Sandhill Crane Soaring - Photo Earl Harrison

Despite cold weather, the seven participants on the Columbus Audubon trip to Pickerington Ponds Metro Park were treated to 39 species over the course of the morning.

Below freezing temperatures made for very little open water for waterfowl numbers, but the diversity was still there. A small section of one pond — visible from the Wood Duck picnic area — provided scope views of Lesser Scaup, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, and a single Coyote walking through the field beside the observation platform.

As we walked towards the Pintail Marsh, we were treated to great views of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, a lone American Kestrel, as well as a large group of noisy American Tree Sparrows. Pintail marsh, which was also frozen, provided more species diversity in the woods surrounding the observation platform. 6 Eastern Bluebirds and a very friendly Downy Woodpecker provided great looks as Song, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows popped up from the grasses. Upon returning to the parking lot, one more quick check of the original viewing platform from Wood Duck picnic area allowed for great views of 6 Sandhill Cranes hunting in the field.

Here’s a list of all species seen on this trip:

4Canada Goose
5Northern Shoveler
2American Black Duck
26Northern intail
2Green-winged Teal
1Lesser Scaup
2Great Blue Heron
1Cooper’s Hawk
1Red-shouldered Hawk
2Red-tailed Hawk
6Sandhill Crane
25Rock Pigeon
30Mourning Dove
2Red-bellied Woodpecker
2Downy Woodpecker
1Hairy Woodpecker
2Northern Flicker
1American Kestrel
6Blue Jay
1American Crow
3Carolina Chickadee
1Tufted Titmouse
1White-breasted Nuthatch
1Brown Creeper
1Carolina Wren
6Eastern Bluebird
6American Robin
500European Starling
40American Tree Sparrow (Conservative, Large flocks frequently flushed)
3White-throated Sparrow
8Song Sparrow
1Swamp Sparrow
1Eastern Towhee
2Northern Cardinal
6House Finch
4American Goldfinch
8House Sparrow