OAK HARBOR -- Record numbers of visitors expected at Ohio birding festival means economic boom for area. It's part rock concert, part air show, and part art expo.
It's The Biggest Week in American Birding festival.
Black Swamp Bird Observatory hosts the event. BSBO Executive Director Kimberly Kaufman put the event together four years ago.
"Each spring, it's timed to coincide with the peak of songbird migration so ultimately what it does is it brings together world travelers, birds and people."
Lots and lots of people. Birders come to Magee Marsh from all over... carrying cameras and binoculars, looking to spot something special. They also bring something else...money.
At "Our Sunset Place," a bed and breakfast on nearby Catawba Island, owners Bart and Sandy Erwin appreciate the business birds bring. Biggest Week is big for them.
"We have been booked every week for the last 4 years, so for the next 10 days, we're going to have a full house," says B&B owner Bart Erwin. He and his wife Sandy say "Biggest Week" gives them an early start on the tourism season, which most think starts around Memorial Day.
The non-profit Black Swamp Bird Observatory is busy too. Their shirts, hats, optics, and field guides are ready for sale. They even carry bird-friendly coffee.
Last May, 68,000 visitors spent $37 million, all revolving around the love of birds. Kaufman revels in the success of the evnt and the fact it introduces so many people to our natural world.
"More and more people are connecting with the fact that birds are pretty awesome. As we like to say around here -- BIRDS RULE!"
Birding is stimulating the senses, along with Ohio's economy. If you'd like to learn more about "The Biggest Week in American Birding" check out the Black Swamp Bird Observatory website linked below.
If you'd like to findo out more of the happenings along the shores of Lake Erie, visit the Lake Erie Shores and Islands website, also linked below. Look for "birders discounts" too! It may save you a few dollars on your trip.
If you have any comments, stories, or pictures of wildlife you've seen or caught, email Big Daddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.