At the Symposium: Special Activities

About Our Special Events

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 2013 MBS continue to evolve!

Lake Erie Island Sunset Boat Cruise Aboard
the Goodtime I

Cost: $30/person
Day: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Depart: 6:15 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 19, 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 19th at 6:15 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.

Movie: Birders: The Central Park Effect

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

A diverse group of full-of-attitude New Yorkers reveals how a hidden world of beautiful wild birds in the middle of Manhattan has upended and magically transformed their lives.

We've arranged for three special screenings of Birders: The Central Park Effect during the 2013 MBS. The screenings will be held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 9:30 PM in Orchestra Hall (Lakeside's movie theater). DVDs of Birders: The Central Park Effect will be available for sale for $20/ea. All net proceeds from the screening and DVD sales will go to the MBS Conservation Fund.

Carbon Offset Bird Project back at MBS!

At the 2011 Midwest Birding Symposium, we helped launch the Carbon Offset Bird Project (COBP). The intent was to allow birders, voluntarily, to offset our birding-related carbon emissions, those that come from our birding and birding travel. There are plenty of carbon offset programs underway, all involving laudable mitigation and renewable energy campaigns, but this one is intended to offset a particular activity (our travel) with a particular local "green" solution related to our local birds.

Through COBP, we offset our birding carbon footprint—the CO2 we emit—by contributing to a project that builds green habitat, and important bird habitat.

This year we will engage in another COBP, also intended to offset our carbon footprint while traveling to/from and birding at the Midwest Birding Symposium. Our habitat-building project will restore portions of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Boss Unit (on Benton-Carroll Road) to sedge meadow and warm-season grasses. This will involve recovering 15 acres for shorebirds and grassland birds. These acres were agricultural cropland until this past year and restoration results—for birds and birders—should be dramatic.

MBS participants can participate in the COBP effort by filling out the form found here and returning it at MBS at the COBP table next to registration.

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 19-22, 2013. 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. In 2011 we doubled our donations to $20,000 thanks again to matching funds from the OOS. For 2013, we hope to generate even more money for conservation, and we have a lot of GREAT prizes to raffle off this year. 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 2013 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) »

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 Center 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 »

Kelleys Island Birding Excursion

Cost: $55/person
Limited to 92 participants
Day: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Depart: 8:00 AM
Return: 4:30 PM

Wrap up your Midwest Birding Symposium weekend on Sunday, September 22nd 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 »

Birds, Landscapes, and Lake Erie: Field Techniques for Photographing Birds and their Habitats

Cost: $99/person
Limited to 16 participants (per workshop)
Day: Saturday, September 21 or Sunday, September 22, 2013
Where: Fountain Inn - Chautauqua Hall
Start: 8:00 AM
End: 12:00 Noon

This workshop filled up so quickly that we worked with David to arrange a second workshop on Saturday morning. To sign up for Saturday, or to learn more, please contact Ann at 1-800-879-2473.

Join Sigma Pro photographer David FitzSimmons for a half-day photo workshop, learning professional secrets for creating stunning avian images. Explore parks and preserves along Lake Erie, learning how light and the landscape can enhance your bird photography. The workshop will emphasize tracking techniques, creative composition, key pieces of equipment, and post-processing software. Try out a variety of Sigma loaner lenses, including Sigma's legendary ultra telephoto zooms, available in popular camera mounts. David will also be giving away some wonderful door prizes.

Lake Erie Pelagic Trip

Cost: $85/person
Limited to 30 participants
Day: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Depart: 9:30 AM (leaves from Vermilion, Ohio)
Return: 3:00 PM

Jump aboard the Miss Cindy with guides Jen Brumfield and Gabe Leidy for a thrilling opportunity to discover "seabirds" on Lake Erie's open waters. We've designed this boat trip to cover an exceptionally productive area of the Central Basin, including the famous "Sandbar" during peak rarity season. September is a prime time for Sabine's gull and parasitic jaeger migration on Erie. Long-tailed jaeger is exceptionally rare but possible. The goal of the trip is two-fold: chase and discover rarities and also get a grip on identifying birds in flight, including gulls and waterfowl. We may go as far as 13 miles offshore and cover upwards of 35 miles on this incredible birding adventure.

The $85 participant fee includes a small lunch, snacks, drinks, and captain's gratuity. The Miss Cindy departs out of Vermilion, Ohio, on the Vermilion River.

Directions to Vermilion boat docks:

Take OH-163 west from Lakeside. Turn left onto Rt 269, south. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Route 2 East/269 South and merge onto Route 2 east/269 south. Stay on Route 2 for 30 miles. Take Exit 60 for Vermilion/Wakeman. Turn left onto Route 60, heading north. Continue 1.6 miles. Follow Route 60 into town by turning right onto South Street, then immediately turn left onto Main Street. Take Main Street till it deadends. Free parking is available here at the shore. We meet just a few dozen yards away, at the boat docks at the end of Huron Street.

