Saturday, May 23, 2020


Let's talk hummers!

There are more than 300 different species of hummingbirds in the world, 23 of which have been documented in North America. In Ohio, we are fortunate to have a beautiful little hummingbird species, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris. Attracting these flashy flying whizbangs requires only some sugar-water, (ratio 1/4 cup table sugar to 1 cup hot water), and a suitable feeder. It is not necessary to add food coloring to the water. Acquiring that "perfect feeder" can be difficult. The main consideration is ease of cleaning. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned once or twice per week to prevent mold and fermentation in the hot humid summer months. See the link below for a breakdown of decent hummingbird feeders, (our family owns the top-choice on the list, the "Aspects" feeder, which we found on eBay, since Amazon was out). Please keep feeders up until well past fall migration. It is a cruel myth that hummingbirds will stick around too long if feeders are left out. Hummingbirds, like many other migratory animals, do not sick around just because a food source is still present. Their instinct to survive is much stronger than that - they know that cold weather will kill them, with or without available sugar water. Leaving the sugar-water up until the hummingbirds fly south on their own will ensure that they have access to extra calories right up until they leave on their incredibly long and difficult journey. A good rule of thumb is to leave the feeder up until no hummingbirds have been sighted for 7-10 days, then you may take the feeder down and clean, disinfect, and store for the winter.

Here is a link to Cornell's informational page about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds:

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Rosy Visitors Arrive in Adams County

Bird watchers have been delighted to witness a large influx of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in the area this spring. Feeders are attracting this beautiful species, allowing residents a close glimpse of an otherwise infrequently-seen bird. Sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and raw peanuts are great attractants. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks do not normally nest this far south in Ohio, but they stop here along their way to breeding areas farther north. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are long-distance migrants. They fly from their North American breeding grounds to Central and northern South America. Most migrating Grosbeaks fly across the Gulf of Mexico in a single night, although some migrate over land around the Gulf. Please consider putting out some nutritious seeds to help this amazing bird regain calories lost during their long journey. You will be helping maintain the population for future Adams County residents to enjoy!

For more information about Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, please visit The Cornell Lab:

Friday, May 8, 2020

Garter Snakes

Garter snakes are amazing! While many native species of reptiles are becoming less common as humans take over their habitat, garter snakes seem to thrive in the disturbed areas of our lawns and subdivisions. Our small quarter-acre lot in the Village of West Union has a healthy colony of garter snakes. Every spring, dozens of snakes emerge from underground, (where they spend the winter in communal quarters), and settle into several brush piles we leave for them. We have a small garden pond in which the snakes hunt tadpoles and frogs. 

Garter snakes are often called "garden snakes" by folks unaware of the reason behind the term "garter". The name "garter snakes" probably comes from the snake's resemblance to the old-time garters worn by people to hold up their stockings. 

Garter snakes are true reptiles, like all snakes, but they give birth to live young. The baby snakes form inside eggs within the female and hatch from the egg and emerge as fully-formed miniature versions of the adult snakes. The term for this type of birth is "ovoviviparous". Gestation is usually 2-3 months, and litter size ranges between 10 and 40 baby snakes.

Garter snakes provide valuable pest control in their environment by eating slugs, insects, leeches, and snails. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Food Webs in Adams County

Food webs are everywhere! This short video is geared for little learners - use it to start conversations about food webs in your own yard.

Food Webs Video

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Morel Mushrooms

It is mushroom-hunting time! 

Morel mushrooms pop up as if by magic in the springtime in Adams County. Moisture and temperature are key to their appearance - they like moist conditions (search near streams) and not too warm, not too cool conditions. One observation made by veteran morel-hunters is that the mushrooms often appear in disturbed ground, clear cuts and wildfire burns.  One theory about why this might happen is that the morel, which is a type of fungus that feeds off of nutrients in the soil and around tree roots, is "cut off" from its host in areas of disturbance. The fungus then works hard to produce the delicious fruiting body, and the associated spores, so that it can disperse and reproduce. 

