Burrr it’s cold…How do animals survive winter?

Hello Wild Side Readers,

For many, winter is a time for huddling in warm blankets and sweaters, and dreaming of warmer weather. Of all the seasons, I hear the most complaints about winter. It makes me wonder, without being overly anthropomorphic, if wildlife species share the same dour attitudes towards Old Man Winter. Or is winter to them just another time of the year that requires certain strategies to be successful?

For some species, winter can indeed be challenging. Fortunately, wildlife have many adaptations that help them survive winter. In the below presentation, I discuss a few. From down jackets to frozen frogs, the abilities Ohio wildlife employ during the cold winter months are nothing short of impressive!

Winter Wildlife Adaptations recorded presentation

During the presentation, I shared several resources to learn more about winter wildlife adaptations:

The Great Migration video – Sandhill crane stopover at Audubon Nebraska’s Rowe Sanctuary

Birdcast – migration maps and live tracking of migration

Migration Science article – from Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website

White-nose Syndrome website – U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Webinar on Creating a Living Landscape for Wildlife in Your Backyard 

Nest Box Plans for Wildlife – ODNR, Division of Wildlife

Recommended Books:

  • Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner – for the kiddos
  • Life in the Cold by Peter J. Marchand
  • Winter World by Bernd Heinrich

Enjoy and stay warm out there! Spring is just a month (or so) away!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist



Nest Boxes for Wildlife

Hello Wild Side Readers,

Did you know how important dead trees are to wildlife? When a tree dies, it’s starts the next chapter in it’s life as habitat for insects and other invertebrates, fungi, lichen, moss, birds, mammals, and a host of other organisms. I recently gave (as in 1 hour ago) a webinar on the Important of Dead Wood to Wildlife. Check it out here if you have the chance. I strongly encourage any woodland owners and homeowners to think of ways to incorporate dead wood into your properties if attracting wildlife is one of the goals for your woods or backyard.

Nest boxes are a tool we can use to provide a feature of dead trees and live trees that wildlife go crazy for – cavities! Many species utilize cavities, from birds and mammals big and small, to reptiles and amphibians, native bees, and honeybees. Below are some slides I’ve put together on different nest box specification for wildlife – where to place them, tips on construction, and maintenance recommendations.

Nest Box Specifications for Species 

Here are additional resources on nest boxes, including plans for building your own! The great thing about nest boxes is that you don’t have to be a skilled wood worker to build a nest box – I speak from experience. Thankfully, the wildlife won’t care if they aren’t perfect. This makes this a great activity for kids, too. Monitoring the nest boxes also makes for a great activity. For some boxes, like those for bluebirds or tree swallow, the boxes are within reach and can easily be viewed. For those that are mounted higher, you might consider a wildlife/trail camera. These types of cameras are readily available and can be set up facing or even inside the nest box to get some great pics and footage of who is using the box.

ODNR, Division of Wildlife – Nest Box Plans

Bat House Plans


Marne Titchenell
Wildlife Program Specialist

Ssssssnakes and Other Ohio Reptiles

Hello Wild Side Readers!

I had the pleasure of putting together a reptiles of Ohio presentation for the State Master Gardener Volunteer Conference. The presentation got me thinking that I also needed to do a blog article sharing some resources on these critters, as I frequently get ID questions on them. Below are some of my go-to resources when it comes to Reptile ID (I know there are others out there, so let me know in the comments of others I should add to my list).

Reptile ID resources:

If you want to learn more:

  • Check out this presentation by Brian Hackett, Wildlife Specialist with the Knox County Soil & Water Conservation District. I’ve learned so much watching Brian’s presentations.
    • Ohio Snake Identification
    • This presentation was made the 2020 Farm Science Review Online. Visit here a full list of wildlife related talks from this year’s FSR.


Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

The Benefits of Bats

Hello Wild Side Readers!

ICYMI – check out the short 4-minute video I created for the virtual Farm Science Review on the benefits of bats and how to attract them to your farm or woodland! Below are some additional resources and videos – enjoy!


Publications & Websites:

Thanks for learning more about bats!

(Psssst…don’t forget! National Bat Week is coming soon – October 24th – 31st, 2020! Be sure to check The Ohio Bat Working Group website for additional ways to learn about bats!)

“The last word in ignorance is the person who says of an
animal or plant: What good is it?” ~ Aldo Leopold

Owls of Ohio

UPDATE:  If you found your way here after my recent Owls of the Tristate presentation I gave at the 2024 Ohio River Valley Woodand and Wildlife Landowner workshop, you are in the right place! 🙂  Below are the resources I mentioned during the presentation. Enjoy!

Hello Wild Side Readers!

If you caught my last post, you’ll know that this year’s Farm Science Review is virtual and all educational materials and presentations will be available starting next week. Check out my last post for more info and the schedule of Gwynne Conservation Area Presentations.

One of the Gwynne presentations is called Owls of Ohio. In the video I created, I promised to provide additional resources for attracting owls to your property. Below is a list of additional resources on owls. Enjoy!


