By Caitlyn Schuchhardt
NRF Outreach Coordinator
Spring is here, and you know what that means! Red-winged Blackbirds are singing their characteristic conk-la-reeeeeee and Sandhill Cranes are calling -- calling for you to register for the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, that is!
The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is organized by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and is the largest fundraiser for bird conservation in the state. It returns each and every spring from April 15 to June 15. Bird enthusiasts across Wisconsin set out to see how many species they can find while raising money to support our state’s highest priority bird conservation projects.
Photo by Alissa Quade
There’s no better way than a birdathon to get the whole family outside. Team Bubbs Go Birding brought together three generations of Grandpa Joe’s family to enjoy the birds at Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Dane County last year.
If you’ve never Birdathon-ed before, you should know that the Great Wisconsin Birdathon is like a walk-a-thon, but instead of logging miles walked, teams log bird sightings. Teams can participate on any day of their choosing between April 15 and June 15. All you need to do is register your team at www.WIBirdathon.org, start sharing your fundraising page with friends and family to collect donations and pledges, and then … you guessed it, go birding!
Nonprofits, bird clubs, Bird Cities also have the option to form a team and keep half the funds they raise for their own local conservation efforts.
Last year, the Birdathon raised $108,000 for the NRF’s Bird Protection Fund—another record-breaking year. That money went on to support seven incredible projects, including protecting Wisconsin’s imperiled species like Kirtland’s Warblers, Piping Plovers and Whooping Cranes; supporting migratory routes through the Neotropical Flyways Project; providing capacity building funds for the new BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin; advancing conservation in the state’s Important Bird Areas; and fostering the Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory.
Photo by Jennifer Rutten
The GLC (Glacial Lake Conservancy) Chickadees were one of more than two dozen organizational teams in the GWB eligible to keep 50% of their funds to support their organization’s conservation goals.
This year, the Great Wisconsin Birdathon is celebrating a decade of successful fundraising #ForTheBirds. The Birdathon began with a pilot year in 2012 and since has raised over half a million dollars for bird conservation. We’ll be highlighting some fun flashbacks to our fledgling days as we journey towards our $100,000+ fundraising goal, so be sure to follow the Great Wisconsin Birdathon on Facebook.
We hope you’ll join us by forming a team, donating, or spreading the good bird word about our 2022 event. You can also show your support by grabbing some Birdathon gear from our store—with all proceeds supporting our Bird Protection Fund. This year’s design showcases our new Bird of the Year, the Whooping Crane, designed by local artist and Birdathon participant Brooke Weiland.
Birds are for everyone. If you’re reading this, you know the joy they can bring. That joy is what the Birdathon is all about. Join us to go birding for a cause and support the beautiful birds that bring so much light to our lives. There’s no experience necessary to participate—all you need is a love of birds!
Learn more about the Great Wisconsin Birdathon and register your team at www.WIBirdathon.org. Have questions? Contact Caitlyn Schuchhardt at WIBirdathon@WisConservation.org