Promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.

The theme for the 78th annual WSO Convention will be “Celebrating Citizen Science --Breeding Birds of the Nicolet.”

The theme will take advantage of this year’s late date --for just the sixth time WSO will be holding its convention in June –- to focus on two amazing chapters in the history of what is variously known as crowd science, civic science, participatory monitoring and participatory action research, conducted, in whole or part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists.

The four-day convention will run June 16-19 – over Father’s Day weekend -- at the Potawatomi Carter Casino and Hotel. The hotel is within the Nicolet National Forest just south of Wabeno on the southern edge of Forest County.

For 30 years, this has been about the time and location for the Nicolet National Forest Bird Survey, the longest running volunteer bird monitoring program in our national forests. The Nicolet encompasses 1.6 million acres of mixed hardwood-conifer forests, lowland swamps, glacial lakes and wetlands in northeastern Wisconsin.

Keynoting the convention banquet on Saturday June 17 will be Dr. Robert W. Howe, of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, longtime director of the bird survey and one of three editors of the “Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin,” published in 2006.

Howe is founding director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and Barbara Hauxhurst Cofrin Professor of Natural Science. He has been a faculty member in UWGB’s Department of Natural and Applied Sciences since 1984, where he has taught courses ranging from introductory environmental science to advanced graduate courses in biology and ecology.

The convention not only will look back on the Nicolet Forest survey but ahead to the final three years of field work for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, offering opportunities to join expert leaders and top regional atlasers to collect data for the Atlas in priority blocks in this area.

Start with learning how to nocturnally atlas during a post-banquet evening trip to a local priority block. On Sunday and Monday, the convention will offer a half-day local trip to collect data in a priority block with excellent habitat variety near Wabeno and fullday excursions to prime northern forest and boreal habitat in hopes of finding breeding evidence for 15 to 20 species of warblers, 10 species of sparrows, several species of flycatchers, vireos and thrushes, boreal specialties such as Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and many more. We will visit the Alvin Creek headwaters and other excellent stretches of forest further south.

This is a perfect chance to explore the incredible areas our North Woods have to offer, while contributing to a critical project for bird conservation.

The WSO Convention Committee has again reserved a large block of rooms allowing members to take early advantage of special pricing. And once again the arrangement offers convention-goers a chance to stay at the site of the Friday evening awards ceremony, silent auction, Saturday luncheon, annual meeting, workshops, paper sessions and Saturday evening banquet.

The hotel, located at 618 State Highway 32, Wabeno, has offered WSO a large room block hold at a discounted price of $83 per night plus tax for a Standard King or Double. Call toll-free to 1-800-487-9522 and mention WSO. The hotel has a large indoor pool, and free camping with electrical hookups in its parking lot on a first-come, first-served basis.

Rooms are reserved for WSO members from Friday, June 16, through Monday, June 19, but it’s first-come, first-served and all rooms will be released on May 16. The convention format initiated in 2015 -- with major field trips following rather than preceding Saturday’s annual meeting, presentations and banquet –- will be continued. Other details:

Convention registration at the hotel will begin on Friday afternoon, along with the opening of the silent auction. There again will be a picnic, included with registration.

The core convention schedule will remain unchanged with registration continuing on Friday evening leading up to the annual Passenger Pigeon Awards ceremony and reception. Saturday will start early with local field trips, followed by a luncheon at the hotel, the annual business meeting and presentations.

A Saturday evening social hour at the hotel will conclude the silent auction and lead into the banquet and keynote speaker.

All-day field trips will depart from the hotel on Sunday and Monday mornings, with a special “Birds and Beer” event planned for Sunday evening, tentatively to be held at the Big Easel Gallery and Bistro in Wabeno.

Silent Auction plans are picking up steam, but your help again will determine how successful we are. Those interested in contributing should call coordinator Janet Speth at 608.886.8825 or e-mail her at to arrange pick up. Items do not have to be bird-related. Once again Kay Simandl is donating some of her quilting artistry and renowned artist (and field trip coordinator) Tom Schultz is donating a Song Sparrow watercolor he did for the National Geographic Field Guide. Auction proceeds will be divided between the Breeding Bird Atlas and the fund to maintain WSO’s Honey Creek Preserve.