To aide in your search for morels in Adams County, try these tips: 
1. When the spring leaves of the oak trees are about the size of a mouse's ear, it is time to start hunting for morels.
2. Know your trees. Morel fungus is associated most often with sycamore, hickory, ash, and elm trees, as well as fruit trees. 
3. Soil temperatures in the 50's seem to favor morel eruptions.
4. False morels, which include a number of different species, are toxic. Research the different types of false morels and be cautious about what you harvest. When in doubt, as an expert. This is a photo of one species of false morel:

Some species of false morels contain the chemical monomethyl hydrazine (MMH). MMH causes vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and sometimes death. MMH is also suspected to be a carcinogen.
5. Go out with veteran mushroom-hunters to learn more tricks of the trade. A great group to contact is the Adams County Wild Mushroom Club, which can be reached at 937-549-3954. 
Enjoy! Happy-hunting!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Local Pottery Making with Homemade Kiln

Adams County has an abundance of amazing natural resources. One of those resources is clay! It is a fairly simple and fun process to collect local clay and turn it into pottery.
First Step: Find a source of clay. Be sure to get the landowner's permission.

Keep the clay moist until ready to use. It helps to work the clay in your hands for a few minutes before trying to shape it. Natural clay has many inconsistencies.

"Pinch pots" are easy to create without a pottery wheel.

A hole should be dug that is about 2 feet deep.

The green pottery goes on the bottom. We found that it helps to put the pottery on top of a cinder block inside the hole instead of resting on the bottom.

Gently layer kindling on top of the pottery and keep it burning for at least 3 hours. Be patient! The hardest part is waiting for the embers to cool. It can take 2 days before the embers are all out. Leave the pottery in the pit undisturbed until completely cooled.

Carefully excavate the hardened pieces from the pit.

Paint the pieces using ordinary acrylic paint and finish with a clear coat of sealant (these pieces would not be suitable to serve food/drink). Voila! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Adams Lake State Park

This baby Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta, probably just crawled out of his/her nest at Adams Lake State Park in West Union when some local children spotted her on the ground. After some gentle inspections, the turtle was released safely into the water. Adams Lake State Park is still open from dawn until dusk during the quarantine shut-down. Please be respectful of others and keep a safe distance apart of at least six feet. We want authorities to keep the park open due to good visitor behavior that maintains the good health of our community. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wild Hogs Confirmed in Adams County

There have been signs of them, and sightings too. Now there is photographic proof. Have a look at this article from the People's Defender.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

9th Annual Adams County Amish Bird Symposium coming March 3rd

If you are a nature buff, you'll likely enjoy the popular Adams County Amish Bird Symposium on March 3rd. Experts will give talks on Passenger Pigeons, bird coloration, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and Kimberly Kaufman will give a talk on
"How To Be a Better Birder - Even if You're Already an Expert!" The event includes lunch and a field trip to Adams Lake State Park to view winter water birds. This event is very popular and always fills up, so be sure to register early to make sure you have a spot. More information is available by visiting the Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau website.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More Bears in Adams County

A black bear was recently confirmed in Adams County by the Division of Wildlife. Apparently the bear had an appetite for pears. Check out the link below for the facts.
Tom Cross

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Peregrines in Adams County

            Adams County now has two nesting pairs of falcons with a successful nest at each DP&L power plant. In early May four chicks hatched at the DP&L Stuart plant, a month later another three chicks hatched the Killen plant located near Ohio Brush Creek. The three chicks at the Killen plant represent the inaugural class of what is hoped to be a long string of successful nesting. Previous attempts have been unsuccessful but a recent move of the nest box to a more secluded location at the plant appears to have done the trick.

            The female identified from a leg band is a Pennsylvania native that was hatched in 2009 at the Pittsburg Cathedral Tower of Learning. The male has so far eluded identification. The new chicks, two females and a male, were banded and given a brief medical checkup before being delivered back to the nest box. The nest box, a simple platform measuring about 2' x 2' sits in a window high atop a coal handling structure at the plant. The biologist took blood samples and attached leg bands before returning the noisy trio to the nest. 

            Locally other notable bird sightings would include two juvenile bald eagles seen recently at the Manchester Islands, a mature bald eagle was spotted at a private pond near Peebles last week and on May 28 a mature bald eagle visited Wrightsville.


