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

-By Diane Packett (Great Wisconsin Birdathon Coordinator)-

2019 Birdathon logo LR

The 8th annual Great Wisconsin Birdathon has closed out at $85,778, or 95% of our fundraising goal. Started in 2012 as a collaboration of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI), the birdathon has grown to be one of the most successful in the nation. It has now raised more than $500,000 for bird conservation and research in Wisconsin and beyond.

The cold, wet spring put a damper on migration and led to generally lower species totals than in some years, but there were still some outstanding numbers. The Secretary Birds led with an impressive 193 species, and the MuirLand Merlins and Cutright’s Old Coots broke their previous team records with 175 and 168 species, respectively.

Our Signature teams – Cutright’s Old Coots, Finch Gang, Lake Superior eBirders, River Raptors, Scan da Avians and the Secretary Birds— were the top fundraisers, collectively raising almost $39,000 for the Bird Protection Fund. The Old Coots’ supporters broke records again this year, donating more than $13,000. Fund-raising field trips -- including an all-day Birding Bonanza, bird photo workshop, Biking for Birds and Common Tern banding excursions with the River Raptors -- generated $20,000 in contributions.

In August, representatives of the Natural Resources Foundation, WBCI and the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources will meet to decide which proposals will be supported with Birdathon proceeds in 2020.

This year funds went to the Wisconsin Kirtland’s Warbler Project, Whooping Crane reintroduction, monitoring and management of Piping Plovers and endangered terns, Bird City Wisconsin, Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, Lake Michigan waterbird research and the Neotropical Flyways Project.

Each year the Bird Protection Fund also supports smaller projects, such as transmitter purchases for Snowy Owl and Red-shouldered Hawk tracking. Past projects have included Important Bird Areas, Trumpeter Swan reintroduction, and the Osa Peninsula Project in Costa Rica.

Organizational teams raised more than $16,000, half of which will return to those organizations for their local work. Projects include tree planting in Waukesha County, Breeding Bird Atlas block adoption, land protection and stewardship in the Baraboo Hills, along with educational programs at the North Lakeland Discovery Center.

Thanks to everyone who made all this work possible: the team captains, birders and field trip leaders, as well as thousands of donors from all corners of Wisconsin and the United States. We also thank our partner organizations, as well as the local businesses that supported our teams.

Visit the website at for more details, and you can read team stories and sightings posted on the Great Wisconsin Birdathon Facebook page.

Top Birding Teams (Overall):
Secretary Birds - 193 species
MuirLand Merlins - 175
Cutright's Old Coots - 168
Lake Superior eBirders - 161
River Raptors - 143
Wausau Nutcrackers - 136
Scan da Avians – 133

Signature Team Totals:
Cutright’s Old Coots: $13,277, 168 species
Lake Superior eBirders: $7,787, 161
River Raptors: $6,319, 143
Finch Gang: $5,202, 112
Scan da Avians: $4,348, 133
Secretary Birds: $1,800, 193

Top Non-Signature Fundraisers:
Up North Hammerheads – North Lakeland Discovery Center: $2,820
Wausau Nutcrackers – Wausau Bird Club: $2,324
Goss Hawks – Ben Goss Bird Club: $2,268
Baraboo Rangers – Baraboo Range Preservation Assn.: $2,085
Jen’s Warbler Warriors: $2,020

Top Non-Signature Birders:
MuirLand Merlins – MuirLand Bird Club: 175 species
Wausau Nutcrackers – Wausau Bird Club: 136
Walks in the Parks – Noel J. Cutright Bird Club: 123
Trumpeter Swan Song – Madison Audubon Society: 122
Peddling Paddling Prius Pewees – Madison Friends of Urban Nature: 122

--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!