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Annual backyard bird count tally suggests more of a team effort on the bird watch

Brian E. Kushner
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
The song sparrow is one of many varieties of sparrow seen in Ohio during the 2022 Great Backyard Bird Count.

Results from this Great Backyard Bird Count are in, and they show a surprising trend among bird watchers.

The annual event invites people from around the world to spend time bird watching during a weekend in February – and report which species they’re seeing in their neck of the woods. Becca Rodomsky-Bish is project leader for the bird count. She says last year, COVID may have spurred more people to stay inside and birdwatch. But this year saw a 23 percent drop in the number of responses to the bird count. However, that doesn’t mean fewer people were participating.

“This year, people were getting out in big groups again and birding more collectively. So even though it looks like participation was down, there’s actually more people participating this year -- they just weren’t necessarily sending in their own lists.”

Franklin County turned in the most surveys among Ohio’s 88 counties, followed closely by Cuyahoga and Hamilton. However, Hamilton County had three of the Top 10 “hot spots” with the greatest number of different species spotted – including one sighting of 8,000 European Starlings.

These were the top 13 hot spots in Ohio:

Fernald Preserve (Hamilton County)

Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area, Funk Rd. (Wayne County)

Pipe Creek Wildlife Area (Erie County)

Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area (Wyandot County)

Fernald Preserve, Lodge Pond (Hamilton County)

Great Miami River, Lost Bridge (Hamilton County)

Dublin Rd. Quarries, roadside (Delaware County)

Hebron Fish Hatchery and Wetlands (Licking County)

Walnut Woods Metro Park, Tall Pines Area (Franklin County)

Maumee Bay State Park, boardwalk (Lucas County)

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Manchester Rd. Trailhead (Summit County)

Lake Snowden (Athens County)

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, 49th St. outflow (Cuyahoga County)

Rodomsky-Bish says bird counts in May and October also provide snapshots on where birds are moving during their migration. Known as Global Big Days, the next one is May 14 to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.