Bird Symposium March 4, 2023

Wheat Ridge Amish Community Center, 3735 Wheat Ridge Road, West Union, OH 45693

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2023 Symposium Speakers & Programs

Welcome 9:30 am – 3:30 pm   
Donuts and Coffee will be served.  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. After the symposium we’ll have an optional field trip to Adams Lake led by local birders.

Symposium Speakers and Programs 
Slow birding: how “atlasing” shifts your birding perspective, Gabriel Foley.

Most states and provinces in the US and Canada undergo regular bird atlases. An atlas maps the regional distribution of local birds at an exceptionally fine scale, and usually focuses on breeding birds. These projects provide data that are invaluable to conservation efforts and documenting distribution changes. Atlas data are almost entirely collected by local volunteer birders, but many participating birders comment on how atlasing requires an unexpected shift in their approach to birding. Atlasing focuses on understanding and observing bird behavior. This means it goes beyond simply identifying a bird and regularly requires watching an individual bird for several minutes at a time. The result? “Slow birding”. 

Gabriel Foley, Coordinator of the Maryland & DC Breeding Bird Atlas, will discuss what behaviors to look for to identify breeding activity in birds, how these observations can be used for conservation, and how to support nesting birds in your yard.

The Breeding Warblers of Shawnee State Forest & adjacent Adams County, Jim McCormac
Twenty-six warbler species have been documented as nesting in Ohio, and 18 of them breed in the massive protected lands of Shawnee State Forest and the adjoining Edge of Appalachia Preserve. This region encompasses nearly 90,000 acres, and is the largest contiguous wild landscape in the state. Well over 1,000 native plant species occur in the area, an impressive percentage of Ohio’s approximately 1,800 species. This botanical diversity drives tremendous animal diversity, not the least of which are showy warblers. This group of birds often has intimate links with certain flora and specific plant communities. This richly illustrated talk will look at warblers, and the plants that fuel them.

Jim worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for 31 years as a botanist, and later specialized in wildlife diversity projects, especially those 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. He’s currently at work on books about dragonflies and moths. 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. 

Shrubland Management and Thrush Migration in Southeastern Ohio, Bob Scott Placier

Since retiring in 2015, Bob has conducted songbird banding during both spring and fall migration seasons at his home in heavily forested eastern Vinton County. Habitat along   ¼ mile lane under the power lines is managed as a “stable shrubland”, with mist nets placed between the shrubland and adjacent mature forest on a mowed corridor.

The original thought was to provide habitat for shrubland birds, many of which show declining population trends. But he soon discovered that the abundance of several Fall fruiting shrubs, especially spicebush and sumacs, attracted a significant number of migrant thrushes in that season. Bob will share  results from eight seasons of operation.

Restoring the Bowyer Wetland: Agricultural Field to Wetland, Brian Jorg

We will discuss the process that took an agricultural field to restoring it back to a wetland thru grants and hard work. The success as well as the challenges will be explored, as well as the abundant flora and fauna that has returned to its original habitat.

Brian Jorg is Manager of the Native Plant Program for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Brian also manages the Boyer Wetland, a 650-acre property in Warren County. Among his responsibilities is the Native Plant Program. This program deals with a wide range of projects that deal directly with the propagation and conservation of our native flora. This also includes the recovery projects of endangered and critically imperiled plants. Brian also travels extensively to study both flora and fauna of the world. Leading trips to the Galapagos, Kenya, Argentina, Madagascar, with the next trip to Antarctica in 2023.

Symposium Costs 
Attendees and Exhibitors: $35.00. Selling Vendors $45.00. 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. Please email the Adams County Travel & Visitors Bureau, for more informationWe regret that phone registrations can not be accepted. Due to obligations to the facility and others, we can not offer refunds.  

Gabriel Foley
Bob Scott Placier
Jim McCormac
Brian Jorg

Thank you to our Sponsors!
None of these annual events would have been possible without the support of our 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. The website is made possible by the Midwest Native Plant Society, Inc.

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 Kathy for more information: Bird Symposium Help

Vendors & Exhibitors

This list is from previous symposiums and will be updated when 2023 registration opens.

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.
Arc of Appalachia-Savings Ohio’s Wildlands & Putting You in Them.
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

Edge of Appalachia Preserve System-Adams County
Shawnee State Park – Once the hunting grounds for the Native American Shawnee tribes, the rugged landscape of the 1,095-acre Shawnee State Park offers outdoor adventurers an opportunity to explore the back country of southern Ohio’s Appalachian foothills near the banks of the Ohio River.

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!