Every year in the month of May, birders from over 32 countries around the world flock to Ohio. The shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio, in particular, is a birders paradise of sorts and has rapidly gained popularity because the area is a popular migratory path for hundreds of species of birds that fly hundreds of miles from their wintering grounds in the tropics to places where they nest in the forests of the northern U.S. and Canada. Migrating birds stop at the Lake Erie shores to rest and hunt for food before they continue on their long journey home.
According to Stacy Wiseman, the Holiday Inn Express GM in Oregon, the flocking of birders to Ohio is amazing, and one may find it hard to believe that thousands of visitors flock to Ohio to see birds. But why does Ohio have such an incredible number of birders in May? Kimberly Kaufman, executive director of Black Swamp Observatory in Oak Harbor, explains that Lake Erie has a rich habitat that attracts birds of all kinds. They are attracted by the easy availability of food, which most find handy when it comes to regaining energy.
Birds such as warblers, finches, blackbirds, and sparrows really like this place. And it is not uncommon to find them in large numbers along the shores of Lake Erie. Most of them are colorful and melodic, which makes this place a stunning destination for birders. “Wherever there are birds, birders will undoubtedly follow,” says Kaufman. Warblers and other species of birds often create this incredible bird watching scenery from the end of April to mid-May. And this prompted Kaufman and others to start a festival dubbed “The Biggest Week In American Birding”. Since its inception in 2010, the festival has made many people more aware of birds than ever before.
“Guides, lectures, and other programs offered during the festival help birders appreciate bird watching even more,” noted Victor Bierman, Ohio lawyer and business expert. Most of them will always come back to Ohio every May to be part of the spectacular migration. Kaufman says that every year from the end of April to mid-May, over 90,000 birders visit Northwest Ohio alone to view various species of birds. This is a large number that is great for the tourism industry, considering that birders arrive before summer, giving a nice boost to the local economy. In fact, studies indicate that birders spend nearly $40 million during their stay in Ohio.
Ohio’s habitat is ideal for numerous species of birds (a total of 408 species). There are many popular birding locations including East Harbor State Park, Great Egret Marsh, Magee Marsh Wild Area, Maumee Bay State Park, and Erie Marsh Preserve.
Image Credit: Jen Goellnitz