Thursday, November 25, 2010

Marsh Mellow

The past few months have been among the most challenging of my life.  I have never fought so hard for something that seemed so unattainable. I have never been more angry, frustrated, bitter, confused, and even depressed, as I have been since BSBO decided to speak out about the wind turbines that are creeping their way into migratory bird stopover habitat in northwest Ohio.

That's certainly a neat and tidy little term, isn't it?  "Migratory Bird Stopover Habitat."  All  scientific and clinical.  

This is what it really is...

It is a part of our history 
The Lake Erie Marsh Region of northwest Ohio is all that is left of what was once referred to as The Great Black Swamp

It is our heritage
The marshes were historically owned by duck hunting clubs before eventually being transferred to the state and federal wildlife agencies.  Think what you want about duck hunting, but were it not for the foresight and absolute respect for the resource shown by hunters, these marshes would have been developed long ago.   If you have ever enjoyed a day of birding or nature observation at one of these areas, then you have duck hunters to thank for it. Purchase a habitat conservation stamp!

It can represent the difference
between life and death
The Lake Erie marshes are of global significance for thousands upon thousands of shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds: like the Blackpoll Warbler.

 These remaining patches of habitat allow birds like Blackpoll Warblers to rest and feed during an astounding journey that we cannot begin to comprehend. 
The fall migration route of the Blackpoll Warbler includes an 80 hour, nonstop flight over the open ocean.

It is a place where life, and joy, and beauty
gather in epic proportions
A gorgeous male Black-throated Blue Warbler
by Brian Zwiebel

The flame-throated (male) Blackburnian Warbler in Spring

The lovely little Pied-billed Grebe
The magnificently elegant Northern Pintail Drake.
My favorite bird photo of all time: by Brian Zwiebel

A retina-burning, joy-inducing Prothonotary Warbler

It is an economic boon for the Lake shore communities
Here, in this magical place, one tiny bird (in this case a Golden-winged Warbler), has the power to gather the masses and hold them spellbound. Every year, thousands of birders visit this area to enjoy the spectacle of songbird migration. While they are here, they spend millions of dollars, and make a significant economic impact on the local communities.

It's a place to celebrate
Students from the Fremont, Ohio Migrant School visit BlackSwamp Bird Observatory to celebrate birds and learn about bird migration and stopover habitat!

It's a place where you will find the bizarre...
The "Mr. Potato Head of the Bird World"
The American Woodcock

...and the totally cool
The specially adapted comb on the toe of the Whip-poor-will for cleaning the rical bristles around its massive pie hole!(Is that the coolest thing, or what?!)

It's a great place to raise your kids
Adorable Black Tern nestlings
banded in the Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area

Even some big honkin' kids!
Bald Eagle Nestlings

It is the opportunity to teach
Perrysburg High School biology students learn about bird migration research, the importance of conserving stopover habitat for migratory birds, and potential careers in wildlife conservation.

And an opportunity to discover
A female Connecticut Warbler in breeding condition, banded July 26th, in the Navarre Marsh, a first July record for Ohio.
It is a place to find inspiration
Each year, volunteers like Vic and Lois Harder donate thousands of hours to wetland research, education, and outreach in this area. They make the work of nonprofit organizations and state and federal wildlife agencies possible, and in the process, they provide an endless supply of support and inspiration.

And it is a place where I have witnessed
the depths of the human spirit
This is me with my friend, Michael.  Michael comes to visit me and the marsh with his friends from Lotts of Nature, a program for folks who are dealing with special challenges. The program is sponsored by Lott Industries and organized by my friend Helen Polachko.   (Helen is amazing!) When they arrive, I am waiting for them in the parking lot, because I know that, practically before the van has stopped, Michael will come crashing out the door to hug me. Michael and the rest of the members of the group face challenges that we can't even begin to imagine.  But, in spite of all the obstacles they must overcome each and every day, there is still room for happiness. The look of unabashed joy on Michael's face when he gets to touch and release a wild songbird sears itself onto my heart like a tattoo.  It will stay with me forever and it carries me though some of the darkest days. This magical place has brought so many amazing person into my life and into my heart. 

It is the only documented stopover habitat
in the world for this bird

The rare, and critically endangered, Kirtland's Warbler

The stopover habitat in the Lake Erie Marsh Region is many things to many different birds and many different people.

It is NOT...

A place for these.

I hope you will join me and Kenn and Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Ohio Ornithological Society, and Greater Mohican Audubon Society in expressing how thankful we are for the few remaining places on the planet that provide the critical stopover habitat that connects birds with their breeding and wintering grounds, and provides us with such joy and beauty. Please sign this petition and let the politicians know that this matters to you.  Protect Migratory Bird Stopover Habitat in Northwest Ohio

Thank you!
Kimm and Kenn


  1. Thanks Kim and Kenn for saying it so well. On our side of the border (Canada) we're being inundated as well with the same promises of "no-impact" construction and maintenance. Although the numbers of birds killed is apparently low, the record is unclear as to how many birds are actually killed by the turbines, or the apparently significant impact they can and do have on bats. However, the displacement of birds from nesting, staging and resting sites and habitat loss are very real. Add to this additional habitat loss that is ongoing due to municipal development and infrastructure expansion and the outcome is devastating! And in our case at least, our hydro bills have skyrocketed in part because of these inefficient, cash cows that are being placed in the name of "green". Geoff Carpentier

  2. Thank you both for everything you're doing to help the birds and all of the birders that enjoy visiting you and the wonderful Magee Marsh area!

  3. I appreciate the work you two are doing! I live on the west coast but I signed the petition and hope something can be done to stop these unsightly and inefficient monstrosities from being built. Keep up the good work for our fine feathered friends!

  4. What a great post on such a sensitive topic. It is a scary thought that so many people could help make a difference do not and/or don't care. I wish I was a billionaire so that I could buy up the lake shore and donate it to the birds. We should not have to work so hard to protect god's creature's!