Spring into songbird watching: ‘Warblers and Wildflowers’ weekend is May 1–3

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2020

WEST PORTSMOUTH    If you want to experience the colorful magic of southern Ohio in springtime, the Ohio Ornithological Society has you covered with its “Warblers and Wildflowers” weekend at Shawnee State Park on May 1-3.

“It’s amazing to see the beginning of songbird migration in Ohio and at the same time, see and hear breeding birds arriving on territory,” OOS president Tim Colborn said. “The forest comes alive with song!”

Let expert guides show you the best places to find native breeding warblers like prairie, cerulean, worm-eating and hooded warblers; as well as bright orange, yellow and boldly patterned migrants like Blackburnian and Magnolia warblers. The minimal foliage of early spring allows other brilliant neotropical migrating songbirds like scarlet tanager and yellow-throated vireo to be easily spotted.

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The weekend kicks off with a speaker at 7 p.m. on May 1.

Shawnee State Park naturalist Jenny Richards was born and raised on the edge of Shawnee forest, and is intimately familiar with the native flora and fauna that participants will encounter on field trips. She’ll provide tips about where to spot touchstone species and share stories of rare and exciting sights she has experienced.

May 2’s excursions include a variety of field trips focused on birds, botany, butterflies, and other wildlife, as well as photography and an introduction to birding for the novice.

Weekend registration also includes a Saturday evening buffet dinner and featured speaker, ornithologist Jack Stenger. During a talk featuring Shawnee’s warblers, he will explore the meaning of “natural” and what that means for the future in a changing environment.

Other weekend highlights include vendors, nighttime mothing and evening excursions for nocturnal birds like whippoorwill, chuck-wills-widow and American woodcock. On Sunday, half-day guided field trips will be offered.

Registration is $95 for OOS members and includes all weekend events, field trips and Saturday evening buffet dinner. Non-members pay $130, which also includes a one-year OOS membership. After April 10, fees increase to $115 and $150, respectively. Online registration is now open on their website: ohiobirds.org.