Thirteen-old Sammy Aubuchon talks about her experience at the 2011 Ohio Young Birders Conference.

by Sammie Aubuchon

This past November I was lucky enough to attend the 5th Annual Ohio Young Birders Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Although I live in Illinois, my aunt and cousin live in Ohio and this has given me the opportunity to join in on some of the Ohio Young Birders Club events, including this year’s Conference.

On Friday, November 4th my grandparents got up at the crack of dawn to drive me 400 miles to Findlay, Ohio. After eight hours of driving we met up with my cousin Dakota and Aunt Jennie and immediately drove 90 more miles to Columbus, Ohio, home of this year’s conference.

We stayed at the Baymont Inn and got up early Saturday morning. Unfortunately the hotel somehow ran out of coffee!!! This was not good for some of the grownups. After this rocky start, we headed to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center for the OYBC Conference.

One of the first events was a bird banding demonstration. This was particularly interesting because they caught a Hermit Thrush with abnormal coloring. Some of its feathers completely lacked pigmentation. I don’t believe I have ever seen this before and it was very cool to see it up close.

The most unique thing about the OYBC Conference is that young birders are the speakers.  We heard from young birders about the Columbus chapter of the Ohio Young Birders Club’s service projects, a summer job in the Arctic Circle and about the successful restoration of the Lake Erie Water Snake. We also heard about opportunities for young birders and about the history and processes of bird banding.

The keynote speaker Rachael Butek was the ABA’s ‘Young Birder of the Year’ contest winner. She did a great job of discussing her experience with the contest and how even with no car and no scope it was no problem to find and study great birds.

Susan Setterlin from Raptor Inc. brought in an American Kestrel, a Barn Owl and a Great Horned Owl. It is always amazing to see these birds up close. We had fun with Kenn Kaufman’s bird ID quiz and raffle drawings. My Grandpa won a book and a shirt and, as luck would have it, the shirt fit me perfectly. Thanks Grandpa! 

I think it is awesome that Kim and Kenn Kaufman and other great birders in the Ohio area spent their time to attend the conference. They care about young birders and the future of birding.

The conference was really fun and it gave me the opportunity to visit my cousin and aunt in Findlay. I don’t think I have ever seen so many birders in one place all at once. It was shocking and wonderful to see so many young birders my age. I hope to return every year.

1mmbmuxsdfggsAbout the author: Sammie Aubuchon, 13, lives in Rockford, Illinois. She is a member of the Illinois Young Birders Club and the North Central Illinois Ornithological Society.