BSBO taking reservations for “The Biggest Week”

Yaneek Smith

Press Contributing Writer

For the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, The Biggest Week In American Birding is like the holiday season.
The 10-day event, which takes place from May 5-14, brings in people from all over the world to observe migratory birds coming home as the weather warms up.
The mission of the BSBO is to inspire the appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of birds and their habitats through research, education, and outreach.
Their efforts are founded in research; committed to education; to promote conservation and economic development through birding; to reach out to the business community and to connect people with the joy of birds. People from every state in the U.S., over 50 countries and six continents have stepped foot in Oak Harbor, the “Warbler Capital of the World.”
Kim Kaufman, who is the executive director of BSBO, founded in 1992, said it’s great to be able to bring joy to so many people through the 10-day festival.
“We get so excited this time of year. I was one of the people that started The Biggest Week. No matter how long we do this, I get excited welcoming birders to Northwest Ohio. I’ve lived in Northwest Ohio all my life, and I love it here. I love the people, and I love birds,” she said. “To be part of bringing those two things together is so important. To have it mean so much economically in Northwest Ohio, it’s the greatest thing I’ll ever be a part of.
“The Biggest Week offers something for everyone, whether it’s experts, to people just doing this for the first time. I encourage people to visit the website. We’re offering birding workshops; there’s lots of fun and encouragement. I hope people will support the festival and experience what brings people from all over the world here.”
Kaufman, who has been with BSBO, a nine-person organization, for 25 years, talked about the economic impact the festival has on Northwest Ohio and its local businesses.
“There was an economic survey done in 2016, and it found that the event brings $40 million to the area for about six weeks,” she said. “And the festival has grown so much since then. The approximate total is about 90,000 people in a six-week period from the end of April through May. Small businesses are opening earlier in the season, so the birding tourism has created a very significant impact on Northwest Ohio.”
Kaufman has devoted a great deal of her life to BSBO. She became education director in 2005 and was promoted executive director four years later. She played an important role in starting the highly successful Ohio Young Birders Club, a group for teenagers that has served as a model for youth programs in 13 other states, as well as The Biggest Week In American Birding.
She is a contributing editor to “Birds & Blooms” magazine and coauthor of the “Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of New England” and “Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of the Midwest.”
In 2015, Kaufman received the American Birding Association's prestigious Chandler Robbins Award in recognition of her contributions to bird education and conservation.
Her husband, Kenn, is the preeminent scholar on bird watching. He has authored countless books on the practice, a body of work that started when he began observing birds at the age of 6. He also works as a field editor for “Audubon Magazine” and is a regular columnist for “BirdWatching” and “Birds and Blooms.” His website is
“Kenn is known on an international level as one of the world’s leading bird experts,” Kaufman said. “He’s written hundreds of articles and dozens of books about birds and bird conservation. Kenn’s support has played a significant role in our success, helped create a tourism season and bring the public to Oak Harbor.
“When Kenn began to write for the birding magazines, he sort of became an unofficial spokesman for bringing birding to Northwest Ohio,” she said. “"He's done dozens of presentations and allowed BSBO to grow financially. As the director of Black Swamp, it has been a dream to (advocate) for birding. We owe a debt of gratitude to him.”
Visit BSBO’s website, for more information about the organization. For more information about the festival, visit


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