April 8, 2015
Article in: Bird Conservation, Travel
I was considering a post about what to bring to the Biggest Week this year but after talking with Dakota (another Birdfreak but more importantly our “let’s get rid of plastic” advocate) decided to change course just a bit.
One of the greatest things about this event has to be the crowds! Wait. Huh? Yes, the crowds! Last year as I stood on a boardwalk with over a hundred people watching a Hooded Warbler it was such a cool feeling because how many times do I see a gorgeous bird and have no one to share the experience with?!
I don’t think I’d like to bird watch with hundreds every time I go but I believe the Biggest Week is a chance to celebrate birds with the entire world and we all know promoting the love of birds will lead to CONSERVATION of them! This event is especially great for new or beginning birders because there are birds and bird experts everywhere.
Birding gear for us includes bins, a spotting scope and our Kaufman Field Guides but over the past couple of years we’ve started thinking about what not to bring.
This year the Birdfreaks are continuing a personal challenge to use less single-serve items and as little garbage as possible. We hope that other birders might want to take on this challenge with us!
The “rules” are simple and “to the best of your ability”:
No plastic, single-serve containers!
Many birders are already conservation-minded so it’s likely already happening. Refillable water bottles, reusable sandwich bags, bringing your own food (disclaimer: there are a lot of great places to eat in the area and we still encourage you to check them out!)
But, if you are considering trying to reduce your use of plastics it can seem daunting at first. A couple small ways could be to buy a few reusable lunch bags, bring your own water or buy snacks that aren’t individually wrapped. Glass coffee cups are a great replacement for those throw-away gas station cups and often places charge less if you bring your own cup.
We are finding new ways all the time to use less and it’s pretty fun (and a bit addicting).
Here are a few examples:
ChicoBags are great and last a long time!
March 17, 2015
Article in: Videos
This is just really cool. Freedom Conservation attached a camera to an Imperial Eagle named Darshan and had it fly from the top of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
It’s an amazing flight from an amazing bird that provides a great view of Dubai.
March 3, 2015
Article in: Birding
Birders of the world: there is still time!!! Registration is still open for the Biggest Week in American Birding! This is the best migration hotspot for warblers and other migratory songbirds during May and it is WELL worth the trip! Please consider joining all the fabulous birders in watching “gobs” of birds. It truly is the Warbler Capital of the World!
This year you will again find an abundance of field trips, speakers and bird walks but some things fill up early so now is the time to get registered and start planning your amazing trip! No guarantee if anything mentioned in this post is sold-out so hurry and register today!
Something new I’m excited about is: a CONCERT by R Bruce, a hilarious singer/songwriter who even has his very own designed Punk Rock Birding shirt! PRBY Apparel (in my opinion) has the coolest bird-related apparel I’ve ever seen…and us birders deserve awesome bird shirts!
There are plenty of things to do and each year it just keeps getting better! And, no matter how many people attend, it feels peaceful and not crowded. At least not crowded like a theme park or concert. It’s full of people who are all birding! It’s a unique feeling that I have only experienced at this festival.
I would recommend each and every thing offered at this festival but one of the events I LOVE to take part in is…Skydance: Woodcocks on the Wing! There is a window of time just at dusk where you can see and hear the beautiful and incredible skydance that American Woodcock males perform. The trips are limited to 20 people but they are doing two walks per night and there are nine different dates available- it’s only ten dollars to attend! The guides do a wonderful job of explaining a little about the bird, what to expect and after attending three of them, I have yet to be disappointed! If you haven’t yet attended this walk: please consider it this year if there are still openings!
I can’t wait to see you there!! Birds Rule
May 16, 2014
Article in: Birding, Product Reviews
One of the best things about attending the Biggest Week in American Birding has to be all of the wonderful new people you meet. Sometimes, a person really touches your life. While working at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory‘s Information booth some of the Birdfreaks met an artist named Kami Brough.
