Bird Watching During the Pandemic

Updated: Apr 28, 2020


Male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker Ohio Birdwatching
Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


“I don't feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.” - Kathi Hutton

Staying at home can be stressful and boring. Your mental health is at stake. Finding something to keep your mind busy can be daunting. You may feel trapped, and the walls are collapsing in on you. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are many things that you can do to stay busy. One way is to start bird watching.

If you are currently a birder, you may be enjoying your time off. The biggest week of birding is coming quickly. The early migrants are already beginning to arrive. Great horned owls have already mated and have young in their nests. Other birds are looking for mates and gathering nesting materials.

Close-up of White-Throated Sparrow in Ohio
White-throated Sparrow

Bird Watching

Bird watching is an easy hobby that can become a full-blown obsession. It is often thought of as a hobby for the elderly, but it can be enjoyable by people of all ages. It is therapeutic and can help you pass the time. Bird watching improves mental alertness and your patience.

The best thing about bird watching is that it can be done from the comfort of your own home. It doesn’t have to cost money, and you don’t have to travel.


Song Sparrow Bird Watching in Ohio
Song Sparrow

Backyard Bird Watching

Many birders started their hobby at home. Catching a glimpse of that first unusual bird sets the whole thing in motion. They thought that there were one or two different species of birds at their home. To find out that there was a whole world that they were missing out on. Beginning to identify the birds becomes an obsession.

People are used to birds flying around and gathering seed off the ground. But they begin to notice different habits between the species. And what about the bird they just spotted climbing down the side of the tree trunk? Birds don’t climb tree trunks! Or do they? What was this mysterious feathered creature?


Male Eastern Bluebird Sunning Itself in Ohio
Male Eastern Bluebird Sunning Itself

Quickly you will realize that there are many species of birds in Ohio that you never noticed before. It doesn’t matter where you live. You could live in the city, on a farm or in the middle of the woods. There are birds everywhere. And the birds you have at your home may be different from the ones that your neighbor has down the road. According to the ODNR Birds of Ohio Field Checklist, there have been 427 different species of birds spotted in Ohio.


Ohio Birding Cedar Waxwing and Male Red-Belled Woodpecker
Cedar Waxwing and Male Red-bellied Woodpecker

Identifying Birds

Identifying birds is easier than ever. It used to be that you had to search through books to try to make a match. With today’s technology, you can upload a picture to an app and get decent results. You can also give your location and identifying features to get possible matches instantaneously.

Our favorite app for identifying birds is Merlin Bird ID. It is free and easy to use. It provides information such as geographic location, identifying features, calls and songs.


Male Cardinal Feeding Baby Birds Bird Watching in Ohio
Male Cardinal Feeding Hatchlings

Attracting Birds

Birds will visit your property even if you don’t provide them with food and water. However, once you catch the birding bug you may want to attract more birds and different species. Doing this is easy and will provide you with more ways to learn about our feathered friends.


Ohio Birding Female Downy Woodpecker
Female Downy Woodpecker

Things you can do to attract birds are:

  • Offer Food

Different species prefer different types of food. The best thing to do is start off with a songbird seed mix. It is a great way to bring in different species. Once you begin to learn what birds prefer, you can add additional feeders and food choices. If you love ruby-throated hummingbirds, you will need to hang a hummingbird feeder.

Knowing what types of birds are in your area will give you a better idea of what type of food to offer. A songbird mix is nice for a lot of common birds, but if you want to bring in woodpeckers you may want to add a suet feeder. If you are hoping to attract eastern bluebirds, add a mealworm feeder. They prefer live worms, but they are also enticed by dried mealworms. Platform feeders are great choice for a wide variety of birds.


Do not feed birds bread.


Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak on Platform Feeder Ohio Bird Watching
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak on Platform Feeder


  • Provide Housing Options

An easy way to attract birds is with housing. Different birds require different housing options. Installing premade birdhouses is one way to provide a semi-safe place for them to raise their young. But not all houses attract all types of birds. The more you learn about each species the more you will understand their basic needs.


Female Eastern Bluebird Feeding Nestlings Ohio Birding
Female Eastern Bluebird Feeding Nestlings

  • Water is a Necessity

Birds require water for bathing and drinking. Birdbaths are a common choice and work well. However, they are static and need to be changed daily. Adding a dripper to the bath or installing a fountain helps to provide birds with clean water.


Tufted Titmouse in Tiered Water Fountain Water Features for Ohio Birds
Tufted Titmouse on Water Fountain


Now is a Great Time to Begin

Right now, is the perfect time to begin bird watching in Ohio. Spring migration has begun. It starts off slowly, but here in a few weeks, it is going to get exciting. The birds will be travelling through the area at an alarming rate. Migration may be the only opportunity that you have to get a glimpse of some of these beautiful birds.

Spring Migration in Ohio is something that people from all over the world look forward to. The Lake Erie area attracts nearly 100,000 people every May during the Biggest Week of American Birding. People come to see birds that have traveled thousands of miles from Central and Southern America.

But you do not have to travel to see some of these birds. To make their way to their breeding grounds, they travel all the way through Ohio. You may not get to watch them congregate as they do near the Toledo area. But you may get a quick glance as they are taking a drink, getting a bite to eat, or taking a break on their journey.


Male Hooded Warbler Spring Migration in Ohio Bird Watching
Male Hooded Warbler

Birdwatcher vs Birder

Being a backyard birdwatcher can quickly become an obsession. When that happens, you will join the many other people who have become loyal birders.

  • Birdwatchers

Being a birdwatcher is a great way to enjoy nature from your own home. Filling the feeders and cleaning the bird bath may become part of your daily routine. Having a house placed here and there is fun for watching the birdie families. You can sit inside or on the porch and enjoy viewing the different birds that are enjoying your yard.


Male American Goldfinch in Breeding Plumage in Ohio
Male American Goldfinch in Breeding Plumage

  • Birders

Being a birder is a passionate hobby. Birders don’t only put out food, water and shelter. They may make their yard a bird paradise. Buying specialty foods and accessories is the norm. Having several pairs of binoculars and cameras is a necessity. Keeping a yearly list, and often a life list is something that must be done. They must break their record. Traveling to see a bird is normal. Road trips become exciting. Getting the perfect picture is what many of them live for.


Birding in Ohio Male Scarlet Tanager in Breeding Plumage
Male Scarlet Tanager in Breeding Plumage

Get Started Today

Don’t just sit there staring at the walls. Stare out the windows instead. There isn’t any better time to start bird watching than right now. Who knows, maybe you will become a full-blown birder before the end of the summer.


Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk Ohio Bird
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk






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