Stay home, stay safe. Avoid unnecessary travel.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has forced birders in Ohio to do bird watching close to home. Actually birding close to home is a good idea almost any time and in all seasons. Here are some thoughts on how you can use eBird and this website to help you with bird watching close to where you live.
Enjoy the birds in your yard or neighborhood
Many birders do enjoy watching the birds that visit your yard. Bird feeders, where they are permitted, will attract birds almost anywhere in Ohio. It is a good way to see birds in the winter and a delight when Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will come to feeders in the summer. I have a unproven theory that almost any patch in Ohio should, over time, be a place where you can see at least 100 species of birds. So, here’s the challenge.
eBird has two features which allow you to track birds — Yard Totals, for birds you see in your yard, and Patch Totals, for bird you see in your favorite bird watching patch. You define each by including locations where you bird, either your personal locations or eBird hotspots. The totals are of birds you have reported in checklists you have submitted to eBird. There is an article where you can read more about these features in the eBird website: Patch and Yard Lists in eBird.
If you are looking for a walk, why not consider walking the sidewalks or street in the neighborhood of your house. You could set it up as an eBird patch to keep track of what you see. You might be amazed, keeping track of what you see for several years and in all seasons, how quickly you reach 100 species. Give it a try.
Visit Parks or Hotspots close to home
You can use the eBird Hotspot Explorer to find birding locations close to your home. Note the “Location” box at the top right of the map. Type your street address and city there. Give it a moment and select the address that appears closest to your home.
The markers for eBird hotspots are color coded. When you click on an icon, a dialogue box appears with info about the hotspot and links to explore more about it. You can get driving directions to the location by clicking on “Directions”. Locations with fewer than 100 species are most likely not as popular and will also have fewer people present. You might choose to visit the nearest eBird hotspots with less than 100 species. Doing this regularly, say once a week over the course of a year, may significantly increase the total number of birds recorded there.
Bird watching at a cemetery near your home
There are many cemeteries in Ohio which are also eBird hotspots. Often these locations are not crowded and it is possible to view birds from your vehicle.
Sometimes it can be a joy to view birds from your vehicle. We have collected list of Roadside Birding locations in Ohio organized by county.
There are many locations, especially in rural counties, in Ohio where you can view birds from your vehicle. Rural roads through agricultural lands, state forests and wildlife areas, “skypools” that form after a rain, airport runways near public roads, the wildlife drive at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, all are examples of places you can do roadside birding.
Please use care when birding these locations. When you stop, pull off as far as you are able. Use flashers when there is traffic. If you park to get out of your vehicle, park at a pull off or on the berm completely off the pavement. Many of these locations are on roads that traverse privately owned land. Do not enter a private property without permission.
Also, see the list of hotspot locations which have handicap accessible facilities.
Check the list for your county and select the locations which are nearest to your home.
Ohio Birding Day Hikes
Ohio Birding Day Hikes are designed to help birders discover places to walk and see bird life.
It is sometimes said that “birding is the slowest form of transportation.” Even walking a short distance while observing birds can take lots of time. There are some short hikes in this collection, but many are 2 miles or longer. Often there are options of trails to take or suggestions of ways to shorten or lengthen a hike.
The list of Ohio Birding Day Hikes is organized by county. Check the list for your county to discover which of these locations are nearest to your home. Not all parks are open. Be sure to check the park website for information about parks in your neighborhood.