Birding's "Biggest Week" Partners to Help Cerulean Warbler and Other Migratory Birds

(Washington, D.C., March 19, 2015) One of the world's premier annual birding festivals, known as The Biggest Week in American Birding (“Biggest Week”), will feature for the second year in a row a “carbon offset” component to advance bird conservation. This year, the festival suggests a $10-per-person donation to enhance habitat for the imperiled Cerulean Warbler and other migratory birds.

The funds raised through the carbon offset will boost reforestation efforts by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) in Latin America, which has supported the planting of more than 3.5 million trees and shrubs to date, improving wintering habitat for Cerulean Warblers and many other bird species.

Celebrating its sixth year, the Biggest Week will take place in northwest Ohio from May 8 to 17 and is hosted and organized by Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO). One of the festival's main birding locations, Magee Marsh, was recently voted as the top birding spot in the U.S. by readers of USA Today.

BSBO Executive Directory Kimberly Kaufman believes the 2015 carbon offset partnership with ABC will be even more successful than last year's “Save the Golden-Wing” conservation project.

“We instituted our very first Biggest Week conservation donation program last year, and it was a great success,” said Kaufman. “We were thrilled to raise more than $10,000 to plant trees in Nicaragua's El Jaguar Reserve, a prime wintering location for Golden-winged Warbler. We have broadened the effort in 2015 to support reforestation across multiple locations to benefit Cerulean Warbler as well as many other species. This year, we hope even more birders will step up to support this initiative, helping to ensure the survival of many of our most beloved migratory songbirds.”

“We have an extraordinary partnership that is just beginning to create a joint conservation legacy,” said ABC President George Fenwick. “We are combining a world-class birding event headed by BSBO with the ABC track record of delivering exceptional conservation results for migratory birds.”

There are two ways to donate to the carbon offset/reforestation project. Participants in the Biggest Week can make a donation as part of the registration process. Those who want to give to the project without attending the event can contribute via a special donation page.

The Cerulean Warbler was formerly one of the most abundant breeding warblers in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, but is now one of the country's most imperiled migrant songbirds. Overall, Cerulean Warbler numbers have plummeted by almost 70 percent since 1966.

The Biggest Week is the largest birding event in the country and features some of the best birding North America has to offer. It helps attract tens of thousands of people annually and, according to BSBO's post-event economic impact study, injects around $37 million into the local economy. The festival is headquartered at Maumee Bay Lodge & Conference Center (which also provides support for the event), with additional vendors and activities at Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Support for the event is also provided by Lake Erie Shores and Islands (Ottawa County and Erie County Visitors' Bureau) and Destination Toledo (Lucas County Visitors' Bureau).

The 2015 event features about 250 different activities over the course of ten days. Those activities range from dozens of different birding excursions to bird banding opportunities, equipment demonstrations, workshops on bird song training, and raptor identification, as well as a host of photography training sessions including one on how to use your iPhone camera more effectively.

Northwest Ohio is believed by many to be the best place to witness the spring migration of songbirds anywhere in North America. 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 fully leafed-out, making the birds easier to spot and photograph.

According to a 2011 survey published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, roughly one in five Americans—about 47 million people—are birdwatchers. They are huge revenue generators for the U.S. economy, spending over $40 billion on equipment and activities related to bird watching. Birding expenditures also created 666,000 jobs and $31 billion in employment income. About $6 billion in state tax revenue and $7 billion in federal tax revenue were derived from birding-related recreational spending.

For inquiries about the event, call BSBO at 419-898-4070 or visit the Biggest Week website.

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