Monday, September 19, 2011

Midwest Birding Symposium Wrap-up

My new birding buddy Greg Miller and me - I had just seen my first ever Bay-breasted Warbler at Meadowbrook Marsh during the Midwest Birding Symposium.  If you don't know already Greg Miller was featured in the book, "The Big Year", the movie version which comes out in mid-October has Jack Black portraying the character inspired by Greg. (Photo by Cheryl Harner)

Julie Zickefoose and Al Batt were the Saturday evening speakers.  They were both just absolutely fantastic.  Bill Thompson III was the master of ceremonies and gave a heart-felt tribute to his mom and in a way, his late father.  Julie Zickefoose is one talented lady...wife, mom, writer, artist, speaker, bird rehabber, and much more.  Her presentation showed her love for the little birds and other wildlife she takes into her care.  She inspired us to love nature more deeply.  Al Batt was belly-laughin' funny.  Oh my, it felt good to laugh that hard.  I hope a video of his talk/routine will be posted online in the near future.  

After the talks and many farewells to new birding friends, Donald the Birder took me back out to Meadowbrook Marsh, where he did his awesome Eastern Screech-owl calls and almost instantly we had three calling back to us.  We even had one swoop right over our heads.  Life bird #401.  Awesome!

Then I slipped off to the airport, returned my rental car, and crashed on the airport floor until my flight home.

Now just over 24 hours of being home, I have come to realize that this experience of attending the Midwest Birding Symposium may have just have ruined me.  I had never experienced that wave of warbler phenomenon before and none of my daily birding experiences can even compare to that level of excitement and birdy-ness.  It leaves me craving more...but more will just have to wait.  So, today I went back to my lunch hour birding patch and relaxed back into the slower paced birding...for now.

I want to express my profound gratitude to the BirdWatcher's Digest family, the Ohio Ornithological Society, the community of Lakeside and all the volunteers, the speakers, the guides, all the people I got to go birding with, and anybody and everybody else that had anything to do with the Midwest Birding Symposium.  It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.  I came away a better birder, with a deeper love for birds, and for other birders.

Happy Birding!


  1. So glad you went to the Symposium~I followed your tweets and was almost as good as being there. I will put it on my calendar for 2013. YOU REALLY Really should go to The Biggest Week in American birding if you want to Really see tons of warblers. Its a super fun time too!

  2. What a sweet and heartfelt post, Robert. It was lovely to meet you and even better to hear how much attending MBS has meant to you. Even though we were in constant motion, we were having the time of our lives, too. See you in 2013!

  3. I am so happy for you! 400 lifers and counting is darned good birding. I'm headed to Utah next May, primarily a geology trip but I'll take my bins anyway.

  4. @Dawn - Thanks for sharing the excitement of the MBS. I know your posts and tweets and retweets really spread the word. I am encouraging the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival to see if they can pull together a page to combine all the social media into one central location.

    @Julie - You are so amazing! It was so wonderful to meet you and your family in person. I've been a fan of you guys for a long time, and it is so nice to discover what quality people you are in real life too.

    @Trish - Sweet! What part of Utah are you heading to? There is great geology all over this state.

  5. Robert, if you ever get to come to New England you need to go to South Beach and Fort Hill and Plum Island and...oh, so many places!

    It sounds like it was a wild weekend for sure. Next year you need to try the New River Birding Festival as it is non-stop birding from dawn 'til dusk and beyond! How awesome that you met Greg Miller! Though I read the book, it was years ago now and I had forgotten the names of the characters, though not their essence.

    Utah has such great places too and I know you already know this! The Great Salt Lake and the Bear River Migratory Bird refuge are just awesome and I know of a little known or birded place just over the Wyoming border with few eBird records. You just head out 80 east towards Evanston, WY. Get off at exit 6 for Bear River State Park. There are trails all along the river. With bridges to the other side and a willow thicket out back where the warblers like to hang out. It's a great place to take your family with picnicn tables and restroom facilities, but also fun to bird by yourself. I saw many good species there but was not an eBirder at the time so have only a few records and not complete lists. It's one of my favorite birding places though. Birding really IS Fun there! I miss it so much!

    (p.s. if you ever go please take photos and post them on your blog so I can see it again!)