Big rivers serve as avian superhighways, funneling migrants to and fro. That’s why this Franklin County metro park is so good. Located on the banks of the Scioto River, birds abound in migration. A lowhead dam pools the river, creating a wide spot irresistible to waterbirds.
Anything can turn up. I once stopped by to scan the river, and there floated a Black-legged Kittiwake — a major rarity for central Ohio. Many other oddities have appeared, including all three scoters, Great Black-backed Gull, and Red-necked Grebe. All regularly occurring waterfowl can be expected, many in good numbers.
Songbird migration in streamside woods is fantastic. April and late fall can bring inestimable numbers of sparrows: Fox, White-crowned, White-throated, Song, and Eastern Towhee. Harris’s Sparrow turned up once, adding to the site’s panache as a rarity hotspot.
A good May day might produce 20 species of warblers, scads of thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, and more. In summer, Prothonotary Warblers nest nearby. — Jim McCormac
Open waters of large river, mature riparian woodlands, small wetlands.
Easy access via paved and unpaved trails; overlook decks at strategic points.
Spring and fall: Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback, Lesser Scaup, the occasional Surf Scoter and Long-tailed Duck, and migratory songbirds such as Prothonotary Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and sometimes Mourning and Connecticut Warblers. Osprey and Bald Eagle nest nearby, and Golden Eagle has been observed. Caspian, Common, and Forster’s Terns. When mudflats are exposed: Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, both yellowlegs, and rarities such as American Avocet. Year-round: Black-crowned Night-Heron and Belted Kingfisher. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron has nested locally.
When to go
March through May and September through November for migrants. June and July for breeding birds.
County park. Free. Open 6:30-10 April through September and 6:30-7 October through March.
Spotting scope helpful, especially for birds on the river. Green Lawn Cemetery, a 360-acre birding hotspot, is only one mile away, at the western terminus of Greenlawn Ave. Combine the two sites for an excellent birding day.