Symposium 2022 Update

Dear loyal attendees,
We regret that the Adams County Amish Bird Symposium organizing committee has decided to cancel/postpone the 2022 Amish Bird Symposium and reschedule for March 2023. Our speakers and vendors will be all rescheduled and our usual format can then be safely in place. We are sorry for any inconvenience but feel that by making this decision now we can maximize the safety for all and minimize the disruption any last minute changes would incur. We hope to see you all in 2023!

Interested in helping with the symposium? The Bird Symposium is always looking for new people who are interested in the natural world in Adams County to help with events, lead trips, and more!  Email Randy for more information: Bird Symposium Help

Registration for 2020 is Closed.
Join our mailing list to be notified about future symposiums!

2020 Symposium Agenda, Speakers & Programs

9:30 am  Welcome, Registration Opens.  Donuts and Coffee will be served.  Our coffee is bird friendly and our paper products are compostable thanks to the generous donation of the Ohio Nature Conservancy. Feel free to bring your favorite coffee cup to use for the day.

Welcome Tom Cross, Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau. Our Emcee for the day will be Martin McAllister, Appalachian Forests Project Manager – Ohio Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

Sparrows in Ohio,  Jim McCormac

 Often dismissed as “little brown jobs”, sparrows perhaps do not receive their rightful due. Beautifully subtle and often understatedly ornate in plumage, sparrows as a rule are artful and melodic songsters. Mostly vegan in diet, some sparrows are strongly associated with certain plant species and particular habitats. Others are generalists that rank high among the state’s most common birds. Twenty-eight species have occurred in the state, making this group the fifth largest family of birds in Ohio. Eleven species are regular breeders, seven species are annual migrants, nine are rare vagrants, and one species, the Bachman’s sparrow, is an extirpated (locally extinct) nester. This is a visual journey through the magic of sparrows, with an emphasis on our common species and their history in Ohio.

Jim worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for 31 years as a botanist, and later specializing in wildlife diversity projects, especially involving birds. He has authored or coauthored six books, including Birds of Ohio (Lone Pine 2004); and Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage (Kent State University Press 2009). The latter won the 2010 Ohioana Book award. He is a coauthor of the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas II book. Jim writes a column, Nature, for the Columbus Dispatch, and regularly publishes a natural history blog. He has written numerous articles in a variety of publications, and has delivered hundreds of presentations throughout the eastern United States. He was named 2015 Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Ohio League of Sportsmen. Jim is an avid photographer, shooting a range of natural history subjects. He has had hundreds of photos published in various forums. Visit Jim’s blog, Ohio Birds and Biodiversity at:

North on the Wing—Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring, Bruce M. Beehler, PHD

In this illustrated lecture, naturalist and ornithologist Dr. Bruce Beehler will recount his hundred-day-long 2015 field trip following the spring migration of songbirds from the coast of southeastern Texas up the Mississippi and thence into the boreal forests of northern Ontario— breeding ground of many of the beautiful and vocal North American wood warblers. Along the way, Beehler visited various migratory bird field projects as well as scores of local, state, and national parks and refuges critical for the preservation of the songbird migration phenomenon. He also spent time in an array of eclectic and beautiful rural communities from southern Louisiana and Mississippi through the Heartland and to the northern limit of roads in Ontario, land of the Cree and Ojibwe First Nations peoples. Beehler’s informal goal was to spend time with all thirty-seven eastern wood warblers on their prime breeding habitat. In pursuing this objective, he saw a lot of deeply rural North America. His presentation touches on wildlife, nature conservation, migration research, American history, and rural culture.

Beehler will be selling and signing his popular book, North on the Wing (Smithsonian: 2018), as well as the just-released Natural Encounter—Hiking, Biking, and Birding Through the Seasons (Yale University Press: 2019) and several other of his publications after the lecture.

Bruce Beehler is a naturalist, ornithologist, and conservationist—currently a Research Associate in the Division of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Beehler has spent much of his scientific career studying and working to conserve birds and their forest habitats. He is an elective Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union, and is a Field Associate of the American Bird Conservancy. Beehler has published thirteen books and authored more than a hundred  technical and popular articles about birds and nature. Today, Beehler carries out natural history studies and writing focused on wildlife and natural places in North America. Visit Bruce Beehler’s blog at: and website at:

Lunch – A simple lunch at noon will be prepared by our Amish friends and usually consists of two soups-chicken noodle and tomato, vegetarian wraps, sandwiches, chips, cookies and fresh fruit.  

