Friday, June 18, 2010

Return to Hog Island

Kim Writes: It's been quite a long time since Kenn and I have traveled. In fact, I don't think we've been on a plane for almost a year; much to the dismay of many birding clubs, groups and organizations that have asked Kenn to speak at events, meetings, and banquets. (I'm not afraid to admit that I love that my man is in demand!) Kenn has had to turn down so many requests because he's finishing a major overhaul of his first book, A Field Guide to Advanced Birding. The book is GREAT and I think people are going to be very excited when they get their hands on it next spring! I hope everyone understands why he had to say no to so many wonderful organizations!
So yeah, we were in full-on "Just Say No" mode, and then Steve Kress called us. Steve announced that he had taken the reins of one of National Audubon's greatest treasures, a little island off the coast of Maine called, Hog Island. I'm not going to go into all the history behind "The Hog," but trust me, this place has the kind of rich history that brings tears to your eyes. For example, when the camp first opened in 1936, the first Ornithology Instructor?... Roger Tory Peterson! Learn more about Hog Island, the camps there, and the island's extraordinary history HERE!
Budget cuts had forced Audubon to close the camp for a while; heartbreaking news for those of us who had fallen in love with the place. When Steve called to tell us that he had convinced Audubon to reopen the camp and was inviting us to come back as instructors, "Just Say No" turned into"Just Say Go!" By the way, if the name Steve Kress sounds familiar, it's because Steve is "The Puffin Dude." Learn more about how Steve snatched the Atlantic Puffin from the jaws of extinction and formed Project Puffin HERE.

Don't you think they look like little caricatures of themselves?!
I posted a picture of Hog Island on my Facebook wall and announced that I was going to camp. Here's the picture:

The picture does the place no justice whatsoever.
You just can't imagine how lovely it is.
After I posted the picture my friend Jason commented: Audubon Camp? Like, volleyball, swimming, first crushes, and putting on "Our Town?"

To which I responded: "Jason, It's more like, Atlantic Puffins, snuggling in a chilly, rustic cabin, being called to dinner by the same dinner bell that called Roger Tory Peterson and Alan Cruikshank to dinner, being awakened by the soft growl of the lobster boats heading out to sea in the morning mist, and Lang Elliot, Steve Kress, Scott Weidensaul, and Kenn Kaufman -- all on the same small island - freaking camp!"

By the way, "Jason" is Jason Kessler, producer of, Opposable Chums, the best video ever made about birding, If you don't have a copy of this DVD, click HERE and GET ONE. You'll love it!
I don' t have much time tonight. I've still got a ton of stuff to do and we're always scrambling to get everything done before we leave on a trip. It's always a little bit stressful and any minute now Kenn is going to start this thing he does that drives me crazy. He does this count down thing and calmy announces that we leave for the airport in XX number of hours, which sends me into a tizzy!

Also adding to my stress is the fact that this little creature recently came into our lives. Introducing, Kirby (also known as Kitty Meow Meow Head).

We've become ridiculously attached to him in a very short time and I'm a little bummed about being away so soon after we got him.

And so, I leave you with some scenes from our past trips to Hog Island and hope that someday you'll get to experience this glorious place for yourself.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Biggest Week Superstars!

From Black Swamp Bird Observatory's Secret Bird Cave, Kim Writes: There's been extensive coverage of nearly every aspect of the Biggest Week In American Birding, before, during, and after the event. From thousands of photos of warblers to blogs about the great restaurants in the area... our birding friends from around the world have helped share the magic of northwest Ohio in May. However, there's one BIG piece that hasn't received enough recognition, and I'd like to do my best to change that!

The Biggest Week was touted as something "a little different" from other birding festivals. Events like this differ in the species of birds, field trip leaders, featured speakers, local flavors, and so on. But, there is one extraordinary thing that they all have in common... VOLUNTEERS!

Without the time and talents of dozens and dozens of volunteers, The Biggest Week would never have happened. While we weren't able to capture every volunteer in a photo, we managed to get a bunch of 'em, (again, with the help of many volunteer photographers).

And here they are. The real stars of the show...

