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Road Trip

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Sand Hill Cranes (IN)

By: Pat Coate

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or so many parents think as summer begins to fade and school swings back into session. For me, the back to school ritual has come to include a 600 mile trek to the Midwest to drop my daughter off at college. It is always a fun trip – I love having a captive audience and our conversation topics are varied and entertaining. We have also started a little tradition of (or really, my daughter puts up with) a contest to see which we see more of along the way– state license plates or bird species.

Some trip highlights:

• Packing the car was a bit like playing Tetris; the neighbors were amazed all her stuff actually fit.
• Despite the shaky economy, there seem to be a lot of people traveling. We saw a record 37 state license plates (74%), 3 Canadian provinces, and a car with Diplomat plates – going about 85 mph, of course.
• Birds ranged from bald eagle in WNY to sand hill cranes along the Indiana tollway to the ubiquitous house sparrow found at most stops along the way. We totaled 32 species versus the 37 state license plates.
• Made a quick but productive birding stop at North Chagrin Reserve east of Cleveland. More details in a future post.

Species included:

Canada Goose
Rock Pigeon
Seagulls (Ring-billed, potential others)
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-capped Chickadees
Chipping Sparrow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bald Eagle
Blue Jay
Mourning Dove
Wood Duck
American Goldfinch
Green Heron
Great Blue Heron
Pied-billed Grebe
Barn Swallows
Turkey Vulture
Red-winged Blackbird
Sand Hill Crane
Cedar Waxwing
Sandpipers (believed to be Solitary and Spotted)
House Sparrow
Tree Swallow

License plates we found:


Enikon 057
House Sparrow (everywhere) – taken in 2010

Cedar Waxwing (OH) – taken in 2008

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One response

  1. Nice list. Road trips are always great.

    3 September 2011 at 8:25 pm

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