Northwest Ohio's Black Swamp Bird Observatory has new headquarters, right on a major "flyway" that should help attract flocks of human visitors.
That flyway would be the entrance road to the popular Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area and Crane Creek State Park on State Rt. 2 in western Ottawa County. Thousands of visitors pass along the entryway annually en route to experiencing the natural beauty and wildlife of the wetlands there along western Lake Erie.
The new headquarters would be the old abandoned Crane Creek ranger station near the Route 2 frontage. BSBO - with lots of donations and blood, sweat and tears from many volunteers - saved the old gray-sided ranch from the wrecking ball and has turned it into a fine, rambling office-gift shop-meeting place, complete with a window-on-wildlife.
"Our new meeting space is going to allow us to do more programs for the public, and we're in the process of scheduling at least one public event a month," said Julie Shieldcastle, BSBO executive director. BSBO is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to wildlife research, especially birds, and conservation and education to benefit the public. It has more than 400 members across Ohio and beyond.
Shieldcastle said that BSBO has come a long way since it was founded in 1992 by five bird conservationists. The first office was a room at home. BSBO moved to a storefront on Water Street in nearby Oak Harbor in 1996, but quickly was squeezed.
In searching for new quarters, it was learned that the Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation, which had transferred the Crane Creek park office functions to Maumee Bay State Park in a consolidation, was considering tearing down the old station. BSBO ended up negotiating a renewable lease instead.
Volunteers gutted the interior, made the building accessible for wheelchairs, installed new floors and the wildlife-observation window, painted, revamped the power supply, and installed a new furnace, to name a few improvements. Now the building houses a gift shop full of books and nature items, displays, exhibits, work space, and meeting space.
The new quarters will be showcased in a holiday open house, set for Dec. 4, 1 to 5 p.m. Northwest Ohio "Black Swamp" author Jim Mollenkopf will be on hand to sign books, including his newly published Great Black Swamp Woods & Wanders, from 1 to 2 p.m. Renowned author and bird authority Kenn Kaufman will be on hand to sign his new field guides from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
For other details call BSBO, 419-898-4070, or visit www.bsbobird.org.
Speaking of Kenn Kaufman, the acclaimed naturalist is scheduled to be the guest lecturer at the Toledo Naturalists' Association's annual dinner and program on Nov. 19.
His lecture, "Europe vs. America: How Migratory Birds Would Compare the Continents," will be open to the public, beginning at 8 p.m. at the Toledo Zoo
Museum Indoor Theater.
Tickets may be orderd by Nov. 14 by calling Nancy Bucher at 419-878-3141, or by visiting www.toledonaturalist.org. A program ticket includes parking and admission to the Zoo's "Lights Before Christmas."