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Birding and Birdwatching In Central Ohio

Updated on October 15, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) | Source

Phantom Blue Jay

A fleeting experience is the sighting of a blue jay in the snow during an Ohio winter. It seems that when a light blanket of fluffy white covers the native plants in the yard, a jay or two appears as if from nowhere, remaining only a short time, and flying off as if jet propelled - a dart thrown by an unseen hand.

A few years back, a roommate was fortunate in seeing a flock of dozens of blue jays fly through the yard in the spring of the year. She was agog with the enchantment of the sight.

Others see blue jays in Central Ohio all year long; I don't know why I can't see them as often. Come to Ohio, and you, too, will probably see them when I don't.

Perhaps they are joking me. While not as big a Trickster as Raven, these jays are felt by many people to be annoying with their bird calls. Other people find them delightful. I find them too scarce.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ohio is home to Bald Eagles as well.Devleoped by a woman in the late 1800s, this chicken is a Threatened Species in 2013. Called the Buckeye, my grandfather was probably raising them on his farm in the 19th -20th c.
Ohio is home to Bald Eagles as well.
Ohio is home to Bald Eagles as well. | Source
Devleoped by a woman in the late 1800s, this chicken is a Threatened Species in 2013. Called the Buckeye, my grandfather was probably raising them on his farm in the 19th -20th c.
Devleoped by a woman in the late 1800s, this chicken is a Threatened Species in 2013. Called the Buckeye, my grandfather was probably raising them on his farm in the 19th -20th c. | Source
Plate 102 of "Birds of America" by John James Audubon.
Plate 102 of "Birds of America" by John James Audubon. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barred OwlGreat Horned Owl does not like this photo shoot.Screech-owl, owl found in largest numbers in Ohio.Laughing owl, not from Ohio.
Barred Owl
Barred Owl | Source
Great Horned Owl does not like this photo shoot.
Great Horned Owl does not like this photo shoot.
Screech-owl, owl found in largest numbers in Ohio.
Screech-owl, owl found in largest numbers in Ohio. | Source
Laughing owl, not from Ohio.
Laughing owl, not from Ohio. | Source

Species of Central Ohio Owls

Eastern Screech-Owl

Great Horned Owl

Barred Owl


Owls of Ohio

While the cardinal is the Ohio State Bird, robins, grackles, and crows are just as common to see in Franklin County. The raven is also becoming evident and the northern mockingbird is a long-time resident here.

Near man-made lakes in apartment complexes and around shopping malls, we are seeing increasing numbers of geese and ducks. One afternoon in early spring, I walked up to a stationery store and found a duck comfortably ensconced in the empty waist-high planter beside the door.

During the 1980s, our area began seeing inland gulls, especially in large parking lots. People feed them french fries, which may not be a good thing.

Owls have always inhabited our local state parks and farmlands, but we occasionally see them sitting on fences in the city. A friend once took in a baby barn owl and named him Little Hoot. When he was big enough, the owl went to live outside for many years.

We have many owls that you would probably enjoy seeing. A park ranger helped me spot one when I was about 8 years old and I've always remembered the experience.

If you have a chance, come to Ohio and attend one of the year-round night hikes for birdwatching. These walks can be from a half-mile to three miles long and usually include some educational stories, anecdotes, and at least some hot chocolate in winter and other treats during the rest of the year at the end of the trail.

These are also usually free! More information is presented later in this Hub.

I have seen Great Blue Herons in the western part of Franklin County since the mid-1990s.
I have seen Great Blue Herons in the western part of Franklin County since the mid-1990s. | Source

A Few Parks Full of Birds In Central Ohio

show route and directions
A markerBlendon Woods -
Blendon Woods, Columbus, OH 43230, USA
get directions

B markerHoover Reservoir -
Hoover Reservoir, Ohio, USA
get directions

C markerHighbanks Metropark -
Highbanks Metropark, Lewis Center, OH 43035, USA
get directions

D markerSharon Woods Franklin County -
Sharon Woods Metro Park, 6911 South Cleveland Avenue, Westerville, OH 43081, USA
get directions

E markerGreen Lawn Cemetery -
Green Lawn Cemetery, 1000 Greenlawn Avenue, Columbus, OH 43223, USA
get directions

