so, while everyone else in the world was hanging out with the Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) on the beach at Magee Marsh last week, I was off on a Biggest Week tour through the beautiful Oak Openings Metropark Preserve looking for Lark Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, Red-headed Woodpecker and other great local birds. The first few hours of the morning were fantastic and I count my blessings for only haven gotten wind of the warbler of all wood warblers rather late in the tour. Watching Birdchick’s video of the warbler showing off, just made me cry.

This is not Kirtland’s Warbler.

But a Magnolia Warbler hidden in a bush, but if you squint just right you can almost string a Kirtlands out of it.

 And this is what Sharon did:

just makes me sick


So my question to you is this: with all the wisdom of hindsight, what would you have done? Would you have gone for the Lark Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, pornographic views of a Broadwinged Hawk, and a very vocal Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) – and a total of 20 lifers? or would you have stayed behind on the Magee Marsh boardwalk for crazy views of a Kirtland’s Warbler?

Just so that you believe me that we actually did see Lark Sparrow in Ohio, here are some very poor photos:

bad photos of a good bird. Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) showing off his head strikes and tail white.

a Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) sang for us. Can’t complain about that.


So, Lark Sparrow or Kirtland’s Warbler? How bad should I be feeling right now?



If you have never been to the Biggest Week in American Birding, or Magee Marsh in May then you are seriously missing out. If you have any remote interest in wildlife or nature, then this needs to be put on your bucket list right now. Yup, go ahead and do it. Don’t be coy. Pen. Paper. That easy.

Written by Dale Forbes
Dale grew up in the forests and savannas of South Africa, developing a love for nature from a young age. After studying Zoology and Wildlife Science, he moved to Central America to continue his work in conservation biology. He is a member of BirdLife International’s Advisory Board and is Swarovski Optik’s Head of Strategic Business Development.