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Published:September 10th, 2005 14:19 EST
Ohio Observes the Winged Beauty of Fall

Ohio Observes the Winged Beauty of Fall

By Justin Limberty

As summer begins to shimmer down, the light of fall grows in intensity, its presence advancing upon us. Meanwhile, thousands of enthused Ohio residents anticipate the beginning of a delightful event that signifies fall’s arrival. Could this occurrence be the beginning of another rough season for the Cleveland Browns? Perhaps it is the beginning of a new school year that is generating so much joy and gusto. Though both are safe assumptions, the accurate answer would be the fall migration period and the type of birds it brings into Ohio. With thousands of birds passing through Ohio each day during this period of migration, Ohio bird watchers are gearing up for one of nature’s most delightful shows, which begins in mid-August and can last well into October.


As food becomes scarce and the chill of winter creeps in, many birds living in Central and North American during the nesting season (ornithological term for ‘mating season’) begin to make their way south towards warmer and livelier climates. Those who can find food usually stay put, which is why some birds can be observed all year round. The rest will fly great distances to reach their winter homes, some traveling from as far north as Yukon all the way to South America. This will be one of the best opportunities all year for birders to observe a wide variety of birds in their area.


Ohio birders will be treated to a wide variety of visitors during the fall migration. A wide variety of shorebirds, warblers, sparrows, and other types of birds pass directly through Ohio, some lingering while others only staying for a few short days. The Yellow Warbler can be found across Canada during the nesting season but during winter makes Central and Southern America its home.  During August, lucky birders in Ohio may have an opportunity to observe this handsome bird as it sings its sweet song from smaller trees or thick bushes.  By early September the little wonders begin to move on to warmer states further south.


The Harris’ Sparrow, a Canadian native that usually migrates to the central states during the winter, sometimes ends up in Ohio, available for birders to enjoy during the colder months. Their presence in Ohio is rare and having an opportunity to witness one is a true delight. Other types of bird the observant birder may see during the migration include the Ruby-throat Hummingbird, the American Tree Sparrow, and the Horned Grebe.


Some Ohio residents are taking a casual approach to bird watching by supplying their bird feeders with a variety of seeds. Knowing what specific kinds of seeds different types of birds prefer will help attract a great variety of visitors at the feeders. Many large retail chains in Ohio such as Giant Eagle and Wal-Mart respond to the increasing number of consumer demands to carry a wider variety of bird seed by building large product displays to showcase a variety of products dedicated to backyard birding. Other stores that specialize in outdoor recreation and birding such as Wild Birds Unlimited continue to do well and expand throughout Ohio as the pastime becomes more recognized.


“I love thee variety of Warblers during this time,” said Akron Ohio birder Lucy Fay. “With the right kind of seed at your feeders you’d be amazed at how many I had in my backyard.” 


Ohio birders don’t just sit in their back yard hoping a migrating bird stops by their feeders. Several birding clubs and organizations host a variety of events to celebrate the fall migration. The BSBO (Black Swamp Bird Observatory) holds an annual bird banding event during the migration period in an attempt to keep track of how many different species pass through Ohio. The many branches of the Audubon Society located throughout Ohio host several events of their own, from study field trips to an annual birdseed fundraiser. Almost always opened to the public, these events not only bring birders of all ages together but help expand the organization’s scientific knowledge and understanding of birds.


“In the fall my regular birding group, the Avids of Columbus, go to migration spots for shorebirds,” said Columbus Ohio birder Janet Duerr. “There is always something new to see everyday during the fall.”


Birding is on the rise not just in Ohio but throughout the United States. With such a broad mixture of birds available for viewing pleasure year round, Ohio is a great place to live for both casual and hardcore birder. As we creep into mid-September, this is the perfect time to step outside and enjoy the show Mother Nature has been preparing for us all year.