Bird watching holds sport-like status in some Amish settlements. Interestingly, in other communities, our feathered friends barely merit a notice. Holmes County, Ohio is one such place where bird-watching is a rabid past-time among the Amish. Ten years ago some Amish transplants to Adams County, Ohio – some 3 hours to the south – from Holmes County tried to drum up interest in bird-watching by starting a “symposium” for birders. Ten years ago, a few speakers were invited and bird-watchers gathered in the basement of an Amish birder’s home for feathered fellowship and story swapping. With each passing year the event grew. Fast-forward 10 years and the symposium is now held in the Amish community building and attracts hundreds of attendees. Rachel and I have been going to almost every one of the events for the past 8 years.It’s a perfect event for us, with Rachel being an avid birder and me enjoying anything Amish.
This year’s event featured – as it does every year – some marquee speakers, a veritable who’s who of anyone who is anyone in the birding world. The keynoter this year was Kenn Kaufman, author of the famous wildlife guides that bear his name.
Amish-made doughnuts are offered to all who attend in the morning and a delicious lunch is prepared by Amish woman, Clara Yoder. Lunch for 500 people? No problem if you’re an Amish woman accustomed to whipping up a meal for a church crowd of the same size.
The photos in this post are all a little grainy and that has to do with the dim lighting in the facility. True to Amish tradition and religion, their building is not outfitted for electricity, so skylights and gas lamps provide the majority of the light. Electricity needed to power the audio equipment for the speakers is generated, but that is it.
Attendees of the event are largely non-Amish, but there’s a good mix. I like events like this that bring together non-Amish and Amish in the spirit of learning and fellowship. The Amish Bird Symposium in Adams County is a special event and I hope it continues for years to come!