Last updated: March 25. 2014 3:26PM - 800 Views
By Jane Beathard jbeathard@civitasmedia.com

The American goldfinch
The American goldfinch
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Just in time for the spring migration season, there’s good news for birding enthusiasts who prefer to learn from a book, rather than a web page.

“The Ohio Lake Erie Birding Trail Guidebook” is now available in paperback. The full-color, 232-page guide mirrors lakeerieohiobirdingtrail.info on the Internet.

First of 3,000 copies of the book went on sale at the 30th annual Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference, held March 12 in Columbus. The guide is also available online at ohioseagrant.osu.edu/publications. Cost of each guide is $13 online, with $7 shipping and handling.

Boxed orders of 14 or more are $175 per case, with $10 total shipping, according to Jill Jentes Banicki of Ohio Sea Grant.

Like the website, the new guidebook is a joint effort of Ohio Sea Grant and the Ohio DNR’s Division of Wildlife. The Ohio Department of Transportation also contributed funding. Work on the project began five years ago.

“Ohio’s Lake Erie Coast is one of the top birding destinations in the world,” said Melinda Huntley of the Ohio Travel Association. “Lake Erie Coastal Ohio wanted to launch it for some time.”

The DNR’s Jim McCormac wrote the text for the benefit of both novice and experienced bird watchers.

“Lake Erie and its environs are the premier birding destination in Ohio and in the entire Great Lakes region,” McCormac said. “Nearly 400 species have been found along the Ohio shoreline and migration periods see enormous numbers of songbirds and waterbirds. Many Lake Erie birders are from out of state or elsewhere in Ohio, and the (guide) helps visitors navigate the best hot spots.”

It includes photographs, weather data, checklists, maps and GPS coordinates for 88 established and lesser-known birding sites along seven travel “loops” on the coast between Ashtabula and Toledo.

Trail followers can choose to do one color-coded loop at a time or all seven in a single trip.

“It makes sense to consider several sites during a birding vacation,” Huntley said. “The guide will help visitors plan better.”

Directions to local eateries, overnight accommodations and a variety of natural features are also part of the book, which aims to spur economic activity and celebrate the region’s diversity of resources, she noted.

Thousands of birders from all over the world are drawn to the Lake Erie coast annually, especially during peak spring and fall migration periods.

They contribute $30 million to the local economy annually, according to a Sea Grant press release.

The new guide not only makes it easier for them to spot both common and rare birds, but also gives them the opportunity to point out their economic contributions to local businesses through a set of “calling cards” that link owners to more information.

“Every visitor to Lake Erie will consider this book an incredible resource and a must-have for their libraries,” said Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant.

His agency also plans to make the paperback guide available at visitor centers and other retail outlets along the shore in coming months.

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.

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