By Elijah Martineau, age 12: The 7th Annual Ohio Young Birders Conference was held in the Great Hall of the Museum of Science at the Toledo Zoo on November 2, 2013. Four young birders from the Ohio Young Birders Club (OYBC) gave presentations, and lots of door prizes were given away throughout the day. We had the opportunity to build nestboxes for a future club service project and make fun crafts at the Fledgling Corner. One of the highlights, by far, was the awesome behind-the-scenes tour of the Toledo Zoo Aviary by Robert Webster (Curator of Birds).
Steven Bischoff was the first young birder to give a presentation, which was about his studies on Tree Swallows and bluebirds. He discussed their weight as they grow from hatching to fledging and included photographs to show their size over time. What I think is really cool about his research project is that it can be used to relocate bluebirds to foster nests. Next, it was May Martineau’s turn to present on the progression of her artwork over time. She showed slides of her art from 2009 all the way to 2013, including different techniques and what she learned over time.
Finally, before lunch, Delaney Hayes presented on the impacts of balloon releases. It was surprising to learn how the two types of balloons, latex and foil, can negatively affect birds and the environment in general.
Then we had a delicious lunch and time to wander around the Toledo Zoo’s exhibits. I went into the Amphibians exhibit which had the Giant Chinese Salamander and a Golden Toad! Throughout the day, attendees were given the chance to enter the Kaufman Bird I.D. Photo Quiz, which Kenn Kaufman creates for the conference each year. The quiz bird that challenged me was the Savannah Sparrow. The quiz photo seemed different compared to the Savannah Sparrows that I have seen while birding and in bird guides.
After the break was a lively presentation on the “ZOOTeens” program at the Toledo Zoo. The presenters spoke about their role at the zoo and in the community, and encouraged us to get involved at our own local zoos. My brother, Nathan Martineau, gave a speech on the benefits of local birding. He showed how you can get to know your birds much better, see them up close, and occasionally find a rarity practically in your own backyard.
The keynote speaker, Aspen Ellis, took the stage to speak about her experiences working on Maine’s coastal islands. Aspen spent the summer of 2013 studying and helping Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, and many other birds that nest on these islands. She really showed us what amazing experiences you can have if you want to do hands-on work with birds. She told one story about how, when she was monitoring a nest, she had to go headfirst down a nest hole to gather data. There was a picture with only her feet sticking out of the hole!
The OYBC Conference always includes some great raffles and people won new binoculars, a new scope, a set of Kaufman field guides, and other great prizes. Lastly, Kim Kaufman gave the closing remarks to end the conference and we all departed for home. It was a great day of learning, fun with birds, and seeing lots of OYBC members!