Owl Life History Resources:

Ohio Division of Wildlife Owls of Ohio Field Guide

Barn Owl Population Status Report

Barn Owl Nest Box Plans and Placement Guides – both of the below guides are great!

Nesting Platform Plans for Great-horned owls

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds – more info about each owl species


Nest Box Resources: 

Nest box specifications and placement recommendation for screech owls, wood ducks, and more – HERE.

Ohio Division of Wildlife Attracting Birds of Ohio – nest box plans for screech owl

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch – tips and plans for nest boxes for birds


Management for Owls Resources: 

OSU Extension Fact Sheet – Dead Trees for Wildlife

NC State Extension Working with Wildlife – Owls

Presentation on Dead Wood for Wildlife – Ohio Woodland Stewards’ Friday Escape to the Forest Webinar Series

  • Info on creating and maintaining den trees and snags & constructing brush piles

General Management Recommendations for Forest & Open Habitats for Raptors (including owls) 

Managing Forest Birds in Southeast Ohio

Managing Small Forest Patches for Birds


Recommended Apps:

  • Merlin, Cornell Lab of Ornithology – listen to bird calls (including owls), life history info, song/call ID
  • Audubon Bird Guide

Recommended Books:

  • Hawks at a Distance – Jerry Liguori
  • Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America
  • Birds of the Prey of the Midwest Field Guide – Stan Tekiela
  • Crossley’s ID Guide: Raptors – Richard Crossley


Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

In Ohio, short-eared owls can be seen during winter hunting over open fields and grasslands.

2020 Gwynne Conservation Area Farm Science Review Presentations

Hello Wild Side Readers!

Next week is Farm Science Review (FSR), one of the largest farm shows in the country, hosted by the Ohio State University and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Monday through Thursday usually finds me at the show on the Gwynne Conservation Area, which is down the road from the Molly Caren Agricultural Center, the site of FSR.

Among many activities, the Gwynne typically hosts a series of professionals talks geared towards farmers, woodland owners, and other landowners about conservation and natural resources management. This year, FSR is virtual, and so all 45 talks planned for 2020 at the Gwynne are now moving to an online platform!

Check out the full schedule of talks here.

I’ve also added a short tutorial below on how to watch the talks from your computer or other device, starting Sept. 22, 2020. Please reach out to me in the comments below if you have any questions. I hope you enjoy the show!

How to access Gwynne Conservation Area talks during 2020 FSR:

  1.  Go to fsr.osu.edu and click on ‘Conservation
  2.  Create a ‘My Show Planner’ Account (don’t skip this step!)
  3.  Click on ‘Home’ and search for keyword ‘Gwynne
  4.  A list of the Gwynne subject matter areas should appear (i.e. ‘Gwynne Forages and Grazing Education‘, ‘Gwynne Woodland Educations’, etc.). Click on each subject matter to get to the list of scheduled talks.
    • You can add the scheduled talks to your ‘My Show Planner’ in order to easily find the talks you want to watch the next time that you sign in. Talks can be added to your ‘My Show Planner‘ now!
  5.  Under each scheduled talk, there will be a link. Click on the link to watch a video of the talk. For the ‘live sessions’ the link will take you to a zoom meeting room.

For more information on FSR 2020 and how to navigate the vitual show site, visit the links below:

Farm Science Review 2020 – Free and Online

Full Schedule of ALL the talks going on during FSR 2020

Navigating the FSR virtual show site


Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

A bit about Ohio’s carnivores…

Hello Wild Side Readers!

Bobcats and coyotes and bears, oh my! In my years of educating, I’ve found that people have a fascination with Ohio’s wild carnivores. I can count myself as one that shares in the fascination. When I teach Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists in-training about mammals, we spend at least an hour on the order Carnivora. In Ohio, there are 6 families in the order Carnivora;  from the cats (Felidae) to the dogs (Canidea) to the bears (Ursidae). Below is a link to a presentation on Ohio’s carnivores. I recently gave the program as part of the Mahoning County Extension and Mill Creek Metroparks Naturalist Series. I’ve also included a few links where you can learn more about Ohio’s carnivores.

Presentation: A Wildlife Sampler: Foxes, Minks, and Otters, Oh My!

Additional Resources:


Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

(Psssst…do you know all 6 families within the Order Carnivora? I listed 3 above. The other 3 are Mustelidae (otters, weasels, and more), Mephitidae (skunk), and Procyonidae (raccoon).)

Birding by Ear Resources

Hello Wild Side Readers!

Have you been paying more attention to the wildlife around your home? Perhaps you’ve noticed quite a few different species of birds flitting about your landscape. A fun challenge is to start identifying those birds by their songs. This is called birding by ear. Birding by ear is an acquired skill and can be overwhelming when you are just starting out, which is why beginning with the familiar yard birds is a good first step. Below I’m listed a few tips to help you get started. I’ve also compiled a list of resources where you can learn more. Happy birding!

1) Pick a Short List of Birds

If you are just starting out learning bird song, pick a short list (10 or so) of birds you are already able to identify by sight. The birds you regularly see around your yard may be the list you choose to start with.