If you visited the BSBO, you may have met her at her Imagine Art booth. She was selling art but this was no ordinary work. All the pieces were created by adults with developmental disabilities from Riverview Industries in nearby Oak Harbor, Ohio. This local business helps people with disabilities find work and receive fair wages for their abilities.
The purpose of RVI, Inc. is to provide a meaningful work experience and quality of life for the benefit of adults with developmental disabilities.
Kami Brough – Imagine Art
Kami is an amazing person. Her face lit up as she described teaching and working with these adults to create sellable pieces of art. I think art is very therapeutic and believe that Imagine Art is a perfect way to help these adults express themselves and be creative. I sincerely hope she will be back next year to promote local business, people with disabilities and BIRDS!
Baltimore Oriole, barn quilt style!
A beautiful Blue Jay
May 5, 2014
Article in: Birding
The Biggest Week in American Birding is ready to begin! Tuesday May 6th kicks off the fifth annual event and the Birdfreaks are so proud to be able to help volunteer again. We had the opportunity Sunday to help set up the registration area at Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center and things are looking great. There is definitely a “bee buzz buzz buzz” in the air!
Hosted by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) this ten day festival is going to be better than ever. Online registration is closed but everyone is still welcome so please come. I encourage you to register at the BSBO or at Maumee Bay Lodge but birding the area does not require it. There is SO much to do and see, mainly BIRDS and lots of them!
Just a few extra things we suggest if you aren’t already booked up for the week:
Songbird Banding Demonstrations
The Black Swamp does a ton of birding research. They have long-term research projects spanning more than 20 years: this is absolutely critical for the study and conservation of birds.
Songbird banding programs will be held at the BSBO every Saturday in May at 10 a.m. This is a wonderful way to get an up close an personal look at different birds as well as communicate with banding experts.
2nd Annual Biggest Week Bird Tattoo Contest
That’s right, a tattoo contest! This event last year was really fun and we found out a lot of birders carry their love for birds right on their skin! Winners get pretty cool prizes and it’s a great time! This year the contest will be held on Wednesday, May 14 at 6:00 PM in the Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center. Click HERE for more information.
There will be a lot of cool bird and nature-related merchandise at the Biggest Week this year. Maumee Bay Lodge will have vendors in the lobby as well as a silent auction for conservation. They also have their own gift shop. Ottawa NWR and the BSBO gift shop will have all their awesome bird gifts, including Birds and Beans coffee and Biggest Week T-shirts. Punk Rock Big Year’s PRBY Apparel will have awesome shirts for sale at both the BSBO and the Maumee Bay Lodge. We are big fans of their Birds Rule design!
PRBY Apparel is selling one of the coolest birding shirts!
There are so many places to bird in the area. Migration time is the best! If we had to pick one thing to recommend any festival goer it would be to walk the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. It’s a mile long and more than possible to see thirty warblers in thirty minutes or less! Experts hang about and there are free walks available to all registrants. Migrant watching is better than any TV show this time of year.
April 30, 2014
Article in: Birding
Attention all art enthusiasts, birders and science lovers! Especially those attending the Biggest Week in American Birding! You might want to consider a side trip this year to Toledo for an awesome exhibition!
Between April 25th and July 6th this year the Toledo Museum of Art will be highlighting the mix of science and art in identifying and describing BIRDS. The exhibition is called “In Fine Feather: Birds, Art & Science and admission is absolutely FREE.
There will feature works from noted bird artists including John James Audubon and Roger Tory Peterson.
Be sure to check out their other exhibitions while you are there and see you at the Biggest Week!
April 15, 2014
Article in: Birding
The Biggest Week in American Birding is one of the most popular birding festivals in the United States. It’s been growing every year and is wildly popular! It is also absolute proof that birders spend tourism dollars. So with 50 to 75 thousand people from all over the U.S. and other countries and millions of tourism dollars being spent is there room for serenity and peaceful birding?
