Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Warblers are Coming to Ohio!

Hey, birders: aching for a little migration action?  Right here in the Heartland, The Biggest Week in American Birding, May 6-15, gives major migration satisfaction!

This 10-day Ohio festival has it all, folks. Located near the southwest shore of Lake Erie and surrounded by prime birding habitat, Biggest Week provides the ultimate remedy for winter-weary birders. Birding sites include Crane Creek, Maumee Bay State Park, Magee Marsh, and Ottawa National Wildlife Area, which provide an amazing variety of warblers, water birds, shorebirds, songbirds, and resident species. In fact, the Magee Marsh Boardwalk is famous in May and was dubbed “Warbler Capital of the World” by Kenn Kaufman.
Why is this unique area teeming with so many warblers and others birds? Well, the southern edge of Lake Erie presents an obstacle that birds are hesitant to cross during migration. Until they are ready to make the crossing, birds will rest and refuel in several birding hotspots on the lake's southern edge, providing birders the opportunity to see warblers at eye level and water birds close up. These experiences, along with the sheer number of birds you can expect to encounter during this event, are bound to amaze bird lovers of all ages.
Kelly Riccetti's workshop teaches techniques for taking field notes and sketching birds

The beautiful Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center will serve as the festival headquarters and place to be for receptions, silent auction, evening keynote speakers, and vendors. The Biggest Week in American Birding is brimming with guided activities, field trips, travel talks, and workshops. Inhabit the famous boardwalk, participate in a Big Sit, get photography and digiscoping tips, help with bird banding, sharpen your bird ID skills, and so much more. Enter your bird-related tattoo in the fourth annual Bird Tattoo contest (who says birders aren't hip?), and view a special screening of the documentary, The Messenger.  See the full schedule here.

J. Drew Lanham at the Leopold Shack, near Baraboo, Wisconsin
Co-hosted by Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), Destination Toledo, and Lake Erie Shores and Islands, proceeds from a number of the festival activities will benefit vital bird conservation and education programs. Because conservation is the cornerstone of this festival, new for 2016 is The Biggest Week Conservation Fund. According to the festival website, "We believe that connecting people to the joys of birding is the first step in building support for conservation; people care more about the things they love."  You'll find many ways to learn about these human + nature connections at The Biggest Week, but a very good one is at J. Drew Lanham's talk on May 12 entitled, Looking Through Leopold's Binoculars: How Birds Inspire Conservation.  Last year, The Biggest Week raised over $25,000 for important conservation initiatives. Your visit to the festival will assist this effort: it is eco-tourism at its best.

So, register now for one of the most exciting birding festivals anywhere. and bring the family! Or, just come for the birding--you don't have to be part of the festival to enjoy the birds. Check out the free activities! The region offers plenty to do for the non-birders in your group, too.

Eagle Optics is proud to be a sponsor and vendor for The Biggest Week In American Birding. Stop by our booth in Optics Alley for individualized advice on selecting optics and first-hand experience with the many binoculars, spotting scopes, and tripods we will have on hand. See you in Ohio!

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

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