Think you have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of our feathered friends and an expensive pair of binoculars to be a birder? That’s not true! Every birder starts somewhere, and there are lots of local birds you don’t have to have an eagle eye or the ears of a hawk to recognize. Here are a few of the easiest birds to spot in Hamilton County – and they may be in your backyard right now!
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) – OK, I know what you’re thinking: I live in Ohio. Of course I know what a cardinal looks like! Northern cardinals are often spotted in backyard feeders, especially those stocked with sunflower seeds. This bird’s bright feathers makes it especially easy to spot in Ohio’s grey, snowy winters, but its call is also super easy to pick out. Some say it sounds like the fictional guns, called blasters, in the “Star Wars” movies. Click here to take a listen!
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) – Another brightly-colored bird, this one also has a distinctive call that you’ve probably heard before! Its loud “jeer” is often heard near oak trees, which provide the acorns blue jays love. They prefer tray feeders to hanging feeders, in case you’re interested in attracting one to your yard.
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) – This little bird is very common in backyard feeders, especially in yards with shrub cover and brush piles. Carolina wrens have lots of personality and are distinguished from other wrens by the white stripe above their eyes. Their calls are pretty distinctive, too – listen for “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle” next time you’re in your yard!
Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) – Another extremely common, small bird at bird feeders, the Carolina chickadee is tiny and round with a short bill and a distinctive black-and-white head. Its call is “chickadee-dee-dee,” which is pretty easy to remember, even for humble birding beginners.
White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) – This sparrow spends the summers in Canada and migrates here to Ohio in the winter, and its song – “Oh sweet Canada, Canada” – hearkens to its summer home! Once you hear its song, look for a plump sparrow with a long tail, black and white stripes on its crown and a yellow spot between its eye and bill.
Interested in attracting these local birds to your yard? Check out our tips to keep your bird feeder full during winter.
Nikki Ferrell, Social Media Strategist