Avids Horned Grebe - 2024-02

After a long, long hiatus, the Columbus Avid Birders group finally reconvened to begin our forays into Ohio’s birdiest habitats! Perhaps fittingly, the first trip in nearly four years began by driving to Cleveland in a winter storm…

Avids Red-breasted Merganser 2024-02
Red-breasted Merganser

Five really avid birders met in Columbus, with four old hands and one new member, who graciously packed all of us in her vehicle. Braving the elements and knowing there was a cold north wind, we gamely headed north to Cuyahoga County, hoping that the chill weather would have blown in some good birds to the sheltered harbors. We started at Wendy Park and treated ourselves to what February Cleveland birding is expected to bring – at least with temperatures!  At least it was sunny…However, the blowing wind made the lake fierce and it was difficult to find any birds on the open lake beyond the usual vast Red-breasted Mergansers flocks. Gulls were limited to the resident Herring and Ring-billed varieties, with a handful of Great Black-Backed Gulls mixed in. 

Avids Saw-whet Owl - 2024-02
As with most Saw-Whet Owls, this one was too shy to pose!

We drove along the lakefront, hoping for Snowy Owls or other winter raptors, but no such luck. A jaunt at Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve yielded a good variety of wintery birds, with the highlight being a Saw-Whet Owl that we managed to find with not too much difficulty (for once!). Scanning the merganser flocks from the bluff top did result in an unusual bird-a leucistic Red-Breasted Merganser! Still, the winds remained blustery, keeping many birds laying low. So, the Avids decided to head south away from the lake and see if we couldn’t find the Golden Eagles down in Amish country.

Avids 2024-02
Hardy Avid Birders scan the ponds at Wilderness Road

Well, we couldn’t find the eagles, though not for lack of trying, and we padded the trip list along the way. We traveled over to Funk Bottoms and found a few Trumpeter Swans and ducks, but no Sandhill Cranes. The new viewing platform was well-admired, however. Finally, we went to the famed Wilderness Road, where we scoped through hundreds of beautiful Northern Pintail, managing to find early Green-Winged Teal hiding amongst them. Along the way we had fruitful discussions about Horned Larks and enjoyed each other’s tales of birding adventures outside of the state. The day ended with a respectable list of 51 species, even though it felt like diversity was low. We look forward to a great spring trip this April!

Avids Feb 2024 trip list

1.       Canada Goose
2.       Trumpeter Swan
3.       Northern Shoveler
4.       Gadwall
5.       American Wigeon
6.       Mallard
7.       Northern Pintail
8.       Green-Winged Teal
9.       Canvasback
10.   Lesser Scaup
11.   Bufflehead
12.   Common Goldeneye
13.   Red-breasted Merganser
14.   Wild Turkey
15.   Pied-Billed Grebe
16.   Horned Grebe
17.   Mourning Dove
18.   Rock Pigeon
19.   American Coot
20.   Killdeer
21.   Ring-billed Gull
22.   Herring Gull
23.   Great Black-Backed Gull
24.   Double-Crested Cormorant
25.   Turkey Vulture
26.   Northern Harrier
27.   Bald Eagle
28.   Red-Tailed Hawk
29.   Northern Saw-Whet Owl
30.   Red-bellied Woodpecker
31.   Downy Woodpecker
32.   Pileated Woodpecker
33.   Blue Jay
34.   American Crow
35.   Black-capped Chickadee
36.   Horned Lark
37.   Golden-Crowned Kinglet
38.   European Starling
39.   Northern Mockingbird
40.   Eastern Bluebird
41.   American Robin
42.   House Sparrow
43.   American Goldfinch
44.   American Tree Sparrow
45.   Dark-Eyed Junco
46.   White-Crowned Sparrow
47.   White-Throated Sparrow
48.   Song Sparrow
49.   Red-winged Blackbird
50.   Common Grackle
51.   Northern Cardinal