Many thanks to Dave Lewis and Laurie Boylan for having the presence of mind to photograph many of the people who helped make the event so great! Many of the photos in this post were courtesy of Laurie & Dave! Dave also has some wonderful (and hilarious) images and stories from the Biggest Week on his popular blog: BIRDS FROM BEHIND

It always helps when you have a secret weapon .. and here she is! Delores Cole is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable people I've ever met. Her tireless commitment to BSBO, the Biggest Week, and many other bird-related projects and organizations in Ohio is both an inspiration and an asset to many. Delores spent countless hours on the Biggest Week website, coordinated registration, and assisted with every aspect of the event. We're lucky she uses her powers for good and not evil. (Well, mostly) ; ) We are so blessed to have her on our team.

If you visit the BSBO gift shop on the weekend you're almost sure to encounter this volunteer dynamo! Karen Zach pulls you into her orbit with her positive energy beam - and you're never the same. For the rest of your life you will be subject to outbursts of pure joy and happiness that you can't control! Karen's life was seriously threatened by a brain tumor 8 years ago. She was given a second chance at life and she makes the most of every second of it. BSBO is very blessed to know her and to share her enduring spirit with all of our visitors.

One of the country's leading birders and one of the greatest personalities in birding, Tom Bartlett. Each year on International Migratory Bird Day, Tom conducts a Big Sit fundraiser for BSBO. Over the years Tom has helped raise more than $30,000 to support BSBO's education programs. But more importantly, Tom has inspired thousands of individuals with his high energy passion for birds and birding. Tom was one of the first honest to goodness birders I encountered after I discovered birds and his excitement and enthusiasm hooked me good right from the start. Thank you, Tom, for all that you do for birds and birders. And thanks for inspiring me! Cheryl Harner, (seen here with Dave Lewis) is the President of Greater Mohican Audubon Society, a budding birder, talented botanist, Master Gardner, and a real friend to bird conservation. Cheryl helped with the festival in so many ways, leading field trips and pitching in behind the scenes. To learn more about Ohio's botanical bonanza visit her wonderful blog: Weedpicker's Journal.

See the lovely woman on the left? That's Paula Lozano doing what Paula always seems to be doing -- helping people! Every time I see Paula I think of John Denver's song Rocky Mountain High. You know that line where John says, "I know I'd be a poorer man if I never saw an eagle fly?" Well, I know I'd be a poorer woman if I'd never met Paula Lozano. She has enriched the lives of so many people with her unflagging , positive attitude, her outstanding birding skills, and her quiet loveliness. Paula brought all that and more to the Biggest Week and for that, I am eternally grateful!

Christine Lotenero was a volunteer whirlwind! During the several days she spent volunteering I rarely saw her slow down and there were no jobs too big or too small for her. Her hard work and wonderful personality made her a joy to have around!

Ruth Miller of, The Biggest Twitch, pauses just long enough to pose for a photo with Tamie Bulow. Ruth and her partner Alan Davies gave presentations and led field trips all "week," sharing their passion and enthusiasm for birds and birding with anyone fortunate enough to spend time with them during the Biggest Week. (Alan is pictured below.) Tamie traveled to Ohio from Colorado Springs to spend a week volunteering and graced us all with her megawatt smile and radiant personality. I love that birds bring people like Ruth and Tamie into our lives!

Laura Erickson joined us during the event to sign copies of her wonderful new book, The Bird Watching Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond. Laura is another example of the kind of extraordinary people birds have brought into our lives. There's just something about her spirit and her special connection to birds and nature that draws you in. Learn more about Laura and all the outstanding work she does for birds at: Laura's Birding Blog.

Paul Baicich (left) is one of the country's leading bird conservationists and one of my personal heroes. Paul is pictured here with Josh Engel, one of the fabulous guides with Tropical Birding. The "Dudes in the Yellow Caps" were one of the keys to the success of the Biggest Week. (More about The Dudes below!)

Dr. Andy Jones, Curator of Ornithology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and BSBO Board member. Andy shared his time and talents leading field trips and giving presentations. BSBO (and Ohio!) are very fortunate to have someone like Andy! (and thanks to him we get to hang out with Michelle and Ivor Houndsworth too!)

Dan and Barb Myers volunteer many hours throughout the year in our songbird banding station, with our school programs, and in the BSBO gift shop. They were such great help with the bird banding demos during the Biggest Week!

Lisa Rock, a recent migrant from Maryland, was another volunteer dynamo. Lisa is great! She's always willing to jump in and help with any task and her warm and welcoming personality added so much to the event.

