Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2018

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. We support critical conservation work through our grant programs, offer opportunities for people to experience Wisconsin’s outdoors through our field trip program, and provide a means for people to help protect Wisconsin’s lands, waters, and wildlife through charitable giving and the Wisconsin Conservation Endowment. 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 2007 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. Proceeds from the Great Wisconsin Birdathon support the Bird Protection Fund. Learn more about the priority projects below.


Bird City Wisconsin

Bird City Wisconsin recognizes 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. So far more than 100 communities in Wisconsin have been recognized as Bird Cities.

Colonial Waterbird Recovery

Several species of state endangered and threatened waterbirds nest in east-central Wisconsin. The Wisconsin DNR surveys three species of tern, red-necked grebe, and great egret to locate new colonies, track the species’ population changes, and determine the best local breeding habitat. The Bird Protection Fund supports research that assesses the conservation status of these species.

Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation

The Kirtland's warbler requires very specific habitat and has a restricted geographic range. The Bird Protection Fund supports population surveys, nest monitoring, and other critical research activities that protect this endangered species. Funding also supports work with landowners and foresters to expand jack pine habitat for these and other rare pine barrens birds.

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. 

Conservation of Tropical Wintering Areas

Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula and the Peruvian Amazon are the winter homes of more than 50 species of Wisconsin birds and are globally important biodiversity hotspots. Working with Osa Conservation, the Bird Protection Fund supports reforestation and environmental education programs, and joins the Amazon Conservation Association’s efforts to determine critical wintering habitats for migratory birds.

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.

Wisconsin Bird Monitoring Program

The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative coordinates a volunteer-based monitoring program to fill gaps in our knowledge of birds and their habitats. The current focus is on species that are difficult to detect during standard bird surveys, such as marshbirds, nightjars (such as whip-poor-wills and nighthawks), and owls. The Bird Protection Fund supports the coordination of the Wisconsin Bird Monitoring Program, which provides valuable data on these secretive species. 

Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

This project is a comprehensive field survey that documents the distribution and abundance of birds breeding in an area. The information will allow us to see changes in bird populations and to measure future changes. The Bird Protection Fund provides funding for point count surveys across the entire state.

Wisconsin Stopover Initiative

The many state, federal, private, and local partners of the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative work to conserve and enhance stopover habitats used by birds migrating through Wisconsin. The project helps to identify priority sites for protection, provides technical support for land conservation, and offers educational programs and materials about habitat management for landowners and land managers.

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