More international bird watchers visit Ottawa County this year - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

More international bird watchers visit Ottawa County this year

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OTTAWA COUNTY, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Thursday was the final day for The Biggest Week in American Birding in Ottawa County, an event that has grown in international attention over the years.

Organizers are happy to say that this year's bird watching event was another resounding success. They were not only able to draw local and out-of-state visitors, but a record number of international bird lovers, as well.

The week-long event has brought at least 70,000 visitors to the region, and $35 million in economic impact. Final numbers are expected to be higher and break last year's record.

In 2013, more than $30 million were pumped into the local community from the visiting birders.

International exposure has since grown. Last year, visitors from 14 countries came to observe the birds. This year, 30 countries were represented.

Organizers say the growth of the event is completely due in part to the friendly community of birders who visit here every year.

"I think word of mouth and social media. Birders really like to talk about these experiences. So they're doing our best advertising," said Kimberly Kaufman, with the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

The Biggest Week in American Birding 2015 is scheduled for May 8-17. Some birders have already begun booking next year's stay.

Even though the event is now over, birders can still enjoy seeing birds during their migration for the next month.

Manmade threats could shrink these numbers and are a concern for researchers, naturalists and future generations. Things like wind turbines, tall buildings and cell phone towers pose a real threat to migrating birds.

"There's a lot of threats. Pretty much everything we do, at times, can be a threat to other species," said Mark Shieldcastle, research director with the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

Shieldcastle says similar events in Texas are showing a decline in all aspects -- birders who come to watch and birds that migrate through the area. He says not only will the local economy feel the pinch if this happens, but wildlife as a whole will.

"It's one of those things where you don't realize what you had until it's gone, and it's our responsibility to see that it's not gone. That is part of what we are. We are part of the environment. We're not outside of it. It would be irresponsible for us to remove some portion of it for future generations that don't have that choice," explained Shieldcastle.

Read more on this year's bird watching:

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