MBS: Use Your Birder Power, part 1

From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: In a few days, the Midwest Birding Symposium (MBS) will roll into Lakeside, Ohio, for the fourth time.  I spoke at the first one there, in 1997, and Kimberly attended the one in 1999, but we didn’t know each other then.  We were both involved when the MBS came back to Lakeside in 2009, and we’ll be even more heavily involved this time: for example, we’re giving a keynote talk together on Friday morning, September 16th.  And Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Kaufman Field Guides are sharing one of the major booth spaces in the vendor hall.  We’ll hope to see many of you at the Symposium!

If you attend, you’re bound to have a good time, no matter which of the many alternative activities you choose. But there are a few simple things you can do that will make your visit good for the birds, as well as for you. I’ll describe a few of them, in separate posts.

1. Go talk to Birds & Beans. This company is a sponsor of the Symposium, and will have a presence in the vendor area. But their impact is felt throughout the Western Hemisphere, because what they’re “selling” is the concept of helping birds by drinking the right kind of coffee. (The “beans” in the name are coffee beans.) In the American tropics, organic shade-coffee plantations that have been certified as Bird-Friendly by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center support tremendous numbers of birds, both residents and wintering migrants from North America. Factory farms that grow coffee out in full sun support essentially no birds at all, and they’re also far less healthy for the workers and local communities. Switching from standard grocery-store sun coffee to Bird-Friendly coffee is one of the most powerful, yet simple, things that you can do to ensure that we’ll see migrating birds in the future.

So – check out all the fine vendors and exhibitors at the MBS, but make a special point of going to the Birds & Beans booth.
Also, be sure to catch Bridget Stutchbury’s keynote talk on Friday night. Bridget is a talented ornithologist and conservationist (she wrote the compelling book Silence of the Songbirds), and she’s also a major advisor to, and spokesperson for, Birds & Beans. (By the way, Birds & Beans is also strongly supported by famed nature author Scott Weidensaul, by Wayne Petersen from Massachusetts Audubon Society, by Ken Rosenberg from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and others. And the American Ornithologists’ Union has just come out with a strong endorsement of the Smithsonian’s Bird-Friendly certification. This stuff is seriously important!)

Also, go to the Rhein Center “travel talks” from 4:10 to 4:30 pm on Friday or Saturday, to hear Jefferson Shriver talk about a wonderful Bird-Friendly coffee plantation called the Gaia Estate, in Nicaragua. Jefferson is a friend of ours, Gaia Estate is one of the most inspiring places that Kimberly and I have ever visited, and their coffee is delicious!

And if you can’t attend the Midwest Birding Symposium this year, be sure to check out Birds & Beans online to find out more. Please do this for the birds, and do it for yourself!


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