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Birding Week Lectures & Films

This May, birders from across the country will return to Northwest Ohio, the Warbler Capital of the World, to celebrate The Biggest Week in American Birding. To welcome birding enthusiasts and families to the Marblehead Peninsula, Lakeside Chautauqua will host free birding lectures and films from May 8-13.

While you visit Lakeside, walk the nature trails and lakefront path for scenic views of Lake Erie, pack a picnic and enjoy the many parks and playgrounds, shop and dine in the downtown business district and Village of Marblehead, and explore nearby birding hotspots like the Marblehead Lighthouse, Meadowbrook Marsh and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.

View the schedule of events and plan your getaway to Lakeside. Discount lodging is available. See details below.

Schedule of Events

7 p.m., May 8 | Orchestra Hall | Free | 1h
“Birders: The Central Park Effect” reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds who grace Manhattan’s celebrated patch of green and the equally colorful New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration. Author Jonathan Franzen, an idiosyncratic trombone technician, and a septuagenarian bird-tour leader are among the lively cast characters.

7 p.m., May 9 | Orchestra Hall | Free
Twelve species of owls have been spotted in Ohio. Several are residents, some are migrants, and a few are accidental visitors. In this lecture, interesting owl trivia will be revealed and some tips on how, when and where to spot owls will be shared.

Jim Tomko’s interest in birds and wildlife began as a child. While his friends were assembling model airplanes and cars, he was painting and putting together models of a robin, bluebird or a goldfinch. His friends were often playing football and baseball while he was in the wooded ravines turning over rocks and logs searching for frogs and salamanders.

Tomko began birding scientifically since his ornithology class back in 1979 at Miami University where he majored in zoology. He earned a master’s degree in environmental biology and doctorate in optometry from Ohio State University, which helped support his “habit” of immersion in nature.

7 p.m., May 10 | Orchestra Hall | Free
According to the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio, 20 warbler species have been documented as ‘probable’ or ‘confirmed’ breeders in Northeast Ohio, but several are only found in very specific habitats. This talk will cover where and when you should look, the birds’ unique behaviors and the vast variety of warblers in our area.

Matt Valencic started chasing birds in 1974 while a student at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He has a bachelor’s degree in forest biology and spent his career in science-based technical sales, all related to the biological system of animals and people. Valencic retired in 2015 and immediately joined an Audubon chapter where he started creating bird programs from his catalog of pictures. The most important message he wishes to share is that all of nature, plants, animals and water are inextricably tied together. It’s our responsibility to be good stewards and protect what is whole and repair what is damaged.

Kelly Stanek has been a birder for more than 30 years. Her interest began in her teens and her passion took off while earning her master’s degree in biology. Stanek enjoys the challenge of identifying birds not only by sight but by sound. Most of all, she enjoys the camaraderie of her friends who share the same passion and help each other find the birds.

7 p.m., May 11 | Orchestra Hall | Free
Adaptive radiation is a hallmark of mammals; some 29 orders in the Class Mammalia exhibit a remarkable range of size, form and lifestyle. Compare the tiny four-gram Cinereus shrew feeding under the snowpack in Canada to the 200-ton blue whale filter feeding in the ocean. Surprisingly, many modes of the modes of feeding and locomotion seen in mammals across the world are also found in the 55 species and just seven orders of mammals in Ohio – including aquatic, ambulatory, cursorial, arboreal, fossorial, gliding and powered flight. Lecturer John Harder will demonstrate this diversity in a review of the salient features, natural history and fascinating behavior of four representative species: southern flying squirrel, star-nosed mole, red fox and hoary bat.

John Harder is Associate Professor Emeritus of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University where he taught courses in vertebrate reproduction, mammalogy and conservation biology. His research on the reproductive biology and ecology of mammals has focused on marsupials and involved field studies in Ohio, Australia, Venezuela and Amazonian Peru.

Harder’s interest in mammalian diversity in Ohio stems from his early work in compiling the Ohio Mammal Database and from a statewide survey of small mammal abundance, diversity and habitat associations on 31 study areas throughout Ohio. His talk will feature topics from his new book, Mammals of Ohio, coauthored with Guy N. Cameron, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.

7 p.m. May 12 | Orchestra Hall | Free
Though seldom seen due to their nocturnal nature, moths are every bit as beautiful and charismatic as their butterfly cousins. More importantly, moths and their caterpillars are food for birds, bats and countless other insects. In this lecture, we will take a photographic journey into the fascinating world of moths while also exploring which of our native plants are most enticing to these lovely Lepidopterans. 

Chelsea Gottfried is a naturalist and nature-based preschool teacher for the Crawford Park District in north central Ohio. Additionally, she is an avid native plant gardener, passionate entomologist and co-author of Gardening for Moths: A Regional Guide. 

