One of the first things people notice when they arrive at Magee Marsh, other than the awesome birds of course, is the sheer volume of people present at the event. Unless you arrive really early in the morning, which I highly recommend, you will find the parking lot quite full. You will see license plates from all over the country, giving you a feel for how far people are willing to travel to be a part of spring migration at Magee. As you enter the boardwalk, there is usually a pretty good traffic jam at the start because there are always awesome birds to see right from the get go. Many birders that haven't been to Magee before view this as a problem, but I believe it adds to the excitement of the day. Tons of birders ready for a day of birding during the peak of migration is never a bad thing in my opinion. If the birds cooperate, you'll run into many traffic jams along the way and see loads of amazing species.
|A large group of birders trying to find a Kirtland's Warbler that had been sighted on the boardwalk.|
The theme of birders everywhere continues on into the local restaurants at lunch and dinner. Blackberry Corners is a locally owned restaurant that was one of the first businesses that signed on to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory's Birds & Business Alliance. The decision to support birding and conservation in the region has paid off in a huge way. During the BWIAB, you will find the restaurant packed with birders for both lunch, dinner, and sometimes an afternoon slice of pie! This is true for many restaurants all over northwest Ottawa and Lucas Counties. Check out the list of all the companies that have chosen to support BSBO and conservation here.
|Look for this sticker at local businesses to see who is supporting birding and conservation in northwest Ohio.|
For all of us that live out of state and have been traveling to northwest Ohio for years, it seems relatively obvious that we are spending a lot of money on our travels. But now we actually have the numbers to back it up. One of my favorite moments of my time at the festival this year occurred at the gas station while I was filling up my car. A local man struck up a conversation and asked what I was doing in Ohio when he noticed my Indiana license plate. I explained that I was there to lead trips for the BWIAB. Much to my surprise, he thanked me for being there to help support the effort to bring more people to northwest Ohio. He personally wasn't interested in going out and looking for birds but was supportive of all of us who were and understood the impact that we are making. I was absolutely blown away by this conversation. The residents of northwest Ohio are recognizing what we are doing. This makes them more likely to support the conservation initiatives that are critical to keeping the birds flowing through the region.
I am already looking forward to being back in northwest Ohio next year for the BWIAB and hope to see many old friends and new birders alike.
|I will leave you with one of the most photogenic birds on the boardwalk, Prothonotary Warbler.|