As one of the biggest birding festivals in America, The Biggest Week in American Birding is a great way to meet other birders, join experts and shop for your kit. We delve into what species you might see when you’re there, as well as introduce The Biggest Week in American Birding Challenge, hosted on the free Birda App. Keep reading to find out more.
What is The Biggest Week in American Birding?
“The Biggest Week in American Birding” is a 10 day festival that attracts birders from far and wide to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Northwest Ohio. Northwest Ohio is a special place and is internationally recognised as one of the best areas for birding in North America. If you’re looking for more exciting bird areas check out some of the Best USA States for Birdwatching.
Known as the “Warbler Capital of the World”, Northwest Ohio, and particularly Lake Eerie, is particularly popular during spring migration. During this time, tens of thousands of visitors flock from all 50 states, 50-plus nations and every continent to witness this phenomenon, immersing themselves in the sights and sounds of spring songbird migration.
In May each year, “The Biggest Week in American Birding” (BWIAB) draws birders from all around the world to experience the joy of watching warblers and many other species alongside like-minded birders. The festival offers a wide range of activities that will appeal whether you’re a seasoned birder or just getting started. One activity on offer is “field trips”, giving you the chance to see species from a different perspective with expert guides leading you on foot, by van or even on the water.
If you’re heading to the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, why not join the Challenge on the free Birda app! More information is at the end of this page.
While the focus of the week is on bird watching, the organizers hold the community aspect of birding close to their hearts too. Social events are on offer throughout the 10 days offering opportunities to make networks and build friendships. You can join bird identification workshops, keynote presentations, and birders marketplace. The event also provides an excellent platform for bird advocate organizations to raise awareness of conservation issues and spread the word about the importance of protecting bird populations. You certainly won’t be stuck for things to do!
Our Top Tips for the Biggest Week in American Birding
If you’re thinking of heading to the BWIAB, here’s a couple of tips to get the most out of your festival:
What should I bring to the Biggest Week in American Birding?
No specific clothing is required for the festival but it’s advisable to be prepared for changeable weather. Temperatures range from the mid-fifties to mid-seventies Fahrenheit but it’s not uncommon for wind coming off the lake to put a chill in the air. Keep an eye on the forecast and bring layers. Insect repellent and sunscreen is available during the trips, but it doesn’t hurt to pack your own too.
Don’t forget your water-bottle! To reduce the festival’s plastic footprint, they have opted to only carry a minimal amount during trips so make sure you’ve got your own filled up before your trips.
What about my birding kit?
Of course you’ll want to pack your standard birding gear, such as scopes and binoculars. There’s opportunities to upgrade your optics during the festival too with a variety of brands on sale and dealers to assist with any questions you might have. Don’t worry if you’re not kitted out yet though – for those on beginner and shorebird walks, there are a limited number of binoculars on offer to use free of charge for the duration of the walk as well.
BWIAB attracts a friendly community of birders to the area, and if you’re a beginner at any of the top spots, you’ll likely be enthusiastically offered a book, binos and helpful bits of information on what’s already been spotted and what to be looking out for.
You might also find that downloading a few birding apps before you go could be really useful, check out the Best Birdwatching Apps in the USA to make the right choice.
When should I arrive?
Check your registration info before you arrive to ensure you’ll be at the right place at the right time depending on your day of arrival. At registration, you’ll receive your name badge and festival tote bag.
What's on the schedule?
Familiarize yourself with the schedule beforehand. Most events require general festival registration but the programs, field trips, and evening receptions require pre-registration so plan your days in advance for the best chance of making the most of all the events that interest you.
One thing on the schedule you don’t want to miss is the Birda Challenge so make sure to download the Birda app before you go! Birda is an easy and fun way to keep track of all your sightings and get the most out of the festival. There is a real buzz on Birda during the BWIAB, and there’s even a challenge for the event, allowing you to easily log what you’ve seen as well as earning awesome rewards and prizes! You don’t want to miss out!
Who will be speaking at the Biggest Week in American Birding?
The speakers for 2024 haven’t been announced yet, but here’s a list of speakers from previous years;
Speakers at BWIAB in 2023
- David Lindo – The Urban Birder
- Kevin Loughlin and John Kricher – Galapagos
- Islands: Darwin’s Smoking Gun
- Holly Merker – Ornitherapy
- Mark Shieldcastle – The History of Magee Marsh
- Scott Whittle – How Birders and Technology Will
- Save Wildlife
Speakers at BWIAB in 2022
- Dr. Richard Beilfuss – International Crane Foundation
- Jamie Cunningham – Sabrewing Nature Tours
- Tykee James – Amplify the Future
- Kenn Kaufman – Kaufman Field Guides
- Kimberly Kaufman – Black Swamp Bird Observatory
- Ethan Kistler – WINGS Worldwide Birding Tours
- David Lindo – The Urban Birder
- Rosemary Mosco – Bird and Moon Nature Comics
- Tiffany Kersten – Big Year Record Holder
What birds will I see when I'm at the Biggest Week in American Birding 2024?
Take a look on the Birda app and use the Locations Feature to discover what’s been seen here recently. On to the most important part – what might you hope to see during your trip? Northwest Ohio is not known as “The Warbler Capital of the World” for nothing, and you can expect to see at least 20 warbler species each day.
Depending on the weather and how much time you commit, according to the team at BWIAB, an active birder might expect to see the following:
The warblers might be the star of the show, but there are plenty of other birds that visitors will be likely to spot as well. Other regular feathered visitors include Osprey, Hawks, Hummingbirds, Bobolinks, Finches and Flycatchers. It’s also expected that Thrushes, Vireos and many other migrants will make an appearance. If you fancy reading more about each species, head over to Birda’s Species Guide and explore.
So, in summary...
Whether you come for a few days or enjoy the whole ten, the BWIAB is an unforgettable spectacle and offers a unique opportunity to tick dozens of species off your “lifer” list. What makes this event so unforgettable though, is the community it attracts and friendships that are formed. The next BWIAB is running May 3rd-12th 2024 – so save the date! Keep an eye on the BWIAB website for more updates on what you can expect to see at the BWIAB in 2024.
Biggest Week in American Birding Challenge
Log 15 bird species in Ohio and be in with a chance to win great prizes!
Sign up, it's FREE
We’re running a challenge to honor the ‘Biggest Week in American Birding‘ festival which is held annually in north-west Ohio in May and celebrates the spring migration of birds.
With thousands of birders and birds due to flock to Ohio during the 3 – 12th of May, we thought we would spice things up with a challenge that will help you keep track of some of the magnificent spots that you and other fellow birders have seen in the area – while encouraging some healthy competition that results in helping conservation!
We get that for some of you this may seem an easy task…but you can always compete for the top spot on the leaderboard.
Prizes will be attributed via random draw (Terms & Conditions apply).
- A Birdfy AI Feeder Camera
- A Birda Hoodie
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