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

By Nora Simmons, Communications Director, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin

The Bird Protection Fund—a collaboration among the Natural Resources Foundation (NRF) of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI), and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—has now raised and distributed a total of $1,014,566 for bird conservation since its creation in 2009.

The Bird Protection Fund supports Wisconsin’s birds throughout their life cycles—from their breeding grounds in Wisconsin to their migratory habitat in Central and South America. Each year the Bird Protection Fund’s three partner organizations get together to review bird conservation priorities in Wisconsin, identify areas of greatest need, and allocate funding to projects that address those needs.

“Given the increasing demand for bird conservation funds for a growing number of projects, NRF’s Bird Protection Fund plays a special and novel role to address a rich variety of bird conservation needs,” said Sumner Matteson, a WDNR conservation biologist. By bringing together public and private entities to coordinate and work together toward a common goal, Matteson sees the Bird Protection Fund as “uniquely positioned to help maintain Wisconsin’s storied bird conservation legacy.”

This million dollar mark was made possible by a Wisconsin-wide effort. A major source of donations has been the annual Great Wisconsin Birdathon— which since 2012 has raised more than $400,000 using a walk-a-thon style fundraiser where participants raise money and venture out to log as many birds as they can see in one day.

“Wisconsin people care about birds,” said Karen Etter Hale, WBCI chair and director of community relations for the Wisconsin Audubon Council. “We really appreciate every donor and Birdathon participant who has made these million dollars possible.”

In 2018, Birdathon teams ranged throughout the state from a kindergarten class in Sussex to millennials in Madison and professional birders in Ashland. Teams birded by kayak, bike and on foot; from front porches, out windows, and at ice cream shops. (See Pages 13-14 of this issue for the complete 2018 Great Wisconsin Birdathon report).

In 2018 the Bird Protection Fund is granting a total of $62,000 to the following:
• Bird City Wisconsin
• Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the Neotropical Flyways Project
• WDNR Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation for endangered tern conservation, Kirtland’s Warbler recovery efforts, and Piping Plover conservation
• Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory for Lake Michigan waterbird monitoring
• International Crane Foundation for Whooping Crane recovery
• Wisconsin Society for Ornithology for Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

--This is one of several timely articles in this month's Badger Birder newsletter; don't miss out on the latest birding and conservation news. Become a WSO member today!