This winter is for the birds. Literally. They won't be hibernating, even if you will.

This winter is for the birds.

Literally. They won't be hibernating, even if you will.

Ohio's colder months are an ideal time to see some new species. Upcoming events around the Metro Parks will seek and celebrate birds that float, fish, soar over fields and hunt from the air.

Birders will seek migrating ducks Dec. 10 at Blendon Woods, bald eagles Dec. 18 at Three Creeks, and owls Dec. 11 at Glacier Ridge and Dec. 18 at Walnut Woods.

"This cold weather is finally bringing down some birds," said Bruce Simpson, a Blendon Woods naturalist who has studied birds for about 45 years. "To some birds, this is south. This is warm, because they are from northern Canada."

On the morning of Dec. 2, Simpson reported, people spotted black ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, ring-necked ducks, ruddy ducks and hooded mergansers, among others.

The Christmas Bird Count, an installment of citizen science organized by the National Audubon Society, also starts this month. From Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, teams count species along specific routes and send numbers to a national database. Novice birders are welcome to join many of the routes.

If this is all Greek to you, winter's an ideal time to start watching birds.

Sight lines improve because foliage disappears, and the overall number of species declines because of annual migrations. Birds often flock in winter, a behavior that displays numerous examples of the same type.

"In midwinter, there's a more finite set of birds," world-renowned expert Kenn Kaufman explained. "You can get to know a limited number and see them really well."

To bird in winter, dress more warmly than you would for a winter hike, because you'll be walking slowly. Hit shorter trails and places protected from elements like the blinds at Blendon Woods or the feeders outside the nature center at Highbanks Metro Park. Bigger binoculars are ideal, because they can be adjusted while wearing gloves.

"There always turns out to be more bird activity than I expected," Kaufman remembered. "If you get into it, spring is here before you know it."