LIFESTYLE

Spreading Your Wings

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

And many stay right here in the Buckeye State to do it. "It's amazing how good Ohio can be over the course of a year," said Bill Heck, secretary of Columbus Audubon, the local chapter of the national conservation group. "You can see an awful lot of stuff, and you can do it relatively easy."

Birdwatching Havens

SCIOTO AUDUBON METRO PARK 395 W. Whittier St.,

Brewery District

www.MetroParks.net

Home to the new Grange Insurance Audubon Center, the Whittier Peninsula is a hotspot for rare waterfowl, migrating songbirds and more than 200 total species.

GREEN LAWN CEMETERY

1000 Green Lawn Ave.,

South Side

www.GreenLawnColumbus.org

More serene than spooky, Green Lawn's grounds include an arboretum designated as an Important Bird Area by Audubon Ohio. Its botanical diversity welcomes a range of species, including warblers and owls.

HOOVER RESERVOIR PARK

7701 Sunbury Rd., Westerville

www.Parks.Columbus.gov

This small park lies near the Big Walnut Important Bird Area, which is home to ducks, geese, herons, shorebirds and other species. It's also one of the best places in Central Ohio to spot bald eagles.

Beginning Birding

Five tips for easy entry into the world of watching birds

  1. Buy a feeder. Before you seek out flying friends, bring some to you. A backyard food source will introduce you to common species. Try black-oil sunflower seeds to attract a wide range.
  2. Go with a group. Central Ohio is home to many regular bird walks, during which friendly amateur guides show newbies the ropes. For starters, check the calendar at www.ColumbusAudubon.org.
  3. Hit the books. With a good field guide, you'll learn what a bird looks like and important info about following it through the woods. Be sure to get a book with a focus on Ohio or the Midwest. Stan Tekiela's "Birds of Ohio" is a great start.
  4. Buy some binoculars. You'll soon learn that most birds don't like to sit still or fly close by. Good, user-friendly models start at around $70.
  5. Wake up early. Not all birds follow the same patterns, but many sing loudly and fly more around sunrise and sunset. Get out before 7 a.m. to enjoy good airborne activity.

Outside the Grange Insurance Audobon Center at Scioto Audobon Metro Park.