Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is the Biggest Week Really the Biggest Week?

By Alexandra Forsythe

Blackburnian Warbler by Alexandra Forsythe
I attended the Biggest Week in American Birding this year in northwest Ohio. It takes place at a stopover point for migratory birds that are attempting to cross the Great Lakes, so there are a wide variety of birds. But is it the "biggest week"? Yes! In many ways it is!

You will see a lot of bird species in a very short period of time, and most of those species will be in a small, easily accessible area. Often the birds will be at or near eye level and they will be close enough to easily identify. However, the number and proximity of birds is not what makes this the biggest week in my opinion. It is the biggest week because of the people.

Kim and Kenn Kaufman and the people at Black Swamp Bird Observatory have created an event that includes something for everyone. There are educational presentations, guided bus tours, auto tours, boat tours, bird hikes, and a large number of expert birders on hand in most locations to help you. When you attend the event, you'll be surrounded by enthusiastic birders of all levels from beginner to expert. There's an instant feeling of family as you run into old friends and make new ones.

American Bittern by Alexandra Forsythe
You'll meet some extremely talented birders. For example, I met Deb Neidert, a guide who makes birding fun and exciting. I also got to go birding by ear with Mr. Michael O'Brien, co-author of the Shorebird Guide and the Larkwire app. He's an outstanding teacher and an unbelievably talented birder.

Michael O'Brien and Alexandra
The entire event is designed to increase each attendee's love and appreciation of birds, and it certainly succeeds! The activities and enthusiasm continue to grow each year, making this the undeniable Biggest Week in American Birding!

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