Bird watchers flock to catch a glimpse of the warbler - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Bird watchers flock to catch a glimpse of the warbler

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OTTAWA COUNTY, OH (Toledo News Now) -

A southwest wind directed many birds to fly across Lake Erie Thursday May 8, which brought out thousands of bird watchers. People from more than 44 states and 14 countries are in northwest Ohio to get a glimpse of birds that only fly through during this time of the year, and that also means people are shopping and eating locally.

This is the 5th Anniversary of the biggest week in American birding. Last year an estimated 70,000 people came through Ottawa and Lucas County to bird watch. It's a 10-day festival that brought in a whopping $37 million last year and officials are expecting to do even better this year.

"We've basically created a new tourism season. Usually things didn't kick off until the end of June, so now we have a birding season and it's such a huge thing especially for small businesses," said Kimberly Kaufman, the Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

Bird watchers have their cameras and binoculars ready for this big event.

"This is the only place where these birds come in like this. We get to see a lot of eastern birds that we don't get a chance to see in Oregon," said Judy List, Oregon resident.

Kaufman says people are gathering to see the warbler. She says this is the only place where you can see this beautiful bird up close and personal.

"These little birds migrate at night. They use celestial navigation to find their way back north to their breeding grounds but they see this lake and they're reluctant to cross until they're at their energetic peak," said Kaufman.

Other than birds, birders get a chance to interact with people who share a mutual love.

"The birds are really awesome but the people, it's like a reunion. We keep running into people we met last year and they all remember you and they all know you. You can strike up a conversation with anybody," said Michelle Schislerr from Akron.

"When you walk the boardwalk, people from all over the place are helping each other out in other languages and in English," said Leach Schrock from Indiana.

This birding festival will run until next Thursday and the best part of it all is it's free.

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