Jean Freidner (who came from Florida to help out!), and Anita Manzeck hand out information at the registration table at BSBO. Hidden behind Anita is Marcia McIntire. All three of these lovely ladies are long-time BSBO friends and volunteers. Their continued support makes such a huge difference for BSBO -- and for me!
Anita Manzeck assists Larry Fletcher with name tag preparation at the registration table. Larry is the Director of the Ottawa County Visitor's Bureau, Lake Erie Shores and Islands LESI (East). Larry's belief in and support of this event - start to finish - really gave us the confidence to see this thing through even on the toughest days. Ottawa County is very blessed to have Larry's talents! (He's a crazy-good drummer too, by the way!)
Amanda Smith and Jill Bauer from Lake Erie Shores & Islands (WEST) in Sandusky are joined by Jeff Burrows of LESI (EAST) in Port Clinton. Visit Lake Erie Shores & Islands for all the great things to do in the area this summer! The support from the local visitors' bureaus played a huge role in the success of the Biggest Week. It was also great to see the visitor's bureau staff bring their binoculars and go birding at the end of their shifts!

Ann Oliver (left), representing Ohio Ornithological Society, welcomes Biggest Week participant, Mike McCloy. Kenn and I met Mike during the Space Coast Birding Festival in Florida earlier this year. We told him he really needed to come visit us in Ohio and, lo and behold, there he was!

Tracy Marr, longtime BSBO member and volunteer, and Mary Ann Snider (another LESI staffer!), helped out at the registration table.

Now, here are some popular people! It's the Weekend Hotdog & Brownie Crew of Lois Rae Harder (left), Victor Harder (center), and Lee Garling (right). These three wonderful people have been BSBO members almost from the beginning and over the years have literally given thousands of volunteer hours to the Observatory. They make darn good hotdogs too!

John Robinson volunteered his time to lead field trips, give presentations, and autograph copies of his book, Birding is for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers. And, get this, John donated 1000 copies of his book to give to give out, free of charge, to all Biggest Week participants. THAT is how passionate John is about his work! If you don't already have this book in your library, please get a copy by visiting John's website here: ON MY MOUNTAIN.

John is pictured here with fellow volunteer, Kim Check. Kim was here visiting from Maryland and pitched in to lend a hand with several Biggest Week tasks. She's also the Education Director at the Ward Museum of Waterfowl Art. Kim and some colleagues were recently featured in a great video segment on WBOC 16

Many of the Biggest Week presentations and activities took place at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. The staff at the refuge are great and they're assisted with nearly all aspects of running this amazing wetland complex by the outstanding volunteers that form the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Association. Pictured here are Diane Bowland (seated) and Janet Vollker. Janet and her husband Jack are co-presidents of the Association and Diane was voted the 2009 Volunteer of the Year. Diane, Jack, and Janet, along with fellow refuge volunteers, Al & Betty Schlecht, and Sharon Cummings, work with dozens of other refuge volunteers to give tremendous support to the refuge staff.

We'd also like to express our sincere appreciation to all of the volunteers with the Friends of Magee Marsh for their efforts during the festival and throughout the year. We'll keep you posted on their Boardwalk Garlic Mustard pulling schedule for next spring so we can all help out!

Judy Kolo-Rose donated a tremendous amount of time and expertise and helped plan and prep for nearly every aspect of the festival, including driving the BSBO Bird Bus! She and her husband Hugh also offered many volunteers food and hospitality at their nearby cottage during the duration of the event.

Laura Shelton traveled all the way from California to volunteer, and boy, did she ever. Laura was amazing. During the 11+ days she was here she never slowed down and never lost that beautiful smile. As I mentioned earlier, birds bring so many wonderful people into our lives. Thank you, Laura!

The Dudes in the Yellow Caps! From left to right: Christian Boix, yours truly, Charlie Hess (behind me), Iain Campbell, Josh Engel, Delores Cole (hiding in the back), Nick Athanas, Sam Woods, Keith Barnes, Michael Retter, and Rebecca Hinkle from Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Rebecca is a member of the staff at the refuge, but she's also a valued BSBO volunteer. She put in hundreds of extra hours on the event. She's a tremendous partner and we actually managed to have a lot of fun planning this thing.

We've run out of superlatives to describe the volunteer guides from Tropical Birding. Combine their collective birding skills, larger than life personalities, committment to bird conservation, and, perhaps most important of all, their fabulous Kareoke voices, and you end up with a tour company that will guarantee you a marvelous time on a bird tour -- with or without the birds! The Biggest Week would not be possible without them!

Question: Just how much personality can you cram into one photograph...