1-2 p.m., May 13 | Meet at Train Station Patio | Free
The Lake Erie shoreline is a renowned location for viewing all kinds of birds, attracting birdwatchers from around the country, especially during the spring and fall migrations. Join local birding experts, Martyn and Morgan Drabik-Hamshare, to learn why the region is so important for birds. We will hike Lakeside’s trails and parks, help you find and identify birds, and learn interesting facts along the way. Some of the species you may expect to see include Bald Eagles, Baltimore Orioles and Northern Cardinals. If we’re lucky, we may also find Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, Purple Martins and any of the 40 species of neotropic warblers that migrate through the region.

Please bring a pair of binoculars (a small number will be available to borrow). Suitable footwear should be worn for this walk. Appropriate clothing should be selected based on weather conditions that day.

Martyn and Morgan Drabik-Hamshare (birding life lists of over 800 species each) met in South Africa where they both completed their postgraduate degrees in ecology and Zoology studying under the same professor. Martyn is an ecologist from England who has been living in Ohio since 2018. His main passions are with reptiles and amphibians, but he has quickly become well-known within the local birding community. He works as a full-time naturalist, providing nature education and recreational programs for the Erie County community. Morgan is an ornithologist from Pittsburgh who has lived in the region since 2016 and has been birding since a very young age. Morgan works for the USDA as a scientific researcher studying human-wildlife interactions, specifically relating to preventing aircraft collisions. Morgan has a PhD, has provided talks for international birding conferences, and has over 20 scientific papers to her name.

7 p.m., May 13 | Orchestra Hall | Free | PG – 1h 40m
Three men find that they have come to a turning point. Stu (Steve Martin) faces a late-life crisis, Kenny (Owen Wilson) is in the gripe of a midlife crisis, and Brad (Jack Black) is wallowing in a no-life crisis. Determined to kick-start their stagnant lives, the three men decide to enter a prestigious contest. During the course of one calendar year, the friendly rivals cross North America in a quest to count more species of birds than anyone else.

Nearby Birding Hotspots

  • Marblehead Lighthouse: 110 Lighthouse Drive, Lakeside-Marblehead
  • Meadowbrook Marsh: 8577 E Bayshore Road, Lakeside-Marblehead
  • Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve: 309 Alexander Pike, Lakeside-Marblehead
  • Great Egret Marsh Nature Preserve: 1000 N Buck Road, Lakeside-Marblehead
  • East Harbor State Park: 1169 N Buck Road, Lakeside-Marblehead
  • Magee Marsh Wildlife Area: OH-2, Oak Harbor
  • Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve: 2715 Cleveland Road W, Huron
  • Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area: Bono Road, Curtice
  • Catawba Island Nature Preserve: 4158 NW Catawba Rd, Port Clinton
  • Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge: 14000 OH-2, Oak Harbor

Shopping, Dining & Services in Lakeside

  • Fountain Inn Art Gallery
  • The Fine Print Bookstore
  • Marilyn’s
  • Marilyn’s Two
  • Miss Mercedes
  • Wise Woman Boutique
  • Gifts that Give Back
  • Coffee & Cream
  • Ooh La La!
  • Sloopy’s Sports Café
  • SmoothieSide
  • Heritage Hall Museum & Gift Shop
  • Lakeside Heritage Society Archives (by appointment)
  • Lakeside Salon & Spa

Discount Lodging at the Fountain Inn

If you’re traveling to the shores of Lake Erie for The Biggest Week in American Birding or Lakeside’s birding lectures and films, take advantage of our discounted hotel rooms at the Fountain Inn. From May 6-15, Lakeside is offering standard rooms starting at $119/night (+tax), plus if you buy two nights get the third night half off.

Reservations include continental breakfast served from 7-10 a.m. or a boxed breakfast for advance pickup. To make a reservation, call (419) 798-4461, ext. 230 and ask for the birding discount.

Please note: $119 hotel package rate is before tax. A 25% deposit is due at booking; $50 cancellation fee if cancelled outside 72 hours. A deposit of 25% is forfeited if cancelled within 72 hours of arrival. No refunds, no exceptions, no exchanges, and no rain dates. Limited availability. Current reservations are transferrable for May 6-15, 2023, only. This offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, offers or special promotions. The rate does not include additional paid activities, such as train rides, art classes or Lakeside catered events.

Volunteers needed for Biggest Week in American Birding

​Our friends at Black Swamp Bird Observatory are seeking volunteers for The Biggest Week in American Birding. The festival, headquartered at Maumee Bay State Park Lodge, will take place May 5-14.

The Biggest Week welcomes more than 90,000 birders from around the world to northwest Ohio to celebrate the return of migratory songbirds. The success of this popular birding event simply would not be possible without amazing volunteers, and there are some fun perks, too!

  • Easy online registration & timeslots
  • Free general registration (fees still required for workshops, keynotes & field trips)
  • Advanced registration before anyone else
  • Free swag bag
  • Free volunteer T-shirt
  • Opportunities to interact with birders from around the world
  • Heartfelt thanks & most sincere gratitude for your help

Register here! If you have questions, contact Black Swamp Bird Observatory at

The event is finished.


May 13, 2023


All Day




Orchestra Hall
Orchestra Hall
122 West 2nd Street, Lakeside, Lakeside Marblehead, OH, USA

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