The Midwest Birding Symposium 2011: Welcome!


In addition to the great programs, awesome birding locations, fabulous shopping in the Birder's Marketplace, and fellowship with hundreds of other bird watchers, the Midwest Birding Symposium will also be offering a variety of special events and offerings. Watch this page for updates as our plans for the 2011 MBS continue to evolve!

Lake Erie Island Sunset Boat Cruise Aboard the Goodtime I

Cost: $24/person
Depart: 7:15 PM (please arrive early for boarding!)
Return: 9:00 PM

Take a sunset boat cruise aboard the Goodtime I.

Start your Midwest Birding Symposium adventure on Thursday night, September 15, with a sunset boat cruise among Lake Erie's beautiful islands. The M/V Goodtime I, a sleek, all-steel vessel built for ocean-going cruises, will be loading passengers at the Lakeside dock for this specially chartered sunset cruise.

At 117 feet long, she is Coast-Guard-approved to carry 355 passengers, but we will keep our number to the first 250 registrants to maximize comfort. The Goodtime I is frequently used for private charters and special excursions, so she is well-equipped with heavy hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. The ample windows and outside decks offer excellent opportunities for some easy birding while we're under way.

Our adventure begins when we leave port at Lakeside. Lake Erie is the 10th largest lake on Earth and, of the five Great Lakes of North America, it is the fourth largest by surface area, although the shallowest and smallest by volume. We can expect to see some of the following gull species: herring, ring-billed, Bonaparte's, and possibly great or lesser black-backed gulls. Caspian, common, Forster's, and black terns may all be visible on our cruise around South Bass Island (Put-in-Bay) and Kelleys Island. Both islands are Important Bird Areas and provide a stopover for migratory birds, both in spring and fall.

Enjoy the Lake Erie sunset and meet some of the nicest people on earth: your fellow bird watchers. The Goodtime I departs from the Lakeside dock on September 15th at 7:15 pm and returns at 9:00 pm.

Attention: There is no parking available at the Lakeside Dock. Please park at the Lakeside Welcome Center at the South Gate entrance on Route 163. Plan to be early and enjoy the lakefront!

Free shuttles to and from the dock will run before and after the cruise.

Also note that this boat cruise will go, rain or shine. Smoking is NOT permitted on board.

Ghost Bird Movie

Cost: $5/person
Tickets are sold at the door
Screenings: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 9:30 PM

Ghost Bird is a feature-length documentary about an extinct giant woodpecker, a small town in Arkansas hoping to reverse its misfortunes, and the tireless odyssey of the bird-watchers and scientists searching for the Holy Grail of birds, the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker.

The New York Times calls Ghost Bird "a witty, wistful documentary (that turns) a bird-watching tale into a multilayered story that will fascinate practically everybody."

We've arranged for three special screenings of Ghost Bird during the 2011 MBS. The screenings will be held Thursday through Saturday nights at 9:30 pm in Orchestra Hall (Lakeside's movie theater). DVDs of Ghost Bird will be available for sale for $20/ea. All net proceeds from the screening and DVD sales will go to the MBS Conservation Fund.

Official MBS Bloggers!

If you are part of the online birding community you may have noticed one or more of our Official MBS Bloggers for 2011. The MBS has partnered with a handful of bird watchers who are regular bloggers and active social networkers to help raise awareness about our event. Most of these wonderful folks will be coming to the 2011 MBS as well as blogging, Facebooking, and Tweeting before, during, and after the symposium. We've made a special space for them at the MBS, called the Den of Blogniquity, located in the north end of Wesley Lodge. Stop by the Den during the MBS to meet our MBS Bloggers in person, and to check in with the live MBS Facebook/Twitter/Flickr network feed from attendees, bloggers, and friends. To tap into the MBS, find us on Facebook (search: Midwest Birding Symposium) or Twitter: #midwestbirding

Here is the current list of Official 2011 MBS Bloggers:

