Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2020


Your donation to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon supports projects funded by the Bird Protection Fund of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. The Bird Protection Fund was created in 2009 to provide critical support for projects that advance bird conservation across Wisconsin, focusing on the bird species that are most imperiled. Through direct donations, 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 Wisconsin’s populations of the federally endangered Piping Plover by monitoring current breeding populations, protecting  breeding and nesting sites, artificially incubating eggs, and creating additional nesting habitat. In 1948, only one pair of Piping Plovers was found in Wisconsin. Thanks to your support, 26 plover chicks fledged in 2019.

Important Bird Areas Coordinator

The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership is using funds from the Bird Protection Fund to  hire an Important Bird Areas Coordinator to evaluate the status and condition of Wisconsin's 93 Important Bird Areas (IBA). The initial goal is to identify threats, opportunities, and potential partners for the IBAs, and to prioritize 5-15 of them for habitat restoration and enhancement, getting to work on creating and enhancing critical bird habitat.

Whooping Crane Reintroduction

Led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, conservation partners are working hard 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 the work of the International Crane Foundation on this critical reintroduction effort.

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 future decisions that will impact Wisconsin’s migratory birds, such as 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 Wisconsin, to providea picture of bird populations across the state and inform conservation and management decisions for Wisconsin’s birds. The Bird Protection Fund provided funding for bird surveyors to complete survey sections across Wisconsin, helping to fill in the research gaps Among the many important finding from this project was that Mississippi Kites and Glossy Ibis were documented breeding for the first time ever in Wisconsin.

Neotropical Flyways Project

This project of SELVA – a nonprofit in Colombia – and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is working to identify critical migratory stopover regions and habitats in Central and South America. 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, critical to saving migration for Wisconsin’s birds.

Endowment for Kirtland's Warbler Protection

Funding from the Bird Protection Fund provided seed money for American Bird Conservancy to establish a revenue-generating endowment at the Natural Resources Foundation to provide permanent support for Wisconsin’s populations of the state endangered Kirtland's warbler. The Kirtland's warbler is what biologists call a “conservation dependent species”, meaning they are dependent upon human management to sustain and grow its population. This new endowment will support ongoing habitat management, population monitoring, threat reduction, and research, ensuring Wisconsin’s populations of Kirtland’s warblers endure.

Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation

The Kirtland's warbler, a state endangered species, requires very specific habitat and has a restricted geographic range. The Bird Protection Fund 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: Whooping Cranes by D. Z. Johnson; Kirtland's Warbler banding by Lindsay Renick-Mayer; juvenile Glossy Ibis by Jack Bartholmai.