Answer: ENORMOUS AMOUNTS! This much charm and charisma should be illegal! Left to right, Iain Campbell of Tropical Birding Tours, Alan Davies of the Biggest Twitch, and Kenn "the Kirtland's Warbler Finder" Kaufman of Kaufman Field Guides. Kenn not only delivered NINE keynote talks during the event, he also wrangled up a Kirtland's Warbler! Man, I love that guy!

Had to throw in a picture of our awesome festival t-shirt, logo designed by Jen Brumfield. If you're like to rest of us and you just can't get enough of Jen's work, visit her website. One dollar from the sale of every Biggest Week t-shirt was donated to the Mindo CloudForest Foundation to support their CarbonNeg program.

So many people gave tons of time and effort before, during, and after the festival. A debt of gratitude is owed to the many volunteers not pictured here. We would espcially like to thank the following speakers and field trip leaders who helped make the event such a success: Elliot Tramer, Dana Bollin, Mike Bergin, Sharon Cummings, Randall Rogers, Jeff Bouton, Ashley Buchanan, David Kryska, Carl Edwards, Bob Faber, and Dan Donaldson. Thank you all, so very much!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Special K

Kirtland's Warbler: the rarest songbird in North America

From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: In my previous post on May 30, I mentioned that I'd been making predictions for the migration throughout the Biggest Week In American Birding: checking to see what birds were around, watching the weather reports, trying to predict which days would have the biggest arrivals of migrants. For the first 8 days of the event, this was an exercise in mild frustration, because the weather patterns just weren’t lining up to produce any major migrant wave. We were seeing excellent diversity of migrants -- and the guides from Tropical Birding were making sure that everyone on the scene got to see a lot of different species. But the kind of day that we dream about in northwest Ohio, with migrants everywhere, the trees filled to bursting with warblers and others, just had not happened yet as late as Thursday, May 13.

Based on the weather forecasts, I had been predicting for days that Friday, May 14, was going to be a big day. There’s a certain amount of pressure involved in making predictions like this, especially if people take you seriously! I knew from conversations with birders that many people were planning days off from work, or playing hooky from school, based on my predictions, so I was really sweating it at dawn on May 14th. No matter how closely you study the weather forecasts, it’s always possible that the wind will shift unexpectedly and the predicted big day will turn out to be a dud. But as soon as I arrived out at the Wildlife Beach at Magee Marsh, just after sunrise on May 14, I could tell that this was a great day. Birds were everywhere. The place was swarming with catbirds, orioles, Least Flycatchers, and more than a dozen species of warblers. Silent flocks of Blue Jays were streaming overhead, while thrushes bounced around in the thickets. Anyone who came out on this day would not be disappointed.

I knew that the guides from Tropical Birding (and hundreds of other birders) would be concentrated at the Magee Marsh boardwalk, so I decided to work east along the Wildlife Beach to see what I could find there. I’d been birding the thickets and low trees of this area for a couple of hours, and was just about to turn around and head elsewhere, when I spotted a bird moving across an opening far ahead of me. Superficially it looked like a Palm Warbler, with tail-bobbing habit and all; and I had been seeing a lot of Palm Warblers out there. But something about the bird looked odd. I walked on up to double-check on it.

When I got to the spot, there was a Palm Warbler perched up in a low willow, and at first it seemed that must have been what I saw. But then I froze when I heard a distinctive birdsong from the thickets. A warbler song, but low-pitched and choppy and emphatic for a warbler.

Oh, yeah. Special K.

Kirtland’s Warbler is one of the rarest birds in North America. It was very close to extinction in the 1970s and 1980s, when its population dipped below 350 individuals. Thanks to a lot of hard work by dedicated conservationists, its population is now up over 3000, but that’s still a terrifyingly low number for a songbird. Kirtland’s Warbler nests mainly in a few counties in Michigan and winters in the Bahamas, and extremely few are seen in migration. Our area of northwest Ohio is the best place in the world to see migrating Kirtland’s, but even here the species is not seen every year. Some birders have been coming here for many years without ever seeing one.

But there was a Kirtland’s Warbler singing from the thicket in front of me, and there were hundreds of birders, maybe thousands, within a couple of miles of where I stood, because this was the Biggest Week In American Birding. And because it was the Biggest Week, we had made arrangements to get the word out quickly about rarities. I pulled the iPhone out of my pocket and quickly composed one of the short little notes that is fancifully called a "Tweet" in the service called "Twitter." I just tapped in this note:

"Kirtlands on Magee east beach 300 yards east of parking lot Kenn K"

And then I called Kimberly, who was, of course, at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the center of the action for the big birding week. At the registration tables at BSBO, we had a giant screen set up to display the Twitter updates, and as Kim answered the phone, my note about the Kirtland’s Warbler popped up on the screen.

