Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2018
Please note: donations are not being accepted by this participant at this time.

Goal $2,000.00


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 joined this walkathon-style fundraiser in which our team will try to find as many bird species as possible, in a single 24-hour period on May 11, 2018.

Birdathon Report

We planned to go out Friday, but the wind and rain caused us to bump to our back-up day of Saturday. We tallied 181 species, our highest count ever. The most outstanding highlight was a flyover White-faced Ibis in Pardeeville, where we were looking for Lark Sparrow. We all got bins on it and were wondering if we would be able to ID when it made a perfect turn over our heads and gave us a clear view of its white face!


We started at midnight in Marquette County near our homes for nocturnal birds in and around Germania Marsh and Comstock Bog, eventually catching calls from 5 owl species, along with whip-poor-will, Sora, and Sedge Wren. As morning dawned, we made stops at our homes to pick up feeder birds, along with raven and nesting Red-shouldered and Coopers hawks, then worked our way south. A stop at Hope Marsh brought all four species of Wisconsin terns- Forster’s, Common, Black, and Caspian! Daryl does tern colony monitoring for the DNR so is an expert at tern ID. We also picked up some waterfowl and 7 warbler species.


After our spectacular visit by the ibis, and ultimate success finding Lark Sparrows, we headed to Shoenberg Marsh. Our target bird was the Red-necked Grebe. We successfully located the grebe, and while scoping the open water met a laggard Common Loon. We were also delighted by seven female Red-breasted Mergansers in the adjacent pond. Yellow-headed Blackbirds were in good numbers there, which gladdened my heart as there were very few last spring.


Shorebirds were hard to come by, being few in quantity and variety. We found a lone Ruddy Turnstone in one pond, three dowitchers in another, and a lone pipit near one of only three Dunlins on the day. We probably spent more time that we should have scoping farm ponds, which led to an afternoon arrival at Pheasant Branch.


Pheasant Branch was extraordinary. It is always wonderful during warbler migration, but the winds had driven the insects and warblers to ground level. I usually leave the creek corridor with a sore neck from scanning the canopy, but this time everything was visible almost without binoculars. Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Wilson’s and Blackburnian warblers were flitting everywhere at waist level or even on the ground, as were redstarts and parula. I was tempted to reach out and touch a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that perched quietly on a blackberry cane within arm’s reach. A single Golden-winged warbler was the highlight species for that stop.


Because of the extra time we spent on shorebirds, we realized we did not have time to go to both Horicon Marsh and Buena Vista Grasslands. We had a tally of 161 species at that point and, after a quick count of species we still needed, decided that we could pick up more new birds for the day in Buena Vista than Horicon. So we headed back to the north. Upon arrival in Buena Vista, we rather quickly picked up Grasshopper Sparrow and Bobolink before heading to our Upland Sandpiper spot. There is a Great Horned Owl nest near the uppie spot, so we got great looks at an owl and growing chick while listening for the slide-whistle call. We were almost ready to move on, when Daryl glanced in the side mirror of our car and announced, “Hey guys, look behind us.” There in the road about 20 feet behind the car were 2 Upland Sandpipers. Our decision for Buena Vista paid off, as we also picked up Northern Pintail, Trumpeter Swan, and Whooping Crane on our way to the final two birds for the day- booming prairie chickens, and a drumming Ruffed Grouse on Apache Ave. in Leola Marsh.

Please consider supporting us with a pledge or donation. No amount is too small--even small contributions add up! This year, The Year of the Bird, the Great Wisconsin Birdathon has set an ambitious goal to raise $100,000 for bird conservation and research in Wisconsin. In addition to supporting bird conservation in Marquette County, your contribution supports the priority projects of the Bird Protection Fund, including:

  • Conservation of endangered Kirtland's Warblers and Whooping Cranes;
  • Research, education, and habitat protection in Costa Rica and Peru;
  • Monitoring of shorebirds, waterbirds, and waterfowl on Lake Michigan and in east-central Wisconsin;
  • Community engagement and habitat protection through Bird City Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative;
  • The Wisconsin Bird Monitoring Program and Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II.


The Great Wisconsin Birdathon has raised over $300,000 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.


  • Karen (about 6 months ago)

    Great Job !!

  • Carol (about 6 months ago)

    I see you are off to a great start! You’ve got this! Happy Birding!

  • Laura (about 6 months ago)

    Good luck to you guys!

  • Karen (about 7 months ago)

    You all rock

  • Joy (about 7 months ago)

    You all do such a wonderful job with our beloved birds! Lots of skilled observers in this group!

  • Carol (about 7 months ago)


  • Linda (about 7 months ago)


  • Jane (about 7 months ago)


  • John (about 8 months ago)

    Thank you for doing so much for birds and for Marquette County!

My Status
Number of pledges received: 28
Goal achievement: 92%
Number of page visits: 302
Days since event: 178
This is the general team page for 'MuirLand Merlins - Bird City Montello'
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