Cheryl Harner's Flora and Butterfly Blog
Weedpicker's Journal: Discover the native plants of Ohio and the butterflies that utilize them.
Winter Study January 04, 2009

One last CBC report, the Crawford County count which is compiled by my friend Warren Uxley. Hosted by the Crawford County Lowe-Volk Park, a warm welcome and a free hot pizza lunch is given to all birders who participate.

A stand of Alder (Alnus) trees, growing in the typical stream bank or river flood plain, was providing some dandy cover and food for a frenetic-flying mixed flock of American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. This quick snapshot will never grace the cover of Wild Birds magazine, but it does make a compelling case study of three interesting winter species: two avian and one botanical.

The Alder tree is difficult, nay impossible for a piker like me, to key out without some vegetative foliage, but it is a fairly safe bet that this could be a stand of European Black Alder, or the much rarer Speckled Alder, Alnus rugosa. Both have the distictive staminate (male) catkins and the female seed cones which bear the seeds the Finches were fixated upon. It is also noted as a favored food source for the Redpoll.

Our featured birds, the American Goldfinch and the Pine Siskin are similar in size and habitat needs, however the Pine Siskin ( on the left in the photo) is a much rarer-to-Ohio species from Canada. Siskins are known to forage south of their normal winter habitats in invasion years. Note their pointer bill, the stripey breast and the duller upper parts with lemon yellow streaking on the wings and tail feathers.

Thanks to Warren for a fine CBC and another opportunity to study birds and botany up-close and personal.

2009-01-04 19:25:30 GMT
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