I was at the Biggest Week in American Birding last week, and I’m still on a birding high. The event drew thousands of participants from all over the country to “the warbler capital of the world” in Northwest Ohio. It’s hard to describe the experience—I’ve never in my life seen so many birds in a single day and I’ve never met such wonderful people. (I personally spotted 20 warblers and 50 bird species. The event itself logged hundreds of species during the entire week.) Here are my top five takeaways I got from my experience:
1. Birders are nice.
If you ever have the notion of attending a birding event, rest assured you’ll be welcomed with open arms (or should that be open wings?). They will give you tips, show you where to find unique fliers, etc. This is one of our new birding friends, Mark, (right).
2. Good binoculars matter.
We did not have good binoculars, but we had a great host that loaned us some of his. Birds are so much better looking when they are in focus!
3. Bird banding is fascinating.
If you haven’t seen a demonstration, I would recommend you look up Ken Keffer (right). He is the Educational Director at Black Swamp Bird Observatory and does a lot of work with kids. He really knows his stuff and is entertaining, too…always a good combo. Of course, if you can’t find a bearded, conductor-hat-wearing Ken in your area, I’m sure another bander would be interesting as well.
4. Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman are the real deal.
Kenn Kaufman (author of the Kaufman Field Guide series) and his wife, Kimberly, are some of the most passionate birders I’ve ever seen. If you ever have the opportunity to meet them, hear them talk or eavesdrop on their conversation, I would highly recommend it. (Kim is pictured at right showing our Senior Editor, Crystal, a yellow warbler.)
5. Birds are so worth it.
I’ve been feeding the birds in my backyard for years. And while I enjoy their daily visits, there’s something completely different and extraordinary about going beyond your backyard to a local park, marsh, wildlife refuge, etc. It really forces you to slow down for a moment and experience nature in a whole new way.
Thanks Biggest Week and to our new friends at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. We hope to see you again next year! (And look for Crystal’s post tomorrow about her favorite warbler from the trip.)