If I’d had any doubts earlier about the value of using Twitter for the Biggest Week, those doubts evaporated as the word went out about the Kirtland’s. Out on the Magee boardwalk, out on the trails at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, over at the shorebird sites on Stange Road, cell phones beeped and birders read the text message about the rare warbler. Word of mouth spread rapidly from a hundred separate points. I had been all alone on the beach, but within minutes, a stream of birders began arriving.

Ever since I had heard the warbler sing I had been hanging back, staying well away so I wouldn’t risk scaring it before the birders arrived. But as the crowd began to gather, it became apparent that the bird was utterly unconcerned about our presence. It hopped about in the low sumacs and willows, sometimes disappearing into dense growth for a minute but more often coming out to hop on the sand in the open. As the birders gathered, a hundred or two hundred or more at a time in a wide semicircle on the beach, the Kirtland’s Warbler continued to perform like the superstar that it was.

At any moment, the Kirtland’s could have flown a hundred yards south into a closed section of the wildlife area, and it never would have been seen again. But it stayed, and stayed, out in the open. From the time I sent out my "tweet" about the bird at 9:17 a.m. until I finally left after 1:30 p.m., the bird was seldom out of sight, and my best guesstimate was that more than a thousand people came and had great looks at it. Other bloggers who stayed later in the afternoon estimated that more than three thousand people saw the bird! It was so obliging, often moving toward its admiring audience, that even people with little point-and-shoot cameras were able to take pictures, while more serious photographers filled up whole memory cards. Indeed, I suspect that this individual became the most-photographed Kirtland’s Warbler in history.

Swamped with visiting crowds at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Kimberly didn’t get out to see this individual; at the only times when she could have gotten away, she stayed to mind the observatory so others could dash back to the beach and see the bird. Of course, Kimberly has seen several Kirtland’s in this area in past years, starting before I ever moved to Ohio, so she was able to visualize the scene and vicariously share in the excitement. This Kirtland’s stayed the entire day, so that people arriving that evening were able to go out to the beach after 7 p.m. and see it. The following morning it was nowhere to be found; so it was a one-day wonder, as migrants often are. But for that one day, that one bird provided tremendous excitement for a lot of happy birders.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Biggest Week In American Birding Recap

The dust is still settling (or perhaps I should say the mud is still drying!), but I wanted to thank everyone who joined us for the Biggest Week In American Birding. The official total for the event was 226 species, including highlights such as American White Pelicans, Upland Sandpipers, displaying Bobolinks and American Woodcocks, 37 of the 38 eastern wood warblers (the exception being the more southern-ranged Swainson's Warbler), one hybrid, the Brewster's Warbler, and of course, one very photogenic Kirtland's Warbler.

Some fun facts include: sales of more than 80 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamps, Federal Duck Stamps, and Jr. Duck Stamps (that's just from BSBO, not sure of numbers sold at Ottawa and Magee), 44 states represented in the event registration, and people visiting from Spain, Kenya, Guam, Japan, Ecuador, England, Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and Mexico; the Lake Erie Marsh Region was truly a melting pot during the event.
Some personal highlights for me were hearing many people say that the event had inspired them to come out and try birding for the very first time. One young mother, with two small children in tow, stopped back by BSBO to tell me that she had seen 14 species of warblers on her first time out. The festival also introduced hundreds (if not thousands) of birders to other great birding areas along the Lake Shore. BSBO handed out approximately 5000 free copies of birding area maps and directions to places like Mallard Club Marsh, East Harbor State Park, Toussaint Wildlife Area, and Oak Openings Preserve Metropark. It was great fun to have people stop back in to tell us how much they enjoyed exploring these other areas and sharing their sightings.

I cannot find the words to express our gratitude to the multitude of volunteers who made this event possible. Volunteers came from across Ohio, and from Texas, Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, California, and Michigan. It was truly the ultimate example of teamwork and I thank you all for the incredible effort you all put into this event. From driving busses to handing out registration packets, directing traffic and making copies of maps, serving hot coffee and acting as room monitors, volunteers led the charge and made the event fun for everyone. Thank you all, so much!
(Coming Soon...a tribute to the Biggest Week Volunteers!)

