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

Goal $1,000.00


Welcome to the MuirLand Merlins' Great Wisconsin Birdathon fundraising page! We've always loved birds, and believe they're important to us in many ways. We want to help ensure that birds who spend all or part of the year in Wisconsin have all the resources they need to survive and thrive!

To raise support and awareness for Wisconsin's birds, Daryl Christenson, Steve Mullen, and Kari & Mark Stauffer headed out on May 11, 2019 to find as many bird species as possible, in a single 24-hour period. Here is their report:

At 12:12 am we arrived at our first stop in Comstock Bog. We weren't even out of the car yet, and we could already hear the persistent ticking of not just one but at least three Yellow Rails. This is often a challenging bird to find, so we were delighted to find this as our first species of the day! From there we worked our way around Germania Marsh, picking up Barred Owl and Long-eared Owl, and a peenting American Woodcock. Just after a beautiful view of the setting half-moon, we heard a brief Eastern Screech Owl call, and within the hour also heard a calling Northern Saw-whet Owl and Eastern Whip-poor-will. 

Our next destination was Leola Marsh, and we arrived there before 4:00 am. The prairie woke up slowly in the chilly air, but soon we were greeted by singing Bobolinks, Lark Sparrows, and were treated to the aerobatics of a Merlin harassing a Northern Harrier. Our usual Ruffed Grouse was drumming south of the road, while Prairie Chickens boomed on their leks to the north. A coyote trotted around a field dotted by Sandhill Cranes, and even they seemed amused by his playful leaping and spinning.

From the Buena Vista Grasslands, we headed south, stopping by Daryl's home to add feeder birds to the list. A few surprises met us, including a first-of-year Indigo Bunting, Pine Warbler, a Lincoln's Sparrow that popped out of the brambles, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Nearby Hope Marsh didn't improve our hopes for a really big day- there were very few waterfowl there, and while there were many warblers, there was little variety- just Yellow-rumped, Palm, Cape May, Black & White, and a Northern Waterthrush.

Further south, Shoenberg Marsh and Goose Pond were skimpy on waterfowl too. We did find the resident Red-necked Grebe, along with Lesser and Greater Scaup. In nearby ephemeral farm ponds, we found a single Green-winged Teal and a female Bufflehead. Other ponds turned up a small assortment of shorebirds, including Least Sandpiper and Semipalmated Plover, and American Pipit. By the time we arrived at Pheasant Branch we had 149 species on the day, behind our normal pace.

The creek corridor of Pheasant Branch quickly lifted our tired and sagging spirits. Warblers were plentiful, and at eye-level. Just 20 yards down the trail we began ticking off American Redstart, Northern Parula, Chesnut-sided, Magnolia, Canada, and the ever lovely Black-throated Blue Warbler. Adding 11 new species to our list for the day was energizing. We realized we were not likely to set a new personal big day record, but we were very happy with the birds we were finding.

From Middleton we began the long drive to Horicon Marsh, with little hope of adding more than a half dozen birds to the list. But as we exited Hwy. 151, a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead in pursuit of a Rock Pigeon, and once again our energy renewed. We decided not to take the time to drive through the auto loop and instead headed straight for the wetlands on either side of Hwy. 49. There was little of interest until we reached the north side of the road just west of the pumphouse. We could see there were good numbers of shorebirds, and as soon as we set up our scopes we found some delights- Black-bellied Plovers, Wilson's Phalarope, Short-billed Dowitcher, Caspian Tern, and Ruddy Turnstones. 

As the sun slipped low, we pulled in to Lake Maria for our last stop of the day. We didn't expect much, but in the raft of Redheads and scaup, we did find a single Canvasback- our 175th bird of the day. Migration has been slow and in spurts this year, so in the end we were pleased with the total, and declared it a fun day.

There is still time- please consider supporting us with a pledge or donation. No amount is too small--even small contributions add up! This year the Great Wisconsin Birdathon aims to raise $90,000 for bird conservation and research in Wisconsin. Your contribution supports the priority projects of the Bird Protection Fund, including:

  • Conservation of endangered Kirtland's Warblers, Whooping Cranes, and Piping Plovers;
  • Research, education, and habitat protection in Central and South America;
  • Monitoring of shorebirds, waterbirds, endangered terns;
  • Community engagement and habitat protection through Bird City Wisconsin;
  • The Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II.

The Great Wisconsin Birdathon has raised over $400,000 for Wisconsin's birds since 2012! We have done so much, but there is still so much more to do. Thank you for joining us in making a sustainable future for Wisconsin's birds!

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


  • John (about 4 months ago)

    Thank you for encouraging Marquette Co. birding!

  • Katherine (about 5 months ago)

    Happy birdwatching, Daryl & Steve! Genesis 1:20, Katherine & Theodore

  • Linda (about 5 months ago)


  • Karen (about 5 months ago)

    Go Marquette Team

  • Joy (about 5 months ago)

    So happy to support great conservationists in our own Marquette County. Love to my big brother, Daryl and Steve!

  • Kathleen (about 5 months ago)


  • Karen (about 5 months ago)

    Go great team!!

  • CAROL (about 5 months ago)


My Status
Number of pledges received: 21
Goal achievement: 183%
Number of page visits: 806
Days since event: 121
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