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Black and shelducks have recently been sighted in central Ohio waters

As a kid growing up in landlocked Worthington, Ohio, sea ducks were the stuff of pipe dreams. Passionate about birds since I was 8 but with limited mobility in those earlier years, I read every bird book I could find.

My parents supported my passion for birds and one of the books they gave me was All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America by Richard Pough. This classic guide was published in 1953, at a time when bird guides were few. When my eyes met these pages for the first time around 1970, there was still precious little literature on birds.

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Pough spiced his accounts with natural history information, and it was one of the few books in which I could find tidbits about how exotic – to me – birds lived in distant lands. His writing transported me to these places, if only in my imagination. I quickly fell in love with sea ducks: eider, harlequin, long-tailed and scoter. (In fact, for the past two decades, my personal license plate has been “EIDERS.”) Hardy, stocky sea ducks breed in northern climes and winter mostly in the oceans. Her life was quite a distance from my existence on the flat plains of central Ohio.

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