Metzger Marsh by fishing pier
Debbie Sturdivant Jordan

Trip Report: America’s Biggest Week in Birding

Trip Report: America’s Biggest Week in Birding

Jun 21, 2016|Holbrook in the FieldBirding| by Camilia Epps

Debbie Sturdivant Jordan, one of our dedicated travel consultants, recently went on a trip to Toledo, Ohio for America’s Biggest Week in Birding this past May. With her return to Florida, she brought back photos from her trip and field notes to share before her well-deserved three-month sabbatical. Read about her adventure in northwest Ohio below:   

Debbie, on right

In early May I had an opportunity to attend America’s Biggest Week in Birding near Toledo, Ohio. With a focus on conservation and dubbed “Warblerstock,” the event is organized by Kim Kaufmann and her team from Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO). The festival is held during the peak of spring songbird migration, when the birds are returning to breeding grounds in Canada.  Thousands of people come to the shores of Lake Erie to see them. 

The Magee Marsh boardwalk when NOT crowded

According to the BSBO website, the southern edge of Lake Erie acts as a barrier that the birds are reluctant to cross during migration. The birds tend to "pile up" in the woodlots surrounded by marshland on the lake's southern edge to rest and refuel before crossing the lake. The timing of their arrival is early enough in spring that the trees have not leafed out, there are no bugs, and the birds are incredibly low and accessible. We get HUGE numbers of birds, much like a fallout, only better! Fallouts occur when a weather event pushes birds down, and what birders find are the weary survivors. Here in northwest Ohio, we get the same huge numbers of birds as you'd see in a fallout, but the birds are active and vibrant, and by the time they get to this latitude, the males are actively singing and dressed up in their breeding plumage.  

Goldfinch, BSBO feeders

I had seen the gorgeous Yellow Warbler in Cuba (still a favorite memory) and among others, some new birds for me were Cape May and Chestnut-sided Warblers. But the funny thing is I did not even recognize my regular winter visitors, the rather drab Yellow-rumped Warbler. They are so colorful in Ohio! State-owned Maumee Bay Lodge was super comfortable, with fantastic sunsets and sunrises over the lake.  Always fun seeing old friends and past travelers--can’t wait to go back next year.

1 of 27 Blue Jays at Maumee Bay Nature Center Feeders 

Since my return to Florida, the time has gone incredibly quickly! After 23 years with Holbrook Travel, I’ve been preparing to take a three-month summer sabbatical. I am so fortunate to work for a company that promotes personal enrichment and family values! I will be using this time to rest, spend quality time with my husband, do personal travel and home projects. Back after Labor Day. Wow, I am sure the time is going to pass way too quickly but after a difficult year with the death of my parents and the complications prior, this is really going to help me get refocused.

Ohio sunset

Thanks to Fran Whitlock, Laura Hare and the rest of the Holbrook team for covering in my absence! 

Have a great summer,