By: Daniel Cooley
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
As far as numbers of bird species found in Ohio, Williams County ranks rather low, at 66th out of 88 counties, with 253 species. By contrast, Cuyahoga and Lucas counties, tops on the list, both have recorded 357 species.
Just the same, one area of Williams County, Lake La Su An, is home to some very uncommon birds in northwest Ohio.
One of those, the Bobolink, can be found at Schlachter Tract, on County Road 8. This tract of land is also the best place to find two other uncommon birds in northwest Ohio.
These two birds are the Grasshopper Sparrow and Henslow’s Sparrow. While all three birds are listed in the least concerned category, the trio are all uncommon in northwest Ohio and can be very difficult to find in Fulton County.
All three of these birds favor grasslands, which are hard to find in much of northwest Ohio. When grasslands were much more common in the 1960’s and before that, these three birds were much easier to find.
The Bobolink, particularly the male, is the most colorful of the three birds. The male is black with a white back and a big yellow spot on the top of the head.
In contrast, the female is brown with black streaks on the back and dark stripes on the head. Brian McCaskey of Pioneer conducted a Williams County survey for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Ohio (DNR) and discovered Bobolinks near Edgerton, at the intersection of County Road 7 and E-75.
Henslow’s Sparrow, even when present, can be hard to find.
Its song is relatable to a hiccup. Both sexes of Henslow’s are mainly brown with a white belly. The top of the head sports a pale stripe, with a black stripe on each side. The face and neck are olive colored. This bird likes grasslands that also sport shrubby fields.
The Grasshopper Sparrow likes open grasslands, with very little shrubs and trees. The bird’s song sounds like an insect.
Both males and females are very similar, with a light brown breast and face, along with a white eye ring and the top of the head is dark brown. All three birds migrate to the southern states and to South America.
Even harder to find than the above three birds are the Cerulean Warbler. According to Audubon.org, this one is the only tiny bird that has a blue back, white throat, and a black necklace. The female is duller, with white wing bars and a hint of blue on the back.
According to Audubon.org, the Cerulean is in sharp decline and is close to being put on the threatened list.
This bird prefers hardwoods that run along streams, a rare occurrence in Williams County, except in Lake La Su An.
True to this, the place to find the Cerulean in Lake La Su An is on County Road S, just east of the bridge that goes over the St. Joseph River.
The Cerulean is hard to spot, without it singing, as the bird likes to stay in the tops of trees. The song contains at least three buzzes, followed by an upward trill.
It may take patience to hear the song because the bird does not sing a lot. But County Road S, just east of the bridge, is the ideal spot to discover the Cerulean Warbler.
One other bird worth mentioning is the Sand Hill Crane. Very common in Michigan, this bird is rare in Ohio, but is beginning to nest in Williams County.
One year ago, this big bird, which stands four feet tall, with a six feet, six inch wingspan, was spotted in a field on County Road 5-75, with two adults and a chick.
McCaskey, while conducting a survey for the Ohio DNR in April, counted nine Sandhill Cranes in Williams County.
While McCaskey did not find a nest, it is entirely possible that there is at least one active nest, especially considering last year’s sighting.
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(PHOTO BY DANIEL COOLEY / THE VILLAGE REPORTER)