It's called the "Biggest Week in American Birding", and this year for Northwest Ohio it may be the best ever. Millions of birds and thousands of birders are flocking to the wetland areas of Lake Erie's shoreline in a perennial spectacle of nature. "We have lots of birds coming through the area this year," says Kim Kaufman, Executive Director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory at Magee Marsh State Wildlife area in Ottawa County. "We have people from all over the world coming this year and so far the weather has been perfect."
On Wednesday at Magee Marsh, the birding boardwalk was jammed with hundreds of birders who were intently watching for the heavy concentration of warblers of which inhabit the area every year at this time. " I've seen 12 warblers so far, two of them rare species, including a Kirtland Warbler." said Ryan Lesniewicz, who is a novice birder from Ottawa County. Lesniewicz says he has taken up this hobby because it is good way to connect with nature. Ryan's interest in birding is shared by the 75,000 others who are expected to show up in this area along Lake Erie to take advantage of viewing opportunities.
Karen Tadd is veteran birder from Seattle Washington. This year marks her first trip to this area for the migration and birding season. " It's just amazing. So many varieties of warblers. It's like someone built a big aviary here and just stuffed all these birds into it." Karen Tadd, like many others sharing in this adventure, have come from all over the nation. A check of license plates in the parking lots reveals cars from Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New York, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, California and Florida.
Kaufman says the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and the neighboring Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge are the center points of this birding fest and both venues are offering special demonstrations, activities and bus trips through May 15th festival time period. They hope to help people learn more about birding and those colorful tropical birds that migrate through this area every Spring. BSBO also offers lunches, information and a full line of binoculars and other optics for viewing.
Magee Marsh and the Ottawa County National Wildlife Refuge are located on State Route 2, in Ottawa County about 20 miles east of Toledo.