect eaters, and those that dare the cold winters of Ohio become frugivors (fruit eaters) out of necessity. Look for them round Dogwood and Sumac berries, as both are prime bluebird food.
They will certainly eat meal worms in the winter, if they find homeowners kind enough to supply them. Many people delight in these jaunty blue thrushes, and there is a society just for the promotion of their habitat, feeding and breeding. The Ohio Bluebird Society can certainly provide you with more information on the habits and habitat of the Eastern Bluebird. You can also meet a lot of nice people in this crowd! :)
Photo by Wiki