Governor’s Bird Ohio Day kicks off the Biggest Week in American Birding

May 7, 2024 | Ottawa Outdoors | 0 comments

Governor Mike DeWine kicked off the Biggest Week in American Birding at Governor’s Bird Ohio Day. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

Governor Mike DeWine traveled to Oak Harbor on May 2 to celebrate Governor’s Bird Ohio Day and help Magee Marsh launch the most exciting birding festival in the world, the Biggest Week in American Birding. The event attracts about 80,000 birders annually.

“We’re very lucky that this is where the birds like to come,” DeWine said. “Magee Marsh is a very, very special place.”

Governor’s Bird Ohio Day was hosted by Scott Butterworth, the District 2 Manager for the ODNR Division of Wildlife, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2024.

“Today, we celebrate all things feathers,” he said.

Trumpeter Swans, which made a successful comeback in Ohio, fly in front of a rainbow at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Governor’s Bird Ohio Day focused on the successful reintroduction of the Trumpeter Swan, whose population was decimated by unregulated hunting and habitat loss. Kendra Wecker, Chief of the Division of Wildlife, welcomed some of the early experts who helped restore the Trumpeter Swan in the early stages of the project in the 1990s.

On April 12, DeWine and ODNR Director Mary Mertz announced that the Ohio Wildlife Council voted to remove the Trumpeter Swan from the state’s threatened species list. Today, about 900 Trumpeter Swans live in Ohio, and nesting swans can be found in 26 Ohio counties.

“This is a very great success story and an all-Ohio story,” DeWine said. “This is really a great victory.”

Governor Mike DeWine, left, and Chief of the Division of Wildlife, Kendra Wecker, watch a bird banding demonstration. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Throughout Governor’s Bird Ohio Day, a common thread was woven amongst the speeches and the quiet corner conversations: conservation is a collaborative effort, and its impact spreads beyond the realm of woods and wetlands.

“We’re all doing great things in conservation for our community,” said Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Manager Jason Lewis. “It impacts local businesses congruently with economic development in the community.”

About $40 million is spent locally during the birding season, Butterworth said.

Governor’s Bird Ohio Day focused on the successful reintroduction of the Trumpeter Swan in Ohio. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“Birding season comes a little before the regular summer season, which gives businesses and restaurants an extra month,” DeWine said.

Lewis said the widespread regional impact of birding can be traced to Kimberly Kaufmann, Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

“Bird Ohio Day was the brainchild of Kim Kaufmann, and all these agencies really embraced that mission,” Lewis said. “There’s an effort to brand Northwest Ohio for birding. It’s part of the economic model. It’s about preserving land, preserving wildlife habitat and preserving birding.”

Chief of the Division of Wildlife, Kendra Wecker, speaks to the crowd on Governor’s Bird Ohio Day. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Those efforts create a nurturing community atmosphere for raising families.

“One thing that makes Ohio such a great state is that the quality of life is so good,” DeWine said. “Everyone is within an easy drive of a state park. We have theater and the arts, and getting outside and seeing the birds is something unique.”

It can be arguably said that those living within an easy drive of Magee Marsh have an extra dose of good quality of life, especially now, when the Warblers and Whippoorwills are joining them in the woods.

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