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Published: Tuesday, 5/4/2010

Maumee Bay park to celebrate birds

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
John Mang and Rita Beckman of Oregon watch at Maumee Bay State Park for birds like a red-winged blackbird, below. John Mang and Rita Beckman of Oregon watch at Maumee Bay State Park for birds like a red-winged blackbird, below.
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Some weigh no more than a quarter. Some come from as far away as South America. And some fly only at night on their way from winter habitats.

Maumee Bay State Park this Saturday will celebrate the wonder of migratory birds that pass through the Lake Erie marsh area every spring to fuel and rest up before heading farther north to breed.

Female yellow-rumped warblers, female ruby-crowned kinglets, and Swainson's thrushes are among birds that nature lovers are likely to spot this weekend.

"Some of these birds are flying up to 4,000 miles - each direction - to get to their breeding grounds," said Dana Bollin, naturalist supervisor at Maumee Bay State Park. "It's phenomenal when you think about what migration actually entails."

International Migratory Bird Day was created in 1993 by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

The local celebration Saturday also will include events at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa County Wildlife Refuge, and Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

Ms. Bollin, who has organized migratory bird day celebrations at the state park for 15 years, said she wants to educate people about how important it is to preserve resting and breeding grounds.

Many bird habitats worldwide have been eliminated, and drastically altering the ecosystem eventually will have an effect on humans, too, she said.

"My goal is to reach people who aren't avid birders," Ms. Bollin said. "We want to make the public aware of how cool the birds are, how colorful, how unique."

Nature lovers have been able to spot migratory birds at Maumee Bay State Park since mid-April, and the last will come through in early June.

Last month, 30 elegant American avocets briefly stopped on the state park's beach, a rare sighting, Ms. Bollin said.

Rita Beckman of Oregon, who visited the state park with John Mang of Oregon last week, was excited to see the colorful flight of a male red-winged blackbird as they walked along the boardwalk. A turtle and a snake also caught their attention. "It's good to be outside, and not only in the garden," she said.

At Maumee Bay State Park's Nature Center, Saturday's celebration will start with an 8 a.m. bird banding demonstration. A slide show on bird migration is scheduled for noon, a naturalist-led bird hike along the boardwalk is planned for 2 p.m., and a woodcock walk is at 8 p.m.

Children's crafts and activities will be held throughout the day. Morning refreshments will include shade-grown coffee, the traditional farming method that preserves trees instead of destroying them for plantations developed in the last quarter century.

Also this month, naturalist-led bird walks starting at Maumee Bay State Park's Nature Center are at 8:30 a.m. May 15, 22, and 29. On May 22, the Nature Center will host a slide show, "Songbird Populations and Global Climate Change: Consequences and Conservation," at 8 p.m.



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