A Extinct Bird Replaced by Its Proliferate Cousin

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We used to have many Carolina Parakeets (Conuropsis carolinensis) in Ohio. Th last one in captivity died at the Cinicannti Zoo in 1918. The Monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)  from South American came north to take the place of the Carolina parakeet in the 1960s.
We used to have many Carolina Parakeets (Conuropsis carolinensis) in Ohio. Th last one in captivity died at the Cinicannti Zoo in 1918.
We used to have many Carolina Parakeets (Conuropsis carolinensis) in Ohio. Th last one in captivity died at the Cinicannti Zoo in 1918. | Source
The Monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)  from South American came north to take the place of the Carolina parakeet in the 1960s.
The Monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) from South American came north to take the place of the Carolina parakeet in the 1960s. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Female northern cardinalMale northern cardinalAmerican robinScarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)
Source
Female northern cardinal
Female northern cardinal | Source
Male northern cardinal
Male northern cardinal | Source
American robin
American robin | Source
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) | Source

High Concentrations of Bird Species

Central Ohio is noted by the Department of Natural Resources for supporting large numbers of American robins, northern cardinals, common nighthawks, red-tailed hawks, blue-headed vireos, red-bellied woodpeckers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, eastern blue birds, bluy jays, red-winged blackbirds, indigo buntings, Carolina wrens, house wrens, white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, rose-breasted grosbeaks, dark-eyed juncos, song and field sparrows, prothonotary warblers, scarlet tanagers, common yellowthroats, hooded warblers, and Kentucky warblers.

Blue jays gather in large flocks at Lake Erie in the north and migrate towards Ohio and lower into the continental US during each spring and autumn. A few birds that do not usually live in Ohio are seen in Franklin County from time to time and migratory pathways may be changing to cause that. Many of the most numerous within species are found here all year.

American black vulture (Coragyps atratus). We occasionally see American black vultures near farms and fields.
American black vulture (Coragyps atratus). We occasionally see American black vultures near farms and fields. | Source
Source

Birding Books and Films

Birding by Ear: Eastern/Central (Peterson Field Guides)
Birding by Ear: Eastern/Central (Peterson Field Guides)

Sighting birds by their songs and calls. CD included.

 

Night Hikes in Ohio Metroparks

A number of Central Ohio's state parks and the Sierra Club all offer free hikes during daylight and evening hours; and many occur on weekends so that entire families may participate.Other hikes are scheduled as well by age group, from pre-schoolers through Senior Citizens.

In addition, our parks operate some free TRAM ride events in case visitors are usually too tired to walk, are using crutches, or generally use wheelchairs. Our parks are twice as large as they were just a few years ago, so the free TRAMS are welcomed.

Our local hikes are usually themed and encourage visitors to look for a particular form of life or event - birds (Owl Night is fun!), bats, other wildlife, native plants and flowers, the full moon, or meteror showers. During summer months, a cookout is often held after the hikes.

At Blendon Woods in the northeastern part of Columbus, the hiking trails range from about 0.3 mile to about 1 mile, so they are not overly long. Hikers can choose during regular park hours to walk all of them, if they wish.

Highbanks Park on the far north side of the city in the suburb of Lewis Center offers longer trails and 4-mile hikes are offered several times a month, even at night and to Senior Citizens for extra walking exercise. No one is left behind if someone becomes overly tired, though; rangers have vehicles on hand.

One of our parks operates a 1-mile Bison Hike and I am surely going on that one!

Look at the programs we have below and if you cannot come to Central Ohio, look into similar events in your State and Metropolitan Parks.

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American robin eggs
American robin eggs
American robin eggs | Source
Source

© 2013 Patty Inglish

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I love to watch the birds. A humingbird flies near the kitchen window and looks in!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Very enjoyable to see the photos and sketches. Thanks, Patty.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Interesting nature and bird hike. It's really worth the visit to Ohio. Till then, I'll appreciate this article as the nearest I'll get to it. Voted Up!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Incredible bird watching and such beauty to take in nature has its wonders

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      It's wonderful to know that there are so many places for great bird watching in central Ohio! Thanks for the comprehensive resource.

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