In one word: ABSOLUTELY! Not everyone agrees. They would rather have the birding areas to themselves. Or think crowds are irritating and damaging. I hope to prove them wrong and to encourage more people than ever to attend the Biggest Week!
Although I love solitary birding – Magee Marsh is a special place that needs a birding crowd. More importantly, the birds need these crowds! What better way to help birds than to share how awesome they really are: IF YOU LOVE BIRDS, YOU WILL WANT TO CONSERVE THEM. The birds don’t care about the crowds: they are busy eating and resting. The boardwalk and paths show clearly the safe places to walk and there are many volunteers to help ensure the birds’ safety. It is seriously the most respectful and amazing crowd of people who attend this festival. The best thing: it is PERFECT for any age and level of birding.
So I will give you my account of the first time I was at the Biggest Week in American Birding. I am not good in crowds so I think this account will reassure anyone who might feel like this event is too big for them.
My first time at the Biggest Week:
I parked in the large parking lot – there were a lot of cars but still plenty of room – and began to walk towards the boardwalk. I balked when I saw that between me and the boardwalk was a large group of about 30 people all facing a tree in the parking lot. I noticed big cameras, fancy birding vests, Swarovski bins and felt nervous. Walking towards them I saw a couple young boys, some women with just jeans and t-shirts, a guy in a Pink Floyd sweatshirt. I stopped just behind the group and looked up. A man suddenly turned to me and whispered, “Cape May” and turned back to his giant camera. I scanned the tree and found the gorgeous migrant, calmly eating and flitting about. He paid absolutely no attention to any of us. Amazed at this group of collective bird watchers, I realized I was in a different crowd than the type that made me feel anxious and claustrophobic. I decided to head to the boardwalk. It wasn’t so packed you couldn’t get through, but there were people everywhere. What first hit me was the lack of noise. People talked and walked and made noise but it was muted and the air was buzzing with excitement. I had expected to be overwhelmed by all these people but – everywhere I turned I received a smile or saw someone enraptured by a Black-throated Green Warbler. A man walked by with a sound recorder and talked to me for a moment. Cameras clicked and a girl gasped as she found a bird in her bins. I smiled and realized the power of this event and how it could help conservation.
This was just one of many awesome experiences I’ve had at the Biggest Week festival. I really encourage you to come and try it out. You will be amazed at the people and birds – it’s way cooler in person!
There is so much to do at the Biggest Week: talks, guided walks, night events and even a special screening of the movie “A Birder’s Guide to Everything” which I strongly encourage you to see! (100% of the proceeds will benefit songbird habitat conservation!)
Check out the Biggest Week Visitor Guide HERE (PDF) and HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE AMONGST THE BIRDING CROWDS
February 28, 2014
Article in: Birding
This year will be bigger and better than ever and the birds benefit as much as the humans who get to watch them! Want to help save the Golden-winged Warbler? Right at registration, thanks to the American Bird Conservancy and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, you can donate ten dollars (completely optional!) to help support the creation of a wintering habitat corridor in Nicaragua. This project will also help other overwintering migrants near El Jaguar, Nicaragua (such as the Wood Thrush).
Now Who wants to see a Prothonotary Warbler this May?
Returning for the second year is a unique even to the Biggest Week: the 2nd Annual Bird Tattoo Contest.
Last Year’s Winner!
Please check out the Registration Page and make some early May vacation plans. You will NOT be disappointed! There is not a better place to see migratory songbirds or a better place to meet awesome birders just like us! New birders are treated so well and experts are loved and appreciated. If you are a Black Swamp Bird Observatory member: the general registration is only $20. Nonmembers are only $35 and students over 13 only $10! Bring all your little ones under 13 for free. Workshops and field trips have separate costs but are optional and there is a complete list of all activities on the Registration Page.
Birders are Great People!
We really hope to see everyone there this May!