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Tornado Alley - Oak Openings Preserve Metropark

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Matt Anderson View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 Jan 2017 at 10:11pm
It was a beautiful morning for a long walk through almost the entire length of Tornado Alley in OOPM. The birds were pretty good too...
 
* Merlin - east of Oak Openings Parkway (perched for hours)
* Pileated woodpecker - 3
* Red-headed woodpecker - 33!
* Purple finch - 18, all but one at Oak Openings Parkway
 
The number of Red-headed woodpeckers inhabiting Tornado Alley really is amazing. I'm pretty certain I've never seen so many of this species in a day...and there are more to be had in other areas of the park.
 
 
Matt
 
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JAXALLIE View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JAXALLIE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jan 2017 at 1:14pm

Wow, I've been looking for Purple Finches out there with no luck. Did you just walk along the road between the lodge and 295?

 
Karen
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brandoni13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jan 2017 at 9:05pm
Matt I remember getting something in the mail recently from BSBO about a red-headed woodpecker study in the Oak Openings.  The mailing talked about them declining.  It wasn't really specific as to whether they were talking in general, or specifically in the Oak Openings.  If I had to guess, numbers would be up in our area for red-headed's.  Obviously doing the breeding bird survey would shed some light on that, but in casual observations over the past 5 years I would have to say wintering birds are up too.  Your thoughts?
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Matt Anderson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Anderson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jan 2017 at 9:35pm
Karen, I walked the length of Tornado Alley itself. All but one of the Purple Finches were feeding on either side of Oak Openings Parkway along the stretch that it bisects where the Tornado came through.
 
Brandon, Red-headed woodpeckers have increased markedly in Oak Openings Preserve Metropark since the Tornado came through in June 2010. Thinning of oak woodlands and burning of understories have also created favorable habitat. It was not too many years ago that you had to hunt for Red-headed woodpeckers on a Big Day (or any day for that matter) to make sure you got it on your list. This is clearly a big winter for them. Last year, few overwintered. Whether they stay or migrate south is likely driven by the acorn crop. My guess is that, in recent years, you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere in the state that's more productive for this great woodpecker species.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TKemp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2017 at 4:52pm
I can add some thoughts from the perspective of the Christmas bird count. The average for the last 20 years is 8.3 Red-headed woodpeckers per year; the average for the last 10 years is 13 per year; this year, 14 were found. I didn't try to determine birds per party hour, but the coverage in the Oak Openings has been pretty consistent for many years. Few of this species were found in the early years of the count, partly due to few observers and partly due to little coverage in the park. In the 50 years of the count, they have been seen 30 years. The highest count ever was 34 in 1983, but we have had 25+ two times in the past 10 years. I'll echo Matt's thoughts on the apparent increase: better habitat in the park and good acorn crops in some years. Interestingly, Red-headeds are pretty common along the river corridor as breeders, but completely disappear in the winter; too few oaks, I suspect.

Tom

Edited by TKemp - 18 Jan 2017 at 5:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dbohio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2017 at 11:21pm
Thanks for the commentary guys. It is nice to have the historic data to show the patterns.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brandoni13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2017 at 1:42am
Matt and Tom, I think I'm going to have to sit down with you guys and really learn about compiling data.  I am not a numbers guy by any means, and I know what I've tried to keep track of for the Oak Openings count the last two years is largely insufficient if I really want to have reliable data to track any dependable trends throughout the years.  And that is really my goal for that event.  I really appreciate the feedback.  Based on that info, I'm guessing BSBO is looking at red-headed woodpecker numbers in general and not specifically going down in the Oak Openings.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Anderson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2017 at 9:20pm
Just outside of Tornado Alley in Oak Openings Preserve Metropark this afternoon, I found a surprisingly large group of 58 Purple finches -- all of them near the horse trail bridge over Swan Creek. This bridge is south of Oak Openings Parkway and can be reached by following the trail between the two yellow horse crossing signs. I'm pretty confident that this is the largest group of Purple finches I've seen locally since the 1970's.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Anderson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2017 at 3:10pm
52 Purple finches at the same spot today - feeding on Common privet berries (along with bluebirds on downstream side of bridge, south side of creek
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JAXALLIE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2017 at 5:42pm
Great! Thanks, Matt, heading that way now!
 
Karen
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