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

It's officially crunch time! The 2nd Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas has until about mid-August to complete all remaining blocks in the fifth and final season, and your help is needed. Here are the keys to a successful finish:
-- Enter all outstanding data immediately. Atlas coordinators will be scrutinizing every open block at that point to determine where to focus efforts to finish.
-- Only atlas in priority blocks.
-- Contact a county coordinator ( to find out where/how you can help most.
-- Check an intended block's data before atlasing. The needs of any given block can change rapidly as the atlas team races to the finish.

There are still about 400 blocks to close, but many are literally one or two visits away from being completed. You can help finish one of the largest ornithology projects ever undertaken in Wisconsin.

Breeding confirmation a priority

As the breeding season winds down in July and early August, breeding confirmations should be the priority of every atlaser.  To save time in the field, focus on species that are still Probable and Possible and need to be confirmed. To check a block's species list, type the block name into the "explore a region" search box ( The resulting page shows block statistics, as well as the current species list for the block. Hit the "Breeding Evidence" column title twice to sort species from lowest to highest codes.

Atlasers can also maximize the remaining weeks by reviewing the Top 10 Tips for Getting More Confirmations (, and be on the lookout for behaviors like CF (Carrying Food), FL (Recently Fledged Young), and FY (Feeding Young). These Top 10 Easy Confirmations ( should also be checked off in any given block!

Atlas II point counts complete

Atlas point counts are done! This special corollary project involved conducting 16,000 10-minute stationary roadside counts throughout the state. These data will help atlas coordinators produce relative abundance "thunderstorm" maps to show where species are most common within the state, as well as to estimate population size for many Wisconsin breeders. Both those results will be a major aid to conservation planning. A crack team of volunteers, DNR biologists and hired technicians made it happen over the past four years.

Owen Boyle, species manager in the DNR’s Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation, called it a “truly historic achievement in bird monitoring! Congratulations to all involved!”

Key sightings:  Northern Pintail, Horned Grebe

Atlasers observed some exciting confirmations in June, and coordinators are anticipating a few more by the end of the breeding season. Jim Frank found a Northern Pintail mother with young --a new confirmation for Atlas II—in Sheboygan County. While a relatively common migrant, Northern Pintail typically breed in Alaska and the Prairie Pothole region of southern Canada and the northern Great Plains.

Kathy Kershaw recorded an exciting breeding confirmation in Dane County when she spotted a pair of Horned Grebes on a nest with eggs. This is the second WBBA II confirmation, occurring well outside the typical Horned Grebe breeding range of mid to western Canada and Alaska. The nest has since failed, but the confirmation stands. The pair has since been spotted over a mile away, where they were earlier building a copulatory platform and coded as probable.

Atlas Grebe photo 7 19
Kathy Kershaw recorded an exciting breeding confirmation in Dane County when she spotted a pair of Horned Grebes on a nest with eggs.

Atlas loons photo 7 19
Photo by Jim Edlhuber. An Feeding Young confirmation for Common Loon in Sawyer County – and a memorable photo.


--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!