Roadrunner 3K Fun Run/Walk
Lakeside Community Trail

Cost: suggested donation of $5 (FREE if you're dressed as a bird!)
Registration begins: 6:30 AM, Hoover Auditorium
Day: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Run starts at: 7:30 AM
Ends at: 8:30 AM

When Phoebe Thompson (daughter of MBS honcho Bill Thompson III and Julie Zickefoose) mentioned the idea of a Fun Run for the 2013 Midwest Birding Symposium, we instantly LOVED the idea. So did several of the MBS team members, vendors, speakers, and sponsors! So we're gonna DO IT!

Join us on the morning of Sunday, September 22 for a 3 Km (about 2 miles) run/walk on the Lakeside nature/jogging trail that winds along the lakeshore, and around the perimeter of the Lakeside community. Runners and walkers alike are welcome. The course is flat, safe from traffic, and has good footing.

Registration carries a suggested donation of $5 for the MBS Conservation Fund, but it's FREE if you come dressed as a bird.

Registration opens at 6:30 am in front of Hoover Auditorium. The run starts at 7:30 am from Hoover and ends there, too.

MBS Young Birders' Day & Young Birders' Clubhouse

Cost: FREE
Day: Runs all day Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013 is Young Birders' Day at the MBS. All activities in the Rhein Center, Hoover Auditorium and The Birders' Marketplace and birding at our local birding sites on Saturday September 21 are FREE for young birders that are 18 years of age or younger. [Please note: Talks in Orchestra Hall and the Fountain Inn on Saturday, September 21 have limited seating and require a registration]. For young birders wanting to participate in activities on other days (Thursday, Friday, and Sunday) during the 2013 MBS, there is a $30 registration fee.

Our friends from The American Birding Association, Columbus Audubon Society, the Ohio Young Birders Club, and Lake Erie WingWatch are teaming-up to offer a full-day of birding fun for kids of all ages and levels of interest. The Rhein Center on the Lakeside Chautauqua campus is going to be the Young Birders' Clubhouse during the MBS and on Saturday it will be filled to the rafters with stuff to do and see. Morning birding around the Lakeside grounds is sure to generate a few life birds. Later in the day a gull and tern ID session down at the Lakeside Pavilion will help young birders gain identification know-how. We'll have talks from young birders, a special optics session from some of our vendors, and a Big Sit circle to join for some casual, on-site birding.

For the younger birders (ages 8 and under), we'll have activities from the Flying Wild curriculum and a special, up-close session with the rehabilitation birds from Mona Rutger and "Back to the Wild."

All activities for young birders and their families on Young Birders' Day are free. Meals and lodging are not included.

Register your young birder today »

Author Book Signings

Cost: FREE
Where: South Auditorium
Day: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Starts at: 11:45 AM
Ends at: 1:00 PM

Stop by South Auditorium between 11:45 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 21 to meet your favorite bird-book authors in person, and have them autograph your copies of their books! It's a great way to give any bird book a personal touch.

Authors signing their books at the event will include: Al Batt; Mark Cocker; Seabrooke Leckie; John, Cathy, & Ben Sill; Tom Stephenson; Sharon Stiteler; Bill Thompson, III; and Julie Zickefoose—plus others!

Don't own a copy of these authors' books? No problem! Several vendors, including the Bird Watcher's Digest retail booth, will have copies of the authors' books for sale at MBS.

Mothing Station

Cost: FREE
Where: Hotel Lakeside lawn
Day: Friday and Saturday, September 20-21, 2013
Starts at: 9:00 PM
Ends at: 10:30 PM

On Friday and Saturday nights at the 2013 Midwest Birding Symposium, moth experts Seabrooke Leckie and David Horn will be operating a moth bait station on the lawn of the Hotel Lakeside. Stop by between the hours of 9:00 PM and 10:30 PM to see what moth species are attracted to the bright lights of the moth station. This free activity is open to all MBS attendees.

The Big Sit!

Join members of the Young Birder's Day at MBS for a day-long Big Sit in front of the Rhein Center. We'll have the Big Sit circle marked out in chalk and a handy checklist of all the birds we've seen. The MBS has been challenged to a Big Sit duel by our friends from The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival (they do a Big Sit in south Texas in November). Come help us teach those Texans how a Big Sit is done! We'll start at dawn and keep sitting until it's time to go to dinner! FREE and open to all MBS attendees.


Join digiscoper and blogger Sharon Stiteler at Meadowbrook Marsh on Friday (9/20) and Saturday (9/21) morning during regular MBS birding time to learn how to take bird photos with your cellphone through a spotting scope. Sharon is one of the most knowledgeable digiscopers in birding and a big fan of phonescoping because it's both easy to do and because your images are instantly shareable from your phone. FREE to all MBS attendees.