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NEW! David Allen Sibley is coming to the MBS!

David Allen Sibley will be giving a presentation on his newest book The Sibley Guide to Trees on Friday, September 18. Don't miss this opportunity to hear and meet one of today's leading experts on birds and nature.


Aerial view of the dock at Lakeside, Ohio.

Q: What exactly is the Midwest Birding Symposium?

The Midwest Birding Symposium (MBS) is a non-profit birding event held every other year in the Midwest. It features speakers, workshops, seminars, a robust vendor area, and birding at nearby hotspots.

The MBS has been held in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa. The first symposium was held in the Chicago suburbs of Illinois in 1989, and repeated there in 1991. The event then migrated to southwestern Michigan in 1993 and 1995; Lakeside, Ohio in 1997 and 1999; Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2001 and 2003; and Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois in 2005 and 2007.

In 2009 and 2011 the Midwest Birding Symposium will be held in Lakeside, Ohio. In 2009 the MBS will be hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest, The Ohio Ornithological Society, and The Lakeside Association.

Each year the MBS donates a portion of the net proceeds to environmental/birding-related causes.

Q: What does my MBS registration fee cover?

Your registration fee covers entrance into Lakeside and access to programs offered during the Midwest Birding Symposium, except as indicated. It also covers entry into the MBS vendor area. The MBS meal plan, lodging, and fees for special events, such as the Lake Erie Islands Sunset Boat Cruise are not included.

The MBS fee is $95. Sign up using our online registration form >>

Q: What are the "Special Offerings" listed on the schedule for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings?

Special offerings will be activities such as Back to the Wild Exhibit, digiscoping, Big Sit, Segway tours, digital photography, etc. We will post more details about specific activities as we finalize them. Click here for details.

The MBS is a great event for beginning birders.

Q: I'm a beginning bird watcher. Is this event only for advanced birders?

Birders and bird watchers of all levels of interest and experience are welcome. One of the best ways for new birders to improve their skills and enjoyment is to spend time with other enthusiasts. That is one of the goals of this great event.

Q: Why should I attend the Midwest Birding Symposium?

We plan to have a whole lot of fun at the MBS. You won't want to miss the chance to learn from experts like Kenn Kaufman, Arthur Morris, Diane Porter, Alvaro Jaramillo, Lang Elliott, Jeff Bouton; or to hear the entertaining programs offered by Al Batt, Jane Alexander, Bill Thompson, III, Scott Weidensaul, Julie Zickefoose, and Jim McCormac. We're also planning special workshops for digiscoping, digital bird photography, blogging, and for young birders. The vendor area at the MBS is going to be filled to the walls with companies offering the very best in products, services, and merchandise for bird enthusiasts.

Lakeside's charming grounds make the MBS feel like Bird Watching Camp.

Q: What is Lakeside and where is it?

Lakeside is a private community in northern Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. It was formed in 1873 by members of the Methodist Church and remains a church-affiliated vacation resort. It is one of only a few continuously operating independent Chautauquas that persist in the 21st century. It is located in Ottawa County's Danbury Township, near the town of Marblehead. For more information visit Lakeside's website.

Q: Will the birding be good during the symposium?

September along Lake Erie can offer some excellent birding. Herons, egrets, terns, and gulls are still common; fall songbird migration is in full swing, hawk migration is tuning up, and the very first waterfowl are beginning to come into the area. For more information, see the section on our local birding hotspots.

The MBS is an excellent opportunity to sample a wide array of optics.

Q: I'm looking to upgrade my optics. Will there be someone at the symposium selling optics who can help me make the right decision?

Yes! We will have many of the major optics manufacturers in our vendor area as well as optics retailers. In addition, we'll have a number of vendors selling everything a birder could want: from gift items to bird feeders, from field guides to trips to foreign birding destinations.

Birders Giving Back

We are encouraging all MBS attendees to bring their old, but still usable binoculars to donate to The Birders' Exchange, a bird conservation program of the American Birding Association. Birders' Exchange collects used and new birding equipment and redistributes it, free of charge, to researchers, conservationists, and educators working to conserve birds and their habitats in the Neotropics. These donations help our Latin American partners to develop local conservation strategies and to educate local citizens about bird conservation and ecosystem-wide habitat protection.

Through the cooperation of birders across North America and bird-oriented organizations, conservation groups, and corporations, Birders' Exchange has aided over 350 groups in 30 countries. By donating such items as binoculars, spotting scopes, field guides, cameras, and laptop computers, you will help to empower grassroots research, conservation, and environmental education in Latin America and the Caribbean.

September along the Lake Erie shore is a
beautiful time of year.

Q: What will the weather be like along Lake Erie at that time of year?

Mid-September along Lake Erie is often sunny, warm and beautiful. However, as a bird watcher you know to be prepared for any kind of weather. Nearly all of the symposium programming will be inside. Field trips and outdoor programs such as Digital Bird Photography and The Digiscoping All-Stars will be conducted in part outdoors, and you should plan to dress accordingly.

Plan on cool mornings and evenings, and warm afternoons. Bring your rain gear just in case.

Q: My spouse is not a birder. Are there things for non-birders to do at the MBS?

Yes! The Lakeside campus is beautiful for walking or biking and the Marblehead peninsula has a plethora of shops, sites, and points of interest for anyone who does not heed the siren call of our feathered friends.

Q: What about kids? Will there be things for young birders to do?

Saturday is Young Birder's Day at the MBS. The Ohio Young Birders Club is hosting an entire day of activities for any young birders attending the symposium.

Q: Where is the best place to stay during the symposium?

Many participants will want to stay within the Lakeside grounds and there are a variety of options for doing that. There are many nearby hotels, motels, and B&Bs within a short drive of the Lakeside entrance.

Your registration fee does not cover lodging, so you'll want to make your own arrangements for that. See our Food/Lodging page for details.

Q: Will I be able to see the World's Largest Walleye at the Midwest Birding Symposium?

Perhaps. Nearby Port Clinton calls itself "The Walleye Capital of the World" though there are some challengers to the throne. Lucky for you Ohio's Largest Cheese Shop is also nearby to Lakeside, where the 2009 Midwest Birding Symposium will be held. What more could a birder want?

Q: What is your cancellation policy?

Cancellations are allowed minus a 10% fee up until 9/1/09 and minus a 50% fee up until 72 hours prior to the event.

Q: Are there opportunities to save on airfare?

Yes! Continental Airlines offers discounts off published fares of 2% to 15% or Zone fares. The nearest airport is Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Call your travel professional or Continental MeetingWorks at 800-468-7022 for reservations. Refer to Z Code ZFKX and Agreement Code: CDXZYD.

Or, save an additional 3% off by booking your own reservations at www.continental.com.

Choose your flight times and access your meeting discounts by inserting ZFKXCDXZYD in the Offer Code box.