  • Heather Aubke / Heather of the Hills
  • Jane Blumenthal / Wrenaissance Reflections
  • Nancy Castillo / The Zen BirdFeeder
  • Corey Finger / 10000 Birds
  • Nina Harfmann / Nature Remains
  • Ruth Johnson / Nature Knitter Blog
  • Robert Mortensen / Birding is Fun
  • Greg Neise / NA Birding
  • John Riutta / The Well-read Naturalist
  • Lynne Schoenborn / Hasty Brook
  • Julie Zickefoose / Julie Zickefoose on Blogspot
  • Carbon Offset Bird Program

    Some folks have actually suggested that birding is bad for the birds! Here's the reasoning: as we pursue our interest, enjoying birds, and even racing around Ohio (or the region or the country) building our bird lists, we are also burning fossil fuels—lots of them—that add to greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists believe that these greenhouse gasses are long-lasting, global, and have already affected bird habitats and migratory patterns negatively.

    What can we birders do in response to such an argument?

    We should not guilt-trip each other and stop birding, but we should do something to address the issue itself.

    A new Carbon Offset Bird Project (COBP) is an experimental effort that should allow us birders, voluntarily, to offset our birding-related carbon emissions, those that come from our birding. The funds would be used to secure quality bird habitat-in our case vital migratory bird habitat in Ohio.

    This project is modeled loosely after other carbon offset programs involving air or vehicle travel, but is one of the first specifically tailored to birders and local birds at a bird watching event. This local carbon-offset program will be launched at September's Midwest Birding Symposium.

    Continue reading (file available in pdf format) >>

    Lake Erie Birding Trail Grand Opening

    The Ohio Division of Wildlife is proud to unveil the Lake Erie Birding Trail at the 2011 Midwest Birding Symposium. On Friday morning during the opening remarks for the MBS, officials from the Ohio Division of Wildlife will be on hand to announce the opening of North America's newest birding trail.

    The Lake Erie Birding Trail encompasses nearly 90 prime birding destinations along the length of Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline. By September and the symposium, a comprehensive website will be available to birders, and road signage, interpretative brochures, and a printed guide will come later. Similar efforts in Texas, Florida, and other states have been very successful in encouraging visitation by birders. Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline is one of the Midwest's premier destinations for birders.

    Birding is one of the fastest-growing outdoor pursuits, and there are an estimated 2.4 million birders in Ohio. Collectively, Ohio "wildlife-watchers"—most of whom are birders—spend $1.2 billion annually on their hobby, and about one-fifth of that figure is spent on travel. One of the Lake Erie Birding Trail sites, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, attracted more than 175,000 visitors in 2006. About $3.5 million was spent locally by Ottawa visitors, and more than 90% of these ecotourism dollars were generated by out-of-area visitors. Nationwide, there are an estimated 71 million wildlife-watchers, of which 23 million travel to away-from-home locales and collectively spend $12.9 billion on trips.

    Birders' Exchange Program

    The Midwest Birding Symposium (MBS) is partnering with Birders' Exchange and Eagle Optics to collect old-but-still-useable binoculars and spotting scopes during the MBS, September 15-18, 2011. We are encouraging all symposium attendees to bring their old optics with them to donate to Birders' Exchange.

    Birders' Exchange (which is operated under the auspices of the American Birding Association) takes used birding equipment and matches it with local scientists, conservationists, and educators in Latin America and the Caribbean. In these areas, many researchers, educators, and conservationists work without the most basic equipment.

    Birders' Exchange will collect the optics, clean them, and will see that they are delivered to needy guides, researchers, and programs in the American tropics. Please note that any optics being donated need to be in good working order.

    You'll feel good about donating your old optics, but here's a reason to feel even better:

    Eagle Optics, a Midwest Birding Symposium sponsor, is sweetening the deal for any symposium attendee making an optics donation to the MBS/Birders' Exchange program. Each donor will receive a coupon for a discount on the purchase of new optics as well as a free Eagle Optics harness strap*. Now that's doing well by doing good! (*One coupon/strap per MBS attendee, please)

    Conservation Raffle

    The MBS always donates the majority of its net proceeds to support conservation-oriented organizations and programs. In 2009, MBS made donations totaling $10,000 thanks to a matching donation from The Ohio Ornithological Society. For 2011, we hope to generate even more money for conservation, and we have a lot of GREAT prizes to raffle off this year, including an iPad with the Peterson Birds of North America App from Appweavers, Inc, several binoculars from Nikon, Swarovski, Opticron, and Eagle Optics, plus a spotting scope from Celestron (with more items to be added as we get closer to the event). Donations of prizes are still being accepted.

    Tickets for the MBS Conservation Raffle are $5 for 1 ticket, $10 for 3 tickets, or $20 for 10 tickets. You don't need to be present to win. Winners will be announced each night in Hoover Auditorium.

    After each MBS, the MBS hosts select a small number of conservation organizations, projects, and other worthy causes to receive contributions from the MBS Conservation Fund. For the 2011 MBS we're asking interested organizations/representatives to complete and return a one-page funding application.

    Click here for the MBS Grant Request Application (file available in pdf format) >>
    Learn more about the Peterson Birds of North America app at >>

    Back To The Wild Exhibit

    Birds of Prey - up close and personal. Learn about their lives in the wild and their importance in the environment. In this presentation, you will see live hawks, owls and a Bald Eagle, who serve as ambassadors, to help this rehabilitation center educate thousands of children and adults each year.

    BACK TO THE WILD is a non-profit Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Education Centers located in Castalia, Ohio. The center was founded in 1990 by Bill and Mona Rutger and is situated on 30 acres, at the Rutger’s private residence. It is one of the few centers in Ohio licensed to accept injured and orphaned wildlife for the purpose of rehabilitation and release back into the wild. Throughout each year, over 2,500 wild animals are treated at this center including hawks, owls, eagles, songbirds, waterfowl, fox, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, skunks, reptiles and amphibians. Every effort is made to return each animal back into its natural habitat. Special permits allow permanently disabled, non-releasable live hawks and owls to be used as educational tools to help visitors understand the most critical problem facing wildlife today — loss of habitat. Open to the community, this center presents educational programs to over 70,000 students and members of youth groups and adult organizations each year, where listeners are encouraged to respect, appreciate, preserve and protect our natural world.

    The Back to the Wild Exhibit will be a part of the MBS all day on Friday and Saturday (from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM). The exhibit will be held in a tent outside of South Auditorium. Attendees are also welcome to visit and tour the center on Sunday, after the Symposium is over.

    Learn more about Back to the Wild >>

    Songbird Banding Demonstration

    A songbird banding demonstration will be held at Black Swamp Bird Observatory on Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17 from 8:00-9:30 AM. Don't miss this opportunity to learn fascinating facts about bird banding, migration in this area, and see some incredibly beautiful birds "up close and personal."

    Read more about the Black Swamp Bird Observatory on our Birding Sites page >>

    Leica Lake Watch/Big Sit!

    Come join birding experts from Leica Sport Optics and your fellow bird watchers on the scenic shore of Lake Erie for the Leica Lake Watch/Big Sit, which will take place all day on Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17. We'll be birding from comfort of the Lakeside Pavilion, scanning the lake for any and all birds! This event is FREE and everyone is welcome! Special thanks to our friends at Leica Sport Optics for sponsoring the MBS Lake Watch!

    The Ohio Young Birders Club presents:
    Activities for Young Birders!

    Saturday September 17, 2011 is Young Birder's Day at the Midwest Birding Symposium! Join us from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Wo-Ho-Mis (across the street from South Auditorium). Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. Our friends from the Ohio Young Birders Club and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory will offer the following activities:


    The Binocular Laboratory—kids will make a pair of binoculars and learn how to use them

    The Feeding Station—kids will build a bird feeder out of a variety of common recycled items

    Fun with the Hooos!—kids will make an owl puppet or mask

    Middle School:

    Midwest Birding Symposium Junior Duck Stamp Contest—We'll help participants paint a portrait of their favorite duck, goose, or swan!

    We'll also give all our artists materials introducing them (and their parents and teachers) to the Junior Duck Stamp Contest. When the portraits are finished, artists can choose to take their art home with them or enter it into the contest. We will award prizes for the top three contest entries.

    For Teens:

    Bird Walk—The Ohio Young Birders Club will lead a field trip beginning at 8:00 a.m. Saturday on the Lakeside grounds. We will meet at the front entrance to the Hotel Lakeside.

    Kelleys Island Birding Excursion

    Cost: $45/person
    Limited to 92 participants
    Depart: 8:00 AM
    Return: 4:30 PM

    Wrap up your Midwest Birding Symposium weekend on Sunday, September 18th with an adventure to one of Lake Erie's most popular islands, Kelleys Island! The day begins at 8:00 AM aboard the Kelleys Island ferry. Lake Erie is the 10th largest lake on Earth and, of the five Great Lakes of North America, it is the fourth largest by surface area, although the shallowest and smallest by volume. We can expect to see some of the following gull species: herring, ring-billed, Bonaparte's, and possibly great or lesser black-backed gulls. Caspian, common, Forster's, and black terns may all be visible on our cruise around South Bass Island (Put-in-Bay) and Kelleys Island. Both islands are Important Bird Areas and provide a stopover for migratory birds, both in spring and fall.

    Upon arrival on the island, you will be greeted by island experts and enjoy a historical tram tour. The tram will also make two birding stops, one at the Glacial Grooves State Park and one at Long Point Preserve to observe on-site bird banding demo. In efforts to provide everyone an opportunity to visit both sites, the group will be divided into two groups and will visit both locations at different times, one before lunch and one after lunch. You will then be transported to Camp Patmos for a buffet lunch that includes soup, sandwich and salad bar.

    The boat will be departing at 8:00 AM sharp, so please allow yourself plenty of time to get there. The Kelleys Island Perry Dock is locked in Marblehead at the end of SR 163. There is an $8/car parking fee, so we encourage you to carpool to the site. This trip will go, rain or shine.

    Find directions to Kelleys Island >>

    Learn more about Kelleys Island >>

    Travel Talks

    During the concurrent programs at The Midwest Birding Symposium, many of the travel/ecotourism vendors and sponsors will be offering short (20 minute) talks about their trips and destinations on The Rhein Center stage at Lakeside. The Rhein Center is located adjacent to South Auditorium. There will be a full listing of speakers, topics, and times available just prior to the MBS as well as on site during the event. There is no requirement to sign up for these programs.

    Time Speaker(s)
    12:00 - 12:20Paul Baicich - The History of Ecotourism - Fri and Sat.
    12:30 - 12:50Field Guides Birding Tours Worldwide - The Galapagos - Fri and Sat
    1:00 - 1:20Tourism NT/Discover Downunder - Australia's Northern Territory - Fri and Sat.
    1:30 - 1:50Caligo Ventures - Trinidad & Tobago - Fri. and Sat.
    2:10 - 2:30Rockjumper Birding Tours - Antarctica - Fri. only
    2:10 - 2:30Gamboa Rainforest Resort - Birding and wildlife observation in Panama - Sat. only
    2:40 - 3:00Tropical Birding - Madagascar on Fri. and Botswana & Namibia on Sat.
    3:10 - 3:30The Honduran Ornithological Association - Honduras - Fri. & Sat.
    3:40 - 4:00Birding Argentina/Trogon Tours - Argentina - Fri and Sat.
    4:10 - 4:30Gaia Estate - Nicaragua - Fri and Sat.
    4:40 - 5:00Operador Latino - Guatemala - Fri and Sat.
    5:10 - 5:30Sadiri Lodge/Bird Bolivia - Bolivian Macaws - Fri and Sat.