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Melissa Martin: Try birding with your buddies in Ohio

A robin nests in my backyard flowering cherry tree every spring. Cardinals, blue jays, wrens, warblers, sparrows, finches and various other birds visit my yard. Once in a while, I see a hummingbird.

My grandfather’s favorite birds were bob-whites, mocking birds and whip-poor-wills. Once a common bird throughout Ohio, bob-whites have declined and are mostly found in limited areas in the southern fourth of the state.

Backyard birding gained popularity during COVID-19. “Birding is a perfect hobby for the quarantined. It requires little more than eyes and ears and some open sky,” according to an article at www.slate.com.

It helps to have a bird guide and binoculars. Birds are small and getting a closer view enhances your appreciation of their beauty and behavior.

From the Lake Erie shore to the Cuyahoga River Valley to the edge of Appalachia in Ohio’s southwest corner, people are birding. Ohioans in all 88 counties can engage in birding with their human and fowl buddies. Put on your hiking boots, grab a backpack and take a mask, as needed.

(..) Southern Ohio has several sites for birding, including for nesting species that are uncommon elsewhere in the state. One place to seek them is the Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve in West Union. With almost 18,000 acres, it’s the state’s largest privately owned protected natural area. Spot Wild Turkey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Chuck-will’s-widow, Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager and Blue Grosbeak.

More than 260 species of birds are spotted throughout Hocking Hills State Park annually. Gas up the car and take a day trip.

Belmont County is home to a variety of special bird species, such as tropical migrating birds like the Northern Parula, spotted at Raven Rocks, the Hooded Merganser, seen overwintering at the Powhatan Point Marina, and the Belted Kingfisher, found along the Captina corridor. The Captina Creek Birding Trail is a driving tour with signage at five stops within the Captina Creek Watershed. More information about the birding trail can be found at www.belmontswcd.org.

And did you know that Northwest Ohio is the warbler capital of the world and hosts the Biggest Week in American Birding annually in May?

(…) Visit www.ohiodnr.gov to learn about the common birds of Ohio. Get to know your flying friends.

(…) Keep your eye glued to the sky. Watch the wild winged wonders. It’s time to give birding a try!

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio.