May 2019: Bluebirds battle House Sparrows.

This video shows a frantic bird battle that I observed in the Cleveland Metroparks in mid-May. I initially thought it was a trio of Eastern Bluebirds, with the male trying to court the female, while the was trying female trying to feed her young. But something looked off about the “young bluebird” sticking its head out of the nest box. So I shared the video on twitter, and some birders corrected me about what was happening. It turns out that the Eastern Bluebirds were trying to get a House Sparrow out of the nest box. House sparrows will kill other birds, including Bluebird nestlings. I did not stick around long enough to find out if the Eastern Bluebirds were successful ridding their nest of the invasive House Sparrow.

Things to notice in the video:

  • Both Eastern Bluebirds have bands on their legs
  • The wing-flashing behavior is used by Eastern Bluebirds when fighting with rivals
  • The male Eastern Bluebird is carrying feathers in its claws, which is usually done when courting females


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    early June 2019: Treefrog on a shaky branch, and a lonely toad

    By early June in northeast Ohio the Gray Treefrog singing was still going strong on warm and moist nights.

    Here is a Gray Treefrog that picked an unstable perch to sing his song. Watch how his singing causes his whole body and the cattail leaf he is perched on to bounce around:

    Although there was a bout of American Toad breeding in May, an occasional male toad has attempted to attract a mate. Here is a lonely American Toad singing his song in early June:

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    April 2019: Wood Ducks in a small woodland pond

    I set up a Browning Trail Camera in a small pond in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. When I retrieved the camera and checked the card, I was pleased to see these videos of a male and female Wood Duck. Most of the time they were swimming back and forth in the pond. Near the end of the video, there is a clip where the female appears to have wet leaves on her back. Does anyone know whether this is an accident, or if she is carrying it on her back for a reason?



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    May 2019: Calling American Toads

    A male American Toad (Bufo americanus) rests between calls with his vocal sac deflated.
    American Toad

    The same male calls with his vocal sac inflated:
    Calling male toad

    A pair of mating American Toads in amplexus. The male clings to the back of the female and fertilizes the eggs as she lays them.
    Amplexing toads

    These two male American Toads seemed to think my camera was a rival. They approached the camera while singing, possibly to chase it away from the breeding site.

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    April 2019: the call of the Midland Chorus Frog

    The trilling call of the Midland Chorus Frog is often likened to the sound made when you run your thumb over the teeth of a comb. This video from April 2019 gives you a chance to enjoy the call:

    Male midland chorus frogs put a lot of effort into their song. The sound is produced when they force air out of their lungs and over their vocal chords.

    Here a male rests between calls with his vocal sac deflated:
    Calling Male Midland Chorus Frog

    Now his vocal sac reaches peak inflation as he calls:
    Calling Male Midland Chorus Frog

    Two male chorus frogs face off as they battle for the attention of females:
    Two male Midland Chorus Frogs

    Midland Chorus frogs typically have distinct stripes down their back:
    back pattern on Midland Chorus Frog

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