Monday, March 8, 2010

Amish Bird Symposium

Last Saturday marked the 7th annual Amish Bird Symposium, held in Adams County, one of Ohio's most special places. And what is an "Amish Bird", anyway? Well, there is a sizable Amish community in the area where the conference is held, and that led to the name.

I've been to all but one of these, and can vouch for what a great event it is. This year, we broke in the brand new community center, filling it with some 300 bird enthusiasts. The organizers - The Nature Conservancy, Cincinnati Museum, Roman Mast, and Tom Cross of the county visitor's bureau - do a wonderful job. The main focus is speakers, and there's always a good lineup.

Lots of exhibitors, too. This is the Ohio Ornithological Society's towering display, and that's board member Ann Oliver (2nd from right) working the crowd. She does excellent work for the organization, and is the driving force behind our newsletter, the Cerulean.

Keynote this year was the inimitable Don Kroodsma, author of The Singing Life of Birds. Don knows bird song like a second language, and his programs are punctuated with plenty of examples of song. He makes people completely rethink the wonders behind even the most commonly heard melodies such as the Song Sparrow.

Ed Schlabach led off with a great talk about rare birds, especially in his native Holmes County, which is becoming the rarity capital of Ohio. Thane Maynard of the Cincinnati Zoo gave a nice talk about formerly rare birds on the road to recovery, and legendary photographer Ron Austing shared many of his incredible bird images. Closing us out was Chuck Jakubchak, who gave an informative program on bird nests.

Be sure and put this event on your calendar for next year. You won't be disappointed.
As we do every year, much of the group went to nearby Adams Lake afterwards, to see what we could see. Not much this year, as ice still crusted much of the lake. Nevertheless, good studies were had of Ring-necked Ducks, a Canvasback and Redhead, and Green-winged Teal, among others. The strident notes of returning Killdeer filled the air, and Turkey Vultures heading north to Hinckley soared overhead.

I stayed overnight, and the next day some of us went on a much more adventurous field trip. We found some really interesting stuff, and I'll be posting about those discoveries soon.

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