Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2020

What Your Donation Supports

About the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin provides sustainable funding for Wisconsin’s most imperiled species and public lands, while helping citizens connect with our state’s unique natural places. A portion of your donation to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon goes to cover the cost of administering and monitoring these bird-related programs, grantmaking, educating the public, and other associated staff costs. Find out more at


Bird Protection Fund

The Bird Protection Fund was created in 2009 in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative to provide critical support of projects that advance bird conservation across Wisconsin, focusing on the bird species that are most imperiled. Through direct contributions, fundraising field trips, and the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, the Bird Protection Fund has raised more than $1 million for bird conservation and research. Learn more about the 2020 priority projects below.


Organizations Supported by the Bird Protection Fund




2020 Bird Protection Fund Priority Projects

Bird City Wisconsin​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Bird City Wisconsin has recognized over 100 communities across Wisconsin that excel at putting birds first. From installing nest boxes to promoting green space, native plant gardens, educational programs, and festivals, these communities are engaging in serious efforts to address the decline of urban birds and make communities more bird friendly. Recently Bird City Wisconsin helped the Milwaukee Bucks make their FISERV Forum the world's first bird-friendly sports arena.

Conservation and Management of Piping Plovers

This project aims to increase the state's populations of Federally endangered Piping Plover by monitoring current breeding populations, protecting current breeding and nesting sites, artificially incubating eggs and creating additional breeding habitat. In 1948, only one pair of plovers was found in the state, and 26 chicks fledged in 2019.

* Important Bird Areas Coordinator

The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative will employ a Coordinator to evaluate the status and condition of the state's 93 Important Bird Areas. The initial goal is to identify threats, opportunities, and potential partners for the areas, and to prioritize 5-15 of them for habitat restoration and enhancement.

Whooping Crane Reintroduction

Led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, scientists are attempting to reintroduce Whooping Cranes to Wisconsin. This partnership raises captive whooping crane chicks and then releases them near a wild adult pair that will ‘adopt’ the young birds and teach them the migratory route south. The Bird Protection Fund supports International Crane Foundation interns who raise these chicks.

Lake Michigan Waterbird Research

The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory monitors waterbirds migrating over Lake Michigan and its shoreline, an area previously not well studied. The Bird Protection Fund supports their research, which will help inform decisions about offshore wind energy development, harvest quotas for waterfowl and future management actions. 

Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

This project is a comprehensive 5-year field survey that documents birds breeding in an area. The information gives a picture of bird populations across the state and informs conservation and management decisions. The Bird Protection Fund provided funding for bird surveyors across the entire state. Mississippi kites and glossy ibis were documented breeding for the first time in Wisconsin.

Neotropical Flyways Project

This project will identify critical migratory stopover regions and habitats in Central America and western Colombia. New stopover sites will be identified and mapped, and mist-netting and radio-tracking of birds will determine how they use these sites. The results of these studies will be used to develop conservation plans for migratory stopover in the region.

* Endowment for Kirtland's Warbler Protection

​​​​​​​This project provides seed money for American Bird Conservancy to establish a revenue-generating endowment at the Natural Resources Foundation to provide permanent support for the Wisconsin population of the Kirtland's warbler. The Kirtland's warbler depends upon management to sustain and grow its population, and the endowment will support habitat management, population monitoring, threat reduction, and research.

Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation

The Kirtland's warbler requires very specific habitat and has a restricted geographic range. The BPF supports nest monitoring and other critical research and habitat management activities that protect this management-dependent species. From 11 known individuals in 2007, the Wisconsin population has grown to 51 adults and at least 42 young fledged in 2018.



Photo credits: Kirtland's warbler by Jack Swelstad; whooping cranes by D. Z. Johnson; FISERV Forum by Gary Deenan via Bird City Wisconsin; Kirtland's warbler banding by Lindsay Renick-Mayer; juvenile glossy ibis by Jack Bartholmai; red-breasted mergansers by Matt Tillett via Flickr Creative Commons.