Eastern Towhee - Shenandoah NP

Spring began for me this year on March 10th with the Eastern Towhee at Blendon Woods. Blendon Woods has always felt like home for me, since I started birding in 2013 at the age of 7.  I regularly visit this park all year long because it’s a favorite. This year my favorite season (Migration Season!) started with that Towhee on the pet trail. Other signs of spring included the Louisiana Waterthrush, Golden Crowned Kinglets, and Yellow-throated Warblers.  The Yellow-throated Warbler by the duck blinds was cool because I was able to spend a lot of time with it and take some photographs.  The Sugarbush trail was a great spot last year, with a lifer Golden-winged Warbler!  Tip: boots for mud are important here, but it’s worth the trek. Look for the Barred Owl in the pines!

Last year I discovered birding at Blacklick Woods Metro Park, and have made weekly visits to the park this year.  The trails and boardwalks there are great and there are always friendly birders there.  Notable species this year include Swainson’s Thrushes, Wood Thrushes, Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Purple Finches, Baltimore Orioles, Red-eyed, Blue-headed, Warbling, and Yellow-throated Vireos, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Pine Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, and Northern Parula. I’ve been working on my bird calls a lot this winter and it’s been such a great tool to have. I feel like this year I solidly know my Black-throated Green and Pine Warbler calls because of Blacklick!

Since I’m in 8th grade and not driving I will often rely on my more local patches.  Kiwanis Riverway is a good quick stop for me.  At Kiwanis Riverway, I found my first of year Northern Waterthrush and Palm Warbler. Soon after, I started to constantly hear high-pitched buzzy and nasal “tzeeeees!” – those feisty Blue-gray Gnatcatchers! It’s been a goal of mine this spring to get good photos of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, which is pretty challenging given that they are so fast!  I shoot with a Nikon P950 and love taking photos of birds and wildlife.  I also share a daily bird photo on my Instagram account @buckeyebirder.  Photography is really fun and I’d like to start getting into editing my photos when migration slows down.

My other close birding spot is Duranceau park.  Only a few minutes away from my house and it’s a great place for migrants and a variety of birds!  Be prepared to pick through lots of  Yellow-rumped and Pine warblers!  eBird has been a fun experience for me, and I’ve enjoyed logging my sightings.  The last day of April was great for me at Duranceau with 65 species in 4 hours.  That was one cool day for me!!  Birding “wave 2” has been excellent at Duranceau.  Notable species I’ve seen in the last two weeks include my first-of-year Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Tennessee, Redstart, (American of course), Nashville, Veery, Prothonotary, and Chestnut-sided Warblers.  Other notable birds this last week were a Black-crowned Night-Heron and a solo male Ruddy Duck.  That was a fun surprise!  A great park to explore.

I also frequently walk to city parks near me, which sometimes can be surprisingly good. Sunny 95 Park, Thompson Park and Reed Road Park are all spots where I’ve had good luck.  It’s fun to spot a warbler when you least expect it!  I find that the swamp in Thompson Park and the watersheds at Reed Road Park are the best.  Chestnut-sided, Black and White, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Nashville, Yellow, and American Redstarts all visit these spots.

This spring there are two birds I am REALLY hoping to see this year.  The two lifers I’m in search of are the Worm-eating Warbler and the Kentucky Warbler..  I’m keeping my eyes and ears peeled! Keep on birding!

Matthew Rice is a proud member of the Central Chapter of the Ohio Young Birders Club and an 8th grader at Hastings Middle School.  His spark bird is the Indigo Bunting and his nemesis bird is the Kentucky Warbler. Matthew’s true passion is birding, but he also enjoys astronomy, playing video games, hanging with his friends, family, and his two kittens: George and Alfred.