An Industrial Brownfield In Ohio Gets a Makeover Fit for Birds
Columbus, Ohio, isn't exactly known as a birding mecca. But an Audubon Center, located a mere mile from downtown, is attracting avian species galore--and people, too.
Now, on a given day, school kids spill out of buses and walk the trails, peering through binoculars. City residents--some Audubon members, some not--go bird watching, stand on the overlooks to the river, and stop inside the center. Last Halloween more than 150 people, mostly neighborhood kids, dropped by in costume for trick-or-treating, to see captive birds of prey up close, and to file outside to hoot for barred and great horned owls.
Teenager Elijah Thomas lives nearby and volunteers at the center. Asked what he likes best, he jumps in a dozen different directions at once. "Let me show you," he says. He describes how sunlight streaming through a skylight draws the time on the floor like the hand of a solar clock. He begins naming the species of birds sighted at the center--great blue heron, egret, and assorted hawks and owl--their pictures hanging from the ceiling in the lobby. He describes how water runs through the rain gardens. He's been pinched by crayfish, and nipped by assassin bugs. At the moment, he's carrying a big northern green frog he found outside.
"It's not just a story of city and nature coexisting," says Whitley. As she wades through the native grasses and forbs planted along the artificial wetlands, two hen mallards jump from one of the ponds. "It's a story of the city supporting wildlife. The depth of what we're doing here is pretty exciting."