One day each year, Central Ohio’s Buckeye Lake is the focus for a survey of the wild bird population in the region.
On the day of the bird count, bird watchers search areas of south-central Licking County, northeast Fairfield County, and northwest Perry County for as many different bird species as they can find, and tally how many individuals they see of each species.
Many such bird counts are conducted this time of year throughout Ohio, the other 49 states, all the Canadian provinces, and even other countries. Each count occurs on a specific day during the period from mid-December through the first weekend of January. These are known as Christmas Bird Counts.
The first Buckeye Lake CBC was held on December 26, 1921, and has been conducted every year since then except in 1923 and 1926. For more details, here’s the list of dates and here’s the history of this bird count.
Every CBC covers an area defined by a 15-mile diameter circle, which stays in the same location from year to year. The Buckeye Lake circle is centered in the former Buckeye Lake Amusement Park and the count area contains a variety of habitats including the lake itself, wetlands, grasslands, ponds, streams, woodlands, residential neighborhoods, farm fields and fence rows. This yields a large variety of bird species. An enlarged map of the Buckeye Lake CBC circle can be seen here.
On average, about 64 species are seen each year on the Buckeye Lake count. But the highest number was 96 species in 1956. Throughout the history of this count, a total of 151 species have been found. For details, see the complete list of all species ever recorded on this bird count.
Since 1921, over 500 different people have participated on the Buckeye Lake CBC. Generally about 20 observers participate in any given year. They are divided into several teams, some covering their areas by car, while others are mostly on foot in areas like Infirmary Mound Park and Dawes Arboretum.
Residents, land owners, and hunters within the bird count area may also provide useful input. For example, people who maintain bird feeders around their home can report the birds they see during count day. Landowners and hunters who know of locations where wary species like wild turkeys and pheasants have been frequenting can provide useful input.
Anyone wishing to help with the bird count should contact the count organizer, Jeffrey White, ahead of time.