During the symposium, visit our vendors, exhibitors and live birds or prey brought to you by Raptor, Inc.


Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds: Coming to a Feeder Near You, Amy & Carl Wilms

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (RTHU) is a magnet-bird; they attract the interests of both birders and non-birders.  Thus, the RTHU is a lure to entice non-birders into the birding flock and birders, who already appreciate the wonderous abilities of this tiny gem of the air.  The small front porch of their sanctuary residence, laden with over a dozen feeders, supports banding operations for hundreds of RTHUs over the past several years.  Additionally, the recapturing of these flying marvels provide insights regarding their migrant travels as well as stimulating mysteries to be further investigated.  Amy and Carl provide an interactive and humorous session that introduces, and expands, attendees’ knowledge about these birds.  The RTHU has been studied through scientific research and, combined with the Wilms’s experiences at their research station, they possess excellent context to bring this bird’s life into perspective.   Their banding experiences provide many windows into the lives of RTHUs that are otherwise impossible to distinguish with casual or binocular vision.  By closely examining birds-in-hand, details are revealed that dispel long-held myths about these wonderful birds as well as important breeding, growth, longevity, and life patterns. Learn, experience, ask questions!

Amy and Carl Wilms have a combined tenure at Indiana Audubon Society’s (IAS) Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary of over 41 years. Located near Connersville, Indiana, Mary Gray’s 700-acres provides excellent habitats for migrating, breeding and over-wintering birds. Their birding relationship has transitioned from Carl introducing Amy to the concept of birding, to Amy becoming a Master Bander of songbirds, Norther Saw-whet Owls, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  Amy and Carl are both past-presidents of Indiana Audubon.  As a management team, they strive to enhance the property’s habitat, and monitor its avian populations.  Amy is retired from Miami University, and Carl is retired from middle school science teaching and faculty at Indiana University East. They have travelled the four corners of the continental United States as well as; Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Thailand and recently organized and led a tour for Indiana Audubon to Honduras. A shared aspiration is to be able to establish a hummingbird banding station in Central America with dreams of documenting where North American hummers over-winter.  Both smile as they claim to continue to search for what they want to do when they “grow up.” 


The Nature of Adams County: The best of southern Ohio’s Natural History,  John Howard

Local naturalist John Howard will present a phenological tour starting with the ending of winter and stepping through the seasons, visiting many of our best natural areas and seeing some of the unique flora and fauna of our area highlighting local birds. 

John is a freelance naturalist and wildlife/nature photographer who specializes in prairie ecology, butterflies, and botany and is adept in many other facets of the great outdoors. An avid conservationist and one of Ohio’s leading naturalists, he is a former board member of the Highland Nature Sanctuary. John and his wife Tina own and operate the Ohio Star Retreat Center in Adams County, Ohio.

Closing Summary-Thank you for coming! 
3:15 Optional Birding Field Trip to Adams Lake 

The symposium is hosted by Adams County Travel & Visitor’s Bureau and brought to you by a core team of volunteers: Dave Helm, Tom Cross, Randy Lakes, Martin McAllister, Jeff Huxmann, Donna Rouster, Steve Moeckel &  Kathy McDonald. 

Questions? Contact the Adams County Travel & Visitors Bureau
at 937-544-5639 or email

*Please help us reduce admin costs by using the online registration link. We realize that in some cases, you might prefer to pay by check.  Here is a Paper Registration Form that you can print and return with your check. 
and mail you check to the address listed on the form.
*We regret that phone registrations can not be accepted.
Due to obligations to the facility and others, we can not offer refunds.

Thank you to our Sponsors ! None of these annual events would have been possible without the support of sponsors and the help of local organizations and individuals. A special thank you to the Adams County Travelers & Visitors Bureau, who is now hosting this event. We also want to acknowledge support from local businesses: Murphin Ridge Inn, Miller’s Bakery and Furniture, The Ohio Nature Conservancy, Edge of Appalachia Preserve System: Cincinnati Museum Center, and Solterra Communications to name a few. We appreciate the ongoing sponsorship of Hilltop Cabinets, Dan & Donna Rouster, Jay & Joanne Smale. The website is made possible by the Midwest Native Plant Society.