To our partners at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and the Ohio Division of Wildlife, thank you for taking on the additional work load of helping to organize and host this major event. All this in addition to the extraordinary work that you do to manage the habitat that plays a critical role in the survival of millions of migratory birds. I'm humbled by the work that you do.

To Kenn Kaufman and Kaufman Field Guides, a debt of gratitude for presenting NINE keynote talks, helping lead field trips, keeping the "Birding Pages" updated with predictions on migration, and of course, for finding the Kirtland's Warbler that delighted thousands of people on Friday.

To the volunteer guides from Tropical Birding, aka "The Dudes in the Yellow Caps," who volunteered their expert services during the Biggest Week, thanks for changing the lives of hundreds of beginning birders over the course of the last 11 days. Your expertise was evident and your enthusiasm infectious. It was a pleasure working with all of you.

To the staff at BSBO...omg, you are just the most remarkable people I will ever meet! I'm so proud to be a part of your team!

And finally, to Rebecca Hinkle and Delores Cole: It was an honor to work alongside you both during this long year of planning. I've learned so much, laughed so hard, and loved every minute of it. You two represent the reason why this event was such a success.

We'll be posting a more comprehensive summary of the event, bird and birder photos, and dates for next year's Biggest Week soon at:

The Biggest Week In American Birding Sponsorship Flock!

By all estimations, the Biggest Week In American Birding was a total success. The amount of positive feedback from this, our inaugural year, was tremendous! The number of new birders we generated was exactly the reward we all hoped for. ---and it was all made possible by some very generous support from our sponsors.

Their generous support from Leica Sport Optics provided the foundation we needed to pull off an event of this magnitude. Leica not only makes a superb product, they hire superb people as well. The team from Leica was phenomenal. Jeff Bouton and Cameron Cox were with us throughout the entire 11-day stretch, and Jeff Gordon and Laura Kammermeier were there through the early/soggy portion of the “week.” The team helped with every facet of the event. If there was a task that needed done, a Leica team member was there to offer a hand.

Ron Miller and Lynne Domokos and the entire staff at OurGuest Inn & Suites did so much for us that I hardly know where to begin. Ron and Lynne offered complete support of the “birding thing” right from the start. Their fast and furious support was such a huge dose of inspiration and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

The American Birding Association helped promote this event in a major way with extensive (and totally sexy) coverage in the January 2010 edition of BIRDING Magazine. The ABA held a board meeting and hosted their annual membership meeting in the area as well, helping to draw more participants from across the country.
Our friends at Schaffner Publications created, printed, and distributed 6000 copies of a beautiful Biggest Week visitors guide. They also offered tons of coverage in the local papers as well. A great spread in The Beacon featuring a gorgeous photo of a Black-throated Blue Warbler by Brian Zwiebel, brought people out to see what this birding thing was all about. Many thanks to John Schaffner and Angie Adair for their tremendous support.

If you picked up one of the Biggest Week registration packets, you were probably surprised to find a very special piece of “swag” inside. John Robinson donated 1000 copies of his wonderful and very important book, Birding For Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers. John gave a program, led field trips, and signed copies of his book too.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birder’s World Magazine, and Eagle Optics, all offered generous support with promotions, advertising, and on the ground assistance as well. They also survived the “vendor pit” we attempted that quickly reminded us of why this area was historically referred to as The Great Black Swamp. We considered having a mud wrestling contest/fundraiser, but everyone chickened out because it was too cold. Oh well, maybe next year… ; )

Jen Brumfield designed our fabulous logo, the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau provided generous financial support (as well as donating many volunteer hours!), Time & Optics, Miller Boat Line, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Nikon Sport Optics, Brian Zwiebel, Marblehead Peninsula, Port Clinton, and Oak Harbor Chambers of Commerce, all supported the event in important ways as well.

Many bloggers participated and blogged about the event. Mike Bergin, of 10,000 Birds, gave his program, Around The World In 80 Blogs, and people loved it! Thanks to all the bloggers who shared the magic of this area through their sites.

And finally, to the communities along this remarkable Lake we call Erie…
Thank you for embracing this wonderful pastime and the birds that are at the center of it. Thank you for supporting the habitat these birds depend on for their survival and for understanding that, if we all work together, we can ensure that future generations will enjoy these winged wonders that captivate and fascinate us with their extraordinary colors, their beautiful songs, and the amazing journeys they endure each year…stopping by to delight us on the way.