Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2019
Please note: donations are not being accepted by this participant at this time.

Goal $5,000.00


The Finch Gang was abroad all day on Friday, May 17. We found a record number of species: 112! Highlights included 18 warbler species, including a rare Connecticut Warbler; 12 lovely species of shorebirds, most of them at the Kroghville ephemeral ponds; a surprise two Red-headed Woodpeckers along Shorewood Hills Rd.; a Veery (photo) along the Glacial Drumlin Trail; and two pairs of nesting Ospreys, one at Zeloski Marsh, the other at Korth Park, the first ever to nest there (photo).


Don't mess with this mean-looking bunch (Matt Carlson, River Sandy, Eric Mosher, Clare Carlson, Brad Webb, Karen Etter Hale, Jeanne Scherer)! We're still a bit short of our goal, and there's still time to give. As the GANG likes to say, "Give! Or else!"


Here's our full report:


The Finch Gang Report

Great Wisconsin Birdathon

17 May 2019


The Finch Gang would like to start by thanking our many donors. We couldn't do it without you! This was the 8th year the Gang has run a Great Wisconsin Birdathon, raising thousands of dollars for birds and bird conservation throughout Wisconsin.  Special thanks to first-time donors from Lake Mills, the Corner Mercantile and their goblin-maker, who gave us the profits from their May sales of his black walnut goblins, including these cute birds (photo above). As they claimed, "It's all for a wonderful and noble cause!"


The forecast for May 17 did not bode well: rain and possible storms for much of the day. But we lucked out. There was a chill wind, but no rain until the very end, and cloudy conditions made for good viewing of the birds.


Choosing mid-May for our birdathon proved to be a winner, as we found a record number of birds: 112 species, all in and near northwest Jefferson County. Highlights included 18 species of warblers and 12 species of shorebirds. It's definitely important to check every bird you see, as 23 of the 112 species were of single birds only.


As usual, we started our day well before first light, at 4:30 a.m. at the Elm Point parking lot at Korth Park. The toads were singing, the Tree Swallows were chattering, the robins were up, and a single woodcock was doing its courtship flight. It wasn't long before we heard Killdeer, Chipping Sparrows, cardinals, and catbirds. We were very pleased to not only hear, but see a lovely Veery along the Glacial Drumlin Trail. Then we heard a loud, ringing song that none of us recognized right away. The bird sang repeatedly from down low, sort of a "CHEEPeta-CHEEPeta-CHEEPeta-CHIP". It was a rare Connecticut Warbler, a first ever for the Finch Gang!


By the time we got back to Korth Park four hours later, we had tallied 57 species. The best birds at the park were a female Hooded Merganser with a brood of six ducklings and the Ospreys, nesting on the platform for the first time since it was installed 10 years ago!


After picking up two surprise Red-headed Woodpeckers along Shorewood Hills Rd., Magnolia and Wilson's warblers, a single Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and some lunch in Lake Mills; we headed straight to the Kroghville Rd. "ephemeral" ponds. All the rain and snow this past winter and spring saturated the area, creating excellent habitat for a good variety of shorebirds. We found 11 species here, including Wilson's Phalaropes, Dunlins, Black-bellied Plovers, Greater and Lesser yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, and more.


Then it was off to our old stomping grounds, the London Marsh (aka Zeloski Marsh). High water kept some birds out of sight in the dense vegetation, but the Gang was undaunted. Highlights were Olive-sided Flycatcher, Green-winged Teal, a late Bufflehead, two Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and a slew of birds along the east ditch, which was out of the wind: Cape May, Blackburnian, Palm, Northern Parula, Yellow-rumped, Chestnut-sided, and Blackpoll warblers and knock-out views of several Scarlet Tanagers. A second pair of Ospreys is nesting at the platform there.


Our last stop was at Rose Lake near sunset, where we found our only American Coot of the day and at least 110 American White Pelicans. Only then did the rain start.

Thank you so much for supporting the Great Wisconsin Birdathon!



The Finch Gang Rides Again - Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2019


WARNING: The notorious Finch Gang will be riding again this year, on Friday, May 17. We've only been out at the height of migration one other time, so watch out! Once again, we'll be focusing on one small corner of Jefferson County, trying to round up more than our record 109 species. Please support our team by donating or pledgingany amount.

It’s all for the birds, because Birds Matter.


Many crack teams will be out competing this year, but the Finch Gang is up to the task. Members include Karen Etter Hale, leader of the gang; Brad Webb, co-founder of the Jefferson-Dodge Bird Walks; Matt and Clare Carlson, co-founders of the Friends of Glacial Heritage Area; Charley Roberts, primo tough guy; Jeanne Scherer, troublemaker, especially if you're an invasive species; Sandy River and Eric Mosher - disreputable characters one and all.


Once again, we will focus on northwest Jefferson County, especially Zeloski Marsh. Known historically as London Marsh, it's where the notorious Finch Brothers, along with the horses they stole, hid from the law back in the mid-1800s - or so they say. The history of the Fighting Finches, stories compiled in 1937 for the Folklore Section of the Federal Writers’ Project of the WPA (Works Progress Administration), can be found at


All money raised will go to the Bird Protection Fund for very important statewide bird conservation. If you would like an illustrated version of our 2018 report, please contact Karen at


Thank you for supporting our efforts to make a difference to birds. It's the least we can do in return for all the joy they provide us!


The Finch Gang

Give! Or else!


If you are unable to donate online, please click here for the offline donation form.


  • James (about 3 months ago)

    Congratulations on your numbers, and good luck next year!

  • Suzanne (about 3 months ago)


  • Sandra (about 4 months ago)

    Take my money! I'm not messing with the Finch Gang. Great job, everyone!

  • Lisa (about 4 months ago)


  • Marsha & Peter (about 4 months ago)

    Good work!

  • Karen (about 4 months ago)

    The birds are so delicate and delightful. They deserve to be protected.

  • Bob and Sue (about 4 months ago)

    Great Effort!!!

  • Peggy (about 4 months ago)

    Hurry to the Marsh; someone has called the sheriff.

  • Ron (about 5 months ago)

    Thanks for doing this all these years. Go Get 'Em!

  • Carl (about 5 months ago)

    Round 'em up!

  • Stanley (about 5 months ago)

    your group is notorious

  • jacqueline (about 5 months ago)


  • michael (about 5 months ago)

    keep your eyes open

  • Anonymous (about 5 months ago)


  • Janet (about 5 months ago)

    Get them birdies

  • Nancy (about 6 months ago)


My Status
Number of pledges received: 40
Goal achievement: 104%
Number of page visits: 1631
Days since event: 121
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