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Annual bird watching festival brings $40-million to Toledo economy

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TOLEDO, OH (WNWO) - Ninety-thousand visitors have made their way to Northwest Ohio this week. The reason? For "The Biggest Week in American Birding."

It's is an annual festival presented by Destination Toledo and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, to celebrate the area's remarkable population of unique birds.

"A lot of the folks that attend are here for a full 10 day period, which is when there are structured activities," explains Richard Nachazel, President of Destination Toledo. "There are talks. There are guided tours. There are some people who lead kayak tours. So it's a variety of ways to see what, for them, is the most exciting time of the year."

The wide array of habitats here in Northwest Ohio makes Toledo prime real estate for a multitude of different species. This draws in avid bird watchers in droves. And when the bird watchers visit, they contribute to the local economy...

"What we wanted to do," describes Kimberly Kaufman, Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, "was market the birding here on a local scale. Because we love birds, but we also love Northwest Ohio, and we really wanted to do as much good as we can do for the region with this birding festival."

How much do these bird watchers contribute? Over $40-million. And local businesses say they can feel the affect...

"Oh, it's been a great impact!" exclaims Tonia Tice, owner of Barnside Creamery, which is just down the rode from one of the popular birding cites. "We actually had a couple rare birds here a couple days ago, and it's just been crazy busy. But we enjoy it; meeting all the people. And it's a great way to kickoff our season down here at Barnside."

Plus, a piano concert has been arranged as the grand finale for the week's festivities:

"The culmination of 'The Biggest Week in American Birding' this year will be a 3-hour concert," shared Nachazel. "The Toledo Museum of Art put together a 10-soloist performed 3-hour event called the 'Catalogue of Birds.'"

To purchase tickets, head to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/olivier-messiaens-catalogue-of-birds-catalogue-doiseaux-tickets-33470253429

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