Karl Overman: Birds and more


The Tawas bird was my third Michigan Painted Bunting with previous birds being in Presque Ile and Bay Counties.  In the early days of the Michigan Rare Bird Committee, this was a controversial bird.  How do we know it isn’t an escape? Over the years that concern has been dispelled as there is a regular pattern of vagrancy for the species in Northeastern North American including Michigan, Ohio and Ontario with the species showing up essentially annually in late April or early May. This bird was strategically found just outside of Tawas Point which hosts thousands of birders in mid-May and the owners of the private residence gratiously allow multitudes of birders to view the bird over its multi day stay. It was first found on May 18, 2017.

There are only a couple of Michigan birders who view Ohio as part of their home turf as I do and chase any potential state bird for the Buckeye state.  Tom Heatley and Jim Fowler are two other Michigan birders who fall in that category.  So it was not surprising that when a male Painted Bunting decided to winter in eastern Ohio, I was off, covid be damned.  When I arrived in the backyard at the stake out there was already a birder there,  Bill Lynch from Columbus.  He has long been in the fisheries business and knew well the late Tex Wells professionally. Of course I immediately pumped him for gen.  No, he had not seen the bird and this was his third try.  Not comforting words to me.  On the plus side, the homeowner had seen the bird first thing this morning at the feeder.  It was a cold wintry day so we braced ourselves for a potentially long unpleasant wait.  As usual I could not stay glued to the stake out so I walked up to the main street and noticed a young Amish woman with a very young baby in something like a rickshaw. I wondered how far she had walked to get here.  I was very surprised to see her join us in our wait for the bird even though she did not have binoculars.  Well, she, Bill Lynch and I were all eventually rewarded as the male Painted Bunting somehow slipped onto the feeder without us noticing it fly in.  This was only the first course for Bill and I as we separately motored over to adjacent Holmes County and saw the staked out Black-headed Grosbeak.  That is how long distant chases are supposed to work.  Don’t  ask me about Whiskered Tern or Stellar’s Sea-Eagle.


Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)

Modified March 6, 2022