Oak Openings Red Crossbill by Lisa Phelps

FROM DONNA KUHN: We took off from the Shoppes at Worthington Mall  at 5:30AM  in the hopes of seeing the Red Crossbills at Oak Openings in their early morning appearance.  Some of us even skipped the traditional morning coffee/restroom stop, but traditions die hard, and others stopped, albeit briefly. Temperatures were in the 20s and ice formed on the inside of the backseat car windows, reducing visibility on the drive to Toledo.

On our arrival to the lodge parking lot, the group reconnected and some took off for the restrooms. We heard an unfamiliar call and discovered a male Red Crossbill singing at the very top of a pine tree in the parking lot. Everyone made it out of the restrooms in time to see the male and a female or immature male Red Crossbill before the birds flew out of sight. Life bird for 3 participants!  This winter has been an irruption year for this species, giving many in Ohio their first look at this bird.

The park was crowded with over 500 runners, but we took a walk in the woods from the Lodge to the Window on Wildlife where we observed Pine Siskins and other winter birds at the feeders.

Oak Openings Pine Siskin by Heather Angst
Pine Siskin at Oak Openings by Heather Angst

The woods had Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Carolina Wren and the usual woodland birds. A Sandhill Crane flew by on our return to the parking lot.

Our McDonalds stop could not be denied at this point. There we were treated to free pies, although a few missed them while using the facilities.  House Sparrows were observed in the parking lot as usual.

As we drove into the Ottawa Interpretive Trail a Red-tailed Hawk was perching about 20 feet away and posed for pictures, as we observed from the car. We saw Ring-billed Gulls, a couple Bufflehead and Mallards on the water and 100s of blackbirds on the power lines by the landfill.

Red-tailed Hawk by Heather Angst
Red-tailed Hawk by Heather Angst

We stopped at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge where the owls eluded us.  A couple flocks of Rusty Blackbirds flew overhead. The Boss unit had Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal and Widgeons.

The Northern Shrike on the Magee causeway was initially seen in the field, then flew and landed on the double yellow line in the middle of the road! It quickly decided that was not a safe place, and repeatedly flew between the edge of the road and a bush about 30 feet from the road. It attracted a big audience of birders, as it showed off its black mask and hooked bill.

We decided to head to Killdeer Plains where we saw more Pintails, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeons and Gadwalls.

Our final stop was Big Island were we had hundreds of ducks and a trifecta of Swans. Tree Swallows were catching insects on the fly. Ducks included both Scaup, Redhead, Ring-necked Ducks, Black Duck, Canvasback, Bufflehead and Ruddy Ducks.

Avid Birders at Big Island by Lisa Phelps
Avid Birders at Big Island by Lisa Phelps

We returned to Columbus around 6PM with 63 species for the day:

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Northern Shrike
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Red Crossbill
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Pine Siskin
House Sparrow