Read Kim Kaufman’s interview with American Bird Conservancy.
Libby Sander: How did you become interested in birds?
Kimberly Kaufman: I grew up on this small farm in the middle of Ohio and spent nearly every waking moment outside. But I didn’t really connect with birds until my late 20s. I was at an appointment, and outside the office they had a bird feeder. On every perch there was a beautiful American Goldfinch, all males in blazing summer plumage. I had never seen a goldfinch.
LS: Why is the Great Lakes region so critical to birds?
KK: All three of the major migratory routes birds follow during spring migration intersect over northwest Ohio. When the birds get here, they confront the daunting expanse of Lake Erie. When you’re a songbird that weighs less than an ounce—and you don’t swim!—you need to rest and refuel before these long crossings. With so much lakefront habitat sacrificed to development, large concentrations of migratory birds gather in these remaining patches of wooded habitat to fuel up before crossing the lake.