Vendors & Exhibitors

This list is updated frequently.  

Raptor, Inc. – Will join us again this year with live birds of prey.
Ride the Wind Wild Bird Rehab Center.
Time & Optics  Binoculars, Spotting Scopes, Tripods and accessories. Also some nature books and field guides. Family business for 43 years supplying birders and nature enthusiasts with high quality binoculars and spotting scopes. Buy from the people that know their product!

Adams County Humane Society– (HSAC) is a private, nonprofit 501c3 organization that serves Adams County, Ohio. The group was established in 2006 and has been operating an animal shelter for dogs, cats, and other companion animals since June 2015. Phone: (937) 544-8585
Ann Geise Art Ann Geise is a landscape, wildlife and nature artist from Cincinnati, OH area who works in oils and watercolors.
Bill Dreger Art-Hand made unique rustic birdhouses.
Highlands Craft Shop-An outreach of High Adventure Wilderness School, uses ony recycled wood for craft items. Proceeds benefit conservation.
OOS-Ohio Ornithological Society
The Nature Conservancy of Ohio

Learn about Adams County

The symposium is hosted by the Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau. You will find a wealth of information about Adams County on their website, including history, events, places to stay, and things to do!

“Imagine a place that has the enduring coziness of a small-town atmosphere from days gone by, yet still resounds with the spirit of today. Imagine a place where you can take a long, easy step back in time to see the prairies that once covered portions of Ohio in the morning, play a round of golf, and watch the sunset over the Ohio River while sipping a glass of local wine.You can find it in Adams County, Ohio. Find those spots where time stood still, like Blake’s Soda Fountain, or wander through Amish shops in the Wheat Ridge Community. Or step back farther and walk along rugged cliff edges and creek beds created hundreds of thousands of years ago. Hike miles of trails or ponder the mysteries of the Great Serpent Mound. Discover Appalachian handcrafts, quaint towns, or boat the Ohio River and the Ohio Brush Creek from sunup to sundown. Or just find a quiet bank and fish away the afternoon. Relax beneath cool, comfy sheets of one of our many country Inns, hotels, lodges or cabins. However you want to enjoy our county-exploring, discovering or finding that special place to just simply kick up your feet and relax-we have something for you”. You can also watch this informative video to prepare for your visit!!

The Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve

The “Little Smokies”

Symposium History

Girls enjoying birdwatching in Adams County

In the fall of 2003, Adams County Amish resident and local bird authority Roman Mast stood in his back yard and dreamed of bringing the Adams County Amish community an event to celebrate birds and bird-watching. Together with Cincinnati Museum Center’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve Director Chris Bedel and local resident Randy Lakes, the idea was “hatched” in February of 2004 with the first ever Adams County Amish Bird Symposium. Expected to attract a few dozen attendees to the basement of local Amish businessman Larry Miller, over one hundred English and Amish from around the region filled the basement to capacity. They came to learn about birds and bird-watching from professionals and self taught Amish experts on bird related topics. So began the annual bird symposium innocently conceived in an Adams County backyard. the first year the event outgrew its basement beginnings and interest swelled by word of mouth. In 2005, the event was moved to Yoder Log Homes with a sellout crowd of over 240 people. Bird related vendors and live bird demonstrations were added as well as another set of compelling speakers and topics. Topics ranged from hawk and owl identification, bird migration from both the Amish and English perspective, the plight of the barn owl in Ohio and newly discovered saw-whet owl winter movements in Adams County. Again, both Amish and English attended to share stories and knowledge about their common passion—birds.

In 2006 the symposium format gelled with speakers, vendors, live bird demonstrations, silent auctions, informational exhibits at the Yoder Log Home location. Capacity was expanded and another sellout crowd demonstrated the intense interest in birds and watching around the region. Topics included bird vocalizations, sparrow identification, planting native plants for birds, birding Adams and Scioto Counties and promoting bluebird and purple martins around your yard. Today the symposium is hosted at a venue with a capacity of 300, and we continue to offer talks on all things birds, bring local vendors to sell unique artwork and hand crafted items as we continue to sell out.

We recommend that you complete the web email sign-up form to be alerted when registration opens. Be sure to make your reservations early so as not to miss our fun and informative event in beautiful Adams County.  We hope will join us at the next Adams County Amish Bird Symposium!