More than 3,000 people are expected to flock to central Ohio Sept. 16-18 for the American Birding Expo.

More than 3,000 people are expected to flock to central Ohio Sept. 16-18 for the American Birding Expo.

Celebrating its second year, the event will be held at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W. Whittier St.

The expo will offer more than 100 vendors selling cameras, binoculars, books, clothes and virtually everything else that will help bird-watchers enhance their experience, said Bill Thompson III, editor and publisher of Bird Watcher's Digest, which is hosting the event.

"The typical person who's coming loves to be outside and wants to learn more about birds," Thompson said.

Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18.

Admission is free, but a $5 donation will be requested, Thompson said. Money raised will go toward three distinct conservation projects, including the Audubon Center's Conservation Classroom, which puts urban kids in touch with nature.

He said he expects people from 45 states and 35 countries to attend the event as observers or vendors.

"I guess the neat thing for me is I get to show off Ohio to all of my friends around the world," said Thompson, whose magazine was founded in 1978 in Marietta, Ohio, where it is still based.

The Audubon Center, on the banks of the Scioto River, is a bird-watcher's paradise. Bird walks begin at 7 a.m. each day of the festival.

"We're on the edge, mid-September, of the height of fall migration in this part of the world," Thompson said.

There will be plenty of instruction, too, with some exhibitors giving presentations about various aspects of birds and their habitats.

That includes Thompson's wife, Julie Zickefoose, author and illustrator of "Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest," who will speak from noon to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 18. The book follows the daily activity of 17 bird species, from the time they're in the shell to the time they leave the nest.

Sunday, in fact, is Family Day at the expo, when several activities for children will be among the attractions, Thompson said.

Midwest Photo Exchange, located at 2887 Silver Drive on the North Side, will be at the expo, selling tripods, camera zoom lenses, rain gear and anything else that helps bird photographers enjoy their experience, said Ken Lewis, sales and marketing director for the store.

Lewis praised the expo and the setting.

"The vibe is awesome," he said. "I can tell you the coordinators of the show are some of the best in the business."