2) Listen to Recordings

To begin learning your bird calls, obtain a CD of Common Bird Calls of Ohio from the Ohio Division of Wildlife. This CD corresponds with their field guide, Common Birds of Ohio. Call your Division of Wildlife District Office to request a CD. (If you know of other free CD of bird songs, let me know in the comments below and I’ll post them here, too.)

You can also listen to bird calls at the below sites, but be careful – these sites list all of the songs and calls of each species (many birds have multiple songs and calls). Usually, the first 1-2 songs listed are the most common. Stick to only a few of the most common songs for each species when you are first learning.

3) Take Time to Really Listen AND Watch

Once you have learned your short list of bird songs, it’s time to test your newly acquired skills! Venture out into your backyard or where ever best to locate the birds on your list. Take plenty of time to really listen (that might mean closing your eyes, listening, and locating where the bird is calling from so you can easily find the bird in your binoculars). Once you have listened, find the bird and watch it. Maybe you also have time to take a few notes, or sketch the bird. Making those connections between sight and sound will really help to you learn and remember that bird.

What should you listen for?

  • Mnemonics – putting words to a sound can be very helpful when learning bird calls. Here is a list of mnemonics

    The song of the tufted titmouse sounds like, “Peter! Peter! Peter!”

    from Fernbank Science Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. Please note, not all species on this list are present in Ohio.

    • Here is also a cute graphic posted by ODNR, Division of Wildlife, on their Facebook page.
  • Song Details – listen for the sound quality, pitch, and different sections of the call.
      • Sound quality – Is the song buzzy like a bee (warblers), clear as a whistle (cardinal), or composed of trills (when a birds uses a lot of sounds in a row that are too fast to count or whistle, like a screech owl)?
      • Pitch – Is the song rising, falling, steady, or variable in pitch?
      • Sections – A new section is when there is a dramatic change in pitch or speed of the song.
    • The sound quality of a bird’s song can be graphed in something called a sonogram. Sonograms can help birders visualize the song of a bird, and help them identify it.
      • Here is an article that describes song details and sonograms in more detail.  I find it can be very helpful to describe what we are hearing, just as we would describe what a bird looks like (i.e. white wingbar, red eye, yellow chest).

4) Bird with a Friend

It can be incredibly helpful to have a friend to bounce IDs off of, and it’s even better if that friend is an experienced birder from which you can learn even more!

5) Look at Every Bird

Ok, so maybe this one is better suited to birding by sight. This is the best piece of birding advice I ever received (thank you, Paul Knoop)! Even if you have already identified the bird you are seeing or hearing, take some time to look at it. When we look at a bird, we are picking up little things about how the bird is moving or behaving like its shape, size, and silhouette, how it’s flying or moving in a tree. It’s these little things that can help you in the future to identify that bird immediately, to pick it easily out of a crowd, or decipher its call from a dawn chorus during the height of migration.

Addition Resources:

Bird Song: The Song Learning Game for Everyone by Cornell Lab of Ornithology  – watch a short video then start the game!

Anatomy of Bird Song Slide by Cornell Lab of Ornithology – takes you to a neat 4-slide presentation about how birds produce sound.

 The Language of Birds by Cornell Lab of Ornithology – 10 minute video on bird song


Thanks for reading and happy birding!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

The mnemonic for the eastern towhee’s call is my favorite. “Drink your teeeea!”

My Pet was Sprayed by a Skunk! Now what?

Hello Wild Side Readers,

Did your dog or cat get a little too curious about that black and white critter visiting the backyard? Now you have a pet that reeks to high heaven and you are looking for the best way to de-stink-ify your beloved furry friend. If a cat, dog, or even a house has been unfortunate enough to receive a dose of skunk spray, here is a good recipe to use:

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap

Mix this solution together and use immediately. Do not mix it in advance and place it in a closed container, as the released oxygen may cause the container to explode. Scrub the pet with the solution, wait roughly 5 minutes, and then rinse.  Avoid contact with your pet’s eyes and other sensitive areas. Feel free to scrub, rinse, and repeat if needed. This solution can also be used to remove skunk spray from hard surfaces. Good luck and here’s hoping your dog learned its lesson this time….
















For more information on skunk odor removal, check out this fact sheet from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and More: If You Build It, They Will Come

Hello Wild Side Readers!

Summer is here and if you are anything like me, you are enjoying the birds and butterflies visiting your backyards and landscape. If backyard landscaping for hummingbirds and butterflies is on your to-do list this year, the below resources are for you! I’ve posted several plant lists for hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as additional fact sheets and online resources.

What to Plant for Hummingbirds:

Many of the above plants will also be visited by butterflies. Remember to aim for continuous blooms throughout the growing season. Here is a suggested (but by no mean all inclusive) list of plants by their bloom times.

And finally, here is a double-duty list of trees and shrubs for both birds and butterflies:

Additional Resources:

Ways to get involved:

If you want more information on landscaping with native plants for birds other than hummingbirds, check out this article.

Enjoy those flutters and fliers!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist