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. 

The Symposium is full! Thank you for your support. 

In 2019, the Adams County Amish Bird Symposium will be held on March 2, 2019 . The symposium will once again be held at 3735 Wheat Ridge Road, West Union, OH 45693. This year,  you have the option of paying online securely with any major credit card. The agenda for the day and information about the speakers is listed below.

Symposium Agenda & Speakers

9:30 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.

Welcome Tom Cross, Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau.
Our MC for the day will be Martin McAllister, Appalachian Forests Project Manager – Ohio Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
10:00 Speaker Jack Stenger

Restoring the History of Natural History

What is natural? Addressing this question is central to both our enjoyment of nature and our efforts to conserve it. Definitions of “natural” are typically are based on reference to historical benchmarks. But how do we choose these benchmarks? In this talk, Jack will attempt to answer these questions while using the habitat preferences of local bird species as the primary examples. Our modern ecosystems and their birds are the result of processes dictated by historical contingencies, historical constraints, and strange twists of fate. Only by a deep-dive into their quirky histories can we make sense of our surroundings. Jack’s talk will incorporate aspects of local birding, geological and cultural history, paleoecology and natural history to help us address this perplexing question. Adams County is a great place to do so, as the rich avifauna of the area owes itself to a combination of human land use and “natural” processes, though you may be less convinced of this term after the talk.

Jack has been an avid birder for 21 years and has worked on various bird conservation research projects for Intermountain Bird Observatory, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Ohio State University, and University of Illinois. He is currently a PhD candidate in Biology at the University of Cincinnati, where he has taught Ornithology for four years. He also works as a biologist at a Cincinnati-based environmental consulting firm. He remains actively involved in the local birding community, having served on the board of the Cincinnati Bird Club and Ohio Bird Records Committee, and actively involved with Audubon Society of Ohio and Oxbow, Inc. He loves exploring the outdoors and sharing his passion with others.


11:10 Speaker Julie Zickefoose

Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest

Why and how do baby songbirds develop so quickly, some launching into flight only 11 days after hatching? In 2002, Julie Zickefoose began to draw and paint wild nestlings day by day, bearing witness to their swift growth. Over the next 13 years, Julie would document the daily changes in 17 bird species from hatching to fledging. Baby Birds is the enchanting result, with more than 500 life studies that hop, crawl and flutter through its pages. In this talk, Julie shares her influences as well as her artistic process, a must-see for the aspiring natural history artist. Art and science blend in every Zickefoose pursuit, as the scientist’s relentless curiosity joins the artist’s quest for beauty. The work, wonder and fun of studying nestlings, including being foster mother to orphaned hummingbirds, chimney swifts and bluebirds, makes for an irresistible and highly inspirational presentation.

Writer/artist Julie Zickefoose, author of Letters from Eden and The Bluebird Effect, is a Contributing Editor to Bird Watcher’s Digest. Because she believes birds to be the most vibrant vessels for the life force, painting baby birds as they grow has been her favorite project to date. Her latest book is Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest (2016). Saving Jemima, about a blue jay she raised and released in 2017, is due out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in fall 2019. Julie loves to encourage people to watch birds more closely and carefully, speaking and leading trips at a number of festivals around the country. She now leads natural history excursions to Latin America and Africa with Holbrook Travel. She lives on an 80-acre wildlife sanctuary in Appalachian Ohio.

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 with Raptor, Inc.

1:00 Speaker Tom Hissong

A Lifelong Love of Birds

Feathered wonders, creatures of the air, with color, song and behavior that inspires us. Birds have inspired Tom Hissong, retired Education Coordinator at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm north of Dayton, Ohio, for a long time. Starting as a young boy who loved to watch the birds that visited his backyard feeders, Tom soon developed a deep passion for birds. Watching and learning about birds ignited his sense of wonder for all the natural world which led to his desire to pursue a 41-year career as a naturalist / environmental educator.

In this program Tom will share the story of his lifelong love and passion for birds. He will share beautiful color photos and experiences with the birds that he has encountered not only in Ohio, but around the world. Tom will also talk about how important it is for adults to spend more time in the field watching birds with young people. He will talk about how important it is to encourage everyone around us, including family, friends and neighbors, to see the beauty of birds and the natural world. Tom will talk about how important it is to come together and help protect the special natural areas in our communities that birds depend on.

Tom has followed an exciting career path working as an Interpretive Naturalist /Environmental Educator in the Dayton, Ohio area for nearly 41 years. He retired from his position as the Education Manager at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm north of Dayton in March of 2017. Prior to his position at Aullwood Tom served as a naturalist for 2 years with the Five Rivers MetroParks which followed 16 years in the position of Curator of Education with the Dayton Museum of Natural History. Tom graduated from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio with a B.S. degree in Environmental Education / Field Biology in 1976. He is well known throughout the Dayton area for his expertise as an avid ornithology instructor / bird watcher and for his enthusiasm in teaching many children and adult classes on natural history topics each year. Tom has been the planner, organizer and leader of 8 different nine-day expeditions to south Florida and the Everglades for bird study and has led many three-day weekend trips to Pt. Pelee, Canada to watch birds and to northern Michigan to observe the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler over the past thirty years. Listed among his international expeditions are Australia, the Peruvian Amazon and Andes, Kenya, Panama, High Arctic Norway, Costa Rica, Galapagos Islands, and Canadian Rockies. Awards received include Dayton Tripod Camera Club’s 1984 Nature Photographer of the Year, the EarthWatch / Timken Foundation Research for Renewal -Teacher Fellowship, the National Audubon Society ACE Group Award – Flamingo Watch, 1999 Garden Club of Ohio, Inc. – Citation, inducted into Northmont Schools Roll of Honor 2006, 2007 Tamar Chotzen – National Audubon Society Educator of the Year, and 2008 TogetherGreen Leadership Fellow, 2018 Ohio Association of Garden Clubs – Daisy Sticksel Conservation Award.


2:15 Speakers Mark and Nan Plunkett

Our Yard is for the Birds –
Creating a Landscape that Supports Wildlife

According to recent studies, residential yards are one of the most undervalued and overlooked ecosystems. This is ironic as privately owned residential landscapes account for as much as half of the green space in urban areas. With the right knowledge, homeowners can make a real difference in response to the challenges of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. Urban and suburban gardens greatly impact both the richness and abundance of birds in our neighborhoods. Much of that impact is related to the specific plant species provided in our gardens. This is true (though in different ways) for both resident and migrating birds. The Plunkett’s will share their own experience of managing their residential landscape in a way that best supports the birds that are drawn to it.

After working in a clinical laboratory for many years, raising three children and then watching them each pursue their dreams, Nan decided to pursue some of her own. She invited husband Mark to join her to train to become a Master Gardener Volunteer through the OSU Extension program. Both became enthusiastic gardeners and soon realized that they not only enjoyed the plants and gardens they were creating but loved how these stationary, rooted plants actually moved through the wings of the insects and birds they attracted. Over the past ten years, Nan & Mark have transformed their half-acre suburban lawn into a (mostly) native garden that is both an NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat and Monarch Waystation. In addition, they are horticulture volunteers at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden as well as members of local Audubon and Wild Ones Chapters. Most recently the Plunkett’s have both completed master’s degrees in Biology from Miami University.

3:15 Closing Summary
Optional Birding Field Trip to Adams Lake led by Larry Richardson.

The Symposium is full. Thank you for your support!

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.