Christmas Bird Count 2015

Help us monitor central Ohio’s winter birdlife in one of the longest-running volunteer censuses in the region.  We have several Christmas Bird Counts, CBCs for short, helping to do this.   The ones we know about (with contacts) include:

Dec 17    Hoover Reservoir (s. Delaware County)  

Dec 18    Columbus (and most bordering suburbs)   -Rob Thorn (robthorn2@gmail.com)

Dec 26    Darby Creeks (and parts of Hilliard)         -Jen Moore (moore.jenniferallison@gmail.com)

Dec 31    O’Shaughnessy Reservoir (& N. Dublin) -Darlene Sillick (dsillick118@gmail.com)

All of these Counts follow a similar set of rules set out by National Audubon:  they all take place in a single 24-hour period, and are restricted to a circle 15 miles in diameter. On that day, teams of birders scour different sections of the Circle to find as many birds as they can. For instance, here in Columbus, the count circle is centered just north of Bexley, so that it stretches from Upper Arlington on the west to Blacklick in the east, and from I-270 in the north to Groveport in the south. Key parks and preserves within this circle include Whetstone and the Olentangy Greenway, Antrim Lake, Griggs dam and Quarry Trails, Greenlawn and Scioto Audubon Park, Blendon Woods, the Alum Creek Greenway, Blacklick Woods, the Blacklick Creek Greenway, and 3 Creeks Park. We try to send teams to every one of these areas on the morning of Count Day.

What can we find? In Columbus, urban birds, like pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows, will be present, but are not as numerous as you think. Other, supposedly “wilder” birds have been adapting to our greenbelts, including Coopers and Red-tailed Hawks, Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, American Robins, Carolina wrens, Dark-eyed juncos, and American Goldfinches. In recent years, we’re seeing hardy strays and wintering birds that were formerly rare or unknown from here during December. Our list of wintering waterfowl has steadily grown as small numbers of Teal, Wood Ducks, Gadwall, and Shovelers have started to stick around in different ice-free ponds or creeks. Unusual raptors, like Bald Eagles, Merlins, and Peregrines, are now expected in the winter here. Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings and Hermit Thrushes have become quite regular in recent years, probably due to many planted fruit trees. Warblers other than Yellow-rumped have started to occasionally show up as well, including Orange-crowned, Nashville, Black-throated Green, Common Yellowthroat, Pine, Palm, and Redstart. Even more unusual stuff has dropped in, which is what really spices up CBCs.

Columbus is a very urban Count, and the CBCs surrounding us offer quite different experiences. The Hoover CBC has both Sharon Woods and Highbanks, but also has many teams around Hoover and Alum Creek Reservoirs, so the opportunity for seeing water birds is greater. Darby Creeks has the wetlands and isolated riparian woods of Big and Little Darby Creek, so it’s almost like being in another world. O’Shaughnessy has mostly pastoral farmland with loads of fields, woodlots, and small ponds, like a winter postcard of rural Ohio.

We need you, and all your sharp-eyed friends, to help make these good counts. In Columbus, most of the parks and greenbelts mentioned will have teams of birders out on the 18th, and we’d love to have you join the teams for the morning. We need as many birders as we can recruit, since more eyes means fewer birds missed. So please plan to come out for the morning, or the whole day, or just keep an eye on your birdfeeders. Call the listed compilers or me, Rob Thorn (614-551-0643) for more details or email me at robthorn2@gmail.com