It’s coming on that time of year (no, not when college hoops rules – although I am listening to the Bucks play the Arizona Wildcats tonight) when the birds migrate through Ohio. These birds are heading up from the south into Canada and the boreal forest or arctic regions, with some having flown from as far away as Central and South America. They have one more push to reach their final destinations, but Lake Erie is out there, one last – and rather large – obstacle to cross.
If you look at a map of Lake Erie, the western end of the lake isn’t as wide, providing an easier place to cross. So before these birds head out, they gather strength in the marshes and preserves in Northwest Ohio. By March, some of the birds are making their way north, although more will be traveling in May. In fact, in searching around the Internet, I found a site, Biggest Week in American Birding, which takes place this year in Northwest Ohio the week of May 3rd. It is, apparently, a big deal (and a lot of tourist dollars) to see all of these birds come in. Some of the more spectacular birds that fly through are: Kirtland’s Warbler, American Redstart, Mourning Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler. The little beauty above is the Blackburnian Warbler. I can imagine why people would travel from around the world to have the chance to look at such a bird…If any of you have gone to Lake Erie to bird watch, let me know how it was.
When I was a kid, the biggest thrill for me (at least as far as birds were concerned!) was to see the first robin of the season. That told me that winter was over and spring was around the corner. Unfortunately, since then, I’ve learned that robins stay in Ohio all winter long; it was a bit like finding out that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real when I saw my first robin in December, happily munching on a hawthorn berry.
Speaking of birds, Pete and I were walking to the market when I heard a bird song that I didn’t recognize. I tracked down the bird on the top of a tree. Pete said it was a male chickadee with his mating call. He was so funny to watch with his head bobbing around. Pete said he was looking out any females in the neighborhood. So spring – and love – is in the air.
Basketball ain’t the only game in town!
Until next time!
When I think of Ohio, I don’t necessarily think of tourism. At least not like Florida and Disney or Arizona and the Grand Canyon or New York and the Big Apple. Granted, we have The Wilds and Cedar Point, which personally was the highlight of my summer as a kid. We would head there each June, always, it seemed, ending up with a flat tire somewhere along the way. Besides the flat tires, the one thing that I remember most about driving to Cedar Point was the Great Blue Herons that we would always see. Mike and I would make my dad stop the car so that we could get out and watch these amazing birds. What I didn’t know at the time was that bird watching, as we were doing, is a big part of the tourism dollars that come into Northern Ohio.
I recently read an article in Twineline, a publication put out by the Ohio Sea Grant and The Ohio State University. In the 2012 Winter/Spring edition, “The Benefits of Birding,” written by Matthew Forte, states that about 2.4 millions birders come to Ohio each year, adding around $30 million and nearly 300 jobs to northern Ohio’s economy. Before Dr. Philip Xie of Bowling Green State University did his research, no one was certain just how many birders were coming into the state each year or how much money those birders were generating for our economy. (Click here to see Professor Xie’s full report.) Something else I didn’t know was that one of North America’s best birding sites is located in Ottawa County’s Magee Marsh. They have a birding festival in early May that attracts thousands of attendees looking for rare birds. Warblers seem to be the most popular attraction, although many other kinds of birds show up. There is also a new website, lakeerieohiobirding.info that shows birding sites along a 312-mile trail along Lake Erie’s coastline.
Can you imagine if our arboretum became a birding destination? First of all, that would be wonderful because it would mean that we have the kind of habitat that made birds want to come to our area. And how wonderful having more birders visiting our arboretum would be for local restaurants, hotels and other shops. It would be a win-win situation for everyone involved – and we are on our way to making it happen. Pete’s already noted some birds in the area that he hasn’t seen before, many now feeling more comfortable in the ravines that are getting back to their origins, without so many invasive plants growing in them. I can’t wait to see what shows up this spring in Glen Echo.
Until next time!