Tom Cross

Exec. Director

Adams County TVB

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What species -tree frog?

My wife came across this little fellow yesterday while working in the flower bed. I've never seen one so small. We have a lot of tree frogs around the place and some spring peepers- can anyone identify? He sure was lively.
Tom Cross
Tourism Director
Adams County

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coyotes in Adams County

Dusk falls and the family gathers in the dining room to enjoy diner together after a long day of work and school. The children's stories are suddenly interupted by the unmistakable yodel of a wild animal outside: a coyote. As the family falls silent to listen, more yips and yelps join the first, until a chorus of eerie voices fills the night air.

These days, this scene is nearly as likely to unfold in the heart of a Chicago suburb as it is in the rural countryside of Adams County. Coyotes are increasing in numbers throughout their range, which includes every one of the United States except Hawaii. A new book, written by local author Carol Cartaino, separates fact from fiction concerning this often-maligned creature.
On Thursday, March 10th, 2011, at 7:00pm, Eulett Center will host Ms. Cartaino for an evening of discussion about the coyote and her findings doing research for her book, "Myths and Truths about Coyotes - What You Need to Know About America's Most Misunderstood Predator". This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call Chris Bedel at 937-544-2880, Ext. 11.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Going Batty

This little bat was found clinging to a window screen inside Eulett Center this morning. When we captured him and offered some water, he drank and drank. In return, he kindly held still so that Chris could snap a few photographs. He is likely a Northern Long-eared Bat, also known as the Northern Myotis, Myotis septentrionalis.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hope you are not missing it, Spring is here!

Yes Spring is here big time. Everyone thinks its starting early and it may be. We have all the expected plants blooming and a few we didn't expect. The Ladies slippers, Pink open, Yellow starting and White out of the ground. Just saw these yesterday, Indian Paintbrush on the right, Blue-eyed Grass center and Birdsfoot Violet on the left. Get out there and enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bog suckers and timber doodles

One bird that can’t be overlooked and is here now and just starting to display around the preserve is the American Woodcock. This “mysterious hermit of the alders”, ”timber doodle” or “bog sucker” winters in southern US and comes back early March to get to its breeding grounds here. It then begins one of the strangest breeding displays in the bird-world. Shortly after evening sets it stakes out a flat area of open ground marches around in circles with a pitifully small tail spread and long bill towards the ground resting on his chest calling “peent” “peent” “peent” over and over again almost all night. This march is only interrupted every now and then by a valiant flight circling around and around the parade grounds, circling higher and higher up into the air 200 to 300 feet high. While doing this the wind whistles through the specially modified outer three feathers of his wings and sounds as if he is twittering constantly. Then he begins to dive back down calling “chicharee, chicharee, chicaree” zig-zagging then finally to the ground right where he started or directly onto the back of a receptive female. Then back to “peent, peent, peent”. If you are careful you can run over to the place he takes off while he is flying and wait there without moving and many times he will land again, right at your feet.

The two photos of American Woodcocks are by Richard McCarty the one on the left is an adult on the nest and the one on the right is just a young one.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Signs of Spring

Enjoy these photos, taken just this morning, of more signs of spring around the county. Wood frogs are singing, (along with spring peepers), spotted sallamanders are breeding, and spiders are weaving.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring is Sprung

Skunk Cabbage? Check
American Woodcock? Check
Red-winged Blackbird? Check
Grackles? Check
Eastern Phoebe? Check

Other signs of spring: Northern Mockingbirds are displaying for mates; Red-tailed Hawks have been observed carrying sticks for nests; Jefferson's salamanders have laid eggs in at least one vernal pool on the Preserve; Carolina Wrens are investigating nest boxes and advertising by singing; Oh, and the temperature today will be 60 degrees! Hooray!

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Screech Owl

I turned the porch light on late last night and I saw this visitor guarding our front steps. I snapped a couple of pic's through the door window but he flew off as soon as I cracked open the front door. No wonder the cat doesn't sleep on the porch anymore.
This morning I saw a perplexed groundhog out and about in the neighbors yard. He probably never saw snow before.
Tom Cross