What Wisconsin Does for Birds

Having written last week about the new State of the Birds 2014 report (produced by such bird scientists as the Cornell Lab or Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and many similar experts) The Badger & the Whooping Crane would be remiss not to give a few paragraphs of space to Wisconsin and the supportive actions we do here, individually and collectively, on behalf of birds.

At the top Wisconsin is the kind of place where an organization like the International Crane Foundation could put down roots and thrive.  We are a state where the DNR is an active partner in acclaimed efforts to restore the endangered Kirtland’s warbler, and of course, the endangered whooping crane.

At the citizen level we are a state of “birders.” Earlier this year we discovered, through a survey conducted by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that we rank in 2nd place in the nation for the percentage of active birders in our population. In addition to our birding citizens – or maybe, in part because of them – we are enthusiastic leaders of such bird-centered undertakings as the Annual Midwest Crane Count, Bird City Wisconsin, and the Great Wisconsin Birdathon; and there are many more.

Birders setting up to view a rare Kirtland warbler on a Natural Resources Field Trip, Spring 2014.

Birders setting up to view a rare Kirtland warbler on a Natural Resources Field Trip, Spring 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at just a little of the evidence. The Great Wisconsin Birdathon, launched in 2012, is one of the state’s newest “for the birds” projects, and it combines zealous birders with supportive donors who pledge a dollar amount for each of the bird species the birder can locate in one 24-hour period, at any time in the month of May.  In this way over 200 birders raised $56,000 for important bird projects in 2014.

About $112,000 has been raised by The Great Wisconsin Birdathon since it began. Birders of all ages participate in a myriad of ways – birding as teams, and by joining organized Birding Blitz hikes, and by birding as individuals.  Participation can be as simple as birding out one’s own kitchen window.

The projects that are supported by the funds raised are: the  2nd Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, Bird City Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bird Monitoring, Kirtland’s Warbler Monitoring and Management, Southern Forest Initiative, Wisconsin Stopover Initiative, Reforesting the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, and the Whooping Crane.  The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is a joint project between the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

In closing, I’d like to direct your attention to 10 Ways You Can Help Birds from the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.  It’s a great reminder of what you may already know – that coming to the aid of birds can be as simple as “Offering birds food, water and shelter in your own yard,”

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