Young Barn Owl - Tuscarawas County, OH photo: Greg Miller
Last night, Paul Boyd of Holmes County, Ohio passed away after a long bout with sickness. Paul Boyd is maybe Ohio best ambassador for Barn Owls. His contribution to Ohio’s birding community is very special. Many of you visited his farm and got to see your first-ever Barn Owl perched in a barn. Paul designed and built many nest boxes. He was instrumental in passing along his knowledge of nesting Barn Owls to many Amish farmers. Ohio birders still enjoy coming to Amish Country to visit local farms hosting these intriguing creatures.
I can remember one Spring when his son installed an infrared camera inside the Barn Owl nest box. For me, getting to view the owls so close and personal–well, it was especially fascinating. I recall being totally surprised to see one of the baby Barn Owls swallow an entire rat…WHOLE! The rodent was as large as the owlet! How amazing!
Paul lived less than a mile from where I grew up. He was my father’s friend and classmate in high school. And he was also my very first employer. Paul was a farmer and I baled hay for him for six summers between school years. And no, we handled square bales with twine–not the large rolls of hay you see on farms today. Those were long, hot summer days with lots of physical labor. But I have fond memories of finishing and the feeling of great accomplishment.
I remember taking Paul out to Killdeer Plains and we found a Northern Saw-whet Owl. Paul was elated to see this teeny owl. It was a joy to show it to him. Paul Boyd loved owls and gave much of his time and lots of effort in the nest box program and working the with State in banding and tracking the owls.
I don’t have many flowery words of prose to describe how blessed I was to know Paul. But I am sure the Barn Owls will miss him.
Dr. Bruce Miller on road to Chincoteague VA - early 90s photo: Greg Miller
Yesterday, April 4, would have been my father’s birthday. I lost my father, friend, and birding mentor in late 2000. He was a large animal veterinarian for the State of Ohio. He was also a birder since a very young boy. It was his patience and steady temperament that made him not only a good birder, but an outstanding mentor. His approach to birding was thorough and meticulous, yet still he conveyed quiet joy and passion for the hobby. Continue reading
Yesterday morning (3/31/2011) I found some tracks in the snow on the sidewalk in front of my house.
bird tracks in the snow, 3/31/2011 photo: Greg Miller
Haha! You say you don’t have much information to go on? Like size. Are these tiny tracks, medium tracks, or large tracks? What if I didn’t tell you? There were more tracks in the snow that are not in this picture. Am I being evil here? Yes. A little. Continue reading
It was Friday morning, November 27, 1998—the day after Thanksgiving. I was satisfied with my look at a Spot-breasted Oriole on the grounds of the Baptist Hospital on 88th Street in Kendall, Florida. I looked at my watch. 8:30am. Wow. It’s early. Flamingos, here I come! I drove south on Rt 1 through town down through Homestead. In Florida City I turned west on 9336 and headed toward the Everglades. I gulped the last of my orange juice, chasing down the remains of an Egg McMuffin while watching all the Eurasian Collared Doves. I made a few notes to myself. They perch on top of lamp posts and telephone poles, unlike Mourning Doves. I also noted how they very often sat at sharp angles on the telephone lines like Kestrels. The chunky, squarish look of this bird in flight reminded me of a White-winged Dove. Speaking of which, hey, there is one! And there’s a Hill Myna on another telephone pole. I passed by Robert’s and thought someday I’ll stop for a Key Lime Milkshake. Continue reading
By the time I was out of high school, I had already traveled with my family to every state west of the Mississippi River. My life list had grown, but it had a few nagging holes in it. We had traveled through Southeastern Arizona but we missed most of the great list of breeding birds in that area. Our travels were through dessert terrain along I-10. We stopped in Tucson. But many of the species we hoped for were not found even though it looked like we were in the right area according to those early range maps. But the available information changed dramatically in the 1970s. I was introduced to the Lane Birdfinding Guides (now ABA/Lane Birdfinding Guides). Continue reading
Hi! I’m Greg. I have a confession to make. I am…pause…clears throat…a birder. Yes, I have an obsession. Oh, sure. I have worked for years as a computer consultant. But really, all that has done is pay for my fixation with birding.
I think about birds—often. You might say, “What’s wrong with that?” Well, if I am having a conversation with you, you may think I am actually listening. This may not, however, be true. I just might be daydreaming about birds or taking a birding trip in my own mind. Sorry! I don’t mean to be disinterested. It just happens. And perish the thought that you expect me to remember your name (unless you have a bird’s name like Robin). Sigh. Pathetic. I know. Continue reading