Birder’s Almanac – June

Only a handful of species are more likely in June than in May in Ohio: some, like dickcissels, are unpredictable grasslands breeders, and others, like sedge wrens, just seem easier to find. Overall, June supplies us the most stable avifauna of year, as well as the fewest migrants and vagrants. Certainly the first week or ten days of the month always bring a few laggard shorebirds headed north, as well as the last trickles of migrant warblers. A few non-breeding birds of other species linger—a loon or two, the odd crippled duck. Because of its relative lack of novel species, too many birders undervalue June, but it is the month birds live for, the reason for facing all the perils of migration and the privations of winter, and the evasion of predators and strategies to make do with diminishing patches of habitat.

Most of the state’s breeders vocalize through June, and this is an excellent time to seek out the scarcer ones—rails and bitterns and moorhens in the marshes, hemlock-gorge rarities like scarcer northern warblers and blue-headed vireos and hermit thrushes, and in appropriate habitats seldom-encountered summer birds like Bell’s vireos, sedge wrens, lark sparrows, Wilson’s snipes, upland sandpipers, winter wrens, or brown creepers. Twenty-three species of warblers nest yearly in the state, the rarer ones in particular habitats that are themselves rare. Heronries, especially along Lake Erie, are always worth checking for changing populations and the chance of a rarity. Gull flocks may produce something unusual like a Franklin’s or a laughing gull. We should also be alert for the duck species known to be very rare Ohio nesters. This is the prime month to seek out grassland breeders, when the rarer ones like short-eared owls and northern harriers are especially to be hoped for, not that the songs and antics of sparrows and meadowlarks and bobolinks are unrewarding.

—Bill Whan

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