We will return in 2020 with another educational and fun filled day about birds. Please check back often for updates on speakers. We suggest you sign-up for updates and information about the symposium using the email form on the main page of this website. We thank you for your support, and hope to see you in 2020!
Click here anytime if you would like to make a donation to help support our efforts. 

In 2020, the Adams County Amish Bird Symposium will be held on March 7, 2020 . The symposium will once again be located at 3735 Wheat Ridge Road, West Union, OH 45693. We do offer secure online registration with any major credit card. A preliminary agenda for the day and information about the speakers is listed below.

Symposium Agenda & Speakers

9:30 am  – 9:50 am Registration Opens.
Check in at the registration table for your name, symposium agenda, and other important information.
Welcome, Donuts and Coffee served. We make every effort to ensure that the coffee we serve protects birds and habitat. Feel free to bring your favorite coffee cup to use for the day.

9:50 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.

10:00 -10:50 am  Jim McCormac

Sparrows In Ohio

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: http://jimmccormac.blogspot.com.

Break to 11:10

11:10 Bruce M. Beehler, PHD., Research Associate, Division of Birds, Smithsonian Institution

North on the Wing—Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring

In this illustrated lecture, naturalist and ornithologist 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: https://birdsandnaturenorthamerica.blogspot.com and website at: brucembeehler.wixsite.com/brucembeehler

Noon Lunch – A simple lunch prepared by our Amish friends usually consists of two soups-chicken noodle and tomato, wraps, sandwiches, chips, cookies and fresh fruit. Vegetarian option is available. Visit our vendors and live birds or prey brought to you by Raptor, Inc.

1:00 Announcements

1:10 Amy & Carl Wilms

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds: Coming to a Feeder Near You

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.” 

Break to 2:20

2:20 John Howard

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

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.

 3:10 Closing Summary

Optional Birding Field Trip to Adams Lake led by Larry Richardson.

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. We are grateful to our ongoing partners including Millers Bakery & Furniture and Murphin Ridge Inn and for our generous sponsors: Hilltop Cabinet, Jay & Joanne Smale, Donna & Dan Rouster. This site made possible by the Midwest Native Plant Society.

Questions? Contact the Amish County Travel & Visitors Bureau at 937-544-5639 or email info@adamscountytravel.org.
*No phone registrations will be accepted. Due to obligations to the facility and others, we can not offer refunds.