Biggest Week in American Birding registration open

Matt Markey, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
·3 min read

Apr. 12—OAK HARBOR — Registration for the 2021 Biggest Week In American Birding festival is underway, with festival organizers staging an all-virtual event this year due to the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic and its associated restrictions forced the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the driving force behind the Biggest Week headquartered along the lake north of here, to cancel the 2020 event that was expected to draw upwards of 50,000 visitors to the region. Registration for the 2021 virtual festival is free for members and $35 for non-members.

Membership is available at the website. This year's festival will take place May 6 to 10 and will feature a lengthy schedule of online presentations.

The featured speakers for this spring's festival include Dr. Richard Beilfuss, who has served as the International Crane Foundation President & CEO since 2010. He has also helped launch many of ICF's signature projects and provides leadership on conservation programs across Asia, Africa, and North America.

Northwest Ohio-based naturalist and author Kenn Kaufman will also be a featured presenter. Kaufman, who has pursued birds in all fifty states and on all seven continents, is a field editor for Audubon magazine, writes a regular column for Birder's World magazine, and has written a series of field guides.

Author, poet, public speaker, and scientist J. Drew Lanham will also be featured during the festival. The South Carolina native is a professor and master teacher of wildlife ecology at Clemson University, and his work addresses the confluence of race, place, and nature. A conservation and cultural ornithologist, Lanham has been published extensively in the scientific literature and taught courses in conservation biology, forest ecology, wildlife policy, ornithology, and environmental literature/nature writing.

Corina Newsome, the community engagement manager for Georgia Audubon, will also be a featured presenter during the Biggest Week. She is a Master's student at Georgia Southern University who is conducting research to conserve the MacGillivray's seaside sparrow and she works to connect people with birds across the state of Georgia.

The festival will also feature a presentation from Audrey Peterman, a national award-winning conservationist and a leader in the movement to engage more Americans of color in the enjoyment, care, and protection of our National Parks and public lands system and our environment.

The detailed hour-by-hour daily schedule for the Biggest Week can be viewed at the website.

For those registered participants in the festival, there will be access to every live presentation as well as recordings of these presentations following their scheduled air time. Those recordings will be available for viewing until May 31.

Boardwalk viewing: The Toledo Zoo and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, are providing access to the mega-popular boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area for select dates during the spring bird migration in May. Online registration for this opportunity will open at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the website, and details about specific birding opportunities at Magee Marsh are available at the website. Due to social distancing restrictions, the Magee Marsh boardwalk is closed from Saturday through May 31, except for those holding a permit. Permits to access the boardwalk are good for two-hour time slots and are available for times Friday through Monday, from 8 a.m. to noon. The time slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and guests are asked to take just one date and time slot throughout the permit period.

First Published April 12, 2021, 10:59am